Who are the RIGHTEOUS?
The term Righteous comes from the Bible, which states that "whoever saves a life saves the whole world" and it was applied for the first time in Israel with reference to those who rescued Jews from Nazi persecution in Europe. The concept of Righteous has been used again to recall the attempts to stop the extermination of the Armenians in Turkey in 1915 and by extension to all those, anywhere in the world, who have tried or are trying to prevent crimes of genocide, to defend human rights - first of all human dignity - in extreme situations, or that struggle to safeguard memory from the recurring attempts to deny the truth about the persecutions.
How the COMMITTEE FOR THE GARDENS OF THE RIGHTEOUS WORLDWIDE was formed
The Committee for the Gardens of the Righteous Worldwide first started in Milan in 1999 and was officially formed in 2001. It is chaired by Gabriele Nissim, a historian and author of several books on the subject (Ebrei Invisibili, L'uomo che fermò Hitler, Il Tribunale del Bene, Una bambina contro Stalin) and includes among its founding members Pietro Kuciukian, chairman of the International Committee of the Righteous for the Armenians, a member of the Union of Armenians in Italy, the author of books on the Armenian genocide and on theRighteous for the Armenians (Le terre di Nairi, Dispersi, Voci nel deserto) and honorary consul of Armenia in Italy, Ulianova Radice and Anna Maria Samuelli.
Sarajevo witnessed the formation of Gariwosa, the section of the Committee for Bosnia-Herzegovina (Gardens of the Righteous Worldwide Sarajevo), chaired by Svetlana Broz, the author of Good People in an Evil Time.
The Committee's aim is to heighten awareness and interest in the Righteous. Its activities are supported by an International Scientific Committee.
- the creation of places of remembrance (small "gardens" in parts of the world that witnessed genocides, mass extermination and crimes against humanity in the 20th century). These gardens are to be planted with trees symbolically representing the Righteous, following the example of the Yad Vashem Garden of the Righteous in Jerusalem;
- the setting up of prizes to be awarded to those who have distinguished themselves on the issue of the Righteous (either with specific action or by taking a stand to safeguard memory);
- the reflection on the experience of the Righteous in the genocides of the 20th century - both in historical, philosophical and legal terms - by means of a series of cultural activities: conferences with leading international experts, debates, book presentations, essays, research, documentaries, discussions in schools, publications;
- the involvement of local, national and international institutions;
- the development of an Internet site with a collection of documentation, papers and links with other sites.
What we do
On 10 May 2012 the European Parliament has approved with 388 signatures Gariwo's proposal to establish a European Day dedicated to the Righteous of all genocides to be commemorated yearly on 6 March. After planting Gardens for the Righteous in certain symbolic places, such as Yerevan, in Armenia, and proposing one for Sarajevo, in 2003 the Committee involved Milan's City Hall in the creation of a Garden of the Righteous in memory of those who have opposed genocides in every corner of the world and who still oppose crimes against humanity wherever they are committed today. The very first Garden of the Righteous in the world thus came into being on 24 January, at Monte Stella in Milan. In November 2008 an association was formed to manage the garden, consisting of the Committee itself along with Milan's City Hall and the Union of Italian Jewish Communities.In the meantime, gardens and other spaces dedicated to the Righteous have sprung up all over Italy, including those in Palermo, Padua, Turin, Linguaglossa and Levico Terme.
In December 2003, in Milan, we organized the international conference The Righteous in the Gulag. The value of moral resistance to Soviet totalitarianism.One section was entirely devoted to the Italian victims and it saw the participation of some of the leading dissidents of that time in the USSR, and of key exponents of the debate in Italy. Following that conference, a tree in theGarden of the Righteous Worldwide was dedicated to Andrei Sakharov and, in November 2005, the Parco Valsesia was dedicated to the Italian victims of Stalinism. In June 2008 a delegation of the Committee, led by Gabriele Nissim, went to St. Petersburg, to the Levashovo Memorial Cemetery - which commemorates the victims of Soviet persecution - to inaugurate a stele dedicated to the Italians, in the presence of the highest authorities of the two countries.
Over the years, we have organized debates, book presentations and seminars with students, such as a cycle of meetings at Milan's Casa Armena with certain exemplary figures on their experience of moral resistance: the consul Antonio Costa in Rwanda, professor Jurij Malcev in the GULag, the publisher Ragip Zarakolu in Turkey, the lawyer Mehrangiz Kar in Iran.
At the Casa della Cultura we have presented, among others, Pietro Kuciukian's book Voci nel deserto and invited Khaled Fouad Allam to speak about relations between Islam and the West. Svetlana Broz from Sarajevo came to Milan's Bicocca University to talk about her struggle for remembrance and reconciliation in Bosnia. Every year, in Bologna, a final conference is held on the work done by the schools belonging to the "Storia e memoria" network; this is an educational project on the Righteous in the history of the 20th century, to which our Committee provides scientific and logistic support.
All over Italy we organize presentations of Gabriele Nissim's books on the subject of the Righteous, and for this we were received in Rome by the President of the Republic and by the Chamber of Deputies, and in Strasbourg by the European Parliament.
The Gariwo website
The Gariwo website is the Committee's main instrument for publicizing the subject of the Righteous and the exemplary figures whose names have often remained unknown. The website takes the acronym of the English version of the Committee (Gardens of the Righteous Worldwide) and includes an Italian version and a shorter English version, which refers to the events, initiatives and material of greatest interest to international readers.
Our website provides references about all our activities, in the Events section, as well as a collection of documentary material, biographies, articles, reports, exhibitions, book and film reviews, videos, links, educational programmes, reflections and further insight into relevant issues.
The virtual Gardens of the Europe's Righteous in WeFor
By creating the WeFor Project (Web European Forest of the Righteous) funded by the European Community we created the virtual Gardens of Europe's Righteous, which are interactive and integrated in the site as a teaching section at this link: www.gariwo.net/wefor