Protesters overwhelmed by support and donations, underwhelmed by PM ‘ignoring’ them
● Protesting to move from Valletta to Sliema today
Three days into the protest at time of writing, tents were still pitched outside Castille, music was still playing, the pile of donated food and water was growing, people were still trickling in and out, and the atmosphere was still calm. Some protesters were seen turning bay leaves from Daphne Caruana Galizia’s garden into laurels which they wore on their heads.
The leaf has become a symbol representing strength, after Daphne’s sons Matthew, Andrew and Paul, sent pizzas with bay leaves to the protesters last Thursday. “Bay leave are a symbol of strength and courage. These are from our mother’s garden. With our support and gratitude,” an attached note read.
There were not many active protesters early yesterday afternoon, but one of the organizers told The Malta Independent on
Sunday that people have been coming and going in waves, and that they are, overall, “pleasantly surprised” at the turn out.
In the wake of the assassination of the journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, the Occupy Justice activists last Thursday set up camp right outside Castille, “both as a show of solidarity with the Caruana Galizia family, and also to demand the resignation of Police Commissioner Lawrence Cutajar and Attorney General Peter Grech”.
They will be camping till today, prior to the protest organized by the Civil Society Network in Sliema.
“We are very pleasantly surprised at how many people turned up, there has been a steady stream of people” one organiser, who preferred to remain anonymous, said. “We had about 200 people last night (on Friday night), and people are supporting us in so many other ways. People have been writing to us thanking us, and we have received so many anonymous donations.
“We have had anonymous donations for everything; from a generator, to tents, to food, blankets, canopies, chairs and water,” she said. “Not everyone is comfortable showing their face, but they have shown support in other ways.”
She added that they are mostly pleasantly surprised because such a protest is a relatively new thing. “Since the 80s, we have lost the culture of protesting, so protesting, and coming here and camping to protest is relatively a new thing.”
Any donations which remain following the event will be donated to Dar Merhba Bik and the Food Bank in Valletta.
‘There needs to be an open dialogue with the government’
The organiser went on to describe the protest as ‘civilised and polite’. “We are asking for rule of law and are trying to lead by example. In our country, when we do not like something, we do not say anything,” she said.
“Just because you elect a government, it doesn’t mean you have to agree with everything the government does. There has to be an open dialogue, which there isn’t, and people don’t feel they have the right to criticize any aspect of the government. It is not in our culture.
“By doing this, what we are saying is ‘we don’t like this, talk to us about it, discuss it with us, listen to us’. It doesn’t mean we are rejecting everything about Malta; on the contrary, we love Malta, and we want it to be the best Malta it can be.”
Organisers say Prime Minister is ‘ignoring’ protesters
Later in the day, the organizers of Occupy Castille issued a statement claiming that Prime Minister Joseph Muscat had “ignored” them.
“The least we expect from our elected Prime Minister, as citizens of this country, is an ac- knowledgement of our presence and demands. It is expected that in a functioning democracy its elected representatives are open to dialogue,” they wrote in the press release.
“Even though, so far, you have decided to ignore us, we will continue to fight for what is right, both for justice as well as for a fairer and equal society. This is our nation. This is our home. And we are the people.”
“We expect better. We deserve better. We demand better,” they concluded.
Two women fashion laurel wreaths in Castille Square yesterday afternoon during the Occupy Justice camp in front of the Office of the Prime Minister. Bay leaves have become the symbol of the women’s calls for justice for the killing of Daphne Caruana Galizia