It is heartwarming to see the avalanche of support that has been sent Robert Aquilina’s way. For those of you who aren’t familiar, Robert is the president of NGO Repubblika. Repubblika has been a steadfast supporter of this project since day one, and I am deeply grateful for all their work as Malta’s only organisation that is solely dedicated to the fight against corruption.
Shortly after he publicly spoke about multiple failed efforts at securing police protection following an escalation of the threats sent his way, Robert’s social media has been flooded with posts and comments from fellow activists, politicians, and citizens offering their solidarity.
Gone are the times when one of our own can be isolated, vilified, and silenced while the rest of the country watches passively as it happens in slow-motion. We already let that happen with Daphne, and we sure as hell aren’t going to let that happen with Robert.
When I say ‘we’, I mean those of us who are fed up of living under the thumb of a government that impudently targets its dissidents in such a coordinated fashion that by now, PBS and ONE are fused at the hip like a horrid experiment in a mad scientist’s lab, a Frankenstein-style abomination that is calibrated to cause maximum damage.
I’ve known Robert since the first time he showed up at a spontaneous protest in front of the police’s headquarters in Floriana. Much like I would do with anyone else who suddenly shows up on the activism scene, I did some digging about Robert Aquilina and could not find one singular thing which struck me as untoward. Nobody had as much as a singular negative thing to say about him, his behaviour, his attitude, nor his actions.
The man simply does not know what cowardice looks like. I can personally attest to the fact that there isn’t an ounce of malice in his bones and that his only objective as an activist is the pursuit of justice. He has no baggage to speak of. And before anyone brings it up, the fact that his brother Karol is an MP with the Nationalist Party is not Robert’s baggage to carry – it’s not like he picked Karol out of a litter, for crying out loud.
And that’s besides the fact that even if that was the case, Karol Aquilina is one of the only MPs in Parliament who can hold his head up high when it comes to his own personal integrity as an individual. A person who recently spent some time looking at MPs’ asset declarations, which are often either written vaguely to the point of being useless or filled with outright lies, was talking to me about how Karol Aquilina’s file was the only one that was written in detail and included fiscal documentation to back it up.
That on its own should speak to you as to what kind of politician he is – I wholeheartedly disagree with his extremely conservative views on issues such as abortion, but I do trust the fact that he is not corrupt, which is a hell of a lot more than can be said for most other MPs.
Robert risks everything he holds dear every day by being an extremely uncomfortable thorn in the sides of those same individuals sitting across the room from his brother in Parliament. He doesn’t do so simply because they sit across the room from his brother, which is what the propagandists at ONE would like you to believe.
He does so because all the MPs who sat on the government’s side of Parliament for the past decade were complicit in all the destruction this country has suffered at the hands of the people who own the Labour Party. Some, like Godfrey and Marlene Farrugia, had the courage to call a spade a spade and walk away, but they were the exception, not the rule.
After ten years of being up against the most ruthless organised crime regime this country has ever seen, we are at a very delicate inflection point. There is no peaceful middle road now: we either descend further into the pits of hell or we claw our way out.
What is being done to Robert Aquilina at the moment is symptomatic of the fact that we are at a very dangerous juncture. It is a test of our mettle. Will we sit idly by as the Labour Party chews up another vocal critic? Will we sit idly by while they do their utmost to discredit someone who should be hailed as a national hero? Will we sit idly by while they turn half the country against him and set out their goons on him and his family?
Robert, along with anyone else who is targeted by this vicious band of criminals who run the country, needs far more than our solidarity.
Even if, in the best case scenario, police protection is given to him, does anyone really trust the police commissioner at this point? Does anyone really believe that a commissioner whose skin is thinner than sausage casing can be trusted to send his best and brightest to protect one of his most merciless critics?
I do not trust any authorities at this point. Who can you trust in a government that has been rotting for a decade? And please don’t bother bringing up those lone public officials who manage to remain clean-nosed even though they operate in a sea of infamy. The ones who do not dirty their own hands but nonetheless fail to call out others who do so are just as bad if not worse, simply because they have an incredible ability to convince themselves they are not the same as their colleagues and that they have no responsibility for such things.
If everyone around you is corrupt, you either resign and call out corruption whenever and however you saw it, or you sit there and take it. Yet again, there is no middle ground.
The public officials who really stand up to corruption have very short-lived careers when a party this corrupt is in government. Just ask Jonathan Ferris.
We need to start filling in the gaps which are meant to be the responsibility of our authorities ourselves.
If the police force is not willing to protect Robert Aquilina, then we should hold watch outside his door until they do. We should pillory the commissioner for his failure to uphold his duty until steam comes out of his ear holes. We should turn the entryway of the home affairs ministry into a cacophonous street party that goes on until the minister is forced to bend the knee at our rage over the fact that yet another one of our own is in the crosshairs of the sociopaths who ran this country aground.
Remember that there is no such thing as powerlessness. Powerlessness is a delusion of the mind, one you’ve been conditioned to accept, one which you do accept because it is easier to do that than to acknowledge that you have a part to play in this revolution but you’ve been neglecting the rehearsal schedule instead.
I, for one, will not let Robert stand on his own.
I will be giving a speech at the next monthly vigil for Daphne in November. I hope you will be there too.
They can stop one of us, but they cannot stop all of us.