The despicable murder (and make no mistake: ALL murder is despicable) of Maltese investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia has confirmed what many of us already knew: that democracy in Malta is a dangerous dream and freedom of speech is a bad joke.
‘Be careful what you write’ I was warned by a close relative who called to express their shock.
And there you have it.
If freedom of speech really does exist in Malta, why should anyone watch their words when talking about one of the most shameful atrocities to take place in Malta?
If Malta – an EU member – is a democracy, why did the Caruana Galizia murder happen?
Be careful what you write… Well I’ve written about my views on self-censorship before. This time, however, I don’t even know what to write!
I’m sitting in front of the keyboard as a human, woman, mother, wife, daughter, writer feeling as sick as I did when I went to bed last night and when I woke up this morning.
I feel horrified over the actions of the people who felt they had the right to take her life, heartbroken for her family and more than a little scared for this country.
Forthright, outspoken, controversial, fearless, fierce? Yes Caruana Galizia was all of these things, whether your liked her or not.
These were traits that clearly made her troublesome to the individuals she investigated in the political/commercial/legal spheres; individuals on whom she unearthed information in her relentless quest to rid Malta of the disease of corruption and the sense of unquestionable entitlement that has infected it for so very long
Whether one read her blog or not, one had heard of her.
Whether one appreciated her direct (many would say ‘confrontational’) style of writing, one had to admit she had nerves of steel that most of us do not possess.
I know all too well how defensive people get about Malta.
Any writer who gets a reaction to their work knows the power of words is immense. I learned this when I published a serious piece about my adoptive home a while back. I took on every commenter one by one. And whilst it is still one of my most viewed posts some two years later (and received just as much of a positive response as it did negative), the sad truth of it was that it really did show me that this sunny country has a very dark side.
how many other ‘inconvenient truths’ she would have uncovered?
how many other people she would have terrified who wanted their illegal activities kept in the dark?
how many youngsters wanting to go into journalism, opinion writing etc are now discouraged after this hideous tragedy?
how being an investigative journalist (she is not the first to have died for what she did) could become this dangerous?
As the myriad of tweets that filled Twitter have said, how is this happening in 2017? How is this country going backwards so dramatically instead of forwards?
How do people like Ramon Mifsud – who expressed his happiness over Caruana Galizia’s assassination with the shocking comment: “Everyone gets what they deserve, cow dung! Feeling happy.” – make it into the police force? Worse: how do they stay there?
Let that sink in for a minute:
a policeman whose job (or at least to my knowledge this is what the police force in any country is supposed to do) is to uphold the law and protect its citizens, is rejoicing over the premeditated murder of a civilian who sought the truth.
This is someone’s son and worse still: someone’s father. Does he want his own son growing up in a country whose citizens can’t trust their government, law enforcement representatives and so on?
Many have been saying on social media since the awful news of the Caruana Galizia murder broke: that democracy in Malta has fallen along with the deceased journalist.
Galizia’s bank accounts were frozen and she had even been arrested for her work. Was democracy was ever allowed to soar in the first place?!
One just has to look at how people conducted themselves during this year’s Malta elections. People were torn to shreds by others for simply putting forward their opinions in a mature manner on their own social media profiles. Debate between so called adults turned into outright volatile hostile arguments. And let’s not even go into how the supporters of the winning party behaved after they won. You think Brexit brought out the nasty side of people…
Mexit was no better.
Freedom of speech in Malta? Please.
As Caruana Galizia’s son Matthew (who discovered his mother’s obliterated car and body after hearing the explosion) wrote in his heartbreaking searingly truthful Facebook post:
Yes, this is where we are: a mafia state where you can now change your gender on your ID card (thank God for that!) but where you will be blown to pieces for exercising your basic freedoms.
As I end this piece, I am well aware that someone somewhere (and as you know from the aforementioned Dear Malta post, I know this from experience) will probably say I have no business writing about this because I’m not Maltese.
Yes, that’s democracy and freedom of speech in Malta for you.
RIP Daphne Caruana Galizia.