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Riot and Escape at Migrant Camp in #Malta

In Malta, one of the camps surrounded by barbed wire where nearly a thousand people are locked up without the proper piece of paper is located in the military base of Hal Safi, near the international airport in the south-east of the island. But as no cage will ever be able to quench the thirst for freedom, revolts and escapes occur there regularly, like this Friday, September 18, when around 2 a.m. a new riot ended up exploding in this camp in the face of unbearable conditions of imprisonment and confinement itself. Five migrants also managed to escape.

Originally published by Sans Nom. Translated by Abolition Media Worldwide.

Upon their arrival in an attempt to stop the riot, cops from the Rapid Intervention Unit (RIU) were greeted with stones, while mattresses burned in the courtyard. Seven RIU cops were injured in the clash with well-placed iron bar hits, and two had to be rushed to Mater Dei Hospital. As for the five escapees (from Sudan, Eritrea and Somalia), they managed to force their way out, and they wounded five cops before being caught outside. One of them also had to be taken to hospital, after a security guard at the center wounded him while shooting him with a weapon he kept in his car, to prevent him from pursuing his freedom by climbing the fence that overlooks the airport.

The zeal of this uniformed scum would certainly have earned him the usual reward of his bosses if he had only beaten him to the point of blood, but the fact that he was not allowed to carry a weapon and the latter was not was not declared to the authorities either earned him being indicted for attempted murder… before being released on bail. The next day, Saturday, September 19, twenty-seven migrants went to court and pleaded not guilty, before being remanded in custody in Corradino prison.

Friday, October 2 saw the riot’s first trial, against the five migrants named as the ringleaders (the rioters were divided into five distinct groups which will be tried separately). They all took 30 months in prison for willful damage, illegal assembly and arson – the mattresses! On the occasion of their trial, the case of the security guard who had shot twice one of the escapees outside the enclosure was raised, and the Maltese Ministry of the Interior justified the use of three companies of private guards – Signal 8, JF Security and Executive – to monitor the camps of Hal Safi and Hal Far by the arrival of 2000 migrants this year, which would have overwhelmed its police services.

Let us recall that Malta is one of the countries of the European Union which, while shamelessly assuming its share of responsibility in the transformation of the Mediterranean into a vast cemetery of migrants trying to escape poverty, on the other hand sells passports for access to Europe since 2014 to all scoundrels who can put € 650,000 in one of its state investment funds, plus € 150,000 in its financial instruments while owning real estate of no less than € 350,000 in the island, by offering them Maltese nationality directly in a few months. An opportunity that many millionaire exploiters (Russians, Chinese and Middle Eastern) have for example seized since the Covid crisis to escape the drastic confinements of their country of origin and continue their dirty business.

As for the revolts of migrants without duly stamped papers and who succeeded in forcing the doors of Europe, having courage and determination to repay debts as soon as they arrive, we can only guarantee after the mutinies and escapes in the Italian centers this summer, then the assault on the border in Melilla at the end of August, followed by the fires in the center of Moria then in Samos at the beginning of September and this latest riot in Malta, their drive towards freedom is not close to switching off. As for us, outside, there are a thousand possibilities to attack the cogs of the eviction machine that are on every corner. From architects and builders of prisons and detention centers, to their suppliers and guards, including all those – journalists or politicians – who defend their existence in the name of the law or borders. Because as an old anarchist once said, “The most formidable tyranny is not that which appears arbitrary, it is that which comes to us covered with the mask of legality.”

An enemy of all prisons

Small chronology of other recent revolts in the Maltese camps:

On January 22, 2020, twenty-two migrants imprisoned in the Maltese detention center of Hal Safi were sentenced to nine months in prison for their involvement in a riot on January 6, where they attempted a forceful assault towards the exit in attacking the guards. Furniture had also been ransacked in the dormitories.

On February 24, nineteen other migrants were sentenced to prison terms of 9 months to one year for “illegal assembly and disturbing public order,” as well as “damage to state property”: during the riot in October 2019, bunk beds, televisions and surveillance cameras had been gleefully torn to pieces.

On June 20 at around 8 a.m. during their rounds, the guards of the neighboring Hal Far camp (located on a former British military base) noticed the escape of twenty-one migrants, thanks to a hole dug in the surrounding wall of the camp. None are found after two days of manhunts across the island.

On July 2, two Egyptian migrants were sentenced to four years in prison for setting fire to several tents in Hal Safi camp during a riot on December 12, 2019.

Finally, how can we not mention the riot that took place in the Hal Far camp, located halfway between the second largest Playmobil factory in the world and the Hal Safi camp? On Sunday October 20, 2019 at around 10 p.m., the first stones were thrown at the camp guards in the face of yet another abuse, then numerous fires broke out against several official camp facilities, including the office of the AWAS (Agency for the Welfare of the Asylum Seekers) and five company cars for its agents. After the latter fled, the insurgent migrants took control of the camp until 11:30 p.m., when police reinforcements and rapid riot response units arrived. The clashes continued until around 4 a.m., by which time three more police cars were damaged.

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