Photo: Ben Borg Cardona
A new makeshift memorial to Daphne Caruana Galizia outside the boarded-up Great Siege Monument in Valletta was not removed last night, despite an earlier warning by Culture Minister Owen Bonnici.
Bonnici last month warned activists that they would no longer be allowed to use the monument as a memorial to the slain journalist unless they acquire a permit.
“National monuments deserve respect and you can’t just claim them… maybe someone will claim the Sette Giugno or Independence monument next,” he said. “If they want to erect a memorial for Caruana Galizia, then they must apply for a permit like everyone else, but not on a national monument.”
The Great Siege Monument itself is currently inaccessible, ostensibly for restoration works, which do not appear to have even started 46 days down the line. Small tributes to Caruana Galizia placed outside the monument have repeatedly been swept away by officials from the Cleansing Department.
Activists improvised during a protest last night, hanging up a huge banner of Caruana Galizia’s face juxtaposed with the Maltese flag on the boarding and placing candles, flowers and personal notes below it. Someone even snuck into the boarded-off area and stuck a picture of Caruana Galizia on the monument itself.
Spanish poet Carles Torner, the director of PEN International, confirmed press freedom groups had brought up the case of the memorial during a meeting with Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.
“We told the Prime Minister in person very clearly that he must respect the right to protest and the right to mourn,” he said. “Candles are very easy to understand for everyone in the world. The flame is a form of presence. Through the flame, we make ourselves present to the memory of Daphne Caruana Galizia, we make public that we have a bond with her, that we cried for her, mourn her and remember her. We are united in the flames.”
“Not even in Putin’s Russia or Erdogan’s Turkey would they have dared destroy a memorial 21 times. So we tell the Maltese government tonight – do not dare to destroy the memorial we are building tonight!”