The queen is dead. Having lived till the venerable age of 96, having barely worked a day in her life, she had a good run, bless her; now she can rest in peace.

And while in the UK and the so-called ‘territories’, they are debating about the future of the monarchy (and its heritage of white privilege imperialism), while Australia and Canada are seriously considering to ditch the monarchy for republicanism, in this country of ours someone let their enthusiasm go to their heads and came out with the inane proposition to erect a monument to the queen ... in Valletta – where else?

You wouldn’t want the royal effigy relegated to some forgotten patch passing for a garden next to a housing estate in Mqabba, would you? What were you saying about decolonised minds Joe?


Loujin won’t make it till she’s 96. She died a few hours before the queen. While Malta was busy celebrating its day of victories with fireworks, pomp and the drunken revelry that is the “traditional” marċ ta’ filgħodu.

Loujin was only four years old. She died of thirst at sea. Yes, that same sea you’ve been bathing in all summer long – when the jellyfish didn’t put their mind to ruin it for everyone, that is. That same Mediterranean sea that,  since the beginning of this year, has already swallowed in its belly over a thousand souls, who, like Loujin’s parents,  dared to dream and hope.

It has been reported that activists alerted the Maltese, Italian and Greek authorities about a boat that was adrift within the Maltese Search and Rescue Area with 62 persons on board, among whom was Loujin. However, the authorities didn’t respond.

Apparently, there’s a kind of “unspoken” policy – calls by activists signalling boats with migrants go unanswered. It was only after the migrants were taken on by a cargo ship, and two of them were found unconscious, that a request for help was finally acknowledged and assistance provided. For Loujin it came too late.   

Now stop reading for a little while and think of this.

How does it feel to die of thirst?

Does your mind start playing tricks on you, does it make you delirious?

Do you suddenly feel cold and your body slowly starts going numb until you close your eyes and it all turns dark until you breathe your last?

While you’re unconscious and dying,  is there a moment when, like in a flash, you suddenly regain consciousness and realise that it’s the end?

It must be a horrible death. And it must be equally horrible to live having seen your daughter die of thirst in front of your very own eyes. I would assume that, in such a situation, I would perhaps wish for death, rather than to live with the memory.

Perhaps, rather than waste bronze and space on a monument for the queen, we ought to erect a monument for Loujin. In Valletta, yes. Right in St George’s Square, or in front of parliament.

Perhaps, rather than waste bronze and space on a monument for the queen, we ought to erect a monument for Loujin- Aleks Farrugia

Monuments are erected to keep the memory alive. They are also erected to serve as public toilets for pigeons but we wouldn’t allow that with Loujin’s monument.

It would be a sombre monument, not of the celebratory type. It would be an indictment engraved before our eyes in a place where we cannot run away from it. It would be a pointed finger that asks a question to each one of us who passes by. Where is your humanity? What happened to your soul? Why did you let me die? What makes me a lesser mortal, not deserving of your compassion, your assistance... your love?

In Germany, following World War II, they erected monuments that reminded them of the holocaust. To this day, such monuments are reminders that this most infamous episode of history wasn’t just an act committed by the Nazi hierarchy and their minions; it is a stain on the whole nation, including those who stood by and watched in silence while the atrocities were happening. Their silence was part of the crime.

The death of thousands of people crossing the Mediterranean is a crime against humanity and it should be declared so without reservations. It’s the crime of our authorities that abide by the laws of boundaries more than by the laws of human solidarity.

It is the crime of the European Union, as an organisation and as a conglomerate of countries, with their petty politics, old prejudices and closeted imperialistic ideologies.

It’s the crime of traffickers and of those who deal with and accept their money.

And it is also our crime, if we stay silent. If we remain indifferent. If we don’t demand that something be done now.

That’s what a monument for Loujin would serve to remind us. Like the monuments in Germany that remind all Germans who did not stand up against the Nazi elimination of the Jews that they too bear responsibility for the crime, the monument for Loujin would be a reminder that her death, and of all of those who were abandoned to die at sea, is a stain on our consciences, a crime for which we will have to atone in times to come.

No amount of pilgrimages in front of holy statues and no amount of frivolous declarations of faith or boasting about the supposedly welcoming character of the Maltese people, no amount of lies we might tell ourselves will ever wash our national soul of this crime.

If the queen was the fantastic person some people make her out to have been, then I am sure that she would find no objection to relinquishing a monument the sole purpose of which would be the general relief of pigeons and instead erect one that has a bigger purpose: to remind us that a queen’s life is of equal value to that of an immigrant child.

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