Following the repatriation of the survivors of the first deportations to Ustica in June 1912, a second group of Libyan deportees arrived on the island in June 1915. This second wave of deportations lasted from 1915 until 1934.

Italy suffered another defeat in the hands of the Libyan resistance at the Battle of Gasr Bu Hadi on April 29th 1915. Three thousands Italian troops marching to attack the Sanussi camp near Sirte were attacked relentlessly. The Italian forces made a chaotic attempt at retreating to Sirte that resulted in severe casualties. Almost 500 Italian troops were killed. Fleeing Italian troops abandoned an arsenal of provisions including rifles, ammunition, machine guns and field cannons that fell into hands of Libyan insurgents. Libyans then advanced to Misrata and were soon at Ben Gashir, 15 miles from Tripoli. By August 1915 the only Tripolitania towns s till held by the Italians were Homs, Misrata, Tajoora & Tripoli, where Italy had 40000 men, machine gun nests and a wall circling the suburbs. Italy had suffered a devastating defeat and its campaign was almost back to its starting point.

It was in the aftermath of the Battle of Gasr Bu Hadi that a second wave of deportations was organised. On June 15th 1915, 778 Libyans arrived on Ustica aboard the ship Re Umberto. By January the following year, the number reached had 1300 and prisoners outnumbered the local populace. 250 of the Libyan deportees were accommodated in an old pasta factory; others were placed in Fortino (the islands’ blockhouse) and Rocca della Falconeira (a fort dating back to the Roman period). The remaining deportees rented small villas on the outskirts of the town and were free to move around the island.

Unlike the initial group of prisoners, this group included notable Sanussi leaders of the Zawiyas in Cyrenaica. Hoping to secure interlocutors among chiefs and notables of Libyan society to pacify the population and quash the remaining resistance, the fascist government afforded these prisoners better conditions. The wealthiest prisoners lived on the island with their families and servants. Other Libyan prisoners were permitted to work. In June 1916, there were 141 Libyan deportees employed on the island, working on the fields, on fishing boats, as servants, porters, cleaners, barbers, and nurses. In addition to their earnings, deportees were able to receive money from their families in Libya. This money was spent on the island, contributing to local commerce and the island’s economy.

Photographer Giuseppe Barraco, a resident of Ustica is pictured seated next to his barefoot servant boy, a Libyan deportee. Photo from Centro Studi e Documentazione Isola di Ustica.

By the end of 1916, only 80 notables among the Libyan deportees remained. These continued to receive a monthly allowance of 150 lire (compared with 4 lire provided to the “common” prisoners). The end of 1923 however saw the arrival of even more esteemed deportees. Alleged to have conspired against the fascist regime in Libya, these new political hostages joined the 100 Libyans that were still held captive on the island. Even wealthier than previous deportees, these Libyans were considered “special exiles of the highest rank”, and were said to have even been permitted to send wires to Mussolini and the King. These well dressed and prominent Libyans were highly regarded by Usticesi residents and Italian exiles a like, and included Salah el Mehdui, the former mayor of Benghazi, and Mohamed ben Ali Buzeid, Knight of the Colonial Order of the Star of Italy, government adviser, and member of the fascist Arab Statutory Party.

By the late 1920s, alongside the Libyan deportees were 600 exiled Italian anti-fascist political prisoners. There are stories of Libyan deportees socialising and building a rapport with the Italian prisoners, and together they organised conferences, a library, sporting activities, and even formed the Scuolo Italo-Araba di Ustica (Italio-Arab School of Ustica).

Among the Italian exiles was socialist, pacifist cartoonist Giuseppe Scalarini, who was confined on Ustica from March 5th 1927 until November 7th 1929. Between October 1911 and January 1926, Scalarini produced 3700 cartoons denouncing the atrocities of colonial troops in Libya, for which he suffered police persecution, beatings, imprisonment and exile, first to Lampedusa and then to Ustica. He died in Milan in 1948 aged 75. In one letter Scalarini describes what he saw as he approached Ustica:

On the rocky shores, Arabs were curled up, wrapped in white cloaks. They were Libyans, confined because they did not want to hear of Italian civilisation. Take a look at the gallows of Tripoli.

Political hostages and esteemed guests: civil and military authorities posing with Libyan notables exiled on the island, 1916. Photo from Centro Studi e Documentazione Isola di Ustica.
The school inspector Fulvio Contini visits the Italo-Arab school in Ustica. The school was attended by many prominent Libyans, late 1920s. Photo from Centro Studi e Documentazione Isola di Ustica.
A Libyan deportee is pictured with Ustica resident Concettina Maggiore in the late 1920s (L). Maggiore’s father owned a small grocery store on the island which benefited from increase custom during the years of the second wave of Libyan deportations. Maggiore is pictured a few years ago (R). I have learnt she died in a car accident in the past couple of years. Photos from Centro Studi e Documentazione Isola di Ustica and Pietro Bertucci.

Libyan deportees are pictured with the exiled Italian anarchist Andrea Lentini on Ustica in the 1920s. Photo from Centro Studi e Documentazione Isola di Ustica.
Libyan and Italian political deportees on the island in 1927. Guiseppe Scalarini is pictured in the bottom right. Photo from Centro Studi e Documentazione Isola di Ustica.
Libyan and Italian political deportees on the island in 1927. Guiseppe Scalarini is pictured in the bottom right. Photo from Centro Studi e Documentazione Isola di Ustica.
One of Scalarini’s cartoons published in Avanti! in 1911 with the caption “The Arabs hanged in Tripoli in Piazza del Pane cry out to Trento and Trieste: Careful sisters, the soldiers of genius are coming'”. This was published in the aftermath of the surprise attack on Italian forces at Shar al-Shatt, and the subsequent hanging of fourteen alleged Libyan conspirators. The remaining “rebels” were rounded up and held captive on Ustica in October 1911. Scalarini would be exiled on the island less than two decades later for continuing to condemn Italy’s exploits in Libya.
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Another of Scalarini’s cartoons published in Avanti! in 1913 with the caption: “And the thefts, fires, bombardments? It was a civilising mission”.

Among the Libyan notables deported to the island was Mohammed Reda as-Senussi, who remained on the island from January 3rd 1928 until in March 21st 1929. He was followed by one of his sons (reportedly named Hasan; Mohammed Reda was married ten times and had numerous children, very few of which I have been able to find much information about). Twenty year old Hasan was exiled to the island with his wife, Zainab ben Mohammed as-Sudani, their eight month old daughter, his two year old nephew, a servant, and a maid, on September 15th 1930, and settled in the house of the island’s former mayor Vito Longo, which overlooked the central square. The young Senussi was sentenced to five years of political exile by the deputy governor of Cyrenaica, Rodolfo Graziani. He arrived on the island with thirty one other leaders of the Senussi order. As with many of the other prominent Libyan exiles, Hasan quickly became acquainted with local families, and according to one island resident, Lucia di Mento Leone, who at the time was seventeen, hosted locals at his home every afternoon for tea. Documents unearthed by Centro Studi e Documentazione Isola di Ustica also suggest that Hasan may have proposed marriage to the mayor Gaetano Lenzi’s daughter. Lenzi is reported to have accepted on the condition of half a million lire dowry be paid (this was five times the total of the island’s municipal budget). The Minister of Colonies soon got wind of the proposal, and Hasan was transferred to the Tremiti Islands on May 25th 1931 (soon after his second daughter Anisa was born on Ustica).

Mohammed Reda as-Senussi, brother of the King Idris, remained on the island from January 3rd 1928 until in March 21st 1929.

With Sayyid Omar al-Mukhtar’s death in 1931, the Libyan resistance was effectively quashed. In January 1932, Marshal Pietro Badoglio declared that “pacification” had been achieved, and the colonial measure of confining the nomadic population of Cyrenaica in concentration camps in the Libyan desert began. By the end of 1934, almost all Libyan deportees on Ustica were repatriated.

Despite the better living conditions afforded to them, 141 of the 1300 deportees to Ustica between 1915 and 1916 died on the island (none of cholera). Centro Studi e Documentazione Isola di Ustica reports these victims were buried in The Cemetery of Arabs, alongside the 132 victims of the first deportation. No reference however is made to these later victims on the 2004 memorial plaques, nor are they included in the total number of dead buried at the cemetery.

In April 2000, Centro Studi e Documentazione Isola di Ustica published a list of the 141 Libyan deportees who died on the island, in order of their deaths, between June 1915 and August 1916. Their ages, and when known, their hometowns and occupations were also listed. Among those listed are two sixteen year olds: Scirif Ben Abdirachiman from Derna, and Massaud Ben Mahadi, a farmer from Fezzan. May Allah elevate all the victims, and may their graves become meadows of the Garden:

  1. Mohamed Ben Mohamed El Rascidi farmer, 45 years old
  2. Mahtut Ben Uchda, Sirte, 35 years old
  3. Creim Uehda Ben, 40 years old
  4. Hag Milard Ben Abedelhadi, 35 years old
  5. Hag Mohammed Bencabur Giufara, farmer, 70 years old
  6. Abdolla Ben Mohammed, farmer, 36 years old
  7. Brahin Ben Ali, farmer, 40 years old
  8. Zaad Ben Miled, farmer, 40 years old
  9. On Gheira Ramadan, farmer, 26 years old
  10. Abdalali Ben Buhuma El Sciabani, farmer, 28 years old
  11. Zaad Ben Asman, farmer, 40 years old
  12. Ben Mahamed Mausur, farmer, 25 years old
  13. Abdenebi Ben Hamed, 30 years old
  14. Ali Ben Abderaiman, farmer, 36 years old
  15. Mahamed Hamed Ben Lahagi Scerif, farmer, 20 years old
  16. Ali Ben Bugul Buzedi, farmer, 25 years old
  17. Matuel Ben Abselam Busciat, farmer, 35 years old
  18. Sahad Ben Massaud, farmer, 20 years old
  19. Mahamed Fitori Ben Kalifa, farmer, 60 years old
  20. Bubactur Ben Mahamed, farmer, 30 years old
  21. Mahamed Ben Ali, farmer, 50 years old
  22. Laharadi Abdegeli Ben, farmer, 30 years old
  23. Ben Amor Crein, farmer, 50 years old
  24. Zaru Ben Ali, farmer, 40 years old
  25. Salam Ben Abdalla, farmer, 60 years old
  26. Ben Amor Lahagi Hamed, farmer, 50 years old
  27. Ali Ben Ramadan, 28 years old
  28. Ben Ali Mahamed Siaha, farmer, 30 years old
  29. Ben Mahamed Ali Nami, farmer, 40 years old
  30. Abselam Ben Abdalla, farmer, 17 years old
  31. Ben Ali Abdalla, farmer, 20 years old
  32. Farais Ben Mahamed, farmer, 20 years old
  33. Mansur Ben Amur, Zliten, 24 years old
  34. Ali Ben Abdolla El Hallul, farmer, Misurata, 20 years old
  35. Ben Hall Muftah, farmer, Zliten, 25 years old
  36. Halifa Bel Hamed, farmer, 26 years old
  37. Auran Ben Mohammed, farmer, Tarhuna, 20 years old
  38. Suh Amur Ben Mohamed Benmausur, farmer, Orfella, 55 years old
  39. Ben Salem Benganem Silim, Zliten, 18 years old, farmer
  40. Amarben Muftaha El Sedai, farmer, Zliten, 40 years old
  41. Abdisselam Braim Ben Buder, Mesellata, 25 years old
  42. Ben Mahamed Sahia Fefren, farmer, 44 years old
  43. Abdel Hamid Ben Unis, farmer, 30 years old
  44. Ali Ben Salem, farmer, Tarhuna, 40 years old
  45. Salem Ben Ali, farmer, Tarhuna, 26 years old
  46. Abdelsaied Ben Muftaha, Tarhuna, 18 years old
  47. Mahammed Ben Hassan, farmer, Misurata, 36 years old
  48. Ben Mabruk Abdrahaman, farmer, Benghazi, 36 years old
  49. Mahammed Ben Gebrani, farmer, Zliten, 60 years old
  50. Bubaker Ben Mumi, farmer, Tarhuna, 40 years old
  51. Ben Ashur Salem El Maragani, farmer, Homs, 26 years old
  52. Omranben Amar, farmer, Zliten, 35 years old
  53. Ramadan Ben Musbak, farmer, Sirte, 22 years old
  54. Ben Salem Abdolla, farmer Sirte, 30 years old
  55. Mahammed Ben Salem, farmer, Zliten, 28 years old
  56. Ali Ben Amar, farmer, Zliten, 24 years old
  57. Mahammed Ben Ali, farmer, Tarhuna, 18 years old
  58. Mahammed Ben Kaginam, farmer, Fezzan, 27 years old
  59. Mohammed Ben Hamed Romadan, farmer, 20 years old
  60. Ben Zaied U Sgaier, farmer, Tarhuna, 35 years old
  61. Fray Ben Belgassen, farmer, Sirte, 30 years old
  62. Musbak Ben Abdelhafid Tarhuna, farmer, 40 years old
  63. Derbasc Ben Saleh Ben Mohammed, farmer, Orfella, 20 years old
  64. Ramadan Ben Bubaker, farmer, 20 years old
  65. Abdalla Salem Ben Hay, farmer, Tarhuna, 50 years old
  66. Hag Hamed Ben Ali Bugren, farmer, Misurata, 58 years old
  67. Mohammed Ben Otman Ben Saad, farmer, Derna, 36 years old
  68. Mohammed Ben Ali, farmer, Zliten, 40 years old
  69. Ali Ben Smeda, farmer, Sirte, 27 years old
  70. Mohammed El Kiamol Ben Mohammed, Fezzan, farmer, 24 years old
  71. Ali Ben Massaud, Mery, farmer, 26 years old
  72. Massaud Ben Mabuk, farmer, Souk El Giuma, 19 years old
  73. Abdallak Ben Misceri Bel Abdallak, farmer, Fezzan, 40 years old
  74. Iufele Ben Hamed Mohammed, farmer, Tarhuna, 28 years old
  75. Abdolla Ben Sulek Ubesc, farmer, 75 years old
  76. Aluani Ben Sadi Lafi, farmer, Benghazi, 38 years old
  77. Mohammed Ben Nasser, farmer, Sirte, 18 years old
  78. Massaud Ben Mahadi, farmer, Fezzan, 16 years old
  79. Mohammed Ben Mabrouk, 50 years old
  80. Bula Ben Hamed, 19 years old
  81. Abdisselam Ben Hamed, 17 years old
  82. Ben Abdalla El Kalifa Hebeier Souk El Gioma, 75 years old
  83. Mikeil Ben Solinam, Benghazi, 37 years old
  84. Mohammed Ben Yusuf, Zliten, farmer, 45 years old
  85. Ben Amor Abdemebi Misda, farmer, 40 years old
  86. Hag Mohammed Ben Halifa, farmer, Zliten, 42 years old
  87. Ali Ben Mausur Ben Halifa, Tarhuna, 17 years old
  88. Hag Ali Sgheir, 60 years old
  89. Mohammed Ben Hassan, Zliten, 24 years old
  90. Gibrin Ben Hamed, Benghazi, 48 years old
  91. Salak Ben Mabrouk Ben Sala, Sirte, 40 years old
  92. Hamed Abbasi, Benghazi, 26 years old
  93. Ben Ali Adib El Hadid, Zliten, 19 years old
  94. Amur Ben Mohammed, son of Ben Ali Hag, farmer, Orfella, 40 years old
  95. Nengi Ben Ammar, Zliten, 26 years old
  96. Salem Ben Halifa, Homs, 30 years old
  97. Ben Hall Gibrima, Benghazi, 40 years old
  98. Suleiman Barka, Misurata, 26 years old
  99. Musatfa Ben Hamed Ghesebat Hag, Misurata, 45 years old
  100. Mohammed Ben Mabrouk, farmer, 34 years old
  101. Ben Saad Masud, Orfella, 35 years old
  102. Mohammed Ben Rehl, Orfella, 20 years old
  103. Mohammed Ben Uega, Zliten, farmer, 30 years old
  104. Muftah Ben Milad, Orfella, 20 years old
  105. Mohammed Ben Brahim Hureid, 17 years old
  106. Tabre Ben Belgasen Fereit, Benghazi, 45 years old
  107. Mohammed Ben Ihaia, Benghazi, 28 years old
  108. Butaccher Ben Abdisselam, Sirte, 25 years old
  109. Ali Ben Mohammed El Dadusci, Zliten, 30 years old
  110. Umbarak Hag Ben Ali, Zliten, 45 years old
  111. Hadia Mohamed Ben Burchis, Zliten, 24 years old
  112. Mohammed Ben Atman, 30 years old
  113. Farag Ben Hamuda Ben Salem, Fezzan, 70 years old
  114. Ben Saad, Zliten, 25 years old
  115. Mohammed Ben Halifa, Zliten, 40 years old
  116. Mohamed Ben Salem, Zliten, 50 years old
  117. Oheda Ben Abdinebi, Sirte, 55 years old
  118. Romadam Ben Abdirahiman, Orfella, 28 years old
  119. Muftan Ben Rahil Sciorani, Orfella, 40 years old
  120. Mahummed Ben Abdenebi, Derna, 25 years old
  121. Ben Mohamed Hag, 50 years old
  122. Ali Ben Muftah, Zliten, 32 years old
  123. Belgassem Ben Hamed Bagub Hag, Sirte, 44 years old
  124. Mohamed El Abed Ben Taibi, 40 years old
  125. Hamed Ben Abdalla, Sirte, 30 years old
  126. Hag Abdelhir Ben Milad, 35 years old
  127. Mohamed Ben Abdallah, Zliten, 30 years old
  128. Scirif Ben Abdirachiman, Derna, 16 years old
  129. Ben Mohamed Scinemi, Fezzan, 28 years old
  130. Mohammed Ben Hassen, Zliten, 26 years old
  131. Abdilhafid Ben Hamed, Orfella, 65 years old,
  132. Abdissomad Ben Soliman, Zliten, 50 years old
  133. Mohamed Ben Hamed, Misurata, 70 years old
  134. Soliman Ben Trafit, Zliten, 22 years old
  135. Mohamed Mustafa Ben Maradda, Misurata, 70 years old
  136. Mohammed Ben Hibula, Zliten, 26 years old
  137. Rahil Ben Amor Ben Naser, Misurata, 32 years old
  138. Mansur Ben Hibrahim Ben Abdalla, Zliten, 26 years old
  139. Mossobah Ben Saad, Orfella, 45 years old
  140. Mohammed Ben Moftoha, Orfella, 55 years old
  141. Hamed Ben Abdisselam, Zliten, 24 years old