Saturday, 27 November 2010

Say No to Racism - Campaign

The campaign Say No To Racism is being launched today Saturday 27th November 2010. This campaign is a coalition of NGOs, students, academics, writers, lecturers, immigrants and artists who are uniting together as one voice against racism. The organisations taking part in the campaign are: Migrants’ Network for Equality, Jesuit Refugee Service (Malta), Migrants Solidarity Movement, Moviment Graffitti, General Workers’ Union, Amplify, CEER, GetUpStandUp!, Organisation for Friendship in Diversity, Kopin, Moviment Azzjoni Xellug, Salesian Pastoral Youth Service, Koperattiva Kummerc Gust, Greenhouse, Third World Group and Alternattiva Demokratika.

The main aims of this campaign are to publicly announce that racism and discrimination are illegal and have to be stopped. However, we also think that to effectively fight racism we must necessarily tackle the fears, often the result of common misconceptions, that Maltese people have in relation to migration; something which is offering a fertile breeding ground for the growth of racism in our country. The aim of this campaign is not to accuse the Maltese of being racist. We are confident that quite a lot of persons reject racism, while others act in certain ways more because of fear rather than hatred. For this reason the campaign will provide educational material on the issue of migration, which will in turn promote more respect towards migrants.

The Say No To Racism campaign will mainly work in two ways:

We will hold a variety of educational, cultural and artistic activities that will create spaces for discussion and interaction between different people. These activities will be organised by NGOs who already have contact with youth groups and other organisations. Activities coming up include: a street parade against racism in Valletta and a concert against racism. Both the activities are open to the public. Lecturers at the University will work towards the integration of issues related to diversity into the curriculum. They will also host a series of lectures on the topic. Students will hold informational activities on campus. An upcoming event part of the campaign is a photographic exhibition tilted Unframing Migration that will be exhibited for a week, starting from 6th December at the University.

We will report racist incidents in the media in order for them to be tackled by the relevant authorities. If this isn’t done effectively we will work to make racists held accountable. The presence of the Migrants Network for Equality, a network of migrant communities in Malta, is essential to the success of the campaign as they can inform us directly on what is happening to members of their communities. This will then enable us to act together in instances when persons, or groups, suffer racism.

This campaign advocates for the rights of every person who has experienced or is experiencing racism in one way or another. This includes not only African migrants, who are known to be one of the largest groups experiencing racism due to their visible difference, but also other minority groups who have been targets of discriminatory acts or attitudes.

Racism, both institutionally and socially is a prevalent problem in Malta. The atmosphere of hostility migrants feel negatively affects their well being as it is something they experience in their daily life. Experiences encountered range from the bus not stopping for black persons, being refused when trying to rent a flat, being refused work even when having adequate qualifications and racism at work. Paceville is also a venue rife with racism as most of the night clubs don’t allow entry to black persons. An unfortunate incident happened when Suleiman from Sudan was beaten to death at the doors of one of these night clubs. Under European Union law denial to public services and goods is completely illegal. Unfortunately this is not taken seriously. There have been various cases when immigrants reported racist attacks to the police and they were ignored, often with the report not being taken at all. Unfortunately, we also know of cases where police were the perpetrators of racism themselves. With this campaign we are asserting that these incidents have to stop.

To overcome a problem, one must accept that a problem exists in the first place. Too many phrases start with the words: “I’m not a racist but…” Too many times do we witness small acts of daily discrimination against people from a different ethnicity, stereotyping people due to their looks rather than accepting them as individuals. This is something faced all over the world, and it is important to confront this issue as happens in other countries.

This campaign is open to anyone who wants to join, please keep track of our activities on our website and join us in solidarity. Let the dignity of each person be a priority for all of us. Dignity can’t be upheld at the same time when there are people among us being treated unequally.

Reported on the Times of Malta

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