Watch: Crowd protests Miżieb and Aħrax handover in front of Castille

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

A socially-distanced crowd has gathered outside of the Auberge de Castille in a sit-down protest against the controversial handover of the Miżieb and Aħrax woodlands to the FKNK hunters’ federation.

The protest was organised by the Spazji Miftuħa coalition of NGOs, set up earlier this year when news that such a deal was imminent broke out.

Waqt is-Sit-down protest kontra s-serqa tal-Miżieb u l-Aħrax

Posted by Moviment Graffitti on Saturday, October 31, 2020

On behalf of the coalition, BirdLife Malta highlighted that people were angered by the way the government was treating the country’s natural and cultural heritage.

The coalition has also filed a judicial protest over the agreement – which was signed behind closed doors. Six environmental NGOs have also challenged the deal in two separate but allied court actions.

Handing large areas to 300 hunters ‘an obscenity’

Addressing the crowd on behalf of Spazji Miftuħa, Josianne Micallef insisted that the authorities had a responsibility to ensure that open spaces were preserved in the most densely-populated member state of the EU.

She lamented that successive governments had failed to give due attention to the environment, and insisted that the government needed to recognise that there was a difference between economic and monetary gain.

“Money isn’t everything, much less votes; what is important is our health as a people. What is important is the quality of our lives. Our natural environment, our cultural heritage and our health go hand in hand and can never be ignored when one assesses the country’s economic development,” Micallef said.

Micallef insisted that emphasised that the FKNK concession, made for the benefit of 300 hunters wishing to slaughter birds undisturbed, was an “obscenity.”

She also insisted that the Prime Minister should understand that there could be no comparison with the FKNK deal and the sites and properties – which were far smaller, she emphasised – placed under the management of various environmental and cultural NGOs. “These NGOs work towards the common good and not the personal interest of some of their members. These NGOs give to society and receive nothing back. These NGOs help the government meet its obligations as an EU member state,” Micallef said. “So how can the PM fail to understand that what was allowed to happen is the greatest act of egoism, setting aside large swaths of public land for 300 hunters?”