€69,500 in 1 day: thank you all for giving the Economy Minister and Labour Party deputy leader a two-fingered salute

Published: February 10, 2017 at 6:29pm

I couldn’t thank you more for contributing roughly €69,500 in 36 hours. Almost $59,000 poured in from 1,225 people through a crowdfunding site, with individual contributions ranging from $3 to $1,000.

Other people gave their donations in person. One man brought €5,000. Another two brought €1,000 each; yet another brought €2,000. One man even rang to offer a hypothec on his property.

An old couple took a 90-minute bus ride to donate €5. Somebody put an envelope through my parents’ front door. A Valletta pensioner left an envelope at my husband’s office.

People encouraged others to donate. I got messages from readers saying that they were guiding their parents through the mysteries of crowdfunding on the internet.

I was stunned. That feeling of being alone and attacked, under onslaught by a malign government determined to harass me into silence or oblivion, this time by taking the extreme measure of freezing my bank account with a precautionary warrant for €47,000 for the years-long duration of four libel suits, dissipated overnight.

I was not alone, after all. People were angry, some of them even angry enough to leave furious messages with their donations. One of them wrote, simply, “They’re a bunch of corrupt c*nts.”

It wouldn’t have happened without David Thake’s impromptu decision to crowd-fund €47,000 to deposit in the Courts of Justice and unfreeze my bank account as a big f**k-you to the Minister for the Economy/Labour Party deputy leader and his mates.

I had found out on Thursday afternoon, purely by chance and not because I was notified, that Minister Chris Cardona and his policy officer, Joe Gerada, had frozen my bank account with four precautionary warrants. When David rang that evening after his radio show, having heard the news, I was in the throes of working out with lawyers how best to tackle it. “Shall I set up a crowd-funding campaign?” he asked, and with phone-calls and messages coming at me from all quarters, I said yes without thinking. Oh well, I thought, it would be a nice symbolic gesture of solidarity if people gave €10,000 or something like that.

The crowdfunding page went live that evening, and €17,000 were collected overnight. As the word spread through social media, it snowballed.

The palpable emotion driving people to donate was clearly anger – very real and tangible anger. Within 36 hours the target had been reached on the internet and surpassed by donations in person.

Dr Stephen Thake and other lawyers will now be acting as curators of the fund and making arrangements for the deposit in court (they are not my lawyers, to keep clear boundaries).

The surplus, after court fees and the rest of the myriad complications are sorted, will be donated to Dar Merhba Bik, the women’s shelter. Given that my gender is a significant factor in the moral violence I experience on a daily basis as a critic of male politicians in the southern Mediterranean, I think this appropriate. It is also a cause close to my heart.

Once again, thank you. And hasta la victoria siempre.