Marzoug is in his photo Credit: ANSA
Marzoug is in his photo Credit: ANSA

Chamseddine Marzoug is a Tunisian fisherman who buries the bodies of those die trying to cross the Mediterranean and end up on the shores of the country in a cemetery in southern Tunisia. He is on a visit to the EU Parliament.

 ''I began 10 years ago and I have picked up over 400 bodies'' in that time, said Chamseddine Marzoug, a 52-year-old fisherman from Zarzis, between Djerba and the Libyan border. ''I then gave them a proper burial.'' 

Fishermen gives demonstration, 'what fault do they have?

 Marzoug told his story on Friday before the EU Parliament in Strasbourg during a press conference organized by the GUE group. He showed a photo of the body of a five-year-old child that he had recovered at sea, tangled up in algae. ''What fault did he have?'' the Tunisian fisherman asked, adding that 
''I understand borders, but I understand people better. There needs to be a sense of humanity in dealing with these people who flee to have a better future and who are in Libya, where there is a market to sell men, women, and children. All of Africa undergoes a severe  battering in Libya.'' 

To simulate his work of collecting corpses along the canal near the EU Parliament building in Strasbourg, Marzoug chose a child's stuffed animal, took it out of the water, cleaned it and prepared it as tradition calls for in Tunisia: ankles and wrists bound and placed in a coffin. He put a number on the white casket corresponding to an estimate of the corpses he has taken from the sea and that could be useful if anyone were to come to get bodies, one day. So far only one family from Cameroon has gone to Zarzis to see if one of their relatives was along those found drowned off the Tunisian coast. ''If I were to find the body of a white person, then it would be a different story,'' Marzoug said. ''We would have all the media around and the Tunisian authorities worried about the death of a tourist. But since they are black, no one cares about them. The doctors records their death, writes down an estimated age and their gender and it ends there. The color of their skin condemns them to being unknown even in death.''

 Cemetery is full, needs more land as season starts

 ''Last year we collected 66 bodies and this year only 6, but now they have begun to arrive. The winds are blowing from the south and bringing the boats towards the Tunisian coastline, where they often don't manage to go further,'' he said. His cemetery of the known is full and he is thus seeking more ground. ''My dream,'' Marzoug said, ''is to have a large, new cemetery to give a decent burial to everyone. It is a dream that is for them, not for me. They were unhappy in their countries, treated as slaves in Libya and then drowned. Life rejected them and we cannot reject them by denying them a proper burial.'' The fisherman then asked that a minute of silence be observed in the victims' honor. 

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