The Malta Independent 4 December 2021, Saturday

Daphne’s murder: Second protest in Sliema - Freedom, democracy should not be taken for granted

Helena Grech Sunday, 29 October 2017, 16:32 Last update: about 5 years ago

For the second Sunday in a row, the Civil Society Network held a protest demonstration to call for justice following the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia with one of the speakers, UHM chief executive officer Josef Vella, saying that democracy and freedom should not be taken for granted.

The protesters gathered in Sliema – last week in was Valletta – to manifest their disdain and anger following the car bomb which killed the investigate journalist just outside her home in Bidnija on 16 October.

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They included the Occupy Justice Group which, for the last three nights and days, camped outside the Prime Minister’s Office in Valletta.

The protesters met at the Ghar id-Dud promenade and walked to Amery Street, where were addressed by members of the network. This Sliema area is the place where Daphne was brought up.

They carried placards calling for justice and blew whiistles while John Lennon's "Imagine" and Pink Floyd's "Wish you were here" were being played in the background.

Once again, the network called for the resignation of the police commissioner and the attorney general. A banner with the words "resign" superimposed on the photo of AG Peter Grech was seen, similar to the one with the face of the police chief Lawrence Cutajar which appeared last week.

Photos Michael Camilleri

The first speaker was Antonio Tufigno (above), who read a speech by blogger Jacque Rene Zammit. Tufigno questioned why the crowd gathered today, to which the audience promptly cried "justice".

Nothing can be the same after the murder of Caruana Galizia, and civil society has woken up, Tufigno said. 

He said that while the country is enjoying a financial surplus, society is seriously suffering from a deficit. 

Caruana Galizia's family do not just wish for the culprit to be brought to justice, but they want to see the rule of law, democracy and freedom to be restored to the island, he pointed out. "The state no longer serves the country but the inner circles of power".

Claudia Taylor East questioned how many politicians are genuinely there to serve the people.

"Politicians should be an example, but today's politicians plant division, show hatred and disrespect. Civil society demands justice."

Taylor East said that we have the right to demand the highest standards, and should not be seeing standards go down.

Taylor East spoke of how she joined the female activist group who camped outside Castille demanding constitutional reform, to which the crowd erupted into applause. After former GWU Secretary General Tony Zarb likened the female protestors to whores, Taylor East called for further action than simple condemnation. 

Former journalist Jurgen Balzan appealed with the crowd that Malta needs people of good will to speak up. He said that people have every right to be angry, and called on nobody to influence the way individuals in this country think and feel.

"We cannot be used in the same way that Daphne was. We are all equal in the eyes of the law. Faith in the judiciary continues to weaken after the big parties filled them with there people."

He observed how trust in the police has also decreased. "We are living in a surplus of criminality, partisanship and lies".

Balzan condemned how all discourse is spun into a "red vs blue" issue.

He called on stripping the disproportionately high power both parties hold within society. 

Until institutions are strengthened and society is truly equal Malta is living under the illusion of democracy, he said. 

"Together as a people we can bring change. Let us learn from those women who camped outside Castille for three days to stand up for what they believe in. They were insulted, called prostitutes, assassins and traitors. We tell these women thank you."

Balzan acknowledged the many mistakes made by Caruana Galizia, but said nobody's voice should be snuffed out in that way.

"We are asking for the removal of the attorney general and the police commissioner. Replacing them with a 2/3 majority is not enough, we need total reform to remove the poisonous partisanship".

He slammed both parties for taking power from the people by controlling the institutions and called for civil society to take back what's there's.

In what can be described as a partisan speech, in which he attacked government exponents, lawyer Andrew Borg Cardona slammed people he called hypocrites and took aim at former PL parliamentary secretary Deborah Schembri for controversial remarks she made about freedom of expression. He was interrupted by a protestor who got on stage and handed Borg Cardona a banana, who then threw it into the perplexed crowd.

Borg Cardona went on to take aim against Education Minister Evarist Bartolo for his remarks that the murder of Caruana Galizia is undermining the government's work.

He then heavily criticised home affairs minister Michael Farrugia for saying Caruana Galizia was unfortunate that her attackers were successful in their crime.

His last target was Prime Minister Joseph Muscat for his reported comments that the protesters were trying to gain political points and that this would "explode" in their faces. He said that the PM should be ashamed of himself.

The protest was heavily advertised as being non-partisan, with the previous speakers sticking to this, however Borg Cardona's intervention certainly took an anti-PL government tinge and he did nothing to hide this.

"The country needs to wake up. Before there are concrete steps showing a leader is of good faith, we will not achieve our goals". 

UHM chief executive officer Vella called for no distractions to take effect, shouting that "Daphne died for what she wrote and what she investigated". 

Acknowledging "spin" where people have asserted that calling Caruana Galizia's murder a political assassination means that a politician is somehow involved. 

"Let us not allow such distractions; it was a political murder because of what she wrote and how she held politicians accountable"

Vella condemned a culture where no politicians resign or are held accountable, a fight that must be continued by civil society.

"Justice should not just be served, but it must seem to be served" 

Vella called for values of freedom and liberties not to be taken for granted. 

 

He spoke of civil society's wish for there to be genuine separation of powers, genuine rule of law, equality, transparency and true democracy. 

 

 


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