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Where were you?

Planning Authority Protest
Protesters at the Planning Authority. Photo: Photo: Moviment Graffiti / Facebook.

This is a guest post by Arnold Cassola.

The ‘siege’ by activists in front of the Planning Authority offices by Graffiti is absolutely laudable. Our country is crying out aloud for direct actions of this sort since the disrespect for residents, citizens and human beings in general, who are all being sacrificed to the greedy needs of greedy speculators, has now reached unbearable proportions.

It is now no longer objects and machines at the disposal of human beings. In Malta, on the contrary, it is human beings who are being sacrificed and put at the disposal of “objects”. Joseph Muscat shows no shame when he preaches that now that we have the highrise buildings, we need to get foreign human bodies to fill up the apartments.

Neither does he think that he is acting abnormally when he openly states that if we want to have a metro system for our country, then first of all we have to further populate our country with other foreign human bodies.

For Joseph, and the building speculators who run the show for him, human beings are there to serve their various building projects. Shameful.

We must therefore be grateful to people like the Graffiti lot, who take it upon themselves to show our politicians that there are still Maltese who have a heart and who will not accept the manoeuvres from greedy speculators and puppet politicians.

The rot in this country has really sunk in deep. It is therefore really heartening to see environmental NGOs get together as one and working in harmony, supporting one another. It was great to see this environmental ‘heart’ beating together last Sunday at the press conference given outside the Planning Authority, with Graffiti, Din L-Art Helwa, Birdlife, Friends of the Earth and Flimkien ghal Ambjent Ahjar speaking with one voice.

Yet, despite the great service that Graffiti and their ilk are doing to the country, one still finds in Malta political apologists ranting “where were you” in the past. As for the Graffiti activists, I believe the answer is very clear: most of them were probably not even conceived 30 years ago.

As regards some of their older supporters, like myself, the answer is also very clear. Some 30 years ago, together with other environmentalists, I was out protesting at Santa Marija Bay in Comino against the bay being privatised; I was out at Qawra protesting against the Suncrest lido, which had been built illegally on public land; I was out protesting against the privatised Jerma lido in Marsascala; I was out protesting in Xemxija agianst the Fekruna lido being given away for private use.

Unfortunately, these environmental battles were lost. And still they continue asking, “where were you?”

And the answer is always very clear.

Arnold Cassola
Arnold Cassola was arrested 26 years ago following an environmental protest.

Some 30 years ago, I was out in the fields beneath Verdala protesting to ensure that land did not become a private golf course; I was out on the rocks between Surfside and Exiles to ensure that the shore would not be given out as private lidos to the hotels by Michael Refalo; I was out in the Marnisi fields to ensure that the German firm Lowenbrau would not build its beer factory in the agricultural area there.

And then, some years ago, I was sitting in front of the Ta’ Cenc Hotel to prevent the precious garigue from being built into a “typical” Gozitan village with 6,000 beds.  And a few years later I was out with others at Manikata to ensure that Lawrence Gonzi did not implement his folly of turning what is now the Majjistral Park into a private golf course.

All these years later, people can still enjoy the pristine areas that were saved thanks to action taken.

And, to all those that still rant “where were you?”, it is good for them to know that all this comes at a price: together with Harry Vassallo, Peppi Azzopardi, Mario Mallia, Salvu Balzan and Mark Borg, exactly 26 years ago I was sent to jail for taking part in these protests.

Now, after having tried your luck at the lotto draw with my jailbird numbers 2, 49, 29 and 3, are the political apologists still going to continue with their rant of “where were you”?

The Shift News is providing the space for MEP candidates who are not running under the umbrella of the two main political parties to inform citizens of their stand on various issues. This is to address the democratic deficit created by political party ownership of the media in Malta. The Shift does not necessarily endorse the views published.

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