The intolerance in our midst


Last Thursday, I led a number of officers of Alternattiva Demokratika-The Green Party, at a short yet symbolic ceremony in San Ġwann commemorating Karin Grech, murdered by a letter bomb 40 years ago on 28 December 1977. The ceremony was organised by the Labour Party, as it has been continuously since 1978.

Earlier in December, I participated in a similar ceremony in Gudja on the 31st anniversary of the murder of Raymond Caruana, a ceremony organised by the Nationalist Party.

Alternattiva Demokratika’s participation in these two commemorative ceremonies is not an attempt to create a fictitious balance. Rather, it is an effort to underline the wish that such activities should be owned by all political families – all of whom should participate. It is the only way to send the clear message that there is no room for intolerance in our midst. With the Nationalist Party and the Labour Party continuing to organise these yearly commemorations as party activities, there is still a long way to go. There is no room for partisanship in commemorating the victims of intolerance.

The pain inflicted on the families of Karin Grech and Raymond Caruana is much greater than that caused by the loss of a daughter or a son: it is a pain inflicted on the whole country – it is our loss, too. It is thus our collective duty to remember what led to this loss, hoping that this remembrance will lead to the possible avoidance of the same mistakes.

By being present at such commemorative events, we bear witness to a determination to avoid intolerance through the dismantling of our own Berlin wall, the demarcation line of two hostile tribes.

This country is capable of alternating between moods of solidarity without any limits and moods of extreme hostility, alternating between being extremely sensitive to the needs of others to witnessing violence of the worst kind. Contrary to what some try to portray, this is the real Malta.

The two commemorations to which I am referring are different, as they are the consequence of different circumstances which developed in Malta in the 10 years between 1977 and 1987.

Karin Grech’s murder is undoubtedly associated with the doctors’ dispute which continued over a long period. On the other hand, Raymond Caruana’s murder was the result of the political tensions that engulfed the country during the 1980s, as a result of which the groups of thugs that roamed the streets dissipated the feeling that they laid down the rules.

The similarity between the two is the loss of innocent lives and the inconclusive police investigations. The police cannot be blamed for lack of trying, because in one of the cases it was proved in Court that the Police even tried – unsuccessfully – to frame an innocent person: Pietru Pawl Busuttil.

Fortunately that is the past – more than 30 years ago. I sincerely hope that its use will be restricted to reminding us of the fruit of intolerance.

Notwithstanding our efforts, we will still have plenty of differences – some of which we will resolve but others that will remain in the pending tray for some time. Our efforts must focus on ensuring that we try to solve our differences in a civil manner.

Dialogue should be our primary tool. It is possible: it is the basis of the democratic process.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday : 31 December 2017