Sunday, July 14, 2013

Academics, artists condemn threat of push-backs

A group of academic members of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Malta has “strongly condemned” last week’s Government threat to send back Somali immigrants to Libya.

A similar statement was issued by a group of artists and designers.

The 37 academics said they believed policies and negotiations ought to uphold human life and well-being at all times, irrespective of the cost in terms of resources and political commitment.

“We also think that there is no room whatsoever for heavy-handedness where weak and vulnerable people – irrespective of their nationality or colour – are concerned,” a statement by the academics said.

The statement added: “We find ourselves very concerned indeed about the popular feelings of bad blood and xenophobia stirred by the political rhetoric of crisis and invasion.”

The statement was signed by: Maria Attard (Geography); Rev. John Avellino (Philosophy); Prof. Albert Borg (Maltese); Prof. Charles Briffa (Translation and Interpreting Studies); Michael Briguglio (Sociology) Prof. Mario Buhagiar (History of Art); Prof. Ivan Callus (English); Valentina Cassar (International Relations); Prof. Arnold Cassola (Maltese) James Corby (English); Prof. Mark-Anthony Falzon (Sociology) Giuliana Fenech (English);

Prof. Anthony Frendo (Oriental Studies); Maria Frendo (English); Prof. Joe Friggieri (Philosophy and Pro-Rector); Anna Khakee (International Relations); Arndt Kremer (German); Gillian Martin (Sociology); Simon Mercieca (History); Bernard Micallef (Maltese); Prof. Joe Pace Asciak (Italian); Vincent Riolo (Philosophy); Prof. Paul Sant Cassia (Anthropology); Kathrin Schödel (German); Rev. Mark Sultana (Philosophy)

Prof. Joseph Troisi (Sociology and Social Gerontology); Prof. Carmel Vassallo (Hispanic Studies); Clare Vassallo (Translation and Interpreting Studies); Nicholas Vella (Archaeology); Olvin Vella (Maltese); Michael Zammit (Philosophy) Ranier Fsadni (Anthropology); Katrin Dautel (German); Gabrielle Torpiano (Translation and Interpreting Studies); Prof. Gloria Lauri-Lucente (Italian); Prof. Manwel Mifsud (Maltese); Prof. Anthony Aquilina (Translation and Interpreting Studies).


a group of artists and design practitioners also said they were seriously concerned about advocating a pushback policy to deal with the influx of irregular migrants in Malta.

"In line with the reservations expressed by the NCPE, Aditus and Integra Foundations and a number of other Maltese NGOs, authors and academics, we firmly believe that any decisions taken to tackle the issue of irregular migration should not include any push back measures. We join in expressing our firm disapproval of considering similar policies that would place the migrants’ life at risk."

They said that sensitive action must ensure that asylum seekers are granted the international right to present their cases.

"Malta should stand strong with unwavering commitment to respect and uphold fundamental rights and intrinsic human dignity of every individual, irrespective of national origin, creed or ethnicity. Just as the Maltese government has been a promoter of positive changes in matters relating to other grounds of discrimination, such as sexual orientation and gender identity, its policies in relation to migration should be equally sensitive. Human rights are universal and indivisible."

They however backed government efforts to get EU involvement in the issue.

The statement was signed by

Adrian Abela Aldo Gatt a.k.a. Gattaldo, Alexandra Aquilina, Allen Venables, Andrea Pullicino. Anthony Galea. Austin Camilleri. Ben Borg Cardona, Brian Grech, Carlo Muscat, Celia Borg Cardon.a Christian de Souza

Jensen Christine Xuereb, Conrad Dimech, Daniel Borg, Daniel Cilia, Darrin Zammit Lupi, Debbie Caruana Dingli, Derek Fenech, Ed Dingli, Ewelina Lason, Francesca Balzan, James Vella Clark,

Juniper Francalanza, Kamy Aquilina, Kris Micallef, Malcolm Bonello, Malcolm Sammut, Marco Brown, Mark Casha, Martin Buhagiar, Michael Azzopardi, Nadine Noko, Nel Pace. Nigel Anastasi, Pawlu Mizzi, Priscilla Griscti, Richard Saliba, Ritianne Muscat, Sef Farrugia, Sergio Miscat, Shaun Grech, Therese Debono, Tonio Lombardi, Tonio Mallia, Vince Briffa and Zvezdan Reljic.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Immigration: Muscat should abandon far right fantasy

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat was reported by Malta Today as saying that the anti-migrants protest planned by neo-nazis and neo-fascists should not take place.

I'm sorry to say that it was the Prime Minister himself who acted as an incentive for such a protest through his populist pushback discourse which is reminiscent of far right ideology.

In my blog on the subject last week, I had warned that the Prime Minister's statements can have this effect.

In my blog I also invited MEP candidates to refuse to participate in such populist electioneering, now that we are approaching the European elections. In this respect it seems that Maltese civil society is standing up to be counted, with an increasing number of NGOs, academics, official state bodies and others who are opposing the Government's position.

I salute those within the Labour Party who are standing up to be counted in opposing the pushback policy, and I urge Muscat to abandon the fantasies he is articulating. Courage and humility can save the day, in the name of social justice.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Academics for migrants' rights

I hereby am adding my name to the list of University of Malta academics who are standing up to be counted on the immigration issue. I had already written about the subject in my blog and in Malta Today last Friday.

The academics' statement reads as follows:

“As academics we try to impart to the future professionals of this country a minimum of basic dignity and respect, both towards others and towards self. We could not stand by and watch whilst our country sent Somali migrants who braved possible death in a hazardous journey, to seek safety, to seek a life, back to Libya. We therefore support the NGOs who campaigned for these migrants not to be sent back.”

Academics supporting this statement are: Marceline Naudi, Anna Borg, Claudia Psaila, Ruth Baldacchinio, Robert Micallef, Edward Warrington, Isabelle Calleja Ragonesi, Sandra Vella, Dione Mifsud, Paul Clough, Brenda Murphy, Prof. Angela Abela, Mary-Ann Borg Cunen, Prof. Ronald Sultana, Prof. Peter Mayo, Prof. Carmel Vassallo, Josann Cutajar, Maria Psiani, Anna Khakee, Carmen Sammut, Adrian Grima, Nathalie Kenely, Joanne Cassar and Michael Briguglio.

In short, the anti-deportation and anti-pushback side is the side for social justice. I am proud to be on this side.