[WATCH] Hundreds participate in candle-lit vigil dedicated to shipwreck victims

Hundreds, including migrants, participated in peaceful candle-lit march from St Julian’s to Sliema

Participants place candles by the sea at the end of the march in Sliema • Photo by Ray Attard
Participants place candles by the sea at the end of the march in Sliema • Photo by Ray Attard

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A silent candle-lit vigil organized by All Lives Matter attracted up to 1,000 participants in its walk from Pembroke to Sliema earlier this evening. The walk started from ITS in Pembroke, and then joined a much larger crowd waiting at Spinola Bay in St Julian’s.

The walk was held in memory of over 650 migrants who had lost their lives at sea in what is being described as the worst tragedy in the Mediterranean so far. The shipwreck took place last Saturday when a vessel holding some 700 migrants was shipwrecked off the coast of Libya leaving only 28 survivors. So far only 24 corpses have been collected, and the Italian authorities are holding two of the survivors (the captain and a crew member) on suspicion of human trafficking.

The vigil was attended by many Maltese participants who expressed their regrets at such a tragedy and said that they felt that this was a show of solidarity with fellow human beings.

“Something needs to be done in order to avoid this terrible waste of human life,” said one participant.

Also in the crowd were many immigrants who felt very strongly about the tragedy and expressed their hope that such tragedies would not happen any more.

“I am so saddened by this news. This is a truly sad day for us all,” said one.

“We need to do everything in our power to try and save people from this terrible fate. These are all people looking for a better future,” said another.

“It is truly important that a solution is found to avoid these tragedies as much as possible,” said a Maltese woman who is fostering a Syrian girl who lost her parents in a separate shipwreck some years back.

A survivor of a separate shipwreck also wore a hat in homage to her experience and she spoke about a Facebook page she had founded to commemorate those lost at sea: Stars Lost in the Sea.

“I have come here today to raise awareness about this issue and to pass the message that something needs to be done to help our brothers and sisters,” she added.

Various Maltese figures including Opposition leader Simon Busuttil, President Marie Louise Coleiro Preca, Culture Minister Owen Bonnici, Alternattiva Demokratika leader Arnold Cassola, and US ambassador Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley among others.  

The organizers of the event Maria Pisani, Erika Borg, Alba Cauchi and Damjan Attard (who is currently not on the island) said they had all collaborated in order to make this event a reality.

“We felt that a human tragedy of this magnitude should not go unnoticed and that a march like this would be a strong show of solidarity,” they explained adding that they were pleased about the outcome and support that their initiative had received.

The march took people by the promenade from St Julian’s to Sliema, stopping just by the beach, where all those gathered took a minute and placed their candles by the sea in a symbolic gesture of solidarity to all the victims of this most tragic of events.

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