Davide Agnolazza: Idomeni and the story of a pirate radio

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“Spring 2016: Hungary, Serbia and Macedonia arbitrarily decide to close their borders in the face of those who flee from Syria, interrupting the Balkan route connecting Europe to Asia. So tens of thousands remain in the middle ground between the Middle East and Northern Europe: Greece. And it is on the barbed wire that divides Greece from Macedonia, which begins this story. At Idomeni, a small frontier country “. Davide Agnolazza, a social worker, begins her relationship with Tedx Taranto “on clouds travel ideas”, the first edition of Ted in the city of Puglia.

In an improvised tendon where more than fifteen thousand people live in the hope of being able to pass the barbed wire that divides them from friends and relatives, managed to go more than a few days before the closure of the borders, the first pirate radio, radio noborder, was born. He started transmitting on May 31, 2016. Two weeks later the activists are arrested, since transmitting is considered illegal practice. But the idea now travels on its legs and spreads to the world. Radio noborder becomes an itinerant project on migration, moving between Italy, Europe and the Middle East. And so an open platform is born to anyone who wants to continue this collective narrative (http://radionoborder.net/about/).

When did the idea of ​​a pirated radio go to Idomeni?

“It was night-time and with so many activists, coming everywhere to help, we were in a big tent. A day curtain was an independent law office and at night it was our home. He always discussed how to do the next day. They were tired, lacking confidence. ‘Boys why do not we make a radio? Yes a radio, a radio station. With antennas and repeaters, we put it in the tent, light it up and start transmitting. Let’s do radio Idomeni. We take activists, volunteers, refugees’. So we started our broadcasts in a refugee camp 20 miles from Idomeni, after this had been swept away by police bulldozers. Without relevant radio experiences, we did not know either that we were doing it or how. An antenna mounted on a fishing rod was sent on a pirated frequency at 95.00 in medium waves. A satellite parabola, pointing to the sky, broadcast live broadcasts on the internet, and a huge loudspeaker in the middle of the field, overwhelmingly disturbed public peace by sending interviews, speeches, stories, and music for hours “

How did the project evolve?

“A community was born around the radio. Content building was done with shared methods as a sort of editing. Everyone slowly found his role. There were technicians, speakers, translators, dj. There were dozens of people alternating with the radio’s microphones every day. The narration of the phenomenon thus became active, self-managed, pure”.

How did migrants approach the use of the radio?

“They lived it like a karaoke at the beginning. The only thing they wanted to do was put music, because the radio we always did with a loudspeaker so that those around us in a radius of a few hundred meters knew what was going on. When they began to understand that radio, beyond the loudspeaker, went online, then they began to tell their stories. Many of them had been interviewed by journalists and TV but faced these media as they were posing. With the radio they pulled out their personality”.

Has the radio changed from its origins to today, looking at the different approaches to migrants?

“The contexts have changed the story. When we were dealing with refugees coming from a conflict like that in Syrian, Greece, their story was a protest tale for the closed border, protesting the authority that would not allow them to reach their destination. With African migrants victims of the caporalate in southern Italy, we found stable people who were not going to continue the journey. Sometimes a ransom, others of extreme sadness because they talked about ghettos, the extreme poverty they lived in. With Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, it was the story of the ongoing protest against the Israeli vice. A reconstruction story in Iraq just after the crisis in Mosul”.

What are you doing now?

“I’m in Greece, working as a logistical manager of a UN-funded refugee camp but managed by an independent Italian non-governmental organization. I deal with cases of extreme vulnerability”.

When did you begin, at Idomeni, what has changed in Greece?

“All those who came to Idomeni did not intend to stop in Greece. They wanted to go to Northern Europe. Those who failed to pass the borders were deported to the military camps and entered the longest car of European reception, asking who for the asylum, few, many for family reunification and many for the relocation, which was a sort of lottery where Europe with the breakdown, decided where to send people. Now in Greece there are asylum seekers in Greece. They realized that there is no hope of going anywhere else unless they have money to pay a trafficker”.

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