Lassana’s death: A call to action

Joint Civil Society Statement

We are shocked and saddened beyond words by the confirmation that the drive-by shooting on April 6th which left Lassana Cisse dead and two other men seriously injured was an act of racial hatred.

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.

Ġorġ Mallia: “Lassana Cisse (1986-2019), the Ivorian father of three, shot dead because of the colour of his skin. In Malta. Our Malta. My head is filled with a million words, but my heart is broken and won’t let them out.”

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.

In the wake of yesterday’s announcement, we call upon the government and all politicians to go beyond one-time condemnation of this act of violence, and to commit to taking concrete action against all forms of racism and intolerance.  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.

This statement is endorsed by:

  1. aditus foundation
  2. African Media Association
  3. agara Foundation
  4. Allied Rainbow Communities
  5. Art for Life
  6. Association for Justice, Equality and Peace
  7. Blue Door English
  8. Caritas Malta
  9. Catholic Voices
  10. Church Homes for the Elderly
  11. CLC Malta
  12. Creative Arts Therapies Society (CATS) Malta
  13. Cross Culture International Foundation
  14. Cross Culture International Foundation
  15. Dar Hosea
  16. Dar tal-Providenza
  17. Department for Gender Studies (University of Malta)
  18. Department for Inclusion and Access to Learning (University of Malta)
  19. Department of Counselling (University of Malta)
  20. Department of Family Studies (University of Malta)
  21. Department of Social Policy and Social Work (University of Malta)
  22. Drachma LGBTI
  23. Drachma Parents Group
  24. Fondazzjoni Sebh
  25. Foundation for Shelter and Support to Migrants
  26. Hal Far Outreach
  27. Integra Foundation
  28. International Association for Refugees
  29.  Isles of the Left
  30. Jesuit Refugee Service Malta
  31. Kopin
  32. Kummissjoni Gustizzja u Paci
  33. Life Network Foundation
  34. Malta Chamber of Psychologists
  35. Malta Emigrants Commission
  36. Maltese Association of Social Workers (MASW)
  37. Men Against Violence
  38. Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS)
  39. Migrant Women’s Association Malta
  40. Millenium Chapel
  41. Moviment Graffitti
  42. Office of the Dean, Faculty for Social Wellbeing (University of Malta)
  43. Office of the Dean, Faculty of Education (University of Malta)
  44. Paolo Freire Institute
  45. Peace and Good Foundation
  46. People for Change Foundation
  47. Richmond Foundation
  48. Salesians of Don Bosco
  49. Segretarjat Assistenza Socjali tal-Azzjoni Kattolika Maltija
  50. Segretarjat Djakonija tal-Arcidjocesi ta’ Malta
  51. Society of Jesus (Jesuits) in Malta
  52. Society of St Vincent de Paule Malta (SSVP)
  53. Solidarity with Migrants Group
  54. SOS Malta
  55. Spark 15
  56. St Jean Antide Foundation
  57. Studenti Harsien Socjali (SHS)
  58. Sudanese Migrants Association
  59. The Critical Institute
  60. University of Malta Chaplaincy
  61. Victim Support Malta
  62.  Women’s Rights Foundation
  63. YMCA
  64. Youth Alive Foundation
  65. Dione Mifsud, Department of Counselling (University of Malta)
  66. John Berry, Faculty of Theology (University of Malta)
  67. Sr Rita Mangion