These Three Facebook Posts Sum Up The Injustice Happening Under Our Watch
More than 50 days in detention
Nine men who lived and worked in Malta for years have been robbed of their liberty and forced to live in prison-like conditions due to a complicated legal game being played by the government. They have been locked up for more than 50 days, under the pretence that they will be deported, even though this is becoming increasingly unlikely.
The group of rejected asylum-seekers from Mali were originally part of a larger group of 33, who were arrested after being tricked by the government into coming forward to renew their documents, only to be taken to Safi detention centre instead. Many were released just before Christmas, following an appeal by the President of Malta Marie Louise Coleiro Preca, even though the government warned they may still be deported.
"This is happening to people who have been members of our community for the last decade, many of them paying taxes and contributing to social security."
But three Facebook posts published yesterday have summed up the injustice being faced by the remaining nine migrants who have spent Christmas and New Year's locked up, unable to work, spend time with loved ones, or even choose what to eat despite having spent years working and contributing to the Maltese economy.
"This is happening to people who have been members of our community for the last decade, many of them paying taxes and contributing to social security. A stark reminder that were it not for our privilege as people born here, this could happen to us. There is no argument that can trump basic human empathy," wrote activist Robert Louis Fenech.
He added: "Would you want this for your sons or daughters, your brothers and sisters, your mothers and fathers? So why do we allow it to happen, in our name, for our protection, for our economy, to others?"
NET News journalist Mario Frendo had similar words to say: "Shameful. After years of offering them humanitarian protection (as should be the case), not only have they been arrested and detained in the most shameful and arbitrary manner, but they are being kept detained till today and stripped of all basic human dignity. While we drink champagne to the New Year, these people are alone, eating rubbish, with guards surveilling them while they sleep, not a shred of dignity."
"And then, the day after Christmas on television, we boast about the big heart our country has," he added, referring to the charity Boxing Day telethon L-Istrina.
"While we drink champagne to the New Year, these people are alone, eating rubbish, with guards surveilling them while they sleep, not a shred of dignity."
One of the few people who has been allowed to visit the migrants in detention, Jean Paul Borg, yesterday posted a photo of what the migrants are being fed for breakfast.
"This is the breakfast for the 9 Malian immigrants left in the detention centre in Safi. I leave it for you, whether this is decent or not. At least they now have polystyrene cups. This gets served around 7am and you have to make do with it till noon. During the night, uncertainty torments them, but even if somehow their eyes close, the guards are there to torment them even more with their cell visits," he wrote.
A few weeks earlier he had written about the conditions in the cold detention centres: "The conditions these are being kept in are horrible. While in December, there are more flies than people. A small room is being shared by 4 on two by two bunk beds. The mattress is thin, and the pillows have no vest. Tea was presented to most in half plastic water bottles. From what I could see access to fresh air is very limited."