The Malta Independent 23 April 2024, Tuesday
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Updated (2): Great Siege national monument covered up as banner deposited in court

Wednesday, 19 September 2018, 10:47 Last update: about 7 years ago

The Great Siege national monument which celebrates Malta’s 1565 victory against the Ottoman Empire was covered up by a banner showing the government’s plans to restore it.

The banner was put up last night by government workers and this morning, the Cleansing Department deposited another banner dedicated to Daphne Caruana Galizia in court.

The Caruana Galizia banner had been put up by her followers who have used the site of the Great Siege monument as a tribute to her following her assassination in October last year.

Flowers and candles removed from the site were also deposited in court by the minister as part of a court case instituted against him by blogger Manuel Delia, who is claiming suppression of the right to protest in his suit.

The monument was boarded up soon after the activities celebrating Victory Day on 8 September, with the government indicating damage to the granite base as the reason for the need to restore it.

In a statement, the group known as Occupy Justice said some of its members had gone to the building housing the Justice Ministry "to lay flowers, candles and handmade ‘in memoriam’ notes, because this is the place where freedom of speech has come to die."

Through the Ministry of Justice, the government has swept clean, time and time again, the peaceful tokens by which we protest against the corruption and impunity in this country: flowers, candles and banners, the group said.

The boarding up of our makeshift memorial set up spontaneously at the foot of the Great Siege monument in front of the Law Courts as a daily reminder that there is no rule of law in Malta, is nothing but an attempt to blatantly supress freedom of speech, the group said.

Eleven months on we still do not know who commissioned the killing of Daphne Caruana Galizia and there is not even a semblance of a search for an answer, it added.


In a statement, the Aditus Foundation said that the actions of the Ministry for Justice, Culture and Local Government in relation to what the foundation called the ‘Daphne Memorial’ in Valletta are "utterly shameful and reprehensible".

They represent an unequivocal repression of free and peaceful political and personal expression. These are fundamental human rights boldly enshrined in Malta’s Constitution and part of the human rights regime Malta so proudly subscribes to, the foundation said.

The Ministry’s justification for its actions – to safeguard national monuments – is unacceptable and a clear populist attempt at ignoring basic legal standards, especially since no damage to the Great Siege Monument was ever alleged or demonstrated.

Furthermore, the Ministry may comfortably rely on other less intrusive laws for the protection of our national heritage, without acting in such a repressive and childish manner. We therefore urge the Minister for Justice, Culture and Local Government to immediately refrain from these undemocratic tactics and to simply allow the public and peaceful demonstration of opinions and views that he might not be comfortable with.

“This is not asking for too much, just for the peace of mind that we still live in a safe and functioning democracy”, Neil Falzon (aditus foundation Director).

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