Manuel Delia issued a public challenge to the police and the authorities as he filmed activists hanging up a banner in honour of assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia at the barricades now surrounding the Great Siege Monument in Valletta.
After the banner was removed late last night, the blogger-journalist reported the incident to the police as a robbery case. After investigating, the police confirmed the banner was removed by officials from the public cleansing department at the request of Justice Minister Owen Bonnici.
“This protest has turned into repeated censorship by the authorities, in clear breach of our fundamental rights to free expression,” Delia said. “If hanging this banner up is breaking the law, then let the police come and arrest us. Yet we are hanging up the banner in broad daylight, while the cleaning department officials are removing it in the dead of night – precisely because it is illegal.”
Lovin Malta has sent questions about this incident to Owen Bonnici and Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.
Activists have been using the Great Siege Monument as a makeshift memorial to Caruana Galizia since October last year, on the grounds that its position right outside the law courts will serve as a constant reminder to lawyers and the judiciary that justice has not yet been served.
However, critics – including key government officials – have argued the memorial should not be erected under a national monument, particularly since Caruana Galizia was such a divisive figure in her lifetime.
After the recent Victory Day celebrations, the Great Siege monument was barricaded off for restoration works, with Justice and Culture Minister Owen Bonnici posting photos of stains allegedly showing wax from the protest candles had damaged the monument.
Activists are convinced that the restoration works, which have not yet started, are merely a cover for the government’s desire to remove the makeshift memorial.