An online poll on Malta Today shows that some 67% of respondents agree with Joseph Muscat’s proposed push-back policy. It’s just a poll, not a scientific study, however it’s indicative of public sentiment. For the sake of this article, let’s assume that 67% of the Maltese agree with such policy.

One might argue that if the majority is behind Muscat, implementing push back (on which he himself is now backing off indicating he was only using it to threaten the EU) would be democratic.

Thankfully it doesn’t work that way. A majority, even confirmed by elections does not in itself make a democracy. For instance both Putin in Russia and Erdogan in Turkey, were elected with a majority yet both cannot claim to be democratic. The rampant breaches of human rights, especially the persecution of political opponents and journalists make any of these leaders’ claims to be democratic nothing more than a joke, even though they got a majority in the polls.

I remember reading a quote (unfortunately I forgot its author’s name) that depicts all this in a single sentence:

“Would it still be a democracy if 51% of the population voted for the right to kill the other 49% with impunity?”

I think the answer is pretty obvious.

This may sound extreme and hopefully no country will ever arrive in such a dire situation. However it makes a point very clear: Having the support of the majority is still undemocratic if the basic rights of minorities are not respected.

This argument holds true for push-back. For a simple reason. What Muscat proposed was not the deportation of failed asylum seekers (which is completely legitimate) but a deportation that would have been carried out before they even had a right to file for asylum. And asking for asylum is a fundamental human right.

And while I do find the majority on the issue as worrying, I also find them irrelevant. They could have been 90% and still, implementing push back before one even had the chance to ask for asylum would be not only illegal but undemocratic.

It would, among other things, have turned the Maltese government into a very serious human rights abuser that wouldn’t mind breaking my own rights if it’s politically convenient.

A few weeks ago I wrote about the arson attacks on people and organisations that publicly criticized racism four years ago. The bad news about that episode is that up to now, no one has been arraigned in our Courts. The good news is that the attacks have stopped.

Yet, once again violence intended to intimidate people’s liberties is with us again. This time the victims are anti-hunting lobbyists, who dared filming illegalities. While one can understand a person wouldn’t like others filming him, especially while he/she is breaking the law, this is hardly an excuse.

However, incredibly enough some pro-hunting lobbyists including the notorious FKNK seem to justify these actions. The hunters were provoced they say. Had this been true, the violence is still unacceptable. I have yet to see a wife beater defending himself in court stating ‘Your honor I had to stab here. I had no choice. She called me a son of a bitch’ The wife beater might actually believe he was right, but to have individuals and organisations agreeing with him in public would be really obnoxious.

Then, the hunting lobbysts came up with another excuse. A certain Mr Axisa (CEO of the Ta’ Qali Producers Group) sprouted out of nowhere claiming that he was recieving complaints from farmers victims of the trespassing birdwatchers. Yet, none of these ‘farmers’ had the guts to reveal his identity. The only farmer who did that, Mr John Portelli, claimed that it was hunters that did most of the trespassing on his land. This is a question of guts because unlike the anonymous farmers who reported their misgivings to Mr Axisa, John Portelli is contradicting people who actually carry guns in those fields, at a time when some of them seem more than willing to use them.

For the sake of keeping our hard earned liberties, will the rest of the population, including hunters who respect the rule of law condemn publicly and isolate these thugs? To show them, and others who may have similar ideas (possibly on a different issue) that absolutely no one could be above the law, worse still when violence is involved.

Footage of the violence: