Online poll makes case for further action
The majority of the respondents in an online poll conducted by The Times believe the government should go beyond an inquiry regarding last week's incidents at the Safi Barracks.
Over 60 per cent said the steps taken by the government should be more than an inquiry and 39.6 per cent disagreed.
Respondents who posted comments held divergent opinions.
One proposed a reform within the Armed Forces of Malta. "Soldiers are to be made proud of their job... These workers have no right to voice their concerns and no right of union association..."
Another argued that since the incidents occurred in full view of the public and the press, the AFM officers felt the beating into submission of the detainees was not excessive use of force. "In military terms, this could have amounted to a mass break-out by detained persons and the enforced retrieval of detainees."
The respondent said: "The military should not be and is not qualified to deal with civilian asylum seekers, refugees and illegal immigrants. The military does not have the resources to do so. Its soldiers are trained for aggression and defence purposes not to act as guardians and wardens of civilian detainees..."
The respondent added that the full responsibility of the incident fell squarely on the Home Affairs Minister who was aware that the army had very limited resources and that this situation had been "a simmering keg" for both the soldiers and detainees.
Another respondent said the government should demand the resignation of the head of the armed forces. "The government should also adopt special awareness programmes for the education of citizens and students not to be apprehensive of people from other cultures. There is no doubt that Malta will emulate other European countries in becoming a multicultural society. So racism must be eliminated totally."
Another wrote: "Why not send our armed forces on a peace mission exercise if they are so frustrated and hungry for action...and now cowardly pick on unarmed individuals who have already suffered so much before ending up in Malta?"
A respondent noted that if found guilty, all involved, from the minister downwards, should resign. "If we take no action we will be the laughing stock of the other EU countries."
But others thought differently.
One wrote: "Let us now not victimise people who threaten our officials. What would have the public's reaction been had they managed to make it to the other side of the fence? The AFM would have been under scrutiny. Our co-nationals are, therefore, in a lose-lose situation."
The respondent said that all those defending the asylum seekers should come up with a solution and ease the burden on officials. "These people don't want to be here just as much as we don't want them."
Another wrote: "The soldiers have all the right in the world to defend themselves and I really hope no one is being charged."
One respondent commented that "Illegal so-called refugees should not be allowed to stay in Malta at all. They could very well be terrorists and they should be deported immediately since they pose a danger to Maltese citizens".
Being an online poll, the exercise should not be considered as a scientific survey.