The Malta Independent 26 September 2018, Wednesday

Six months on: Many attend Valletta mass, vigil for slain journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia

Helena Grech Monday, 16 April 2018, 18:26 Last update: about 6 months ago

Slain journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was honoured by many who took part in a mass and vigil in Valletta, six months to the day she was murdered in a car bomb attack in Bidnija. 

Archbishop Charles Scicluna led mass at St Francis Church, which was so packed that the congregation has spilled out into the street.

In his homily, Archbishop Scicluna said justice is a fundamental and radical need without which life and society are not dignified.

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But justice is often tainted by corruption and commercial interests. It is easy to get tangled in the nets of corruption, he said, to give only on the premise of taking back and to try and get a seat at the table and share in the cake of life.

The Archbishop said for justice to be done all of society has to collaborate, even if one does not personally benefit from that collaboration.

Some people had, in their search for justice fallen under the power of those who would seek to extinguish freedom of expression he said, quoting Pope Francis. 

As the mass drew to an end, attendants gave a round of applause to celebrate Caruana Galizia’s work. The crowd then carried pictures of the slain journalist down republic street to begin the vigil outside the law courts.

Scores of people placed even more flowers and plaquards by the controversial makeshift monument in Great Siege Square.

Vigils were also held in London, Edinburgh, Washington DC, Brussels, Berlin, Dresden and Amsterdam.

Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed in a car bomb attack metres from her home in Bidnija on 16 October 2017. Three men stand charged with the murder but the people who commissioned the crime remain unknown and at large.

Pauline Ades Mevel, head of the European office of Borders Without Borders was the first speaker. She said people from all over the world have united to celebrate Caruana Galizia’s work and  to condemn the heinous attack. She described Caruana Galizia as having great courage, stressing that people have gathered to remind the Maltese authorities that “we have not forgotten Daphne”.

“We will not rest until those who carried out the attack are brought to justice. An attack on any journalist anywhere is an attack on journalism itself. The world is watching us, all of us. The world needs journalists like her to investigate without getting killed, without the fear of disappearing”.

Ades Mevel said she is the sister of all journalists murdered for their work. In recent years, there has been a spate of attacks on journalists all over the world, including in Turkey, Ukraine, Slovakia, Mexico and more. She said for investigative journalists, there are no borders anymore.

“We want to express our solidarity, the work of this courageous journalist is crucial for the world. You have to continue her work,” she said to loud applause.

Referring to the arrests of three men who have been charged with carrying out the attack, she called on the authorities to find and prosecute those who commissioned the crime.

The killers wanted to silence Caruana Galizia, but the murderers did not silence people for one minute, she said.

“The crooks are everywhere, but really we are everywhere,” she said, concluding her speech, making reference to Caruana Galizias ominous last words on her blog.

A group of activists proceeded to read out a list of honours awarded to Caruana Galizia for her work.

Activist Pia Zammit addressed the crowd, starting her speech by saying Malta is not a normal country. “It is not normal that a journalist is murdered in broad daylight because of facts she knew.”

Zammit accused local media of fearing to write Caruana Galizia’s name despite the prominent media coverage her brutal murder received and continues to receive.

She lashed out at the general public for being apathetic to the news of her murder.

She condemned the lack of resignations by politicians in power, and the lack of protests in the streets.

Zammit continued to condemn Maltese students refusing to sound their voice and rock the boat, while they flock in droves for social media opportunities, taking aim at popular vlog ‘Nas Daily’.

“It is not normal that the Archbishop is insulted and told to shut up ‘or else’ for voicing his opinion. But Malta is not a normal country.”

She called on informed people and people of good will to fight against spin and distraction.

“We must shout louder, we must make our voices heard and we must spread our message.”

Zammit cautioned that “we are in this for the long haul” adding that this is no big fix.

“Justice for Daphne is just the beginning. We must continue the fight. We are not alone,” she said, tears in her eyes. “We must continue fighting until our children start to say, Malta is a normal country.”

Alex Perici Calascione was the third speaker of the night. He thanked all those who work for the truth to come out. He gave special thanks to activist groups who have taken up the cause to apply pressure for Caruana Galizia to get justice.

He said that all people of good will and principle should fight against corruption, wherever it comes from. He said it is a duty for all journalists to strengthen and double their efforts to seek the truth without any hidden agendas. It is the journalists’ duty to seek the truth just like it is the politicians’ duty to protect those journalists, he added.

“We must always insist for the truth, and not let settle for any spin or flimsy explanations.”

He said that Malta is for all of us, and all that stains the country stains each and every one of us.

The former PN treasurer and leadership election contender addressed the “crooks” around us, saying that the people will not stop until the truth comes out.

“There is a lot currently that is causing us frustration. But standing here today before you, I see your determination.”

He said he whole-heartedly believes it is still possible for principles and values to rein supreme once again. “The assassination of Caruana Galizia and other journalists has given a signal to the European Commission that they need to protect all European citizens. It should recognize that the time for discussion is over, that it is time for action as tomorrow may be too late. It must take steps to protect the rule of law. Let us recognize that it is our duty to walk this road with the same courage and determination, without hesitation or caution and get the truth.”

The final speaker of the night was  blogger Manuel Delia. He spoke of Caruana Galizia’s allegations about the Panama company Egrant Inc being owned by the Prime Minister’s wife Michelle Muscat. He went on to describe to the crowd how on the night of the allegation, Muscat called it the biggest lie in Malta’s political history. He spoke of police commissioner Lawrence Cutajar eating rabbit at a restaurant while the chairman of Pilatus Bank, the alleged vehicle which effected a transaction of money into Egrant, leaving the bank from the back entrance with a suitcase filled with unknown items.

He spoke of the mysterious plane which ended up in Baku, Azerbaijan that very night.

Delia referred to criticism by the Labour Party that the Nationalist Party and others who support Caruana Galizia’s work are tarnishing Malta’s good name. He said that the reality is, PL supporters shame others for tarnishing Malta’s name, when it was them who allowed corruption to flourish.

Delia decried the commonly used response whenever the government is criticized, that the Prime Minister has a 40,000 majority and if people don’t like it they should leave the country. He challenged those people by saying that the Prime Minister should be defending everyone and not just a few.

He said the common good cannot be abandoned. “I understand Maltese journalists. Nearly all of them genuinely believe the truth should not suit who is paying their wages or those in power. The political parties have a function, but it is not to critically analyze their own work. I know that journalists, even of the state and the parties, believe in the truth. I understand the pressure from government and employers is overwhelming, but nobody should ever back down or concede.”

Delia stressed that good values should never be compromised in any way. He said that everyone from each party wants the best for Malta deep down, but went on to slam those who insulted the Archbishop and those who call Caruana Galizia a witch even though she’s been dead for six months.

Delia said that those who call the police to chase activists with posters criticizing the government, and those who want the monument to be cleared are afraid of something.

He said that the people must use tools such as unity, justice, transparency and honestly to stamp out the corruption taking over. Delia closed off by calling Caruana Galizia a hero, saying that everyone must do their part to help the truth come out.

Photos and video: Baskal Mallia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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