If you don’t know the story of Amara, Abdul, and Abdalla, you’ve been living under a rock. Their long-drawn-out torture continues now that Attorney General Victoria Buttigieg decided to serve them with an indictment for terrorism and unlawful arrest that is punishable with a life sentence.
All they did was translate between captain and passengers in a tense moment of confusion and misunderstanding. In the middle of an unknown sea the passengers feared being dragged back to a prison all too familiar: the horror of the Libyan gulags whence they came.
The smattering of English of three teenage boys helped calm the situation until Malta’s army stormed the boat and brought her in.
Malta was angry at the three boys. We seemed to believe that if the three boys didn’t speak English and rather than calm things down, cowered in bewildered and confused fear together with the rest of the rescued passangers on that boat, we would have been spared the unbearable inconvenience of bringing them all here and having to give them food and water. Maybe a blanket.
Malta is angry at every unscheduled migrant arrival here. Especially if they’re black people. They have no money when they arrive which is unforgivable in itself. We only like foreigners if they pay us or they serve us. People rescued from the sea do neither of those things.
We would if we could charge all of them with terrorism. They terrorise us for having to do something for free. We do nothing for free. They’re all criminals even for expecting to be allowed to live.
The punishment for terrorism is life in prison, which is another way of killing someone. We’d kill them all if we could.
We can’t. So, we’re killing these three boys instead. We’re perverting the legal meaning of terrorism, and of unlawful arrest, and of private violence, trivialising those serious crimes, just to serve living hill to three boys whose only distinction from your typical Francophone West African rescued from drowning in our seas is speaking some English.
The shame of it all is unbearable. I’ve often written about how the prosecution service is the lawyer representing law abiding citizens, how “Avukat Ġeneral v. X” or “Pulizija v. X” really means ‘The People of Malta v. X’. The legal torture of Amara, Abdul, and Abdalla, is perpetrated by the people. We are responsible for it. It is right that we feel ashamed by it.
We can only hope the courts see through this legal hogwash and recognise the blatant racism and the administrative cruelty of these actions by the Maltese state. The AG refused to stop this madness even if they mulled over it for five years. Maybe the courts will. Maybe.