Over a hundred people gathered for a protest march in front of the Triton Fountain in Valletta earlier today, a crowd made up of both locals and migrants who united to follow up on demands for basic rights for migrants who come to Malta.
The march, which drew onlookers’ attention with drums and chanting all the way from the entrance of Valletta to the La Vallette monument around the corner from Castille, ended in a series of brief speeches.
The first speaker, Caroline Galea, who recently hit the headlines for helping injured worker Jaiteh Lamin, who was dumped on the roadside in Selmun by his employer a month ago, spoke of the need for people of all nationalities “to unite and stand up for one another”.
“I know you are all in pain and that you are all angry; I am, too. On 28 September, Jaiteh Lamin was abandoned on the road with a broken arm and spine, dragging himself onto the pavement with his one working arm,” Galea said.
“We heard his cries, we heard his pain, but the issues that have led to this are not individual; this is not the first time someone has been exploited in Malta because of their status, ethnicity or the colour of their skin,” she added, to chants of “enough is enough” from the crowd.
While some of the speakers reiterated the demands at the protest held a month ago, most focused on the protest’s central slogan: ‘there is no us vs them, there is only us’.
Doris Doku, who had also given a speech back in September, repeated migrants’ demands for the end of exploitative employment practices, the reinstatement of the Specific Residency Authorisation which previously allowed migrants to settle and work without depending specifically on work permits and the provision of identification documents for children of migrants born in Malta.
Dursa Kadu, a person involved in youth organisation Spark15, delivered his message to the crowd: “United we can challenge anything – we need a strong community, I believe in justice and equality and in being united we can push and change the world”.
Fellow speaker Mohamed Dali Aguerbi took aim at Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri who had responded to the previous protest by stating that Malta’s migration policies are fair and that Malta will insist on deporting migrants who are ineligible for asylum protection.
“People living in open centres are living in metal containers with up to eight people in them, held in detention, where people don’t have the right to appeal their decisions, wait for five to six years, where they don’t have the right to health. Is this what it means, ‘being fair’?” Aguerbi asked.
Ebrima Jabbie, the nephew of Jaiteh Lamin who has managed to begin making a slow recovery after his serious injury, echoed Galea’s statements while speaking of the community’s trauma. While speaking of how his uncle’s injury kept him up at night, Jabbie also referred to the hate crime that had cost Lassana Cisse’s life in 2019 as another example of the worst fears that are harboured by migrants living in Malta.
“The experiences we go through in Malta are sometimes terrible. Lassana Cisse was our brother and our friend, and today he is not with us. He was gunned down by hatred, he was gunned down because he was black,” Jabbie said.
”We are all scared and traumatised by this. My uncle, Jaiteh Lamin, was dumped like garbage, I can’t even say like an animal because even an animal deserves a better life than that,” he added, switching to Maltese to ask the country to open its mind and heart to migrants because “we are all human beings and we should respect one another”.