The Malta Independent 22 June 2021, Tuesday

TMID Editorial: Reflections on Sette Giugno, 102 years on

Monday, 7 June 2021, 11:00 Last update: about 15 days ago

Today is the day in which we commemorate an important national holiday: the Sette Giugno uprisings.

We look back at two days of unrest and agitation in 1919, in an event which was momentous for the reason that it represented one of the lowest points in the relationship between the Maltese people and their British colonial rulers, and that it, as recognized by most, represented the start of a long-winding road which eventually led to independence in 1964.

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It was also a rare moment where tension erupted into violence – violence which claimed the lives of four people: Wenzu Dyer, Carmelo Abela, Giuseppe Bajada and Emanuele Attard. 

Antonio Cassano and Francesco Darmanin are two others who died later, with Cassano succumbing to injuries sustained during the riots, and Darmanin developing an acute mental break as a result of the riots.

The historical significance of the event continues to be debated – particularly in terms of how significant it was in the patch to self-government and eventual independence – but today we will seek to reflect on it from a social sense.

What we can see from Sette Giugno is a Maltese people which was ready to fight for its rights; a people committed for one national cause.

The cause back then was very different to the collective causes we face today – however today’s causes remain of significant importance for, like those 102 years ago, the future of our country.

The protection of Malta’s environment is one such collective cause – while the fight against corruption across the board, even if this particular cause has been turned into a political ball lobbed from side to side much like an exhausting game of tennis, has to also feature as a collective cause which – as a nation – we must work towards together.

And yet, despite the importance of fights like these – the nation has, by and large, remained indifferent, preferring instead to leave it to organized NGOs or pressure groups to do the talking and all the dirty work.

This is not a call for people to take to the streets and ransack the homes of the rich as happened in the Sette Giugno riots in 1919 – in fact, let this be amply clear, violence like back then is absolutely not the answer. 

However, such messages can be shared just as powerfully – if not more powerfully – through taking peaceful stands.

It is time that, as a nation, we recognize the major challenges that face us collectively, and do something to take that challenge head on and protect our country.  

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