On Memorial Day, he is remembered on January 27, 1945, when Soviet troops liberated the extermination camp of Auschwitz, the most ferocious Nazi death machine. On that day, the genocide of the Jews, and of many other categories of people uninvited to the regime, was beginning to end: gypsies, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, disabled people, and soldiers who did not want to join the republic of Salò. The Nazi madness of depriving freedom and exterminating human beings only because they were considered inferior ended. Today, however, 75 years later, the story is unfortunately not yet over. Not everyone knows that the world is still full of concentration camps.
There are concentration camps in North Korea, about twenty in which detainees are political prisoners, detained without trial and without an exit date, often with the sole fault of being presumed dissidents or relatives of a dissident. They sleep in unheated cabins where the temperature reaches minus 20 degrees. When they die, they are buried naked, because their only uniform is used to dress the next prisoner.
There are concentration camps in China and they are called laogai. Political prisoners are detained here, and others who are guilty of belonging to ethnic minorities such as Tibetans, Mongols, Uighurs. In the laogai prisoners work 18 hours a day, inhumanly, punished with malnutrition and torture if they only slow down the pace of work.
There are concentration camps in Malaysia, Bangladesh, where the Rohingya, a Muslim ethnic group to whom the Burmese government has not recognized citizenship, continue to persecute. About 100,000 of them still live in Myanmar, in IDP camps surrounded by barbed wire.
There are concentration camps also in the United States of America. One of these is in Clint, Texas, a few kilometers from El Paso and the border with Mexico, where 250 unaccompanied minors were detained in 2019 in inhuman conditions, forced to sleep on the floor, without any education program, in an emergency health situation. We spread a pitiful veil over Guantanamo, a true Nazi-based lager, in Cuban land, managed by the USA. Bush considered Guantanamo an extrajudicial “no man’s land”, in which to interrogate enemies and experience “the worst of the worst”. The men who must appear before the war court are the luckiest, because at least they will be tried.
There are concentration camps in Turkey, where about 3.6 million Syrian refugees live. As is known, the European Union has signed an agreement with Turkish President Erdogan, promising him six billion a year, and the restart of negotiations for Turkey’s entry into the European Union. Although in Turkey after the failed coup in 2016 Erdogan has jailed more than 64 thousand people and 150 journalists. And despite the fact that several observers have reported on the horrible conditions of the Turkish concentration camps, their overcrowding, the lack of medical treatment and legal assistance.
There are concentration camps in Libya, about twenty of them near the city of Bani Walid. It is there that migrants from sub-Saharan Africa who dream of Europe and Italy are locked up, and that Italy and Europe take care that they remain there. There, where men are tortured, women are raped all the time, and where each prisoner is a potential weapon of blackmail to extort money from their distant relatives, forced to pay for the prisoners to stay alive. But even in official detention centers, where detainees are under the “protection” of the Tripoli authorities paid by the EU and Italy, food is scarce, no medical assistance, corruption.
And also in Italy there are concentration camps. They have different names, Cie and Cpr, but they are nothing more than detention facilities where asylum seekers are locked up waiting to be identified and often sent back to hell, against their will. 45 thousand migrants detained in our concentration camps, one of the highest numbers in the whole West.
As far as we investigate, we risk forgetting a few, but Iraq, Syria, Eritrea and the Central African Republic are places where there are reports of mass internment places on defenseless populations. So while we remember the horrors of 75 years ago, millions of people around the world have woken up this morning experiencing that same horror. And they will live it tomorrow. In the Days of Remembrance, let us also remember them.