Victory Day, on September 8, arouses much patriotic fervour in most Maltese.
We revel in recalling the end of three historical sieges in our history: the Great Siege of Malta by the Ottoman Empire ending in 1565; the Siege of Valletta by the French Blockade ending in 1800; and the Siege of Malta during World War II when the Italian navy surrendered in our ports in 1943.
We feel gratitude for all those who fought and liberated Malta from the throes of foreign invasion and rightly celebrate them.
Every year, the government of the day commemorates Victory Day with a wreath-laying ceremony at the Great Siege Monument in Valletta to honour the fallen heroes of our history.
This year, the monument, which has been the site of our ongoing protest for the assassination of the investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia over the past three years, has once again been cleared of flowers and candles to make way for the garlands to fallen heroes of the distant past.
This is yet another blatant violation of the judgment handed down by the Constitutional Court last January. The court found that then justice minister Owen Bonnici breached the protestors’ rights to freedom of expression and assembly when he repeatedly ordered the memorial to be cleared.
But what makes a hero? The definition of a hero is a person who is admired for their courage, outstanding achievements or noble qualities. So, in essence, the fallen of our wars are heroes for they were killed fighting for a noble cause. We tend to romanticise wars, reducing the dead to abstract holograms, to legends, but they were flesh and blood people with hopes and dreams for their country.
The ‘war on corruption’ is another war and like all wars, it kills people. Like Nazism, corruption is also a threat to our way of life.
This war is not imported, it is hatched by people in the very edifice built by the Knights of St John who defended Malta alongside the Maltese.
This home-grown enemy kills its own people. It killed Daphne Caruana Galizia, one of us.
A modern-day heroine single-handedly fought for our country
So when the government lays a wreath for the fallen of the various sieges at the Great Siege Memorial on Victory Day, and clears our protest site, it is ignoring the fact that Malta is once again under siege: from corruption and impunity, and through the cover-up of the state-sponsored assassination of the journalist who exposed it all.
The government ignores the fact that a modern-day heroine single-handedly fought for our country. And died for it.
The makeshift memorial has been practically left untouched since Prime Minister Robert Abela publicly declared that the right to freedom of expression will be upheld.
It is not in his gift to grant us rights we were born with. This misplaced magnanimity does not mean that the government is done with meddling in the fight for truth and justice.
Abela has declared that his disgraced predecessor Joseph Muscat is not being investigated for the assassination of Caruana Galizia following his interrogation under caution at police HQ.
The prime minister is also interfering in the public inquiry by imposing a one-time extension on the board.
Peter Omtzigt, the Council of Europe’s special rapporteur, wrote to Abela reminding him that the inquiry was established in fulfilment of Malta’s obligations under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
An inquiry established under Article 2 must be independent. Most importantly, it must be free of any interference in its work by the subject of its investigations, namely the Maltese state.
Why is a sitting prime minister interfering with the investigation and the inquiry?
This is because we are also under the siege from the ‘continuity’ from Muscat promised by Abela in his first speech as prime minister. How’s that for a statement of intent?
Heroes do not only dwell in the past. We can be heroes too. The fight is long but we are not tired, if anything we are galvanised to see this through with each passing day.
Make no mistake, Abela, we will celebrate victory over this siege too. We can already smell it. We will celebrate victory at the very spot in Great Siege Square. After all Daphne is already the Invicta.
Alessandra Dee Crespo, Repubblika executive committee member
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