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Caruana Galizia supporters urged to be 'steadfast' at vigil

Memorial in Valletta guarded by activists overnight - cleared 16 times in 11 months

A vigil in memory of Daphne Caruana Galizia on Sunday heard calls for people to be steadfast amid corruption concerns, 11 months since the journalist was killed by a car bomb.

The vigil was held at the makeshift shrine to the blogger at the foot of the Great Siege Monument, which has been covered by hoarding for 'restoration'.

A crowd of several hundred attended, including former Opposition leader Simon Busuttil and a number of Nationalist MPs. Many laid flowers and candles at the foot of a banner showing Ms Caruana Galizia.

Activists and government employees were at loggerheads on Saturday after members of the public cleansing department cleared away a banner, candles, and flowers from the memorial - only for them to be reinstated by activists.

The government's actions were repeatedly condemned at the vigil.

Activist and journalist Manuel Delia slammed the way the government was using “garbage clearers” to wipe away the memorial. He said the memorial had been cleared 16 times since it first appeared last year.

Mr Delia on Saturday took to the courts in a bid to prevent the government from clearing the memorial again. Backed up by more than 60 lawyers, Mr Delia filed a request for an injunction against Justice Minister Owen Bonnici, his permanent secretary and the director of public cleansing, requesting the court to order the government not to clear the memorial again.

He also successfully argued with the police that a large banner showing Ms Caruana Galizia and fixed to the hoarding covering the Great Siege Monument should be returned to him after it was removed by public cleansing employees.

Mr Delia described how he and other activists had spent the night at the memorial guarding it from those who would have it cleared.

The evening saw a number of speakers address the crowd.

Marion Pace Axiaq recalled an event on the Feast of St Joseph in Rabat, where Ms Caruana Galizia had been harassed by Labour Party members and supporters.

While admitting that for her this was a harrowing experience, for Ms Caruana Galizia this was a way of life. 

In the face of growing corruption concerns, Ms Pace Axiaq said, all people of goodwill must be steadfast, as Ms Caruana Galizia had been.

Thomas Cassar Ruggier said that although he had not been a close follower of Ms Caruana Galizia’s work during her life, he cherished the values she lived and died for.

He was there, not because he despised the incumbent party for what had happened in the 1980s. He was there, he said, for his rights.

Joanna Agius on behalf of lobby group Occupy Justice said civilians rights were being trampled on by the government.

It would appear that gathering to mark what had happened was bothering some too much, she said,

Ms Agius also spared the Nationalist Party no punches, asking” “where is the Opposition?”

“They haven't even bothered to issue a press release. The opposition cares more about bread and butter issues. Wake up before it’s too late,” she said, as the PN held a gathering of its own on the Floriana.

Jeremy Gingell spoke of those who would have the Caruana Galizia memorial elsewhere.

To those who asked why remember Ms Caruana Galizia in Valletta, why at a national memorial? Because, Mr Gingell said, they were there remembering the rule of justice and democracy as well as the murder of a journalist.

 

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