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‘Better to light the candle than to curse the darkness’ – citizens on memorial watch

Citizens plan to spend the night on watch at the protest memorial for assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia in Valletta in the hope that it won’t be cleared by the government on Republic Day.

Image: Seb Tanti Burlo'

This is a call to action from citizens who will spend the night on watch at the protest memorial for assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia in Valletta in the hope that it will not be cleared by the government on the eve of Republic Day.

‘Always look for the silver lining, it’s there, somewhere.’

That silver lining is there, standing sentinel across from our courts of justice. Daphne Caruana Galizia’s memorial, the one truly beautiful thing to grow out of this terrible darkness.

Every day, since 18 October 2017, two days after her murder, a number of dedicated people have lit candles and laid flowers and tributes to Daphne Caruana Galizia at the base of Antonio Sciortino’s statue; a public monument to the Fallen of the Great Siege.

And every time, under the cover of night, government workers, under orders from the Minister for Culture and Justice Owen Bonnici, cleanse the public memorial from all traces of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Faith, Fortitude and Civilisation do not only stand in remembrance of the people that gave their lives during a war fought in 1565. They stand for all those who gave their lives in the service of this Island
Republic. And today they stand for Daphne Caruana Galizia.

It is not enough for the government that Daphne Caruana Galizia was physically obliterated for the words she wrote and for the truths she knew. They wilfully destroy her memorial every day, killing her all over again.

Ponsiettas, candles, messages and photos at the protest memorial for Daphne Caruana Galizia in Valletta guarded by citizens to prevent the daily removal of tributes to the journalist by government officials. Photo: Cami Appelgren.

We suspected why they did it, but now we know why they do it. Guilt. The Office of the Prime Minister is directly implicated in the assassination of a journalist.

To these men, our elected leaders, who fear flowers and candles, images and words, who dehumanise women, calling them violent protesters and traitors and worse, you are no longer our leaders.

Citizens at the protest memorial in Republic Street, Valletta, on Thursday night. Photo: Pierre Ellul

Under a State-sanctioned carpet bombing of bile and hatred towards activists, these women and men, Maltese and foreign, stand up to this injustice with love and care and resurrect Daphne Caruana Galizia’s memorial daily, exposing the nerve of hope, that silver lining for all of us to see.

To these activists, we say, ‘thank you’. Thank you for nursing and caring for this symbol. Thank you for lighting the candles and laying the flowers that are nurturing the growth of our civil society.

To celebrate these 45 years of our young Republic Island, we call on people and friends to join us on the eve of our Republic’s birth, for an all-night solemn vigil, to stand by Faith, Fortitude and Civilisation, to stand by Daphne Caruana Galizia, her sons and her family. And to stand up to those who fear the light of a candle and the beauty of a flower.

‘It is far better to light the candle than to curse the darkness.’

Barriers were set up around the activists and dozens of police officers lined up Republic Street, Valletta, as citizens guarded the tributes to Daphne Caruana Galizia on Republic Day.

Updated:

Barriers were set up in Republic Street as dozens of police officers surrounded the 20 to 30 activists who stayed with the protest memorial all night. The tributes to journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia were there until the morning – one of the very rare occasions when the protest memorial was not cleaned up by the government.

A protest by civil society groups will also be held on Friday at 9.15am in Valletta. Official activities to mark Republic Day will be ongoing.

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