Workers of the infrastructural project in Santa Luċija locked youths in as they were protesting the removal and destruction of trees which is necessary to implement the project. During the symbolic demonstration, a Newsbook.com.mt journalist was reporting and taking photos of what was happening. However, one worker told him that if he continues to take photos, he will break his camera.
Newsbook.com.mt was on site at around 11:05am when some workers tried to force the protesters away by saying that they had orders that the youths were not supposed to be there. When the protesters did not agree to leave, the workers threatened they would lock them in.
Three youth activists who organised the protest “For Our Trees” against the Central Link project insisted that the measures being proposed by the Minister for Transport are deadly measures. Sasha Vella, Tim Grech and Ruby Zammit said that they went to Santa Luċija to fight against the apathy there is towards the environment.
‘Vote 16 was meant to encourage youth participation’
The youths insisted that it is ironic that up till a few months ago everyone was fighting to give importance to youths’ opinions through vote 16, because now they are being told that they are too young to protest. However, they added that there was a larger amount of support than hate and insults.
PN shows solidarity with the activists
Partit Nazzjonalist (PN) expressed its solidarity with the youth activists which were aggregated and insulted. According to PN, it is people close to Partit Laburista’s social media which allows for this intolerance to take place. The statement, which was signed by the PN’s Spokesperson for the Environment, says that the Prime Minister should take responsibility for this hate that is being spread against youths, who only wish that their voice is heard.
Partit Nazzjonalista has condemned Government’s behaviour, after that on the 21st of May 2017 it inaugurated a jogging track and a gym in Santa Luċija which cost €90,000, and then later on submitted an application to build an underpass in Tal-Barrani.
PD calls for ethical treatment of protesters
Partit Demokratiku (PD) has stated that so far, Government has failed to condemn the abuse hurled at activists protesting the felling of trees in Santa Lucija. It added that when employees are paid from public funds, it is expected that they follow the relevant standards of behaviour towards those funding their salaries.
“The government has a responsibility to enforcing ethical standards of behaviour for those it employs, whether directly or indirectly. Activists expressing their democratic right to protest should be respected” stated interim Leader Godfrey Farrugia.
The Party said that the toleration by Government of abusive behaviour by its supporters is a problem, but it is even worse if abusive behaviour is accepted. Timothy Alden added that a public statement from Government against such behaviour would send a strong message.