Riflessjoni, wara l-massakru ta’ Pariġi

eiffel peace symbol

 

It-total tal-vittmi qiegħed jiżdied. Fil-ħin li qed nikteb, in-numru ta’ mejtin huwa ta’ 129,  b’352 feruti, 99 minnhom gravi ħafna.

Dan hu t-tieni massakru f’ Pariġi: l-ieħor seħħ f’Jannar.

Sebgħa mit-terroristi nvoluti huma mejta, it-tmien wieħed kif ukoll numru ta’ persuni assoċjati magħhom huma preżentment imfittxija.

L-attakk ta’ nhar il-Ġimgħa kien wieħed simboliku: kien attakk fuq il-valuri li Franza u Pariġi jirrappreżentaw. L-attakk seħħ fl-istess żona li fiha hemm l-uffiċini ta’ Charlie Hebdo [il-mira tal-attakk l-ieħor f’Jannar] kif ukoll infirex fiż-żona li fiha jsiru id-dimostrazzjonijiet Pariġini.

Ilkoll kemm aħna ixxukkjati b’dak li ġara. Avolja minn dak li nisimgħu ilna nistennew dan it-tip ta’ inċident.

Franza iddikjarat stat ta’ emergenza. F’Malta ġie estiż is-sospensjoni tar-regoli tas-Schengen biex dan issa jibqa’ sejjer sa wara li jintemm is-Summit taċ-CHOGM.

L-attakk fuq il-moviment ħieles tal-persuni fiż-żona Schengen ilu li beda. Intensifika mal-mewġa kurrenti ta’ migrazzjoni mis-Sirja. Wara Pariġi bla dubju dan l-attakk ser ikompli jintensifika.

L-ikbar rebħa tat-terroriżmu jkun jekk jirnexxielu jnissel il-biża’ fit-tul. Biża’ li jekk isseħħ tkompli tnaqqar it-tolleranza u s-solidarjetà.

Bla dubju jeħtieġ li noqgħodu attenti, kemm aħna ċ-ċittadini, imma iktar minnha l-awtoritajiet. Huwa neċessarju imma li ma nħallux il-biża’ tirkibna għax bħala konsegwenza ningħalqu f’gaġġa.

Huwa żmien ta’ riflessjoni favur il-paċi u s-solidarjetà, il-messaġġ ta’ Jean Julie il-karikarturista li pinġa l-karikatura riprodotta hawn fuq.

Il-vjolenza ma tiġġielidiex bil-vjolenza iżda bid-disponibilità ta’ kull wieħed minnha favur il-paċi u bit-tixrid ta’ kultura ta’ solidarjetà. Dan mhux faċli meta qed ngħumu f’baħar ta’ indifferenza. Inċidenti bħal dan jixxokkjawna, imma forsi jġibu lil uħud f’sensihom u jgħinhom biex inaqqsu l-indifferenza għas-sofferenzi madwarna.

Eiffel lights the way

ippubblikat fuq iNews, it-Tnejn 16 ta’ Novembru 2015

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Indifferenza li toqtol

Mediterranean tragedy

Il-mewt mgħarrqa ta’ mill-inqas 700 immigrant fil-baħar bejn il-Libja u Lampedusa hu frott tal-kultura tal-indifferenza li tirrendja madwarna. Huma 700 persuna li qed jaħarbu mill-konflitti u mill-miżerja, sfruttati min-nies bla skrupli u injorati mill-bqija.

Huma 700 persuna li ħtieġu l-għajnuna u din ma ġietx mogħtija lilhom. Minn flok  ma ngħataw l-għajnuna tħallew jaqdfu għal rashom.

Hi problema kontinwa li l-pajjiżi Ewropej fuq il-fruntiera Mediterranja tal-Unjoni Ewropeja tħallew jiffaċċjaw waħedhom. Għax l-istrutturi Ewropeja li kienu kapaċi jħeġġu s-solidarjetà mal-banek f’diffikultà għalqu għajnejhom u sabu diffikultà biex jgħinu l-bniedem li qed jaħrab mill-miżerja u t-terrur.

Allura qed isejħu iktar laqgħat biex juru li taparsi qed jagħmlu xi ħaġa. Dawn huma l-istess nies li ftit ilu kien jrewħu l-mibgħeda u jitkellmu fuq il-pushbacks. Kienu jħeġġu li d-dgħajjes bil-bnedmin maħruba kellhom jitreġġgħu lura minn fejn ġew. Kienu jgħidulna ukoll li dawk li xorta jaslu għandhom ilestulhom l-ajruplani w jibgħatuhom lura minn fejn ġew.

Bħat-traġedji ta’ qabilha, din l-aħħar traġedja hi ukoll ikkawżata mill-indifferenza tal-istituzzjonijiet.

Sadanittant, iktar paroli. Iċ-ċimiterju madwarna jkompli jikber: ħtija tal-indifferenza.

Sharing our responsibilities

lampedusa-letta-e-barroso-contestati

The Lampedusa tragedy was a tragedy waiting to happen. .

Human persons in need of help have been on our doorstep, Europe’s doorstep. The help they sought was not available.

Malta has a government which belongs to that family of political parties, the socialist family, which describes itself as being the champion of the vulnerable and the downtrodden. In migration policy, in just seven months, the Labour Party led government in Malta has failed miserably in living up to its core values.

At this point in time none are more vulnerable than migrants fleeing persecution: in particular Somalis and Eritreans who account for the vast majority of migrants at this doorstep of Europe. The Labour Party in Government is not interested in their plight. It is more interested in a populist discourse to impress its hangers-on. Labour’s populism has diluted its core values  beyond recognition.

Labour’s push-back policy was not implemented due to the timely intervention of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. Those who think that  Joseph Muscat’s pushback policy was an exercise in bluff would do well to remember that  when still Leader of the Opposition Joseph Muscat had made statements on the need to suspend Malta’s international obligations if faced with large numbers of boat-people.

Many crocodile tears are currently being shed by those who in the past weeks advocated a hard-line inhumane attitude. Those who advocated push-backs are apparently shocked by what has happened.

Are they?

When we criticise the European Union for tackling immigration inappropriately we are also criticising ourselves as since May 2004 Malta and the Maltese are an integral part of the European Union. Malta forms part of each and every decision-taking structure within the European Union. Together with all the other member states Malta participates whenever a decision is taken.

The European Union needs a common migration policy which recognises that each and every refugee within its borders is its responsibility. The border states like Malta, Italy, Spain, Greece and Cyprus are shouldering a disproportionate responsibility which must be shared by all  members states.

So far, in the struggle between life and death the European Union (Malta included) has not opted to give adequate assistance to the living. As a result we are collectively responsible for the Lampedusa deaths. It is useless shedding tears for the dead if we did not respect them when they were still alive.

The Lampedusa tragedy was no accident. It is the direct consequence of the fact that on migration there is still a free for all in the European Union. A common policy is required to give flesh to practical solidarity and bury once and for all the culture of indifference.

The Greens in Europe are all in favour of responsibility sharing. That is, the recognition by European Union institutions that once a migrant crosses the EU borders he is its responsibility. Common borders are not just a tool for the payment of customs duties. A humanitarian migration policy is a must in every corner of the European Union. Crossing the border into the European Union should mean moving into an area which respects every human person, with no exceptions being permitted.

A first step would be amending what is known as the Dublin Convention such that the arrival of a migrant within any of the member states would not signify any more that he is restricted to remain in the country of arrival. Such an amendment to the Dublin Convention would facilitate the movement of migrants within the European Union and, consequently, their applying for refugee status, if this is applicable,  within any one of the member states.

This is the official policy of the European Green Party to which policy Alternattiva Demokratika has contributed considerably through constructive engagement with our European partners. The Greens in Europe are the only European Political Party which has fully appreciated the situation which EU border states are facing. Without any stamping of feet or smelling “pushover” coffee the European Green Party is the foremost proposer and supporter of an EU which shoulders its responsibilities through a policy of migration responsibility sharing.

The others just stamp their feet and indulge in inconsequential rhetoric interspaced with crocodile tears.

It is about time that the Nationalist Party and the Labour Party accept that their approach to migration has failed. They should take a leaf from the policy book of the European Greens and seek to convince their partners in the European Union of the need to share responsibility for migration with the border states.

Whether the Lampedusa tragedy will serve as a wake-up call is still to be seen. The comments from Jose Barroso and Cecilia Malmström at Lampedusa on Wednesday are good indications.

Well Muscat can smell that coffee now.

As published in The Times of Malta, Saturday 12 October 2013

Wara l-aħħar straġi f’ Lampedusa: l-isfida tagħna lkoll

ITALY-IMMIGRATION-REFUGEE-ACCIDENT

L-iġsma bla ħajja tal-immigranti f’ Lampedusa huma l-aħħar avviż ta’ problema wara l-bieb. Li hemm min għandu bżonn l-għajnuna u m’hux isibha.

L-immigrazzjoni m’hiex problema tal-Unjoni Ewropeja. Hi problema tagħna lkoll, għax aħna ukoll parti minn din l-Ewropa ta’ bla qalb li tippreferi tibki lill-mejtin bid-dmugħ tal-kukkudrilli milli tipprova tgħinhom waqt li għadhom qed jippruvaw jgħixu.

L-Unjoni Ewropeja teħtieġ politika Euwopeja dwar il-migrazzjoni li tkun waħda komuni. Dan li jfisser meta ngħidu li din il-problema hi tagħna lkoll. Politika komuni li tkun ibbażata fuq is-solidarjeta li twarrab il-kultura tal-indifferenza u l-mibgħeda li uħud ilhom ixerrdu kontra dawk li huma maħruba minn pajjiżhom u jispiċċaw fuq xtutna.

Il-migrazzjoni hi piż li l-pajjiżi fil-periferija tal-Ewropa qed jerfgħuh waħedhom. Malta, l-Italja, l-Greċja, Spanja w Ċipru ilkoll qed jerfgħu iktar milli jifilħu. Dan ilna ngħiduh. Bħalma għidna dejjem ukoll li r-rażżiżmu u l-xenofobija  ta’ uħud qed iċajpru l-viżjoni ta’ bosta u jwasslu biex ikabbru t-tensjoni u jkattru l-mibgħeda.

Is-sentiment ta’ mibgħeda kontra l-immigranti jeżisti f’diversi pajjiżi membri tal-Unjoni Ewropeja. Għax fil-verita’ l-ebda pajjiż m’għandu l-monopolju tal-kultura tal-indifferenza. L-isforz biex din il-kultura tingħeleb irid ikun wieħed komuni. Għax din ukoll hi problema tagħna lkoll.

F’kull wieħed mill-pajjiżi tal-Unjoni Ewropeja hemm ukoll  sens ta’ solidarjeta’ li pero s’issa għadu m’huwiex qawwi biżżejjed.

Li aħna bħala Maltin nistennew li l-Unjoni Ewropeja tinvolvi ruħha iktar fil-migrazzjoni hu dritt. Pero’ biex dan id-dritt neżerċitawħ b’responsabbiltá hu meħtieġ li nifhmu ukoll li l-posizzjoni ġeografika tagħna titfa’ fuqna ukoll l-obbligu li nagħtu l-eżempju.

L-ospitalita’ li Malta u l-Maltin dejjem urew fil-passat hu prova li Malta dejjem refgħet ir-responsabbiltajiet tagħha. Li ninsistu għall-għajnuna ma jfissirx li ma irridux nerfgħu iktar imma hu karba li l-piż qed jikber wisq biex inkunu nistgħu nibqgħu nerfgħuh waħedna.

Li tipprattika is-solidarjeta’ fi żmien diffiċli hu xhieda ta’ valuri umani li Malta dejjem ħaddnet.  Ma irriedux inċedu taħt l-effett tal-piż.  Malta qatt ma ħaddnet il-kultura tal-indifferenza. Nistġhu iżda naħdmu iktar flimkien biex l-ilħna favur is-solidarjeta fl-Unjoni Ewropeja jissaħħu.

Is-solidarjetá tgħaqqadna. L-indifferenza tifridna. Din hi l-isfida tagħna lkoll.

Human Rights are not disposables

foam_disposables_cups

Human Rights are an essential cornerstone of democratic society. They are an integral and indispensable element of our democratic landscape. They are not disposable. We cannot do without them.

Being a savage blow struck against human rights, Joseph Muscat’s pushback of immigrants to Libya hence strikes at the very core of our democratic credentials.

During Malta’s short 50 year history as a democratic state we have had more than our fair share of political bullies who considered that human rights were shackling their political manoeuvres. We surely do not need any more.

The migration problem is certainly much greater than Malta can possibly handle on its own. Financial assistance from the EU has always been welcome but this can only be a small part of the solution. There are other  essential elements which have to be tackled.

Many EU member states have been reluctant to assist in the resettlement of these refugees. The EU institutions have not been forceful enough in translating solidarity declarations into practical initiatives. Pilot projects, now discontinued, are certainly not enough.

The root causes of the displacement of hundreds of thousands must be appropriately addressed. These include political instability, dictatorial governments and Climate Change impacts. The EU, on its own as well as in conjunction with regional and global institutions could do much more than has been done to date.

On a local level we need to move on from rhetoric to practical political action to tackle this issue of national importance. There is room for close political cooperation between the three political parties. This however must be based on an unconditional respect of human rights. It is the only way to combat the spectre of racism in Malta.

Common sense, solidarity and an end to the culture of indifference should be the foundation stones of a national strategy on immigration. It is the only way forward.

Reflections from Lampedusa: the indifference in our midst

pope-visits-lampedusa

Extracts from the sermon delivered by Pope Francis in Lampedusa, today Monday 8 July 2013

“Immigrants dying at sea, in boats which were vehicles of hope and became vehicles of death. Since I first heard of this tragedy a few weeks ago, and realised that it happens too frequently, it has constantly come back to me like a painful thorn in my heart. So, I felt that I had to come here today, to pray and to offer a sign of my closeness, but also to challenge our consciences lest this tragedy be repeated. Please, let it not be repeated!”

The Pope thanked the inhabitants and the authorities of Lampedusa for their solidarity with the immigrants and greeted the Muslims among them who today begin the fast of Ramadan, and added, “The Church is at your side as you seek a more dignified life for yourselves and your families”.

“This morning, in the light of God’s Word which has just been proclaimed, I wish to offer some thoughts to challenge people’s consciences, to lead them to reflection and a concrete change of heart”.

“’Adam, where are you?’ This is the first question God poses to man after his sin. Adam lost his bearings, his place in creation because he thought he could be powerful, able to control everything, to be God. Harmony was lost, man errs and this error occurs over and over again also in relationships with others. The ‘other’ who is no longer a brother or sister to be loved, but simply another person who disturbs our lives and our comfort. God asks a second question, ‘Cain, where is your brother?’. The illusion of being powerful, of being as great as God, even of being God Himself, leads to a whole series of errors, a chain of death, even to the spilling of a brother’s blood! God’s two questions echo even today, as forcefully as ever. How many of us, myself included, have lost our bearings; we are no longer attentive to the world in which we live … we do not take care of that which God created for all of us, and we are no longer capable even of looking after each other. And when humanity as a whole loses its bearings, it results in tragedies like the one we have witnessed.

“’Where is your brother?’ His blood cries out to me, says the Lord. This is not a question directed to others, it is a question directed to me, to you, to each of us. These brothers and sisters of ours were trying to escape difficult situations to find some serenity and peace; they sought a better place for themselves and their families, but instead they found only death. How often do such people fail to find understanding, fail to find acceptance, fail to find solidarity. And their cry rises up to God! I recently listened to one of these brothers of ours. Before arriving here, he and the others were at the mercy of traffickers, people who exploit the poverty of others, people who live off the misery of others. How much these people have suffered! Some of them never made it here.

“’Where is your brother?’ Who is responsible for this blood? In Spanish literature there is a work by Lope de Vega which narrates how the inhabitants of the city of Fuente Ovejuna kill their tyrannical governor, and they do so in a way that no-one knows who carried out the execution. And when the king’s judge asks, ‘Who killed the governor?’, they all answer, “Fuente Ovejuna, my lord”. Everybody and nobody! Today too, this question emerges forcefully: who is responsible for the blood of these, our brothers and sisters? Nobody! That is our answer: it isn’t me, I don’t have anything to do with it; it must be someone else, but certainly not me. Yet God is asking each of us: ‘Where is the blood of your brother which cries out to me?’. Today no-one in our world feels responsible; we have lost a sense of responsibility for our brothers and sisters; we have fallen into the hypocrisy of the priest and the Levite whom Jesus described in the parable of the Good Samaritan: we see our brother half dead on the side of the road, perhaps we say to ourselves: ‘poor soul…!’, and then go on our way; it’s not our responsibility, and with that we feel reassured. The culture of comfort, which makes us think only of ourselves, makes us insensitive to the cries of other people, makes us live in soap bubbles which, however lovely, are insubstantial; they offer a fleeting and empty illusion which results in indifference to others; indeed, it even leads to the globalisation of indifference. We have become used to the suffering of others, it doesn’t affect me; it doesn’t concern me; it is none of my business. The globalisation of indifference makes us all ‘unnamed’, responsible yet nameless and faceless.

“’Adam, where are you?’ ‘Where is your brother?’ These are the two questions which God asks at the dawn of human history, and which he also asks each man and woman in our own day, which he also asks us. But I would like us to ask a third question: ‘Has any one of us wept because of this situation and others like it?’ Has any one of us grieved for the death of these brothers and sisters? Has any one of us wept for these persons who were on the boat? For the young mothers carrying their babies? For these men who were looking for a means of supporting their families? We are a society which has forgotten how to weep, how to experience compassion – ‘suffering with’ others: the globalization of indifference has taken from us the ability to weep! In the Gospel we have heard the crying, the wailing, the great lamentation: ‘Rachel weeps for her children… because they are no more’. Herod sowed death to protect his own comfort, his own soap bubble. And so it continues… Let us ask the Lord to remove the part of Herod that lurks in our hearts; let us ask the Lord for the grace to weep over our indifference, to weep over the cruelty of our world, of our own hearts, and of all those who in anonymity make social and economic decisions which open the door to tragic situations like this.

“In this liturgy, a penitential liturgy, we beg forgiveness for our indifference to so many of our brothers and sisters. Father, we ask your pardon for those who are complacent and closed amid comforts which have deadened their hearts; we beg your forgiveness for those who by their decisions on the global level have created situations that lead to these tragedies”.