The Malta Independent 22 February 2020, Saturday

‘Sadness and frustration’ after post-vigil Great Siege Square vandalism

Sunday, 18 August 2019, 10:43 Last update: about 7 months ago

Repubblika yesterday expressed its "renewed sadness and frustration" over the publication of photographs of private individuals who on Friday night vandalised mementos left by protesters in Great Siege Square, Valletta, 22 months to the day after the killing of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

"The vandals mocked, destroyed and trashed photographs of Daphne Caruana Galizia and a handwritten poster that said nothing that could be stretched to cause offence to anyone, except of course those who know who assassinated the journalist in 2017 and continue to hide the information," Repubblika said.

The poster stated: 'Who would obstruct a public inquiry into a journalist's assassination if they had nothing to hide?'

Repubblika noted how, "Given that last night's occurrence has happened nearly every day in the last 22 months does not make it any easier for us to accept this behaviour. Nor is it any easier knowing that the government itself uses its employees to destroy these mementos several times a day, perhaps without the clownish mockery of the individuals photographed last night but with the cold and brutal force of state-perpetrated suppression."

Repubblika noted how other European countries prosecute the vandalism of improvised public memorials marking the killing of public servants such as journalists on the basis of the fact that these are hate crimes.

"The persons in these photos never knew Daphne Caruana Galizia. She did not owe them money, she never knew them and never spoke badly of them. They are not exercising some personal freedom. They have publicly destroyed her image not because of who she is and what they might think of her but because of their hatred of what she represents: free and critical thinking.

"An act against democracy cannot claim to be itself the exercise of a democratic right."

According to Repubblika, "This vandalism is effectively an act of uncompromising hatred of democracy. A democratic government is not only expected not to lead this undemocratic behaviour, as this one does, by its own anti-democratic example but to protect the exercise of free speech, public protest and the choice of any number of citizens to publicly call for truth and justice in the case of an assassination of a public servant such as a journalist. A democratic government is expected to condemn and seek to stop such behaviour.

"This wanton vandalism saddens us. It even angers us. But it does not frighten us. The clowns that vandalise our protest site every day are intolerant and violent citizens unworthy of that name. But they are not the subject of our protest. The subject of our protest is those who allow and even encourage these persons to behave in this way, either voluntarily or perhaps as minions at their service, through the systematic indoctrination they propagate. The subject of our protest are the people who killed Daphne Caruana Galizia and will do anything to stop the country remembering they did so."

Repubblika added, "That's why the protest memorial has already been replenished since the sorry scene of last [Friday] night. And we'll come back every time they do this until the truth is known and justice is served."

#OccupyJustice and other activists on Friday evening commemorated the 22nd month since the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia with their monthly vigil by unfurling a banner featuring an image of the journalist with the legend 'Invicta' at the Great Siege Monument in Valletta.

'Invicta', meaning 'unconquered', #OccupyJustice said on Friday night, is also the inspiration for Invictus, a poem by English poet William Ernest Henley. It is a poem that celebrates humankind's ability to triumph over adversity; its lines a rallying cry to exit the darkness into the light.

"Over the years, Invictus has been appropriated by many a politician - good and bad, effective and insignificant, by those who left a mark, and others who left a stain. Great leaders like Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela and Barack Obama have invoked it, as, sadly, have some very unsavoury characters whose name we will not dignify with a mention.

"We will of course mention that it was most recently used by Malta's very own prime minister, who chose to ink the word onto his body, creating, for himself, perhaps, a permanent dose of self-praise, a pat on his own back, if you will. 'Impunitas' may have been more apt.

"Henley's Invictus is a poem that is, essentially, about people like Daphne," the activists said. "It is about her and people like her, who fought and still fight so valiantly and relentlessly for the truth, whatever the cost.

 "We are doing this because this is our country. This was Daphne's country. This is our protest and we will not stop until justice is carried out.

This is our nation, this is our home, and we are the people. We expect better, we deserve better, we demand better."

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