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Discussion of Justin Vassallo's email on EBN by:

Peter MandzakJerzy Dyczkowski David Lindgard
David Camilleri  David Conlin

Malta and the Tactics - Peter Mandzak, Hamburg

First of all I would like to thank Martin Helin for enabling the Malta campaign tu run. Yes, there are sometimes double postings which are irritating but the whole matter is serious enough the get the publicity amongst European birders it badly needs.

The incentive for this rather long posting of mine was the mail from Justin Vassallo, BirdLife Malta forwarded by Edward Bonavia. To summarize it briefly Mr. Vassallo pledges for positive campaign in style of "well done but it can be even better".

I for myself have no doubt that the majority of Maltese are against killing of birds. I would guess that most of them never held gun in their hands not even thinking of shooting birds. BUT they are indifferent or perhaps tolerant towards their countrymen who practice the killing. The reason could be that there is not enough CONFRONTATION in the media forcing the people to make their own opinion. For that reason I am AGAINST suppressing negative opinions. I think they deserve publicity. I myself come from small country Slovakia and know very well that negative opinions about your country lead to outburst of "national pride" and "all Maltese (Slovaks etc.) keep together" feelings. But I also know that after some time of confrontation with negative facts many people will have to answer the question what is right and what is wrong. Even if the reaction of Mr. Henry Calleja in Malta Independent sounds reasonable enough for many Maltese I expect some other Maltese to ask questions: Yes, there are murders in Italy and elsewhere, but are they tolerated? Are they "national sport"? Do people something to prevent it?

The outcome of confrontation might be more positive than the tactics of small achievements which in my understanding is the present tactics of local conservationists. To put it clear - I have big respect for all effort and results achieved by BirdLife Malta and others. But on the other hand some doubts come to my mind when I read " you do loads more harm by single letters than good we can do in months."
I suggest we put even more pressure, stay present in the media and perhaps do some job on the island.

I personally would be happy to hear some opinions as for the next steps in Malta campaign. Should some people have feeling it was too much Malta on EBN the debate can be proceeded on the Eurobirder group.

Best wishes
Peter Mandzak

"I agree with Peter Mandzak!" - Jerzy Dyczkowski, Warszawa, Poland

I agree with what Peter Mandzak had written!

The "positive" campaign in Malta had little success so far.

I don't like crossing the locals, either, but the quiet local actions don't always work. I could cite the sad cases from Poland, where people who wanted to protect birds wanted to keep the good relations with locals at all cost,
and these locals in turn didn't feel obliged to change anything.

Given that there are several bird conservation organizations, one can co-operate while another can "show not only the carrot, but the stick".

*BTW*, did you notice, that bird protection needs people good in social sciences, to, to be effective?

Jerzy Dyczkowski

Malta - David Lindgard, UK

The Maltese issue is at risk of boiling over and masking the real issues.

Justin, take a deep breath and just remember that you have friends out there who are genuinely trying to help. If you don't like the methods they think are right then try a little calm persuasion not the angry tirade you gave us.

My own view is very much with Peter Mandzak - there is a need for both positive and negative - the carrot and the stick. I cannot speak for murder rates in Italy but the considerable progress made in bird protection over the last 30 odd years was not achieved by being nice to the hunters!
At times it was a dirty, nasty fight and now the conservationists are being heard and, more importantly, listened to.

Problems in the Mediterranean are far from over but a calm approach is what is needed - a good slogan is, "Speak quietly and carry a big stick"

Thanks for the space to offer my thoughts,

David Lingard


Boycotting Malta No! - David Camilleri, New York


I agree completely that boycotting Malta as a tourist destination is not the right approach at all. The right way - in my opinion - is to promote SUSTAINABLE TOURISM with many bird watchers in spring and autumn, the tourist-off-seasons in Malta.

In addition to that it is necessary to point out the close connection between stopping hunting and the consecutive increase in tourism - and the bad impact on tourism in general committed by the hunters respectively.

I share the view that insulting a whole nation, lumping everyone together, is not constructive. It rejects the silent majority of Maltese people who are against hunting and the few who work actively for a change in the hunting

But I can not go along with the opinion that international campaigns like writing letters or e-mails to the Maltese newspapers and the Malta's officials are counterproductive. We should not throw out the baby with the bath water.

I believe that international actions, done in the right way, have a big effect. They put again and again the spotlight on the slaughter of European birds in Malta. They break the silence over this barbarity - a silence, the Maltese hunters would like to maintain.

So let us go forward with our successful campaign which raised much awareness in Malta during the last month.


david camilleri

Malta Tactics - David Conlin, Berlin

(For some reason this posting didn't appear in EBN?!)

Well done Peter Mandzak!

Erosion is a natural process which can take a very long time but against which there is little defence.

A snowball starts as a few flakes - and can become an irresistible mass in the path of which it is inadvisable to stand.

Anyone following the Malta saga will recognise the analogies. The year-long protest on Malta retains and wins more impetus with growing (external) support. That's why Proact 'kicked in' earlier this year. It's welcome support for Justin Vassalo, urban-fighter David Camillieri and all those in the front line.

The steady stream of letters published by the Maltese press (well done the free press!) shows that the matter is of considerable local topical interest. Inform the sleeping majority and eventually they will express their views themselves and insist on their enforcement. The 'vote vultures' in power will soon change their tune then.

Proact Malta Stage II has yet to be launched. Don't forget that our immediate priority must be the birds now in OUR breeding grounds which will have to run the gauntlet of fire in the Autumn. Keep the pressure up RELENTLESSLY. The hunters and their lackeys won't give up without a (dirty) fight - that's for sure!

David Conlin

See Justin's original mail on ...

Don't Boycott Us!

..... and his reply to the above on ...

Emphasise the Positive



Eurobirder/Proact-Malta David Conlin 2001