One year ago today, the whole island stopped. On the 16th of October 2017, Malta was shocked to learn about the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia. She was killed when a bomb was set off in her rental car, close to her Bidnija home.
A year on, three men have been arrested and are currently on trial for the assassination of the fearless journalist. The three arrested were well-known to the police and to the criminal underworld – just a few months ago they were hauled into court on charges of money laundering too. However, the general consensus is that whilst these three may have been the material authors of this crime (assuming they’re found guilty), the true mastermind is still out there.
Many have said that on October 16th 2017, the light went out. The light of her stories however still shine, now possibly even brighter than ever. The Daphne Project in April brought together 18 international media houses and 45 journalists with the intention of continuing Daphne’s work, and picking up where she left off.
To commemorate this day, the three student media organisations on campus decided to collaborate on a video project. The Yuppie with Insite and The Third Eye went around campus asking students a series of questions, in the traditional Voxpop style. The questions that we asked were simple; students were given the opportunity to give their two cents on the subject. What was interesting was the immediate reaction of the student body when we told them the theme of the video. With the word “Daphne” a whole range of emotions could be seen on the students faces.
Seen from afar, the questions we asked were not political. But in actual fact, they were perceived to be political. Politics plays a big part of life in this country, this is no secret. Whilst it is great to be involved and informed about the current affairs and happenings of the government, political bias should not affect our everyday lives and the way we think. Whats the point of politicians preaching about freedom of speech, when they themselves are indirectly the problem? The term opinion is now being confused with political bias. An opinion, in an ideal society, a utopia of sorts, should not portray your political bias. But when you live in a country where partisan politics is the norm, your political bias is a red or blue shadow that has most likely followed you around since birth. Therefore, this is something which could not be avoided when asking such questions.
Another scenario which we faced where students, who although wanted to answer the questions, were scared as to what others would think about their point of view or lack thereof. Here, we have to remember that if everyone in a society had the same mindset, then what’s the point of even having a brain? What’s the point of having a democracy? What’s the point of me writing this article? The world would not work if everyone thought the same. Would it be easier? Surely. But would it spark creativity, conflict and most importantly, change? Surely not. Speaking your mind is not always easy. You will get laughed at, get ridiculed, lied about and lose friends along the way. Tried and tested.
As young adults, and as the future of this country, we are pushed and preached at to be the main instigators of change. Sadly, after this experiment, it seems like we are stuck in a cycle created by Maltese generations past. We are scared and hence we are silent. With this tragic death and this past year, haven’t we learnt that silence is never the answer? So why is the university population, the highest educational institution in the country, the supposed fertile grounds for the shaping of young minds, scared of speaking its mind?
We must delve into the core of the problem and ask just this; why are our youths not ready to speak out? If it is indeed a question of fear, fear of what? of who? Are they afraid of getting laughed at? Are they afraid of being labelled? Are they afraid that they will lose their jobs because of their opinion? or their credibility or reputation? We must question these matters. University is meant to be a hot-bed for debate, but today in many senses it seems to be more a centre of general apathy. It’s not that youths don’t care enough to hold an opinion. It’s that the atmosphere on campus, on social media, even in the whole country, seems to castigate people for expressing that same opinion.
The brutal killing of Daphne Caruana Galizia was an attack on free speech and democracy as a whole; but it was also evidence of the state of our society. If Daphne was anything, she was fearless. Irrespective of what she wrote, who she wrote about, or how she wrote it – she never feared opposition. Our youths today need to channel that fearlessness, and have no shame in speaking their minds, and participating in debate. Not every opinion will be held as correct, but not every one will be laughed at and discarded. It’s only through fearlessness to speak one’s mind that debate can be created and it is only on debate that change, in any field, can occur. To be the true motors of change in not only this country, but the world, we need to be much like Daphne was; fearless.