‘We need your protection against the mafia that has taken over our country’ – Repubblika

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Rule of NGO, Repubblika, has written to President George Vella after various government Ministers claimed that activists were violent during the protest. Repubblika also stated that the Labour Party media is targeting them which has resulted into online harassment by trolls and people heckling activists on the street.

Repubblika urged the President to take action, noting that the situation has become dangerous for anti-corruption activists.

The NGO referred to President Vella’s Republic Day speech and explained the reason behind their letter, saying that in the current constitutional crisis, it is the President who should guide the nation on the way forward.

Repubblika along with pressure group Occupy Justice have been organizing monthly in Great Siege Square demanding truth and justice for slain journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Over the past month, some progress into the murder investigation was made, promoting the resignation of Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi and OPM Chief of Staff Keith Schembri. Prime Minister Joseph Muscat announced that he would step down in January. The events sparked protests almost daily, with activists meeting outside Parliament and the Office of the Prime Minister demanding immediate resignation.

The NGO referred to claims made by government ministers who have resorted to claiming that the activists behaved in a ‘violent and criminal’ manner. The ministers also went to the extent of claiming that the activists sought to ‘create chaos in the country’ and ‘rekindle the fear instilled by the violence experienced in the 80s’.

Repubblika noted that the Ministers’ claims were repeated on Labour owned media which has depicted activists as violent. The PL media also claimed that they behaved in such a way to cause harm unto others, damage to third party property and sought to harm the police, members of the Armed Forces of Malta and differently abled individuals.

The rule of law NGO observed that following such statements and PL-media reports, activists started receiving intimidating and threatening messages over social media. Among the threats, activists received death threats. The messages were sent by profiles which could be easily identified and other anonymous profiles.

Repubblika said that it feared that the Police Commissioner is not able to grant the activists protection, following the police statement on the Friday protest in which the ‘police lied about the protest’. On Saturday, the police claimed that no permit was sought by the organisers when anti-corruption activists joined in with their placards and whistles during the Republic Day outdoor festivities.

“The situation has become very dangerous,” Repubblika’s letter reads, adding that the ‘lie against them is becoming a justification to use violence on the activists’.

The NGO further stated that it was not blaming the whole of Partit Laburista despite the ‘campaign was initiated by government ministers and further promoted by the party media’.

‘The criminal gang that you referred to in your speech has used Partit Laburista’s credentials to steal from others,’ the letter reads. Repubblika added that it also used PL credentials to facilitate Caruana Galizia’s assassination when the slain journalist was publishing stories on the ruling party.

Repubblika also referred to the sustained and systematic dehumanisation campaign against Caruana Galizia leading up to her assassination, noting that the campaign sought to discredit her work.

“The gang you referred to, wants to depict the situation as a partisan issue,” Repubblika’s letter to the President reads. The NGO added that ‘if activists give up and remain at home, then the “gang” would would reign free’.

Manuel Delia files libel case against Partit Laburista’s media

Journalist, blogger and civil society activist Manuel Delia has filed libel proceedings against Partit Laburista’s news outlet One Production Ltd, its Chairman Jason Micallef, Broadcasting Executive Group Head Ruth Vella and Head of News and Current Affairs Owen Galea over a story which insinuated that he had insulted Special Olympics athletes during protests on Republic Day.

The “report” published on Sunday by One described the protests as ‘violent’ and alleged that stones and coins were thrown at cars in the “assaults on the Parliament building and the Auberge de Castille”.

It also stated that “it was not only the police and members of the Armed Forces who bore the brunt of insults during the performance of their duties. But also the athletes from the Special Olympics who happened to be entering the Palace of the President, where they were going to receive a medal for their service to the republic.”

It went on to report that lawyer Andrew Borg Cardona had written on Facebook that he was one of the activists and had challenged the police to take action against him.

Delia was not mentioned in the article however, the accompanying photograph is of the activist standing behind a police barricade.

The court application says that the article and photograph were, “besides being false, defamatory and intended to cause damage to the reputation of the plaintiff, apart from putting him in danger.”

The court application was signed by lawyer Andrew Borg Cardona.