Repubblika says Caruana Galizia memorial vandals are 'violent clowns'

The NGO said that it wasn't easy knowing that this kind of behaviour was ostensibly sanctioned by a government that had the tendency to suppress the makeshift memorial with "cold and brutal force"

Repubblika sent in a photo of someone pulling out a picture of the late investigative journalist
Repubblika sent in a photo of someone pulling out a picture of the late investigative journalist

NGO Repubblika said that a temporary memorial to Daphne Caruana Galizia at the Great Siege Square was vandalised on Friday night and went on to refer to the perpetrators as "clowns... intolerant and violent citizens unworthy of that name."

On the eve of 22 months after the killing of Caruana Galizia, Repubblika and other civil society groups held a vigil in her memory and put up pictures and banners on the Great Siege memorial, the now established memorial spot chosen by these groups.

"The vandals mocked, destroyed and trashed photographs of Daphne Caruana Galizia and a handwritten poster that said nothing that could be stretched to cause offence to anyone, except of course those who know who assassinated the journalist in 2017 and continue to hide the information," the NGO said in a statement on Saturday.

The handwritten poster read: "Who would obstruct a public inquiry into a journalist's assassination if they had nothing to hide?"

Repubblika claimed that the removal of candles, nosegays and posters has been happening nearly every day in the last 22 months and that despite the common occurrence it didn't make it any easier for the group to accept the behaviour.

"Nor is it any easier knowing that the government itself uses its employees to destroy these mementos several times a day, perhaps without the clownish mockery of the individuals photographed last night but with the cold and brutal force of state-perpetrated suppression," the statement read.

The NGO said that other European countries do not hesitate in prosecuting the vandalism of improvised public memorials marking the killing of public servants such as journalists on the basis that these are hate crimes. 

"They are not exercising some personal freedom. They have publicly destroyed her image not because of who she is and what they might think of her but because of their hatred of what she represents: free and critical thinking. An act against democracy cannot claim to be itself the exercise of a democratic right.

"Effectively this vandalism is an act of uncompromising hatred of democracy. A democratic government is not only expected not to lead this undemocratic behaviour, as this one does, by its own anti-democratic example but to protect the exercise of free speech, public protest and the choice of any number of citizens to publicly call for truth and justice in the case of an assassination of a public servant such as a journalist. A democratic government is expected to condemn and seek to stop such behaviour."

The statement said that such behaviour did not frighten the group and that the people who contribute such behaviour were not even the subject of their press release. 

"The subject of our protest are the people who killed Daphne Caruana Galizia and will do anything to stop the country remembering they did so," Repubblika said, adding that the memorial has since the incident been replenished.