‘If we remain silent and divided, we will all choke’

In his address to citizens gathered to pay tribute to journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia on the day marking her assassination in October last year, Jurgen Balzan – co-founder of The Shift – stressed the need for unity in the fight against corruption, saying bridges needed to be built by citizens and NGOs across partisan lines.

“We can’t allow those who have taken our country to divide us. We can’t waste our time fighting different fronts when we have one common enemy. It’s a mistake to think there is no connection between environmental destruction, a dirty economy, inequality and the web of corruption,” Balzan said.

It has been 13 months since Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was assassinated in a car bomb a few metres away from her home on 16 October 2017. Banners and graffiti today carried the message that ‘Daphne was right’ after revelations on 17 Black built on a story she was the first to reveal. She was killed before she could finish her investigation.

“These are the chains around our necks, and if we remain silent and divided we will all choke. We need to work hand in hand with all those who believe that corruption has no place in our society. We need to work with all those who believe that justice is not being done. We need to work with all those who acknowledge that our rights are being eroded every day,” Balzan said.

He reminded the crowd of what Joseph Muscat had promised and what he had actually delivered. In 2009, Muscat had said: “We need to see a serious fight against corruption. Corruption is simply another form of tax we all have to bear. Maltese and Gozitan families need to make up for this corruption”.

Balzan revived those words Muscat had uttered at a time when corruption related to the BWSC power station was being debated. It was the rallying call for the Labour Party’s rise to power. It is now the Labour Party that has created the real energy scandal.

“But now in power, Muscat is doing the exact opposite of what he promised,” Balzan said. “Yesterday, Muscat promised that he would never defend those tainted with corruption. Yet, today, he is hiding the evidence on 17 Black as though it does not exist”.

The Prime Minister is playing for time and playing with words to defend his friends. But the story of 17 Black is not built on allegation or speculation, but on documented facts, Balzan said.

He said Muscat was intentionally confusing political responsibility with criminal liability. Muscat knew the difference when he was in Opposition, but now his friends were tainted Muscat was hiding behind an inquiry that he and his friends were blocking, Balzan added.

“No sins by any previous government can ever justify this government’s actions. This is a critical moment for our country. This is a test for us: we can’t allow those who have taken over our country to divide us.”

Balzan stressed that Mizzi and Schembri were not going to leave of their own free will. Muscat’s fate was now tied to theirs, and all those who were behind the schemes planned on the fourth floor of the Labour Party’s headquarters before the 2013 election.

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