[WATCH] Stability not uncertainty: Migrant community demands stronger rights

Migrants are demanding better access to information and the reintroduction of the SRA policy

Migrants have gathered in Valletta on Monday morning (photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday)
Migrants have gathered in Valletta on Monday morning (photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday)

Migrant and asylum-seeker communities gathered in Valletta on Monday in a show of force to demand better rights while protesting the unhuman treatment of migrants in Malta.

The migrant community presented a list of demands to the press and to the Ministry for Home Affairs to highlight urgent issues being faced by the community.

Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday
Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday

These demands include: better access to information; the reintroduction of the Specific Residence Authorisation (SRA) policy; regularising the status of children of migrants and asylum seekers; enhanced staff training for Identity Malta personnel.

Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday
Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday

Protestors called on Maltese authorities to divulge how much revenue they have received from the taxes of migrants, and speakers emphasised the fact that migrant children are not given the documentation needed to travel outside of Malta.

“Our children ask us, are we in prison? Can we not leave Malta? Our friends go on holiday and when they come back they tell us everything!” speaker Joy Edokpolor said.

Another speaker, Mohammed Ali Aguerb, noted that while Malta ranks first in LGBT rights, queer migrants are placed in illegal detention and unsafe reception centres.

“Same sex marriage is legal, but there is a blind ban on all asylum seekers getting married,” he stated.

The protestors were particularly critical of Identity Malta, with many saying that the staff were not professional in their treatment of migrants.

Doris Daku, the first speaker of the event, stated that a staff member had openly told a migrant “I know you, we are not going to accept your application”. When the person asked why, police escorted her out.

Many speakers also called for immediate intervention on the part of the European Union, while referring to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

On migrant working conditions, speaker Ibrahim Jabbie said that the Maltese government is doing its best, but it is not enough.

“You tell us to go work, we go work, but you don’t give us our rights,” he said. “No boss would exist without the worker. You can’t be a boss without your workers. But when the worker needs help, suddenly no one wants to be the boss.”

He recalled how a friend of his worked for one month, but only received payment for 14 days worth of work.

Ibrahim Jabbie is the nephew of  Jaiteh Lamin, 32, who was left on the side of a pavement after allegedly falling a height of two storeys on a construction site.

“No one knows what my uncle is going through,” he said. “These are human beings. Take care of them. Your worker could be someone’s son, daughter, husband, wife.”

Many protesters held up photos of Jaiteh Lamin, together with placards demanding better working rights and rights for their children.

The last speaker, Hamza Alassa, made it clear that Monday’s protest is not about race. “It was in the pipeline before the incident happened,” he said, referring to Lamin’s injury.

“The protest will not stop today or tomorrow. It will continue until we get what we want from government.”

Jaiteh Lamin’s story sparked public outrage as a video posted to Facebook last week showed him lying on the pavement in pain, worried that if an ambulance is called he would be taken to prison.

Days after the incident, contractor Glen Farrugia was remanded in custody for having allegedly left Lamin at the side of the road following his accident.

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