The scenes of police forcibly dragging out activists from the Planning Authority’s offices is a stark reminder of the way ‘democracy’ turns its guns on the wrong target in this peculiar country of ours.

The activists’ only crime was that they bothered to protest against the long-delayed fuel station policy as much of this precious little land around us continues being gobbled up by speculators.

Oh… and they beat their drums as they relayed their message through their megaphones, not exactly a crime in my books, especially since a couple of those protesting are among the best musicians this country has to offer.

What we witnessed on Thursday was akin to Putin's crackdown on gay activists… minus the incarceration. NGOs Graffitti and KEA have previously held similar manifestations to try to stop the rot - but the message to the activists this time was different: "don't you dare come back here!" The NGO is, after all, one of the few which has been consistent in its mission, irrespective whether it was the reds or blues in government.

This is after all, a country, where our idea of activism is starting a petition on Facebook

I have no doubt that many people behind their screens applauded as they saw Rapid Intervention Officers (not district officers I'm informed) manhandle the activists, who offered nothing more than passive resistance. This is, after all, a country where our idea of activism is to start a petition on Facebook. Many others shudder at the thought of activism, lest it risks "shaming" the name of Malta.  

I will not delve into the fact that this protest was actually nothing out of the norm - thousands of such protests are being held all over the world as we speak because, you know, that's what happens in democratic countries. 

What upsets me, and thousands of law-abiding citizens, is that the same RIU officers should be flexing their muscles when contractors and their henchmen threaten their neighbours, they would not dare adopt the same heavy-handed tactics when yet another brawl breaks out at the festa/każin/on the road... they would never dare act the same way at any political meeting.

These activists merely turned up at the authority offices because their legitimate environmental concerns have been ignored and can't take the fact we're all being taken for a ride at the altar of money. 

All of us should be marching to the beat of their drum.

Photo: Mark Zammit CordinaPhoto: Mark Zammit Cordina


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