The left has tried to prevent the celebration of the conference ‘Immigration in the Mediterranean, alternative information’, hosted by a MEP from the Italian far right and in which the spokesman of ‘Identity Generation’ intervenes
Last summer, the xenophobic group ‘Generación identitaria’ launched its mission ‘Defend Europe’ (defends Europe) and chartered the C-Star, a ship whose objective was to hinder the search and rescue missions that various NGOs were carrying out in the Mediterranean Sea. In 2017 alone, more than 3,000 people drowned in the area. Tomorrow, one of the leaders of this racist group will give a press conference in the European Parliament, supported by MEP Mario Borghezio, member and MEP of the Italian far-right party Lega Nord. Despite the request of the left to stop the organization, it does not seem that the institution will do anything to prevent it.
‘Immigration in the Mediterranean: alternative information’, is the title given to the press conference to be held tomorrow by Borghezio and Gian Marco Concas, member of the racist group ‘Identity Generation’. The same group that launched the ‘Defend Europe’ initiative, which, although unsuccessful, aimed to obstruct the rescue missions of NGOs in the Mediterranean, putting at risk the lives of hundreds of people. An activity that, in addition to being based on racist assumptions, goes against International Law. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea establishes the obligation to provide assistance to any person who “is in danger at sea”.
Defend Europe also attacks ships carrying out rescue work, which it calls “taxis” for migrants, and ensures that they are coordinated with human traffickers. They also accuse the same NGOs, who patrol miles to save lives, to be responsible for the drownings of those who perish in the attempt to reach Europe, fleeing from war, persecution, violence, hunger, misery, precisely because they do not there are safe arrival routes, not enough means of rescue. That same group said that the C-Star was not a racist operation, but in defense of the security of Europeans.
The host, Mario Borghezioha, in addition to making Islamophobic comments, has defended in the European Parliament similar opinions. In a debate on the situation in the Mediterranean, Lega Nord MEP called for the cessation of European operations at sea because “we are talking about saving lives” but, according to Borghezio, these ships are “a source of traction for migrants”. The Italian is also a strong supporter of the harsh Australian immigration policy and, like his colleagues in ‘Defend Europe’, does not hesitate to link migration and terrorism, despite the fact that all the attacks committed in the EU were perpetrated by Europeans.
This background of xenophobic discourse and hatred of both the guest and the MEP does not seem to have been enough for the European Parliament to halt the organization of the event. The MEPs, according to institutional sources, are free to organize the press conference they want, with the guests they like and, on the subject, they consider, as long as one of them is present. That is the only condition. In this, say the same sources, freedom of expression prevails. “Another thing is in the hemicycle”, underline the regulation of the European Parliament, which was amended last year, establishes in its article 11, that “in parliamentary debates, the deputies will abstain from adopting defamatory, racist or xenophobic language or behavior, as well as from displaying placards or posters ” Outside of the debates, those same rules do not apply.
Before the announcement of the press conference, the Italian MEP Barbara Spinelli sent a letter to the president of the European Parliament, also Italian Antonio Tajani. In it, Spinelli details the actions of ‘Defend Europe’ to try to interrupt and make difficult the rescue missions of organizations such as the Spanish Proactiva Open Arms, SOS-Méditerranée or Doctors Without Borders, all organizations of recognized international prestige. “We do not believe that the European Parliament should allow within its facilities the invitation of an individual whose actions intend to openly violate European and International Law and that belongs to an openly supremacist international group of the extreme right “, defends in his letter the Italian representative. “Therefore, we demand the immediate withdrawal of the authorization to allow any room in the Euro chamber to host such an event,” Spinelli concludes.
Antonio Tajani has not yet replied to the letter, although he is scheduled to do so tomorrow, according to the office of the Italian MEP. Public has tried without success that the cabinet of the president expressed itself in this regard. However, sources close to Tajani, replied that if you do not violate the rules you cannot prohibit the organization of a press conference “just because you do not like what is said in it,” referring to the Spinelli letter.