The police have ordered the Cleansing Department to return a banner, candles and flowers in honour of assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia that it had removed from a makeshift memorial in front of the Great Siege Monument.
Activist-blogger Manuel Delia filed a police report for theft after the items were removed from the barricades surrounding the Monument last night.
After a brief investigation, the police confirmed they were removed by officials of the Cleansing Department, for the second time in a week, and instructed the Department to return them to Delia.
— Manuel Delia (@Manwel_Delia) September 18, 2018
Delia published a signed statement by the Valletta police station, confirming that Cleansing Department personnel had returned the items to him on behalf of the Department’s director Ramon Deguara.
Although the statement doesn’t mention him by name, Delia said that he was informed the Cleansing Department were acting on behalf of Justice Minister Owen Bonnici.
Contacted by Lovin Malta, Deguara refused to comment on the incident and said all questions on the incident should be sent to Bonnici.
Bonnici has not responded to a request for comment as of the time of writing.
Activists hang the banner back up on the barricades surrounding the Great Siege Monument
Meanwhile, National Book Council chairman Mark Camilleri urged Bonnici and Prime Minister Joseph Muscat to allow the activists to use the site as a makeshift memorial to Caruana Galizia.
“Monuments in Malta have served as political battlegrounds in the past, such as when the monument to Queen Victoria used to repeatedly get smeared with red paint in the 1960s,” Camilleri said. “Although I personally consider the thoughts and opinions of the bourgeoisie to be abhorrent, they have every right in a democracy to use the Great Siege Monument to remember Daphne. The government committed a huge strategic error when it started removing their flowers and candles, because that has only galvanised the bourgeoisie. The battle for this space will only get fiercer now.”
Camilleri added that any permanent monument to Caruana Galizia should not be placed outside the law courts but somewhere in Sliema, where the majority of her readers hailed from.
“Daphne dedicated her life to fight against the Labour Party and the working class, and such a fight can never win the support of the majority,” he said. “Daphne represented the classist war against Labour and workers and her monument will be a celebration of classism and hatred towards workers, if not even fascist ideals. However, seeing as she was such an important figure in Malta’s history, a monument will allow us to remember her without necessarily celebrating what she stood for.”