Minister of Censorship in the midst of the European Capital of Culture

Reżistenza Malta activists pinned the Justice Minister’s face next to a banner rebranding him as the ‘Minister of Censorship’ on the barricade to the Great Siege monument extended yesterday that has served as the gathering point for citizens calling for justice for the assassinated journalist for the past year.

Owen Bonnici justified the government’s ‘barricading of the barricade’ on the grounds that the square around the monument has to be restored, after denying the public access to the monument for two months with no sign of urgent works ongoing.

Reżistenza said in a statement that when a government used the letter of the law against its spirit, it was the duty of its citizens to stop it from abusing the power entrusted to elected politicians.

The activists said the ‘restoration’ works were just an excuse after months where the government wiped out any trace of flowers, candles and messages left by citizens as a tribute to the journalist.

Soon after the new barricade was set up yesterday, photos of Caruana Galizia with flowers and messages were immediately placed on the new barrier by Occupy Justice activists. Reżistenza questioned the urgency of the restoration of a national monument situated in the heart of our capital city than in the middle of the year in which Valletta is the European Capital of Culture.

“Bonnici frequently reminds us how much he is against censorship and how many reforms he introduced. However, he didn’t think twice before cordoning the monument of the Great Siege in order to stop activists from calling for justice for assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia,” the activists said.

Reżistenza pointed out that the minister had said the restoration works would be ready in time for Christmas, but once complete citizens would no longer be allowed to place flowers and candles in the area, “as if our fundamental rights were his to grant or withdraw”.

“We find the hoarding an unacceptable, abusive and extreme measure taken by the government in an attempt to hinder freedom of assembly and expression. This would be acceptable in Putin’s Russia but not in an EU member state. The government is resorting to fascist tactics because the truth remains unbearable,” the activists said.

International press freedom organisations have slammed the government’s behaviour, saying “Malta was not living up to its obligation to guarantee freedom of expression“.

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