Friday, April 22, 2011

Restiamo Umani...We Stay Human

Many of us feel strongly about something and we rally all means possible to achieve it, or at least hope to. The reason may vary, either because we believe in it, or because there is a certain injustice and we seek to rectify it, so we champion for that cause and suddenly we become activists.
However some activists have more commitment, dedication and courage than others. They are heroes who have dedicated their lives for a cause they believe in, which doesn't necessarily or remotely have do with them or their country. They do it for selfless driven reasons. It is the feelings of humanity and justice that drive them to do so. There are many in the world who fit this description, such as Rachel Corrie and Vittorio Arrigoni, both members of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM)  killed in Gaza. I, and surely a lot of people around the world have been greatly moved by what they stood for as much as by their deaths. They certainly are heroes and as Vittorio's mother said "does one have to die to become a hero?" Well said signora Arrigoni.We are all human after all wanting the same things...Freedom, Justice, and above all Peace.

Vittorio's mother  Egidia Beretta Arrigoni wrote a moving article in the Italian  paper Il Manifesto on April 18th, entitled "Vittorio Never Was as Much Alive as he is Now".
I sent her this comment:

Cara signora Arrigoni,
Vorrei esprimere le mie più sentite condoglianze. 
Non conoscevo Vittorio di persona e sincerament non ho sentito di lui finche si e rapito, ma ero dolorata e molto triste per la sua morte. Lo so come fa male perdere un figlio perche ne ho perso uno. 
Vittorio era un campione di pace e di liberta ed un martire d'umanita. Il mondo entero, specialmente quello Arabo non lo dimenechera mai. Un abbraccio forte...Restiamo tutti umani...sempre 18-04-2011 13:45 

Translated in  English:
Dear Mrs. Arrigoni,
I would like to express my most felt condolences.
I didn't know Vittiorio personally and honestly I hadn't heard of him till he was kidnapped, but I felt the pain and was very saddened by his death. I know how painful it is to loose a son because I had lost one myself.
Vittorio was a champion of peace and freedom and a martyr of humanity. The entire world, especially the Arab world will never forget him. A big hug...We all stay human...always

This is the English translation of Mrs. Arrigoni's article 

(ROME Manifesto ) - Do you have to die to become a hero, to be on the front page of the newspaper, to watch TV even outside the home or to die in order to stay human?

I remember the Vittorio at Christmas 2005, when he was imprisoned at Ben Gurion airport, the scars of the handcuffs which had cut off his pulse, the denied contacts to the consulate, the mockery trial.
And the Easter of the same year, when he was stopped by the Israeli police at the Jordanian border, directly behind Allenby Bridge, to prevent him from entering Israel, when he was loaded onto a bus and seven of them, one of them a policewoman, beat him “with art”, without leaving external signs, true professionals that they are, they threw him on the ground facedown, and as a last devilry tore out his hair with their potent boots.
Vittorio was persona-non-grata in Israel. Too subversive, one year before he had demonstrated at the Wailing Wall with his friend Gabriele together with the men and women from Budrus village. He taught and sang with them our most beautiful partisan song “O Bella ciao, ciao….”

Art by Carlos Latuff: Rest in Peace Brother Vik
At that time I did not watch TV, not even when in autumn 2008 an Israeli commando assaulted the fisherboat in Palestinian waters near Rafah and Vittorio was first locked up in Ramle and then sent home in prison clothes and slippers.
Certainly, now I can only thank the press and TV that they have approached us in a decent way, that they have “occupied” our house respectfully, without excesses, and they gave me the possibility to speak about Vittorio and his chosen ideals.
This lost son, now so much alive as he may never have been before, just like the seed that grows and dies in the earth, will bear prosperous fruit. I can see and hear this already in the words of friends, especially the youth, some of them close by and some of them far away who through Vittorio have known and understood how to make sense of “Utopia”, that the hunger for justice and peace, brotherhood and solidarity still prevails and that, as Vittorio said, “Palestine could as well be in front of your door”. We were far away from Vittorio, but we were closer than ever.

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