Pro­test­ers over­whelmed by sup­port and do­na­tions, un­der­whelmed by PM ‘ig­nor­ing’ them

● Protest­ing to move from Val­letta to Sliema to­day

The Malta Independent on Sunday - - FRONT PAGE - Joanna De­marco

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...

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