L-għassies taċ-ċimiterju

Malta, bir-raġun kollu, akkużat lill-Italja li kisret id-dritt internazzjonali meta iddikjarat li l-port ta’ Lampedusa kien magħluq għall-vapuri tal-għaqdiet mhux governattivi li kienu fuq missjoni ta’ salvataġġ fiċ-ċentru tal-Mediterran. Wara li faqqgħet l-istorja ta’ MV Lifeline, Malta, imbagħad, għamlet l-istess billi għalqet il-portijiet kollha għal dawn l-għaqdiet. Matteo Salvini, il-bully ta’ ħdejna, pubblikament sforza lill-Gvern Malti biex jaddotta l-valuri tiegħu: valuri li jinjoraw id-dinjitá tal-bniedem.

Ġejna ibbumardjati mill-aħbarijiet li l-Kunsill Ewropew kien jaqbel mal-posizzjoni ta’ Malta dwar l-immigrazzjoni. Imma l-qbil tal-Kunsill kien li l-prattika tas-solidarjetá fil-qasam tal-immigrazzjoni kellha tkun fuq bażi volontarja. Ma hemm xejn ġdid f’dan. Ilna nafu b’din il-posizzjoni żmien: sa minn meta Lawrence Gonzi kien għadu jokkupa l-Berġa ta’ Kastilja!

Il-Prim Ministru ta’ Malta Joseph Muscat issa huwa qrib fil-ħsieb mal-Prim Ministru Ungeriż Viktor Orban, il-Kanċellier Awstrijakk Sebastian Kurst u l-Prim Ministru pupazz tal-Italja Giuseppe Conte, li magħhom dal-waqt tingħaqad il-Kanċellier Ġermaniża Angela Merkel, li kellha ċċedi għat-talbiet ta’ Horst Seehofer, mis-CSU, Ministru tal-Intern fil-koalizzjoni tagħha. Ilkoll kemm huma “jittolleraw” is-solidarjetá, sakemm din tkun prattikata minn ħaddieħor.

Nifhem il-ħtiega għat-tejatrin li ħass Muscat biex iċaqlaq lil diversi pajjiżi ħalli jipparteċipaw biex joffru it-tama lill-immigranti fuq MV Lifeline, avolja l-234 persuna umana abbord bagħtew tul l-istennija f’nofs il-Baħar Mediterran, sakemm disa’ stati ddeċidew li kellhom jerfgħu r-responsabbiltajiet tagħhom.

Imma dan kollu kien segwit mill-azzjoni kriminali kontra l-kaptan tal-vapur MV Lifeline, il-ħaruf tas-sagrifiċċju fuq l-artal tal-populiżmu, kif prattikat minn Joseph Muscat. Għax donnu kien meħtieġ għal Joseph Muscat li jinnewtralizza l-azzjoni tajba li għamel meta aċċetta li l-MV Lifeline jorbot mal-moll tal-Isla.

Dawk li jissugraw ħajjithom biex isalvaw dik ta’ oħrajn jispiċċaw jaqilgħu fuq rashom. L-ordni biex il-vapuri f’idejn l-għaqdiet mhux governattivi ma jbaħħrux fl-ibħra ta’ salvataġġ responsabbiltá ta’ Malta, anke jekk taparsi hi ordni temporanja, tagħti l-mano libera lill-gwardja tal-kosta Libjana biex “twettaq dmirha” u tassigura li dawk li jitilqu mil-Libja ikollhom għażla bejn żewġ destinazzjonijiet : iċ-ċentri ta’ detenzjoni Libjani inkella qiegħ il-baħar.

Biex jassigura li l-mewt bl-għarqa tkun l-unika għażla realistika il-Gvern Malti issa ipprojibixxa ukoll li ajruplani għat-tiftix u is-salvataġġ operati mill-għaqdiet mhux governattivi Sea Watch u Swiss Humanitarian Pilots Initiative jitwaqqfu immedjatament. Dan wara li diġa wasslu biex ġew salvati madwar 20,000 persuna umana.

Il-mistoqsija inevitabbli hi: dan kollu għaliex?

Is-soċjoloġi Ungeriżi Vera Messing u Bence Ságvári fl-istudju tagħhom intitolat Looking behind the Culture of Fear. Cross-national analysis of attitudes towards migration. li kien ippubblikat bl-għajnuna tal-Fondazzjoni soċjaldemokratika Ġermaniza Friedrich Ebert Stiftung u l-European Social Survey, f’Marzu li għadda, jistħarreġ tweġiba għal din il-mistoqsija.

“L-attitudni kontra l-immigranti, ftit li xejn għandha x’taqsam mal-immigranti”, ikkonkludew Messing u Ságvári. “Dawk f’pajjiżi b’livell għoli ta’ fiduċja fl-istituzzjonijiet, ftit li xejn korruzzjoni, ekonomija stabbli u li taħdem tajjeb, livell għoli ta’ koeżjoni u inklużjoni soċjali (inkluż tal-immigranti) jibżgħu l-inqas mill-immigrazzjoni” jinnotaw l-awturi. Min-naħa l-oħra jibżgħu dawk li “qegħdin f’pajjiżi fejn in-nies ma tafdax, la lil xulxin u l-anqas l-istituzzjonijiet tal-istat u fejn il-koeżjoni soċjali u s-solidarjetá huma dgħajfa.”

Hi tabilħaqq sfortuna li l-familji politiċi ewlenin ġew kontaminati minn din il-kultura tal-biża’ u b’hekk irrendew ruħhom ostaġġi tal-bulijiet li hawn madwarna.

Il-posizzjoni ġejografika ta’ Malta ma tinbidilx: mhiex negozjabbli. Flok ma niġu mbeżża’ biex b’mod passiv nagħmluha tal-għassiesa taċ-ċimiterju li qed jiżviluppa madwarna nistgħu inkunu proattivi u nfittxu li ninkoraġixxu oħrajn biex jingħaqdu magħna biex inkunu l-port tat-tama fiċ-ċentru tal-Mediterran. Dik dejjem kienet il-missjoni tagħna tant li wieħed mill-isbaħ ċertifikati li għandu pajjiżna huwa dak iffirmat minn San Luqa fl-Atti tal-Appostli meta huwa u jiddeskrivi n-nawfraġju ta’ San Pawl jgħid li l-Maltin “ġiebu ruħhom magħna bi ħlewwa liema bħalha. Laqgħuna tajjeb lilna lkoll ……..”

Sfortunatament l-egħluq tal-portijiet tagħna għall-vapuri operati mill-għaqdiet mhux governattivi fuq missjoni ta’ salvataġġ (wara l-eċċezzjoni tal-MV Lifeline) tindika li Joseph Muscat, imniġġeż kif inhu minn Matteo Salvini, abbanduna kull tama u minflok għażel ir-rwol ta’ għassies taċ-ċimiterju.

ippubblikat fuq Illum il-Ħadd 8 ta’ Lulju 2018

 

 

Advertisements

The cemetery watchman

Malta rightly accused Italy of being in breach of international law when it closed the Lampedusa port to NGO vessels on rescue missions in the central Mediterranean. In the aftermath of the MV Lifeline debacle, Malta then proceeded to follow suit by closing all Maltese ports to NGO vessels. Matteo Salvini, the bully next door, has publicly pressured Malta’s government to submit to his values: those same values which ignore human dignity.

We have been bombarded with the news that the EU Council of Ministers has agreed to, and endorsed, Malta’s position on migration. This is not correct as the EU Council of Ministers only reiterated that, at most, they would consider solidarity as being only voluntary in nature. There is nothing new in such a statement. We have known about it for ages: since the days when Lawrence Gonzi was the tenant at Auberge de Castille!

Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, is now almost on the same wavelength as Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurst, and Italy’s puppet Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, soon to be joined by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, forced into submission by her CSU coalition partner Interior Minister Horst Seehofer. All of them “tolerate” solidarity, as long as it is only practised by others.

The theatrics resorted to by Muscat to ensure an adequate participation in offering hope to the immigrants on board MV Lifeline were understandable, even though the 234 human beings on board suffered for long days in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea until nine states made up their mind to shoulder their responsibilities.

This was, however, followed by criminal action initiated against the captain of MV Lifeline as the sacrificial lamb on Joseph Muscat’s altar to populism. It seemed that Joseph Muscat had to counter-balance his good deed, when he permitted MV Lifeline to dock at the Senglea wharf.

Those who continuously risk their lives in trying to save the life of others end up at the wrong end of the stick. The order that NGO sea-going vessels do not navigate through the rescue area under Malta’s responsibility, even if falsely camouflaged as a temporary measure, gave a free hand to the Libyan coastguard to “carry out its duty”, that is to ensure that those who try to leave Libya have only two possible destinations: Libyan detention centres or the seabed.

To ensure that death by drowning is the only practical choice, the Maltese government has now also stopped the search and rescue aircraft operated by NGO Sea Watch and the Swiss Humanitarian Pilots Initiative. The aircraft has been involved in the rescue of 20,000 human beings.

The inevitable question is : Why is it happening? Hungarian sociologists Vera Messing and Bence Ságvári in their study entitled Looking behind the Culture of Fear. Cross-national analysis of attitudes towards migration. which was published under the auspices of the German social democratic foundation Friedrich Ebert Stiftung and the European Social Survey, last March, sought an answer to this question.

“Anti-migrant attitudes have little to do with migrants”, concluded Messing and Ságvári. “People in countries… with a high level of general and institutional trust, low level of corruption, a stable, well-performing economy and high level of social cohesion and inclusion (including migrants) fear migration the least,” the authors note. On the other hand: “People are fearful in countries where people don’t trust each other or the state’s institutions, and where social cohesion and solidarity are weak.”

It is indeed unfortunate that the major political families have been contaminated by this culture of fear, thereby rendering themselves hostages to the bullies around us, as a result promoting a culture of death.

Malta’s geographic position is a given: it is non-negotiable. Instead of being bullied to passively supervise the cemetery developing around us, we can be proactive and encourage others to join us in being a port of hope in the centre of the Mediterranean. That has always been our mission, to the extent that one of the best descriptions of Maltese hospitality is the one attested to by St Luke in the Acts of the Apostles when describing St Paul’s shipwreck: “the natives showed us unusual kindness for they kindled a fire and welcomed us all”.

Unfortunately, closing our ports to NGO-operated vessels on rescue missions (after the one-off MV Lifeline debacle) indicates that Joseph Muscat, prodded by Matteo Salvini, has discarded hope and has instead opted for the role of a cemetery watchman.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday – 8 July 2018

Daphne: riflessjonijiet f’jum il-funeral

Illum waranofsinnhar isir il-funeral ta’ Daphne Caruana Galizia, kważi tlett ġimgħat wara li nqatlet, meta fil-Bidnija splodiet bomba li tqegħdet mal-karozza li kienet qed issuq, ftit wara li telqet mid-dar tagħha.

Intqal, u bla dubju għad irid jintqal ħafna iktar dwar dan il-qtil, li ħasad lill-pajjiż kollu.

Wara sbatax-il jum il-Pulizija għadha qed tinvestiga u dan a bażi tat-truf li għandha f’idejha s’issa.

Ser jaslu? Ma nafx, imma nispera li jaslu għax il-pajjiż kollu ma jistax jibqa’ ttorturat bi qtil ieħor mhux solvut.

Hemm uħud li rċevew messaġġ li l-presenza tagħhom għall-funeral mhiex mixtieqa. Dan hu kontinwazzjoni tal-kontroversji li fihom kienet magħġuna ħajjet il-maqtula. Huma kontroversji li mhux ser jintesew kif ġieb u laħaq, għax bosta minnhom għad jeħtieġu spjegazzjoni kredibbli. Spjegazzjoni li s’issa ma tidhirx b’nemes.

S’issa ħadd għadu ma nġabar mill-Pulizija biex ikun interrogat dwar dan il-qtil. Imma qed jintqal li l-Pulizija qed jikkunsidraw li jmorru f’Katanja fejn hemm Malti li ġie arrestat f’Lampedusa mill-Guardia fi Finanza dwar kuntrabandu ta’ fjuwil. Dan jindika l-linja investigattiva li preżentement qed issegwi l-Pulizija. Imma jekk dan kollu jindikax li l-kaz issolva hu prematur biex jingħad.

Imma f’dawn l-aħħar ġranet saru ukoll il-mirakli. Għax il-Pulizija donnhom ikkonkludew żewġ każijiet jaħarqu, qiesu biex jgħidulna li ma kienux reqdin. Jew, agħar minn hekk, qiesu biex jgħidulna li ħadd ma jmexxihom min imneħirhom.

Mhux kulħadd hu konvint minn dan u għalhekk sfortunatament żdieded l-isfiduċja fil-Korp tal-Pulizija u l-għajta għar-riżenja tal-Kummissarju.

Il-Pulizija jistgħu jifdu lilhom infushom f’kull ħin billi jagħtu prova li kapaċi jaħdmu sewwa. S’issa din il-prova għadna qed nistennewha.

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.

Iċ-Ċimiterju madwarna, f’nofs il-Mediterran

-

F’nofs il-Mediterran, il-baħar ta’ madwarna, qiegħed bil-mod ikun ittrasformat f’ċimiterju. Ċimiterju ta’ bnedmin maħruba mill-gwerer u l-għawġ. Ċimiterju ta’ ħolm li sfaxxa.

Huma ċirkustanzi li qed jiżviluppaw madwarna minħabba l-posizzjoni ġejografika ta’ Malta.

F’dan il-kuntest Malta għandha obbligi imma għandha ukoll drittijiet.

Malta għandha l-obbligu li tagħti servizz ta’ salvataġġ. Li tagħti l-għajnuna lil kull min ikun f’diffikulta fiż-żona ta’ salvataġġ li hi responsabbilta’ ta’ Malta. Dan Malta qed tagħmlu. Dan  l-aħħar b’impenn kbir. Għal żmien qasir kien hemm min kien qed jaħsibha jekk jissospendix l-obbligi internazzjonali tal-pajjiż, imma fortunatament din tidher li kienet fażi li għaddiet – nispera biss li ma terġax lura.

L-obbligu li Malta tagħti servizz ta’ salvataġġ ma jfissirx li Malta m’għandhiex ukoll drittijiet.

Malta flimkien ma Lampedusa hi għassiesa ta’ din il-parti tal-fruntiera fin-nofsinnhar tal-Unjoni Ewropeja. M’għadhiex iktar fruntiera ta’ Malta jew fruntiera tal-Italja iżda hi fruntiera tal-Unjoni Ewropeja.

Ir-responsabbilta li tirriżulta minn dan kollu għaldaqstant m’hiex ta’ Malta jew tal-Italja waħedha iżda tal-Unjoni kollha. Huwa għalhekk li l-Unjoni Ewropeja għandha l-obbligu morali li flimkien magħna terfa’ din ir-responsabbilta.

F’dan il-mument diffiċli huwa neċessarju li bħala pajjiż nibqgħu ffukati fuq li nagħmlu dmirna anke’ jekk ħaddieħor jibqa’ jkaxkar saqajh biex iwettaq id-dmirijiet tiegħu. Jeħtieġ ukoll li nevitaw paroli vojt li jista’ jkun interpretat ħażin. Ma nara xejn ħażin li fil-mument addattat pajjiżna, kemm jekk waħdu jew preferibilment ma pajjiżi oħra milqutin bħalna jieħu dik l-azzjoni li tkun xierqa fiċ-ċirkustanzi. Azzjoni ikkalkulata biex tħares l-interess nazzjonali fit-tul.

Fil-waqt li l-interess nazzjonali jitlob dan, fl-istess ħin nibqgħu obbligati li nagħmlu d-dmir tagħna u dan irrispettivament minn dak li jagħmel ħaddiehor. Malta qatt ma nħakmet mill-kultura tal-indifferenza. L-ospitalita’ dejjem kienet karatteristika li tiddistingwina minn oħrajn. Hekk għandna nibqgħu f’din is-siegħa tal-prova. Dan minkejja li nibqgħu ninsistu li ħaddieħor jistenbaħ u jwettaq dmiru huwa ukoll. B’hekk ikun evitat li l-baħar ta’ madwarna jsir ċimiterju mhux biss ta’ iġsma iżda fuq kollox ċimiterju ta’ ħolm u aspirazzjonijiet li sfaxxaw.

Għal darba oħra ……………… Lampedusa

smell the coffee

Żewġ traġedji f’ġimgħa. Fit-tieni waħda kienu protagonisti l-Forzi Armati ta’ Malta li salvaw mal-150 persuna mill-għarqa. Veru li għamlu dmirhom. Imma li jirnexxilek tagħmel dmirek f’ċirkustanzi bħal dawn hu ta’ sodisfazzjon mhux żgħir.

Din id-darba kien pożittiv ukoll l-atteġġjament tal-Prim Ministru Joseph Muscat. Hu ta’ sodisfazzjoni li bidel l-attitudni li kien ħa iktar kmieni din is-sena. Nittama li l-ħsara li laħqet saret tibda tissewwa. Dan jista’ jseħħ, iżda jieħu ż-żmien. Dejjem jekk il-bdil ta’ attitudni mhiex biss u sempliċiment bdil ta’ tattika.

Kif kien xieraq il-prijorita’ kienet li jsalvaw in-nies. Imma ġustament ġie emfasizzat li l-Unjoni Ewropeja teħtieġ li tiċċaqlaq.

Sal-lum id-dħul tal-immigranti m’hiex responsabbilta’ tal-Unjoni Ewropeja iżda tal-Istati membri individwali. Dan m’għandux jibqa’ hekk. Għax  l-istati fuq il-fruntiera tan-nofsinnhar tal-Ewropa (Malta, l-Italja, Spanja, l-Greċja u Ċipru) qed jerfgħu piż kbir li lkoll, kif nafu, ma jifilħux għalih.

Ir-responsabbilta’ għall-immigranti għandha tintrefa’ mill-Unjoni Ewropeja kollha, f’isem u għan-nom tal-istati membri kollha. Għax dak li jiġri mill-fruntiera l-ġewwa hu responsabbilta’ ta’ kulħadd, inkluż tagħna l-Maltin. Jiġifieri hu meħtieg li r-responsabbilta’ li tatna l-ġografija jgħinuna nerfgħuha.( Il-fruntiera mhiex importanti biss biex jinġabar dak dovut għad-dwana.)

Biex dan iseħħ hemm bżonn li jinbidlu r-regolamenti tal-Unjoni Ewropea magħrufin bħala Dublin II (magħrufa ukoll bħala l-Konvenzjoni ta’ Dublin). It-tibdil meħtieġ jagħmilha possibli li immigranti jiċċaqalqu mill-pajjiż fejn jaslu għal pajjiż ieħor fejn tkun tista’ tiġi ipproċessata t-talba tagħhom għal status ta’ refuġjat.

Alternattiva Demokratika ilha snin li ikkonvinċiet lill-partiti l-Ħodor Ewropej li din hi t-triq il-quddiem: triq li permezz tagħha r-responsabbilta’ li illum qed terfa’ Malta u l-istati l-oħra fuq il-fruntiera tan-nofsinnhar tal-Ewropa tibda  tintrefa’ minn kulhadd flimkien.

Imma mhux kulħadd jaqbel ma dan. Il-Partiti l-oħra fl-Ewropa s’issa ma qablux ma dan.

Il-Ġermanja, per eżempju hu wieħed minn 24 pajjiż fl-Unjoni Ewropeja li ma jridx jibdel l-affarijiet. Jippreferi  li d-deċiżjonijiet dwar kemm il-pajjiż jieħu refuġjati joħodhom hu. Fil-fatt fil-Ġermanja matul is-sena li qegħdin fiha ser ikunu ġew aċċettati 100,000 refuġjat.  Punt interessanti fl-aħbarijiet fi tmiem il-ġimgħa kien dak li intqal minn Katrin Göring-Eckardt co-leader ġdida tal-Ħodor Ġermaniżi li indikat li biex  id-diskussjonijiet dwar il-formazzjoni ta’ Gvern ġdid Ġermaniż bejn id-Demokristjani u l-Ħodor jipproċedu huwa essenzjali (fost ħafna affarijiet oħra) li jkun hemm tibdil fil-posizzjoni dwar l-immigrazzjoni attwalment f’idejn il-Ministru tal-Intern Hans  Peter Friedrich, allejat lemini ta’ Angela Merkel mis-CSU tal-Bavaria. (ara New York Times  tal-11 t’Ottubru 2013 : Sinking of Migrant Boat off Italy complicates politics in Germany).

Fid-dawl ta’ dan hu ċar li l-uġiegħ ta’ ras ta’ Joseph Muscat qabel ma jikkonvinċi lill-istituzzjonijiet Ewopej hi biex jikkonvinċi lil sħabu fil-partiti Soċjalisti Ewropej li minn fosthom hemm 10 Prim Ministri.  Jekk dawn jagħtuh l-appoġġ ikun iktar faċli li naslu bħala pajjiż. Imma ħlief Enrico Letta, Prim Ministru tal-Italja, s’issa l-ebda kap ta’ Gvern fl-Unjoni Ewropeja għadu ma esprima ruħu.

Ħafna drabi jsir l-iżball li ninsisitu b’qawwa kbira dwar x’għandha tagħmel l-Ewropa mingħajr ma nirrealizzaw li l-Ewropa hi aħna ukoll, kif ukoll dawk ta’ madwarna.

Alternattiva Demokratika diġa’ ħadet posizzjoni ċara dwar dan kollu. Għax aħna ukoll parti mill-Ewropa għamilna l-parti tagħna u wittejna t-triq. Wrejna li hu possibli li fuq livell ta’ Unjoni Ewropeja jkun hemm appoġġ biex ir-responsabbilta’ għall-immigranti li illum qed jintrefa minn Malta waħedha tibda jintrefa minn kulħadd. Il-Ħodor Ewropej bdew. Il-Ħodor Ewropej tawna l-appoġġ billi qablu ma ħtieġa ta’ riforma tal-Konvenzjoni ta’ Dublin bħala pass essenzjali biex ir-responsabbilta’ għall-immigranti nerfgħuha flimkien. Dan hu l-uniku mod li bih nistgħu naslu. B’solidarjeta’ ta’ vera.

kif ippubblikat fuq iNews it-Tnejn 14 t’Ottubru 2013

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.

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”.