There hasn’t been a happy day for activists for truth and justice since Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed. It’s not just how this started which is horror itself. It’s that so many people have been mobilised by the Labour Party to attack the right to protest and make it look illegal.
Flowers and candles have been deemed an act of provocation and that word, provocation, is being used heavily today.
An 81-year-old man is in the hospital tonight and a lot of people are very worried about him. He did not need to end up there and frankly, it’s not his fault that he is. Nor is it the fault of people like me who were in Valletta at the same time putting flowers and candles at the Great Siege Memorial.
Silvio Parnis, the Labour MP who happened to be on site, saw fit to tell the Labour Party TV station that an activist had pushed the man to the ground.
Fortunately, it’s not just Silvio Parnis’s word against that of the activists who were there as to what actually happened.
There was also Philip Leone Ganado there, as a Times journalist covering the laying of flowers, and he saw all that happened. He told his own newspaper: “The man appeared aggressive, the people placing flowers started filming him, he took a swing at one of them, fell over and hit his head on the ground”.
None of us there spoke to Philip Leone Ganado. His is his own eye-witness account, which he later confirmed on his Facebook page.
Philip Leone Ganado later saw how One TV, briefed by Silvio Parnis and clearly relying on him (and not asking him where he actually was at the time) reported that an Occupy Justice activist pushed the man and bashed his head to the ground. This was a complete lie intended to create anger and to have activists targeted for reprisals.
Philip Leone Ganado called it “a shocking lie” on Facebook.
It is indeed.
It’s shocking because the man is really hurt. No one can feel surprise or real anger at him for being aggressive towards protesters, shoving them, pulling their phones away from their hands and spitting on them. He’s done it before. There are videos of other occasions where he’s been there harassing protesters and shoving them. And there are other episodes of harassment and physical shoving that were never recorded.
Did he deserve to fall and get hurt and to be in the hospital now for that? Of course not, no one deserves that, though you’d have to wonder how certain people would react if it had been an activist in hospital.
But it’s sad that a man of his age has been manipulated into thinking it is his “public” duty to harass protesters and to take phones off their hands and to spit on them because they’re putting down candles and flowers.
I saw what happened today because I was there. Part of it is on film but not all, certainly not on any film any of the protesters had. He agitatedly took a protester by the arm to take her phone away from her, tripped and fell backwards. He apparently hit the back of his head.
I was next to him immediately after he fell. He held both my hands and gripped them. He answered my questions about his name and where he was from.
He insisted to me and others around repeatedly to help him up. I tried twice but as he was on his way up he told me he felt drowsy. There was a young lady who said she was a medical student in France. She said the best thing for him was to stay on the floor until an ambulance came.
I saw Silvio Parnis there and I saw he was on the phone. I heard people say an ambulance would be called. I assume that was what Silvio Parnis was doing but I could not be certain.
Policemen came. They found me on the floor next to the man. The man had my daughter’s jacket under his head. I put it there so he could rest his head on it. The police asked him how he felt and he told them he wanted to be helped up. But I told them what the medical student had told me and they encouraged him to listen to her advice and wait for the ambulance.
I stayed by the man, his hands in mine, my hands in his until the ambulance came. The emergency team checked him and put him in the ambulance. They asked if there was any relative that would go with him. There wasn’t any so I asked if I could go. The nurses said there was no need if I was a stranger to the man. I was.
I then spoke to the police and went with them to the police station to tell them what I saw.
The last activist to have been near the man when he fell was already at the police station. She had already gone of her own accord to make a statement.
While we were there, One TV propagandists came on site to interview Silvio Parnis. They sure got there quick. No doubt if you want to, you can find a clip of what he said.
I feel no anger for the elderly man. But I am very angry at those who have lied to him and will now be using him for even greater lies. After he was taken away by ambulance other men came. They tore the picture that protesters had left there and put it in the bin. Jason Micallef and Owen Bonnici must be pleased that their bidding has been done.
This is exhausting. It’s a new twist in this saga of people who only want to protest peacefully, harming no one and damaging nothing, and are not being allowed to do so in peace.
It is exhausting.
But we’re not exhausted. We’ll be there tomorrow again.