“Democracy dies when we, the people, fail to pay attention,” director of Aditus foundation Neil Falzon said at the 46th consecutive vigil held in memory of assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.
Falzon, who heads a foundation focused on human rights, spoke of “the real impact of the failure of rule of law and good governance”.
“This is the price of the collapse of democracy, when we lose our humanity. Not when members of a government are corrupt or criminal, this happens almost everywhere in the world. Democracy dies when we, the people, do not pay attention,” Falzon said.
Occupy Justice and Repubblika organised the first in-person vigil since the COVID-19 pandemic began, gathering in Valletta on the 16th of this month to mark the date on which Daphne Caruana Galizia was assassinated. Throughout the pandemic, many of the vigils have been held solely online.
Occupy Justice activist Becky d’Ugo and Repubblika president-elect Alessandra Dee Crespo spoke of the groups’ long-standing efforts to ensure Daphne Caruana Galizia’s memory “lives on through her work” over the past 200 weeks since the journalist was murdered.
Falzon described how activists, in particular, have been seeing Malta’s governance problems coming over the years, pointing out that the issues the country is facing today did not begin with Joseph Muscat’s government but are issues that have their roots in Malta’s political system.
“The laws that slowly ate up Malta’s democracy went through parliament, in front of every MP. The constitution was amended openly, under our noses. The damage to the rule of law which we now boast of so much has been happening for a long time,” Falzon said.
“We find hope every time the people wake up and begin caring about what is happening around them in an active way,” Falzon said, appealing to everyone to not just fight for the cause of good governance but to fight for the rights of all, appealing to all to join “the party-free opposition” that civil society should be.
Becky d’Ugo spoke of how Occupy Justice, a pressure group which has consistently organised the monthly vigils, plans on “remaining a stone in the shoe of those who wish we would all just disappear once and forever and never make our voices heard”.
“We want a government that doesn’t make our faces go red with embarrassment, with the whole world and, more importantly, with ourselves as a population,” d’Ugo said.
“We keep showing up here because we are angry. Because we have a sense of a justice and we cannot bear the arrogance and the impunity we are force-fed every day,” she added.
Repubblika’s president-elect spoke of the group’s campaign over the past 200 weeks, speaking of how several ministers and high-ranking members of government have stepped down but ultimately, the problems have remained.
Crespo argued that what did change was civil society and how it “found its voice” after the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia.
“We weren’t organised, many of us didn’t even know each other, but we knew one thing: we weren’t going to remain silent in front of this affront to our democracy. When you kill a journalist, you injure democracy,” Crespo said.
“One thing has remained the same: Daphne was right,” she added.