Blame or Shame
A man has died in unusual circumstances. He was nothing less than a human being like you and me, and yet he no longer speaks, breathes, lives. His mother is heartbroken, his siblings are devastated and his friends are inconsolable. Whether he was murdered and whether he was mentally ill remains a mystery, but whatever the outcome of the investigations and our courts, the fact will remain that Malta has failed this man big time.
Malian migrant Mamadou Kamara was not the first and neither will he be the last man to suffer such a fate at the hands of this Catholic country. On an island where partisan politics splits us up even about the colour of the sky, lo and behold the two parties are in agreement on this one huge and horrific infringement of fundamental human rights and dignity.
Whilst we cannot agree on the thickness of sliced bread, our whole parliament feels that there's not much wrong with our compulsory detention policy, and that it's only fair to keep irregular immigrants in such appalling conditions given that they've entered the country illegally. Bless 'em.
Whilst the Government thinks it's sickeningly immoral not to rescue sinking dinghies as suggested by the PL, at the same time we deemed it fit to send immigrants back to Libya even during the crisis.
And, for the cherry on the cake, it had to take the death of yet another innocent man (innocent because even if it turns out that he wasn't a genuine asylum seeker, he never ever deserved to die), for The almighty Church to finally say something about this!
And now the people are also raising their voices. Today I kept getting messages asking me whether I knew that I had been added to a Facebook group called Justice For Sergeant Mark Dimech & Colleagues which was created soon after the death of Kamara.
Considering that I'm usually the one rooting for the underdog (in this case the immigrant), I guess many were surprised that I would accept being part of this group, so let me set the records straight - whilst I did not ask to join the group and was added automatically without my consent, I did not bother to remove myself because I DO want justice for Sergeant Mark Dimech and his colleagues. To my mind if they get justice, Mamadou Kamara would automatically get his.
Ever since this case broke, I tried to stay absolutely mum about the matter because as much as I was tempted to shout out bloody murder I didn't find enough factual information for me to base an informed opinion.
And I still haven't, so as usual, I will reserve comments for when I read the court's final judgement, but until then, one thing's for sure, whatever the verdict, the migrant and the soldiers were not solely responsible for whatever happened out there. In fact they are probably the least responsible for the ultimate outcome.
It's our policy makers who have failed them both - by insisting on such a long detention period, by maintaining such disgusting conditions in detention centres, not only have they made the migrants' lives a living hell, but also the lives of the detention guards who have to face frustrated and angry men and women day in day out.
The guards have been left to their own devices and seeing such desperate frustration, as well as emotional and psychological pain on a daily basis, cannot but make you immune to such suffering – it's self preservation after all – the ability to feel less and less every day, until you get to a point where you're convinced that your detainees are less than human, thus making it all that easier to go home to your air-conditioned room, soft mattress, wife and kids and sleep peacefully.
And now, while we wait for the outcome of the investigations and the courts, whilst we wait for our politicians to enjoy yet another long recess and possibly a general election, I am going to do the unthinkable, I am going to beg The Church to do something about this because besides the two political parties which are both comfortably sitting on their behinds, it is the only entity in Malta with enough social and political clout that could possible get people to see the light here.
The Church, rightly, issued a statement last week expressing its concern over this case and about racism. But please, dear Church - get out there, get your message on to the pulpit; let us see some of your action, put your money where your mouth is, do what you did during the Divorce campaign. This time your actions will quite literally save lives!