The year 1999 will definitely not be forgotten by the five Bulgarian nurses and Palestinian doctor wrongly accused on one of the most heinous crimes possible – deliberately infecting over 400 Libyan children with HIV. The evidence of their innocence is surmounting, from the clearly visible effects of torture they underwent in the Libyan prisons while they signed their “confessions”, to the witness of International scientists that said clearly the virus must have been present at least a year before the accused started working in the Hospital.

1999 was just the beginning of these six people’s nightmare. In 2004, the medics were sentenced to death. The nightmare ended in 2007 after the Bulgarian government forked out millions of dollars in compensation for each infected child to the Libyan authorities. The medics were declared as innocent within less than 45 minutes they set foot on Bulgarian territory.

Why did this frame up take place? The most probable reason is that these medics were used as a scapegoat to cover up the lack of hi-gene and professionalism in Libyan hospitals, the real reason why the virus had spread.

Dictator Gaddafi and his regime literally had the cake and are it. Not only did they cover up their mess (in front of the people of Libya with the controlled media, not the International community), but used it as an opportunity to extort millions of dollars from the Bulgarian government (with the help of some other countries).

Do I blame the Bulgarian government for giving up to this extortion? Hardly so. Just like a father whose child had been kidnapped forking out the money was the only way to save five nationals and another innocent human being from death.

Obviously this was a victory for the Libyan regime. In fact they learnt the lesson – extortion pays big time – and are doing it again, this time in different circumstances. During a visit to Italy, Colonel Gaddafi made a controversial speech scaring European with millions of ‘poor and ignorant’ Africans invading it, unless it does something. That something is once again extortion. Give me €500 a year to protect my borders, he asked the EU and I’ll ‘protect’ you from the Barbaric invasion.

Anyone with some common sense would not fall into this trap. Unlike the Bulgarian government, if the EU forked money to the Dictator, this time it would not take place to uphold the life of country nationals, but to deny the rights of non-Libyan Africans refugees to seek asylum. One should also include the fact that considering the extreme corruption that takes place in Libyan institutions many people will still ‘leak in’ if they have some cash.

By the time of writing EU officials have shunned these proposals or at least have been non-committed. Except for one country’s foreign minister. Our own Dr Tonio Borg, has told us it takes two to tango. In other words that we should appease Colonel Gaddafi and fork out the extortion money.

While writing this, it still hasn’t completely sunk in that apart from the disrespect for human rights, Dr Borg is putting Malta’s position towards Libya like that of a small Sicilian restaurant owner in front of a Mafia Don.

Thanks, but no thanks Dr Borg.

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Most dictators are afraid of a particular group of people – students. In different ways the governments of Libya, Egypt or Iran and many others intimidate, harass, imprison and even execute students hoping they will shut their mouth up. Yet, amid all adversity and serious personal risk, some refuse to shut up.

Students in such countries have to hide behind a computer screen to spread their message. It isn’t foolproof and a few are persecuted anyway. Others have to support their words with guns.

But we are better off, aren’t we? We can freely speak our voice without such fears? Ok, not always. However, compared to these totalitarian regimes, our students do have much more freedom to evaluate and criticize society. Our government can’t even dream of sending its troops to University. So it has to find another way. And it did.

They hijacked our students. The recent spat at the Kunsill Studenti Universitarji (KSU) is a clear example. Studenti Demokratici Maltin (SDM) use bullying and a ridiculous electoral system to keep on electing exclusively themselves. Pro-government and extremely conservative, this group of student is doing exactly the opposite of the courageous dissidents in totalitarian regimes. That is, making sure other students’ voices are not heard.

However, this week something really interesting happened. As Pulse, SDM’s main adversary, decided to boycott the elections, an ad hoc movement of students was formed. Moviment Indipendenti (MI) is proposing three students whose credentials are other than being puppets of our stuck-in-a-rut system.

I invite anyone reading this blog to take a look at what these students are for:

http://www.facebook.com/reqs.php#!/pages/Moviment-Indipendenti/373654617407?ref=mf

I can’t vote for these people because I’m no longer a student. However I appeal to any student about having a true democracy to vote for MI next Thursday.

All over the world, students are shedding their blood for their freedoms. For democracy. Is it too much to use a couple of minutes of your time for what should be our common interest?