The Malta Independent 25 April 2019, Thursday

The Birzebbuga killing fields

Noel Grima Sunday, 14 April 2019, 09:00 Last update: about 11 days ago

A week ago, three people were shot at in a dark country lane used as a shortcut from Birzebbuga to Hal Far. One of the three - a 42-year-old from the Ivory Coast who had been in Malta for a number of years - was killed.

Triq tal-Gebel, where the shooting took place is, as said, a narrow country lane that starts from the edge of the Tal-Papa area and then winds up to Hal Far through fields.

Even before this episode, it already had a rather sinister fame. In fact, people from the area warned neighbours and friends against using it - even by car and even though it is rather handy as a short-cut.

This is how africanmediamalta.com described the killing and the atmosphere in the area and in Malta in general:

"Lassine Cisse, a man from Ivory Coast, an asylum seeker was killed by gun shots from a car. The man came across his death as he  was peacefully walking  by the side of the road. Someone, (the police is searching) has decided that such walk was unlawful,  the killer had decided that death penalty was the punishment for such a  peaceful behaviour."

Over the years, African immigrants in Malta  have reported the various abuse that they suffer due to their skin colour and the negative connotation carried by the word 'migrant'.

Abuse at work, exploitation on the part of unscrupulous job providers, denial of decent housing, denial of banking services, poor reception at hospital - and in any public service in general, denial of social security while they pay taxes, denial of family reunification, stigmatising  rhetoric by unscrupulous politicians seeking votes, uninhibited and generalised hate speech on social media and in some news outlets - the list can be longer.

Below are some comments from African migrants in Malta:

"They hate us, but they steal our money" said Jusy (a pseudonym), a woman from Ghana who was robbed by her Maltese business partner.

"All the jobs that we are offered are undignified.  We don't have choice, but accept, we have family and we have to provide for them" said Andrew (a pseudonym) from Nigeria.

"They deny us access to  the signature that allows us to receive the meagre monthly fee allocated for our subsistence.  The supervisor says we must clean our  premises before signing. We clean, they are clean, but nonetheless, we are deny access to the signature. Nothing makes sense here, nothing."

An asylum seeker living in Hal Far open centre

"Sometimes you arrange a hourly payment, but when you have finished working, he gives you half of what was arranged, they are so dishonest."

A man working in the construction industry

"We ask our leaders in Africa to build our economy, if we were good in our land, we wouldn't be here."

An asylum seeker from Ghana

The police, as said, are still searching for the person/s who shot and killed and wounded - but don't hold your breath. Objectively, as said, the area is uninhabited and mostly not covered by security cameras and the like.

The murder, for a murder it seems to be, seems destined to join other unsolved murders such as that of Daphne Caruana Galizia. In this case, it seems that racism was involved, as can be seen from the many comments on the comment boards and even from the strenuous denials by some that it was a racist murder.

The three persons walking along the lane seem to have been unconnected. They just happened to have been in the same place at the same time. It would also seem that the area has had more than its share of stones being thrown and accidents involving cars - although many such incidents may not have been reported to the police.

Nor do these people answer back, so far. So far...

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