Daphne Caruana Galizia’s sister grabbed the mic from Manuel Delia during last night’s vigil for the assassinated journalist after the crowd started cheering Prime Minister Robert Abela for his decision to stop clearing up the Valletta protest memorial.
Kicking off the vigil, Delia, an activist with the NGO Repubblika, extended an olive branch to the new Prime Minister.
“The PM said that he speaks Repubblika’s language where good governance is concerned, so maybe we can start understanding each other,” he said. “Today he said that he gave instructions for the protest memorial to no longer be censored by the government.”
But as the crowd burst out in cheers, Caruana Galizia’s sister Corinne Vella stepped up to the microphone to give them a piece of her mind.
“If we’re going to begin by thanking our Prime Minister for allowing us to protest, we’re going to end up having to thank him for not blowing us up in our car outside our homes,” she said, to which the crowd started cheering again.
“Protest is a right and we shouldn’t be applauding our Prime Minister for finally recognising that we have a right to protest. Thank you.”
Delia agreed with Vella’s assessment, arguing that thanking Abela for not clearing up the protest memorial would be akin to a battered woman thanking her husband for not beating her up.
“The right to protest isn’t a present or a prerogative of the Prime Minister, but it is a fundamental human right,” he said. “I remind the Prime Minister that whenever we came here, lit candles and placed flowers, we weren’t protesting for our right to protest but because we wanted justice and truth for Daphne Caruana Galizia.”
“When we have truth and justice for Daphne Caruana Galizia, we won’t say thank you either. That day, the state and Prime Minister must recognise that, at the least, they allowed a journalist to get killed because of her work.”
Delia also called on Abela to drop the government’s defence in a case he instituted against former Justice Minister (now Education Minister) Owen Bonnici over his instructions to clear up the protest memorial.
“The person who took this decision, who is a government minister, must shoulder responsibility,” he added, in an obvious reference to Bonnici.