This post is also available in: Italian
What is the refugee children’s real view of their own condition? On International Migrants Day 2020 of 18th December 2020, Still I Rise focuses on the web-series “Through Our Eyes“: a six-part documentary that restores the word of the witnesses of one of the most serious humanitarian crises of our time. The leading characters are seven refugee children between the ages of 11 and 16, telling their stories about the context in which they live, their personal daily struggles and their dreams as teenagers. The web-series is part of a wider denouncing action that the non-profit organization – active on the Greek island of Samos since 2018 – is carrying out to defend the human rights of refugee children.
Each episode explores a different theme: life in the hotspot, the struggle for the right to education, integration as a mirror of a possible world and the enormous challenges that are connected to this, up to the negative psychological implications of life in these difficult contexts, without friends and without being able of going to school. All this is recounted by Faizuddin, Nahid, Rostam, Milad, Mobina, Mahdi, and Madalena: children who dream with all their strength of a fair and better future in Europe despite the great daily struggles.
“The camp is not a safe place, it is very dirty. There are too many mice, rats, insects. Even if you don’t have coronavirus and you are healthy, if you live too long in the camp you will automatically get sick,” says Faizuddin, 11 years old, leading character of the first episode. Faizuddin has been living in Samos refugee camp with his family since February 2020. “It is difficult to live in a tent, but we live there because we know it is just for a year or nine months and then we will leave… or maybe not, I don’t know”.
His voice is echoed in the second episode by Nahid, 14 years old, a young activist that after one year in Samos now lives in Ritsona camp, in mainland Greece: “If I could, the first thing that I would change would be the mindset, in order to allow children to go to school. The second step would be to change the conditions in which the camp finds itself”. In Ritsona, Nahid joined the Refugee Youth Movement and continues to fight for the right to education for children and adolescents. In Greece only 30% of refugee children regularly attends school.
And then we have the stories of Rostam, who shows that integration is possible; of Milad and Mobina, who live in a degraded camp in mainland Greece; of Mahdi, who wants to become a boxer, but has no possibility to do so; of Madalena, who is awaiting to attend school in Athens and dreams of becoming a doctor so she can help others. Stories of ordinary teenagers struggling with a reality that every day tries to challenge their hopes for the future.
The web-series “Through Our Eyes”, which will be broadcasted until the end of December on the social networks of Still I Rise, integrates the photographic book “Through Our Eyes” (Attraverso i nostri occhi, Bur Rizzoli 2020 – only in Italian), written by Nicolò Govoni, Nicoletta Novara and the students of Mazì, the school of Still I Rise in Samos. Both the book and the web-series are the result of the homonymous photographic exhibition that has already toured more than 36 cities around the world, causing a sensation among some of the major newspapers, including The Guardian, Internazionale and The Washington Post.
The whole project joins the petition activities that Still I Rise has been carrying out since 2018 through the appropriate avenues: in 2019, the organization filed a criminal lawsuit to the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Samos and the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Rome, to investigate the violation of the human rights of unaccompanied minors committed by the authorities of the hotspot. In autumn 2020, the Italian Public Prosecutor’s Office at the Court of Rome forwarded the files to EuroJust and the European Court of Justice, submitting a request to assess “whether the conditions are met, in terms of systematic and widespread criminal conduct, for the recurrence of crimes against humanity prescribed by Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC)“.
In the meantime, Still I Rise involved the European Parliament, obtaining two parliamentary inquiries on the abuses reported in the hotspot camp of Samos and launched a European Petition. This was followed by the Italian Parliament, through a further parliamentary question on the reported facts and by the European Court of Human Rights, which, following the requests made by Still I Rise together with other organizations, ordered the immediate transfer of 12 unaccompanied minors from the Greek hotspot to a safe place, concluding the violation of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, namely on the prohibition of torture or inhuman or degrading treatment.
Therefore, giving back the voice to those directly concerned becomes an essential tool in fighting towards the development of a European Union that re-establishes the rights of which it has historically been the birthplace, starting with the rights of children.
To follow the web series “Through Our Eyes”:
Youtube – https://tinyurl.com/yxptcth8
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/stilliriseNGO
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/stillirisengo
1st episode, Faizuddin – Samos hotspot: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Of_wBRMZSQw
2nd episode, Nahid – The story of a young activist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dKiYkmzpTcw
3rd episode, Rostam – Integration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xNcefxxf20Y
4th episode, Milad e Mobina – Waiting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJmWQXOw0Nw