The Malta Independent 22 September 2019, Sunday

Civil society organizations call for concrete action against racism and intolerance

Sunday, 19 May 2019, 11:10 Last update: about 5 months ago

60 civil society organizations and individuals have called on the government and all politicians to go beyond one-time condemnation of last month’s racially-motivated murder and to commit to taking concrete action against all forms of racism and intolerance.

“That the two men suspected of committing this heinous crime are members of the Armed Forces of Malta – a state institution that is there to protect us – makes it even more reprehensible. It would be tempting to disassociate ourselves from this crime, to dismiss it as a random act, perpetrated by one or two deranged individuals. But we know that it is not, because we daily come in contact with people who are treated as less than human, by individuals and institutions, because of their religion or the colour of their skin,” the organizations said.

“For too long we have ignored the daily experiences of the migrants in our midst and clung to the myth that racist incidents are isolated, and rare, occurrences in Malta. For too long we have accepted without comment, much less condemnation, intolerant views, derogatory comments and inflammatory speeches. This act, which has exposed the ugly reality of racism in our midst, should serve as a wake-up call, a stark reminder of just how destructive racism can be if it is left to fester, unacknowledged and unaddressed.”

“While the work of the police to bring the perpetrators to justice is commendable, we need to do far more if we want to overcome racism and intolerance and promote an inclusive society where all are perceived as truly equal, and where all are respected and protected,” they said.

“Although changes in people’s minds and hearts cannot be achieved only by changing the law or by political statements, we have seen that clear, strong and consistent political leadership can make a real difference in the way minorities in our midst are treated. In the wake of this horrific crime we urge the authorities to show the determination required to fight racism and discrimination and to promote the dignity of all, regardless of real or perceived differences. Because until racism is addressed with the seriousness it deserves, and every single case is duly reported and investigated, Malta will never be a safe country for all. We also call on each and every individual to stand against racism and to work for a society which is truly inclusive and just.”

“Our action, and our inaction, make a difference. This is not about others, it is about us – about the kind of country we want to live in. We owe it to Lassana and others who have been and continue to be victims of racist crimes, to ourselves and to our children, to take racism seriously. Let us not be remembered for our inability to learn from the lessons of history, for our silence in the face of hatred and intolerance, for our unwillingness to take a stand in favour of human dignity.”

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