The Malta Independent 24 April 2019, Wednesday

The grey wall of indifference

Vicki Ann Cremona Tuesday, 16 October 2018, 10:33 Last update: about 7 months ago

On platform 21 in the Milan train station, there is a big grey wall with one word written across it: ‘INDIFFERENZA’. This was the platform from which the trains to Auschwitz departed, carrying thousands of persons like you and me to be massacred. Everyone knew what was happening, but nobody cared. As long as they were fine and their normal lives and routines were not interrupted, people did not bother about the fact that only a few metres away, others were being taken to their deaths.  Their indifference was at the root of the continued perpetration of injustice and inhumanity. That guilt will be carried by their children and their children’s children.

One year ago today, on 16 October  2017, a bomb detonating 300-400 grams of TNT butchered the investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia and filled what remained of her body with shrapnel.  Somebody who could not afford to allow her to continue her relentless pursuit of the truth, commissioned her massacre. Although today , three suspects are being tried for this butchery, the vile person or persons who ordered her horrible death are still around us, living the life, scot free.  Unfortunately, since that date, other journalists also investigating corruption have been brutally murdered: Jan Kuciak and his fiancée in Slovakia, and eight days ago, ViktoriaMarinova, in Bulgaria.

Whereas Kuciak’s murder brought down the Slovak government, what is being encouraged in Malta around the butchery of Caruana Galizia is indifference. A few hundreds have resisted this and have not been afraid, month after month, to remind the rest of the Maltese population that justice has not been done either with regard to the journalist’s brutal murder, or with regard to the scandals she was exposing which remain shrouded in lies and mystery, and go unpunished till this very day. They have gathered, every sixteenth of every month, around a makeshift memorial that has been erected in front of Malta’s law courts to remind all, especially the judiciary, that they have the duty to deliver true justice and to show each and every citizen of Malta and beyond that justice is effectively being delivered. This is the bedrock of democracy and the rule of law.

The will to propagate indifference is seen by the government’s regular efforts to remove the temporary memorial which have been taken to ridiculous extremes, including a sham declaration for the need of restoring a monument that has quite recently been restored, and the fact of encasing it - and the wreaths officially laid freshly before it  -in wooden hoarding on a public holiday.

Indifference is often the direct result of fear. In the not so distant past, people in this country were afraid to protest because they or their families would suffer dire consequences if they did    some of us still remember the harassment, the transfers, the government lockouts,  the blocked promotions, the forced retirements, the nervous breakdowns that we, our parents, or members of our families suffered in the eighties. Although it is not as in-your-face as it was in the past, this fear is once again creeping in, more insidiously this time.  It is spurred on by a hate campaign against Daphne Caruana Galizia that continues relentlessly, to the extent that the European Parliament has felt obliged to urge the Maltese government – our government - to condemn ‘publicly and unambiguously’ the hate speech that is, in fact, being generated from places that include the environs of the Prime Minister’s office itself.

Indifference is also encouraged by the fear of losing what one has. Malta is, at present, going through an economic boom and much money – both clean and dirty – is being made. People are afraid of losing access to this wealth if seen to be claiming for truth and justice. That subtle fear has stalled so many who, one surprisingly discovers, have given in all too easily to the kind of intimidation that affects their pockets.

Indifference feeds corruption. It lets corruption grow unabated, penetrating all levels of society and creating more marginalised  groups who cannot, or will not, participate in the general greed.  Meanwhile, the corruption-  that people like Daphne Caruana Galizia spoke out against so vociferously -  continues to eat away at honesty and beauty, and the result is the uglification of Malta which is condemned to lose its soul and its identity in order to resemble an undemocratic country such as Singapore, and to ensure that the pockets of the corrupt remain ever replenished.

The groups fighting corruption that have been formed since 16 October 2017 are not big, but they are courageous, daring and creative. They bring colour and noise to the greyness and deafening silence of indifference. They have my admiration and support and that of the citizens who care.  They may seen as part of the heritage of Daphne’s fight against impunity.  Although Daphne’s body has been cruelly disposed of, her spirit and determination live on. With the right interest and effort, every wall, however big, may be surmounted.

Let us not forget the closing lines of the beautiful poem by the German pastor Martin Niemöller which describes the dire consequences of those who do not speak out against injustice:

“When they came for me

There was no one left to speak out”.

Dear Daphne, you spoke out bravely and were called a ‘witch’ because you did so. They came for you, and like a witch, they burned you. However, there are still those of us who are determined to continue to speak out, and will continue to do so in spite of any effort to shut us up.  Among us, there is a generation of young people, which will be known in future as the ‘Daphne generation’, who is ready to fight against the image of a corrupt island that is internationally scorned - their future depends on it.



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