As deans of the Faculty for Social Wellbeing and the Faculty of Education, we decry this self-indulgent approach to politics which is ready to ransom the lives and well-being of all those currently condemned to the arbitrary detention on board ships currently deployed by the government outside Malta’s search and rescue area as bargaining chips.
Using the well-being of human beings and subjecting them to such degrading and harmful behaviour is botching human rights and is condemnable to the largest degree.
We agree that solidarity should be forthcoming, placing the burden of hundreds of years of colonisation and decades of complicated European politics on the back of a few hundred individuals seems like the most lopsided chastisement imaginable.
We need to be vigilant that whenever a problem, such as migration, becomes too complex, we do not opt for simplistic tunnel vision solutions. Yet again, admittedly, the way the EU (starting to feel like a failed project) is taking us for a ride on this matter and the insensitivities shown by a number of EU leaders and other non-EU countries, is abysmal and we need to use all the available diplomatic tools to unravel this issue without having to ‘horde’ migrants on boats.
Hence, we call on the government to clear up the tangle of confused messaging it has been resorting to when dealing with this issue. The government should secure its obligations.
The argument may be made that in very dire moments of crisis one should close the ports. Even though this argument is albeit morally dubious it certainly cannot be stated that we are in the worst of the crisis when we are opening non-essential services such as restaurants. There is indeed a gross inconsistency here from where we stand!
Our integration policy has failed
As academics we deride the fact that the government is taking positions that are contrary to social values. Unquestionably we look forward to engage in a spirited debate that unstitches the confused messages we are placing ‘out there’, wary that this strategy might be meant to keep criticism at bay.
In a similar vein of perceptual subjectivism, we call into question the outcomes of the internal inquiry by the Armed Forces of Malta following the brutal murder of Lassana Cisse.
It seems to us that an inquiry finding that there are no problems whatsoever relating to racism and overly-nationalistic sentiment in certain members of the army, when this is so pervasive in the rest of Maltese society, is to be naive at best or misleading at worst.
While it is objectionable to generalise the behaviour of a few (now) former members of the AFM we are inviting the AFM to make public the inquiry and the methodology applied for public scrutiny. Only then can we be assured that inquiries are not merely an assuaging to public opinion.
Then again, our idea of quality of life seems to rest simply on economism and seems to brush aside other critical components like eco-social and psycho-spiritual dimensions. Let’s face it, our integration policy has failed (not sure it ever took off the ground) and an attestment to symbiosis between communities is not even on the cards.
Migration is a challenge that is here to stay.
We call on the government of Malta to engage with this complex and multi-faceted situation with moral courage and social values that it has used in the past to deal with other crises this country has faced. Exercising perceptual forgetfulness or misleading the Maltese public at the expense of human rights may bolster short-term popularity, but in the long run will continue to compound this difficult issue at the expense of the weakest party, the migrants.
We are ready to mobilse the empirical resources and expertise of our respective faculties to work with state agencies and voluntary organisations to provide a space for discussion and possible solutions to this situation.
Andrew Azzopardi is Dean, Faculty for Social Wellbeing, and Colin Calleja is Dean, Faculty of Education.
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