Malta’s success story has been built on the sacrifices of thousands of Labour soldiers of steel who struggled in colonial and post-colonial times to leave a Labour movement dedicated to create jobs, strengthening freedom and striving for social justice, former Prime Minister Alfred Sant said when visiting Victor Attard at his home in Vittoriosa. Victor was sentenced one month imprisonment at the age of 16 for taking part in the riots of 28 April 1958. Victor Attard was amongst 101 young people sent to jail after the 28 April riots, including former President Agatha Barbara, former Labour Ministers Albert Hyzler and Patrick Holland.

Alfred Sant said Malta should honour those common citizens who fought for Malta’s freedom in the fifties and sixties of last century. We must never forget the sacrifices and social boycotts endured by hundreds of young people who had defied all military restrictions and took to the streets on 28 April 1958 seeking Malta’s Independence from Great Britain, said Alfred Sant.

Victor Attard thanked Alfred Sant for visiting him personally at his home.

“I am proud to have been one of thousands of young people who sixty two years ago fought for freedom. DeGray’s police were tough on us then. They treated us like criminals. When we were young we dreamt of living in an independent country without the presence of foreign soldiers on our land. We suffered economic hardships for taking part in the national protest. Conditions at Kordin prisons were humiliating. But looking back today I feel I gave my utmost to for all of us to live in a free country without belonging to any colonial power.” Victor Attard told Dr Sant.

Alfred Sant paid tribute to the thousands who took to the streets while hundreds were injured by the police, their truncheons and their cavalry.

“The thousands of youth protesting across the country were the real unsung heroes in 1958. These were trying times for the Labour Party, stricken as it was from all sides by conservatives, traditionalists, and imperialists. It took pluck and mettle to be on the right side of history in those days.”

Alfred Sant had authored a 460 page publication on the April 1958 riots entitled 28 ta’ APRIL 1958 – Ħobż u Ħelsien (28 April 1958 – Bread and Freedom) which he donated to Mr Attard.

Maltese Version – IS-SUĊĊESSI TAL-LUM DOVUT LILL-ELUF KBAR TA’ SULDATI TAL-AZZAR

Is-suċċessi kbar li qegħdin ingawdu llum inbnew fuq is-sagrifiċċji ta’ eluf kbar ta’ suldati tal-azzar li fiż-żminijiet kolonjali u post-kolonjali ħallew warajhom moviment Laburista dedikat biex ikattar il-ħobż, isaħħaħ il-ħelsien u jisħaq dwar il-ġustizzja soċjali. Dan qalu l-ex Prim Ministru Alfred Sant meta żar lil Victor Attard fid-dar tiegħu fil-Birgu. Wara l-irvellijiet tat-28 ta’ April 1958, Victor, dak in-nhar kellu 16-il sena, kien akkużat li kien fost dawk li taw in-nar l-Għassa ta’ Bormla. Il-Maġistrat Reynaud kien ikkundannah xahar ħabs. Attard kien fost 101 Malti li ntefgħu l–ħabs wara l-irvellijiet tat-28 ta’ April, fosthom Agatha Barbara, Patrick Holland u Bertu Hyzler.

Alfred Sant qal li Malta għandha tonora lil dawk il-ħaddiema li fl-1958 marru l–ħabs biex jiġġieldu għall-ħelsien. M’għandna ninsew qatt is-sagrifiċċji u l-bojkot soċjali li sofrew mijiet kbar ta’ żgħażagħ li kienu sfidaw ir-restrizzjonijiet militari u niżlu fit-toroq fit-28 ta’ April 1958 biex Malta issir pajjiż sovran.

Victor Attard irringrazzja lil Alfred Sant talli żaru fid-dar tiegħu.

‘Jien kburi li kont fost l-eluf ta’ żgħażagħ dak in-nhar tal-protesta nazzjonali. II-Pulizija ta’ De Gray kienu brutali magħna. Meta konna żgħażagħ konna noħolmu li nistgħu ngħixu f’pajjiż ħieles mingħajr preżenza ta’ suldati barranin fuq artna. Sofrejna ħafna finanzjarjament talli ipprotestajna. Il-kundizzjonijiet fil-ħabs ta’ Kordin kienu umiljanti. Imma meta nħares lura illum inħoss li tajt kull ma stajt biex illum kulħadd qed jgħix f’pajjiż ħieles.” Victor Attard qal lil Alfred Sant.

Alfred Sant sellem lil dawk l-eluf li dak innhar ħarġu fit-toroq, waqt li mijiet kienu ġew midruba mill-pulizija bil-lembubi u bil-kavallerija.

“L-eluf ta’ żgħażagħ li ipprotestaw dak in-nhar kienu l-eroj. Dawn kienu żminijiet ta’ prova għall-Partit Laburista, meta l-Konservattivi, tradizzjonalisti u imperjalisti kienu magħqudin kontra l-Partit Laburista. Ridt tkun suldat tal-azzar biex tkun fuq in-naħa t-tajba tal-istorja f’dawk iż-żminijiet.”

Alfred Sant kien ippubblika ktieb dwar lirvellijiet bl-isem 28 TA’ APRIL 1958 – Ħobż u Ħelsien fl-1988.