Just a few hours after being lambasted by international writers such as Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood and Ian McEwan for his derogatory comments about Daphne Caruana Galizia, V18 chairman Jason Micallef was at it again, calling for the removal of banners calling for justice.
In a Facebook post, Micallef wrote “The sheer provocation of those who “cry” about the rule of law on a daily basis continues. Il-Kenniesa once again dared to cover Valletta 2018 banners with illegal banners. In Malta there is law and order, and it applies to everybody equally. This abuse will be removed immediately.”
The banners carrying the message ‘Silence is Mafia’ (Il silenzio è Mafia) were put up on Monday to mark six months since the assassination. Despite Micallef’s claim, the banners were not put up by Il-Kenniesa but a banner which the group erected in Old Bakery Street, Valletta was also removed.
Il-Kenniesa said “Jason “rule of V18” Micallef pledged to take down our streamers because they partially covered those relating to V18, a day after PEN International wrote to the European Commission expressing grave concern, among other things, about the chairman of V18’s crusade against Daphne’s memory.”
Urging people to participate in the vigils being organised today to mark six months since the brutal assassination, Il-Kenniesa said “When people stopped asking those questions, however briefly, six months ago one person still asking them was left alone. She was killed. Every person going there this afternoon needs the comfort, a show of support, that ‘no we are not alone’.”
In a judicial protest filed on Monday morning, the Caruana Galizia family called on the Planning Authority to cease and desist from removing banners criticising the government from public spaces.
In reference to the removal of Il-Kenniesa’s banner in Old Bakery Street, Valletta, the Caruana Galizias said that this was tantamount to interfering with freedom of expression.
In an open letter to the European Commission, PEN International expressed their “outrage” at the behaviour of Micallef.
In the letter published on Monday, the writers said “since her death, we have witnessed with horror the repeated and aggressive destruction of the memorial to Daphne Caruana Galizia in Valletta, which was created in response to this horrific event. The Maltese authorities have not attempted to protect this memorial. In particular, we are outraged by the comments of Jason Micallef, Chairman of the Valletta 2018 Foundation, and as such the Capital of Culture’s official representative in Malta. Since her assassination, Micallef has repeatedly and publicly attacked and ridiculed Daphne Caruana Galizia on social media, ordered the removal of banners calling for justice for her death and called for her temporary memorial to be cleared.”
They added that this is far from appropriate behaviour for an official designated to represent the European Capital of Culture, “and in fact serves to further the interests of those trying to prevent an effective and impartial investigation into Caruana Galizia’s death.”
This is not the first time Micallef has ‘ordered’ the removal of such banners. Last month, Micallef described banners calling for justice in Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder investigations as “another act of provocation” and ordered their removal.
Micallef had also taken a dig at the murdered journalist by saying she was “divisive in her life, even worse after her death.”
A few days later, the Civil Society Network (CSN) called for Micallef’s resignation over another Facebook post in which the former Labour Party secretary general posted photos of the crowds gathered in St Julian’s to celebrate St Patrick’s Day and appropriating Caruana Galizia’s last words before she was blown up in a car bomb he wrote “St Patricks Day in Malta. The situation is desperate. There is happy people everywhere you look.”
CSN said Micallef’s “divisive and insensitive attitude” was not worthy of his official role as head of V18.