ROME — To most eyes, the scruffy, sun-faded ship that left Venice for Sicily last week might have looked like a junkyard-ready wreck.
Instead, as the ship embarked upon what may be its final voyage, via barge and tugboat, and arrived in Sicily on Tuesday, others were hoping it would become a monument to the devastating toll exacted by the trafficking of people across the Mediterranean from Africa to Europe by unscrupulous operators.
The ship, the relic of the deadliest wreck in the Mediterranean in living memory, is a symbol of contemporary migration in Europe that has become part of its cultural heritage, said Maria Chiara Di Trapani, an independent curator working on future projects for the vessel.
On April 18, 2015, the unnamed ship — originally built as a fishing vessel for a crew of around 15 — capsized off the coast of Libya, becoming the watery grave for the more than 1,000 people, many from Mali, Mauritius and the Horn of Africa, crammed onboard. Only 28 passengers survived.
Missing Migrants Project run by the International Organization for Migration has recorded a minimum of 12,521 deaths or disappearances during migration across the Central Mediterranean route.
The ship sank after colliding with a Portuguese freighter that had come to its assistance. An analysis of the shipwreck has been treated by migration activists as a case study on the perils of inexpert assistance at sea. The ship was later used as evidence in a case against the Tunisian captain who piloted the ship and in 2018 was convicted of human trafficking.
“The story of the boat is very complex, involving many people,” said Enzo Parisi, the spokesman for the Comitato 18 Aprile, a citizens’ group in Augusta, Sicily, that wants the boat to become a monument, “a testimony to tragedies at sea.”
In June 2016, the Italian government decided to raise the wreck 1,200 feet from the bottom of the sea to identify the victims. The ship was taken to a naval base in Augusta, and the victims were extracted.
laboratory at the University of Milan for the laborious task of cataloging and possible identification.
The ship’s destiny, at that point, was to head to the scrap yard, like hundreds of ships that have been seized by Italian authorities.
But the wreck’s symbolic power had become apparent. In 2019, supported by the Comitato 18 Aprile, Augusta’s municipal council was granted custody of the ship. The region lobbied to have it declared a monument of cultural interest and the committee came up with proposals for a memorial that would have the ship as the centerpiece.
“As a seaport, Augusta has always been welcoming,” said Giuseppe Di Mare, the mayor of the Sicilian city, which is a first landing spot for many migrants rescued in the Mediterranean, before they are processed and shunted off to other Italian cities. Because of the coronavirus, the sea rescues now include an interim stop on quarantine ships, and currently there are two such ships in Augusta’s harbor.
“Barca Nostra,” or “Our Ship” in Italian, the vessel was presented at the art exhibit as a “monument to contemporary migration” and restrictions on personal freedoms.
2019 documentary about the disaster and the attempts to identify the victims, Ms. Mirto counted headstones in a cemetery that read: “Unknown Immigrant Deceased in the Strait of Sicily on 18.4.2015.”
The project to identify victims continues, sponsored by Italy’s special commissioner for missing persons. Dr. Cattaneo, the forensic pathologist who is responsible for the university laboratory in Milan, said that funding shortages had hampered the work, and that, so far, only six victims had been identified using their methodology, which involves comparing the DNA extracted from the victims to the DNA of family members, as well as anthropological and dental traits.
She is hopeful that progress will be made this year, as the university is now working with other academic institutions, as well as Italian law enforcement authorities, but she cautioned that the condition in which researchers had found the bodies after a year under water made everything “extremely complex.”
The International Committee of the Red Cross and other national affiliates have also been involved in identifying the victims of the tragedy. They have adopted a different, complementary, approach, attempting to draft a list of the passengers onboard by cross-referencing the accounts of survivors, witnesses, relatives, friends, as well as from the objects that were recovered from the ship. Currently, they are calling some of the nearly 1,500 phone numbers — which have been tracked to 56 countries — that were found in the wreckage in hopes of gleaning new clues.
have died in the first months of 2021.
The ship will now undergo urgent maintenance, after two years exposed to a north Italian climate.
The city of Augusta has envisioned placing the ship in what the authorities describe as a “Garden of Memory,” that “will have to be in the open, because that boat gives a sense of the sea, the air, the skies. To enclose it in a building would clash with its’ story,” said Mr. Di Mare, the mayor.
“Certainly, the ship has attained an international dimension and we want this garden to become a place of reflection for the world, so that all people can ponder,” he said.
PARIS — No other country in Western Europe has suffered as much from terrorism as France over the past decade. With more than 50 attacks that have killed nearly 300 people — including dozens of children and teenagers — the nation has borne the brunt of some of the worst attacks in Europe.
Now, France plans to memorialize this collective suffering with a new museum that will trace the development of terrorism over the ages, including the attacks on the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and the Bataclan concert hall in Paris that have deeply shaken the country in recent years.
The move is a bold one given that the country is still grappling with the trauma of these attacks, with victims whose physical and psychological wounds are still raw. Only last fall, there were a series of new attacks, including the beheading of Samuel Paty, a history teacher who showed cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in a class on free speech.
In addition to the death toll, nearly 1,000 people have been wounded in attacks since 2012.
But the planners of the project say the museum is needed to help the people of France to confront and understand a scourge that they will be living with for some time.
pledged in September 2018 to create a memorial museum to place the victims of terrorist attacks “at the heart of our memories.” The new museum is expected to be inaugurated in the Paris area by 2027, and will aim to show how France and other terrorism-affected countries have reacted to attacks over the past 50 years, with a particular emphasis on the resilience of their people.
Mr. Rousso said the perpetrators of the attacks would also be featured in the museum. Responding to questions he has faced about whether the museum would unintentionally glorify them, he said it was important to represent them as well.
who wrote a book about his experience. “I prefer to avoid seeing their pictures. I know a lot of victims wouldn’t be able to handle it.”
the Charlie Hebdo attack in 2015, in which a dozen people working for the satirical magazine were slaughtered. In addition to the beheading of Mr. Paty in October, three people were killed at a church in Nice that month.
targeting Napoléon Bonaparte, will also be part of a permanent exhibition.
The museum’s exact location is expected to be decided by next spring.
A memorial for victims of terrorism has existed in Paris since 1998, in the gardens of Les Invalides, where Napoléon is entombed — a fountain and bronze statue of a beheaded woman with dark, empty eyes and her head in her hands. But unlike the reflecting pools that mark the 9/11 terror attacks in New York, the Paris memorial is not widely known or visited, except by officials commemorating France’s national day of remembrance for terrorism victims on March 11.
“The nation does not forget,” Mr. Macron wrote on Twitter after laying a wreath at the statue at this year’s commemoration.
it is here to stay, said Ms. Rudetzki, who is also a member of the memorial museum advisory committee and was wounded in a terrorist bombing in 1983 that cost her the use of her legs.
The future memorial will list the names of victims of terrorism attacks in France and French victims of attacks abroad. It will cover a period starting in 1974, the year that Carlos the Jackal carried out the bombing of a Paris drugstore and when France began granting “a medal of recognition” to victims of terrorist attacks, Mr. Rousso said.
the 22 July Centre in Oslo, officials have started identifying objects and documents that could be showcased, such as text messages sent by victims, sealed court records, and poems and drawings left at ephemeral memorials.
“Terrorism, whether we like it or not, is part of our societies,” Mr. Rousso said. “Creating a museum is not a way to put the issue behind us. It is a way to make people understand it.”