Sette Giugno 2018
7th of June in Malta commemorates the 1919 riots of the Maltese people against British rule. The Maltese people demanded representative government on the island and were subsequently granted a Constitution in 1921. The day also serves to honour and remember the four people who were killed when British troops fired their weapons into the crowd. Malta remained under British rule until independence in 1964.
After World War I, people felt that the government of the time was not providing adequate food supply. Living costs were shockingly increasing and to make things worse, food imports were limited.
The situation had been getting worse for months and protests were held by University students.
On Saturday the 7th of June 1919, the National Assembly met again. Foreseeing the potential of an unrest, a few soldiers were stationed in Castille.
In hindsight, it was evident that the amount of soldiers sent was too small for the thousands of people that took part in the revolt. Things quickly deteriorated as soon as a shot was heard. It was believed to have come from a window of a house, so first impressions were that someone who was Maltese shot first.
Eyewitnesses said that the soldiers then started shooting into the crowd. As a result of the shootings, three Maltese men were killed.
The following day the situation was still not under control. Crowds were attacking Colonel Francia’s house. Soldiers were sent to protect the house.
Towards the evening, an additional 140 navy marines were sent to clear the house. They were also given orders to send back the crowds and clear the streets.
A certain Carmelo Abela was in the house calling and looking for his son. Two marines arrested him. He offered resistance and one of the marines stabbed him in his stomach. It is believed that a bayonet was used in the stabbing. He later died because of this on the 16th of June. Thus increasing the total number of Maltese people killed to four.
7th of June is celebrated annually on 7 June in an effort to remember the struggle and sacrifice of the Maltese people in the formation of their nation.
Video by Mohamed Ibrahim with Marica Lewis