An Occupy Justice activist turned up to a hate speech conference in St Julian’s to send a message to Equality Minister Owen Bonnici, by simply holding up a photo of assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.
Ann De Marco said she sat in the front of the room yesterday and held up the photo as Bonnici “waffled on”.
“I was shocked that a person who was found guilty of breaching our human rights was asked to speak at this conference, though not surprised he had the brass neck to accept,” she told Lovin Malta. “Since I was one of the people whose candles and flowers were stolen on a daily basis on his orders, I thought it would be good to attend and make him uncomfortable”.
This was a reference to a court judgment last year that found Bonnici had breached the human rights of activists when he had ordered the daily clearance of a Valletta memorial to Caruana Galizia.
During proceedings, De Marco had testified that she would visit the Great Siege Monument at least twice a day to replenish flowers and candles that had been removed.
De Marco said she also wanted to remind Bonnici that he was part of a “demonisation culture” against Caruana Galizia.
“None of the PL MPs have had the decency to apologise for the vilification of one woman with a blog, quite the contrary,” she said.
“The PL continues to use its media and its power to attack and dehumanize anyone who dares criticise it. Labour hate groups are still thriving on social media and PL media presenters face no consequences when they lie on party platforms.”
“Also, we, as civil society activists, would like to be a part of the conversation around the eradication of hate speech. Not only are we subjected to abuse on an almost daily basis, however we’d like other members of civil society to be free to speak the truth without fear of repercussions.”
Yesterday’s conference on how to combat and prevent hate speech was organised by the European Commission Representation and the German Embassy.
In his speech, Bonnici said that no country, including Malta, is immune to hate speech.
“Our prevention efforts should be rooted in educating minors and adults alike, in an age-appropriate fashion, to healthy democratic debate, including disagreement, on all issues linked to the grounds where discrimination happens,” Bonnici said.
“Legislation is there to show that there is a line that cannot be crossed from democratic debate into hate. Plain and simple, it is illegal. Criminal prohibition is necessary when hate speech publicly incites violence against individuals or groups of people.”
Do you think Daphne Caruana should be posthumously awarded the Ġieħ ir-Repubblika?