Are We Human?
Or are we dancer? These lyrics are lifted straight from the song Human released by American rock band The Killers, and they immediately sprang to mind when I watched news footage on TV of Innocent Lokri from Nigeria in tears and down on his knees at the President’s feet as he pleaded with her to protect him and his family. And I’m on my knees, looking for the answer. Are we human?
The song on the B-side happens to be entitled A Crippling Blow. And so it was for Frederick Ofosu from Ghana, another asylum seeker who was refused Temporary Humanitarian Protection status. He took his own life allegedly because mental strain caused by the frightening prospect of an uncertain future drove him to despair. Frederick was only 32 years old. Close your eyes, clear your heart, cut the cord. Are we human?
Malta was not the intended destination for Frederick Ofosu, Innocent Lokri and all the other asylum seekers. They ended up here only because they were cheated out of their fuel by ruthless fraudsters at the outset of their journey and rescued by our Armed Forces from their boats in distress after days of drifting out at sea. Those who survive such an ordeal are broken people, distraught and traumatised, and yet we show little sympathy. Instead, we twist the knife by claiming cold-heartedly that they are freeloaders and spongers, and we would send them straight back to where they came from, if only we had the power to do so. Wave goodbye, wish me well, you got to let me go. Are we human?
Clearly, we take our comfortable lifestyle for granted. It would be a good exercise to reverse roles and imagine ourselves in that hopeless situation, packed like squashed sardines in a battered boat just one metre above the level of a treacherous sea notorious for claiming hundreds of lives, beaten down by the scorching sun during the long days and engulfed by a menacing darkness throughout the never-ending nights. Let me know is your heart still beating? Are we human?
Many failed asylum seekers are living in total uncertainty because they will never be able to obtain official documentation from their country of origin, making them eligible for a residence permit in Malta. Meanwhile, some have already established roots here. They work and pay taxes, thus contributing to the Maltese economy. And yet, deportation looms as a significant threat to these unfortunate people who came to Europe seeking only to start over and leave the horror behind forever. Our hearts should go out to them. Are we human?
Or are we dancer? Dancing to the tune of the authorities that hide behind the excuse that they are legally bound to implement push back policies for failed asylum seekers who are evidently not millionaires, and therefore, not worthy of consideration by the powers that be, no matter how much they beg on bent knees. Pay my respects to grace and virtue, send my condolences to good. Are we human?