What started out as a spontaneous memorial in Valletta to assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia by a group of San Anton children has truly turned into a political tussle for public space.
In the latest move by people resisting the memorial, Caruana Galizia’s photo – as well as newer photos of murder victims Karin Grech and Raymond Caruana and late Prime Minister Dom Mintoff – has been removed entirely from the Great Siege Monument. Meanwhile, messages to Mintoff and Karin Grech have been placed alongside messages demanding justice for Caruana Galizia’s murder.
Karin Grech was 15 when she was killed by a letter bomb addressed to her father, a strike-breaker in charge of the obstetrics and gynaecology department at St Luke’s Hospital, in 1977. Her murder remains unsolved but it is widely believed to be connected to the long-standing industrial dispute between the Malta Medical Association and Dom Mintoff’s government.
Dom Mintoff, who remains a much-loved political figure amongst some Labour supporters, died at home in 2016 at the age of 96.
Caruana Galizia’s family hasn’t responded to this latest move, but the late journalist’s sister Corinne Vella yesterday took issue with a Sunday Times editorial that called on the authorities to reach out to the family to find a solution for the memorial.
“Protestors who sit with government to negotiate the removal of their freedom and their right to protest are turkeys voting for Christmas,” Vella said. “No member of Daphne Caruana Galizia’s family had any hand in setting up the protest site opposite the law courts. It is a legacy of a solidarity march several months ago which we were unable to attend for the self-same reason that solidarity march was organised in the first place.”
“A stream of visitors has kept it alive, the numbers swelled by attempts to take it down. The protest is not about the right to lay flowers and candles in memory of the dead but about the right to protest injustice and the right to exercise and defend freedom of expression.”