Daniel Mainwaring. Photo: Kai Von Kotze/sea-watch.org
A large face of Dom Mintoff is currently adorning the campaign bus of the Moviment Patrijotti Maltin to help them drive home an anti-immigration message.
Meanwhile, the late Maltese premier’s own grandson has packed up his bags and has joined the volunteer crew of the Sea-Watch 3, a NGO-run vessel which picks up asylum seekers as they are crossing the Mediterranean and carries them to European shores.
“I’m honoured to be part of the Sea Watch crew, in part because I believe that this is a profound historical moment, one in which we are called upon to identify who we are as individuals and as a society,” Daniel Mainwaring told Lovin Malta. “Shall we live up to the ethical and legal frameworks constructed in the rubble of World War II? Shall we meet our responsibility to rescue those drowning at sea, to provide ports of safety and to offer international protection to those who deserve it?”
“Or shall we turn a blind eye to the horrors of detention in Libya and refuse a helping hand to people drowning at sea?”
Daniel Mainwaring will serve as guest coordinator aboard the Sea-Watch 3. Photo: Kai Von Kotze/sea-watch.org
Mainwaring will serve as the Sea-Watch 3’s guest coordinator, responsible for working with a team to ensure the satisfaction of the immediate basic needs of the asylum seekers on board.
As European states have grown increasingly hostile to the Sea-Watch and other similar NGOs, making safe ports harder to find, the role of guest coordinator has become even more delicate.
“While in the past, individuals rescued from the sea may only have been on board for a few hours or days at the most, now the Sea Watch 3 and those on board are left stranded at sea, sometimes in harsh weather conditions, for weeks, as was the case in Maltese waters over the Christmas holidays,” Mainwaring said. “The failure to provide immediate ports of safety increases the pressure on the crew, a team of dedicated volunteers, and inflicts undue harm to people fleeing from inhumane and degrading treatment in Libya and beyond.”
????As assumed we are blocked for political reasons! There was high pressure on the coast guard to find a reason to chain us. They can chain our ships, but they can´t chain solidarity!
Help us to continue, donate for our defence. #DefendSolidarity #SeaWatch https://t.co/mLHfqhVG2E pic.twitter.com/LJ5nWyg3aB
— Sea-Watch International (@seawatch_intl) February 1, 2019
The Sea-Watch 3 is currently stranded in Catania, with the Italian Coast Guard stating it won’t be allowed to leave until it is satisfied the ship complies with certain technical and legal regulations. However, the Sea-Watch has described this as a blatant political move by Italy to prevent it from sailing out again and rescuing more asylum seekers.
Mainwaring praised the Maltese government for taking a leadership role in the EU by fulfilling its refugee-hosting obligations under an EU redistribution programme, as well as for boasting one of the highest rates in Europe for the recognition of asylum applications.
He is also in favour of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s lobbying for a reform in the Dublin II Regulation, which stipulates that asylum seekers entering Europe must claim asylum in the first EU member state they enter.
“Just like the Maltese government, Sea Watch also calls for the establishment of a permanent structured EU wide system for the redistribution of migrants and an immediate end to the current system whereby each disembarkation requires protracted ad-hoc negotiations,” he said. “However, until such a system is in place, it is entirely unacceptable that vulnerable people, women and children included, be left at sea for weeks while EU governments bicker over what number, if any, they will receive.”
Asylum seekers on board the Sea-Watch 3 off the coast of Syracuse. Photo: Felix Weiss/sea-watch.org
However, he has harshly criticised the stance taken by Malta, in coordination with all other EU member states, that the Libyan coast guard should be responsible for the rescue of asylum seekers close to the Libyan coast.
“EU coast guard and navy vessels do not directly return people to Libya because they recognize that this would be a violation of international laws on the principle of refoulement,” he said, referring to the international law which forbids the forcible return of people to unsafe places.
“Knowing well that Libya remains a failed state where grave human rights violations are well documented, in particular within formal and informal detention centres, the EU nonetheless pursues a policy of propping up the so-called Libyan Coast Guard and in doing so is complicit in the forced and illegal return of thousands of people to what is essentially a war zone,” Mainwaring said. “Again, the plight of migrants returned to Libya, where they experience torture, rape and death is well documented.”
Daniel Mainwaring accused the Moviment Patrijotti Maltin of hijacking his grandfather’s legacy. Photo: MPM
As for the Moviment Patrijotti Maltin, Mainwaring accused them of hijacking his grandfather’s legacy to “further their xenophobic strain of nationalism”.
“I am grateful that they remain insignificant in Maltese politics and confident that we as a society will keep them on the margins,” he said. “To be clear, this is not about me as an individual, nor about Dom Mintoff’s legacy in Malta. Rather, this is about the imperative to save lives and provide refuge when and where that is needed.”
“However, those that would commandeer Dom’s legacy for their own fascist ends, or those that remain unsure how his brand of nationalism would respond to the flight of vulnerable people across the Mediterranean, need but look to his recently published autobiography, Mintoff, Malta, Mediterra: My Youth.”
“Therein, in his own words, he articulates his tolerance for other races and religions, his stand against the rise of fascism in the twenties and thirties, his family’s migration to North Africa in search of a better life, and ultimately his lifelong commitment to champion the interests of the most vulnerable in society.”