BARCA NOSTRA - A Monument to the European Union

BARCA NOSTRA, a migrant initiative, announces the launch of its petition for the procession ‘March from Palermo to Brussels - A Monument to the European Union’ to bring the recovered refugee shipwreck from the 18th April 2015 from Italy to Brussels and install it as a permanent monument in the heart of the headquarters of European politics.

The procession through Europe with the recovered shipwreck of the refugee boat that sank in the Sicilian Channel in spring 2015, will start in Palermo in summer 2018  - referencing the Charter of Palermo and the freedom of movement as a human right, as well as the local tradition of the syncretic Santa Rosalia procession as a victory over the plague and a celebration of life.

The procession will move through Italy, crossing the borders of France, Germany and Belgium, to the headquarters of the European Union in Brussels. There the shipwreck will come to its final halt and be displayed permanently in front of the European Council and Commission as a reminder of and transnational monument to Europe’s failed migration policies and its legislative machine that creates illegality and social destruction.

The campaign BARCA NOSTRA, to march the shipwreck to Brussels over national borders, not only acts as a literal and political migration movement for the right of mobility, but intends to attract transnational migrant followers to manifest the shipwreck as a monument of significant political, ethical and historical importance for all future generations.

On the 18th April 2015, one of the largest civilian tragedies in the Mediterranean sea occurred 96 km off the Libyan coast and 193 km south of the Italian island of Lampedusa. There were only 28 survivors. Between 700 and 1000 people were presumed missing.

On the 30th June 2016, the shipwreck was recovered from the seabed at a depth of 370 meters and transported to Augusta, Sicily where the removal and identification of the hundreds of bodies still imprisoned within the wreck began. The work involved around 150 people, including personnel of the navy, the fire brigade, the Italian Red Cross, military corps, health professionals, forensic pathologists and volunteers in addition to the national and local authorities.

Following the arrival of the shipwreck to the Melilli Nato base of Augusta, the 18 April Committee was established with the aim of preserving the memory of the tragic shipwreck and of creating a ‘Garden of Memory’ dedicated to the victims of migration, as well as to support and nurture the solidarity of the inhabitants of Augusta towards those who are forced to leave their country.

In October of the same year, Italy’s then Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi, proposed to bring the shipwreck to Brussels and warned that Europe must take responsibility for the “scandal of migration” so that similar tragedies do not occur again. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, and other international organisations supported the idea. In the same month, the announcement to bring the shipwreck to Brussels came from the undersecretary of the Interior Ministry, Domenico Manzione, stating "That it is a symbol of the Italian commitment to immigrants and a warning to Europe”.

In July 2017, an initiative supported by the Mayor of Milan, Guiseppe Sala, proposing to turn the shipwreck into a Human Rights Museum in the Milanese Città Studi, was passed by a municipal vote in Milan, and 600 thousand euros were allocated to the project. 

All these plans have competed on political levels causing polemics in the Italian and international media - while casualties continue - but did not come to fruition so far. They neglect to recognise the ethical right of migrants to appropriate their shipwreck symbolically and politically and the impact this vessel can have by marching it over borders into the heart of European politics – not only as a collective monument and memory but also as a realised bill of rights to mobility and movement to transnational solidarity. 

So far, more than 20 million euros of Italian and European taxpayers money has been spent to recover the shipwreck and investigate the remains of the deceased - to give them back their identities and the authorities the ability to inform their families.

BARCA NOSTRA, a collective monument to contemporary migration - produced by European politics and funded by the European people - not only acts as a symbol for the continued failure of European migration policies, but also as a reminder that Europe shall take responsibility for its colonial past and its continuing politics of exploitation. The procession with the shipwreck through Europe embodies and executes the human right to mobility, commemorating all casualties of migration caused by inhumane politics.

In a democratic and globalised political system, where there is free movement of information, money and goods, free movement of people should be manifest.

The EU followed the Darwinistic logic of the survival of the fittest, mostly welcoming young refugees who have survived the odyssey and succeeded in overcoming the hurdles of coming to Europe. Human resources are used as an incentive for state economies until a countries’ necessary contingency of migrant workers is reached and the flow of migration is stopped. Consequently a system is created that produces illegality to legitimate the repatriation of people.

To participate in making BARCA NOSTRA, a monument to the European Union, please sign the BARCA NOSTRA petition on our website, donate for the cause, participate in the procession crossing borders through Europe and help to erect the shipwreck as a monument and reminder in front of the EU headquarters in Brussels for future generations to come.

BARCA NOSTRA, a migrant initiative, is supported and initiated by Fondazione Manifesto, a non-profit art organisation.


Please find below a press kit and campaign material to download. For further info or other enquiries: