Gariwo: the gardens of the Righteous

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The Righteous of the dialogue at Monte Stella hill

for the European Day of the Righteous

Riccardo Noury, Hamadi ben Abdesslem, Pinar Selek, Lassana Bathily and Klas Smelik

Riccardo Noury, Hamadi ben Abdesslem, Pinar Selek, Lassana Bathily and Klas Smelik

“I’m so pride to participate for the first time as Mayor of this city to this initiative that pays tribute to women and men from all around the world. This ceremony reminds us of painful acts but also of solidarity actions, that are good to our society and motivate us to look with trust to the future. We are therefore willing to support this initiative so that it can flourish in many cities of the world, such as Paris. Yesterday I was in Chicago with the Mayor Hidalgo, and I might tell you that we will work together to provide Paris with its own Garden.”

With these words the Mayor of Milan Beppe Sala opened the ceremony at Monte Stella, dedicated to the Righteous’ of the dialogue, which was the conclusion to the celebration of the European Day of the Righteous.

“The meaning of my advise is that of remembering normal people, as we are - added the Mayor Sala- so that all of us may be called to transform our daily lives in a strong moment of testimony. As the stories of these Righteous tell us, sometimes Life forces us to take a decision, to be testimonies of our inner person".

It was the turn then of the president of Gariwo Gabriele Nissim that shared with us the message of the Minister of the Instruction Valeria Fedeli: “ History teaches us that the horror of the violence of the man on his own counterparts is without borders, and that it does not stop even in front of the teachings of the past. It is of utmost importance therefore, that the younger generation understands the value of commitment, of solidarity, of hospitality and of self-sacrifice for the common good. It is for that reason that days, places, and initiatives as those that are dedicated to the Righteous are important and must be supported and widespread first of all in schools. it is a commitment that we have to undertake together".

The words of the Minister were aimed to the thousands of students that, as every year gathered for the ceremony at Monte Stella. This is an appointment that gathers the young of every age, schools of every grade and many citizens, all reunited to pay tribute to the Righteous.

The Righteous honored for the European Day were presented by the director of Gariwo, Ulianova Radice: Raif Badawi, Hamadi ben Abdesslem, Lassana Bathily, Etty Hillesum and Pinar Selek.

In name of the Saudi blogger condemned to 1000 lashes, fifty of them already executed, for his battle for a free society, was present Riccardo Noury, spokesman of Amnesty International Italia. “Raif Badawi has defied fear. The fear of freedom of thought, of an independent opinion, of a critical voice that in his country, Saudi Arabia, does no have its place. His family lives in exile in Canada. Imagine his wife Ensaf, who does not cede to the pain and fear in order to protect her children. Raif Badawi has been forgotten. His country is of great strategic importance, it has been defined moderate and useful against terrorism and, above all, is a flourishing market for our weapon. “Moderation” and “usefulness” have been proved wrong by the facts. But facts have been ignored. If you ignore them they do not exist. Just like Raif Badawi, except for a few, does not exist. For these reasons it is important to remember him today and in such a beautiful way.”

After the meeting at Palazzo Marino March 14, when for the first time after two years from the terrorist attack of the March 18 2015, the survived tourists have met again the tourist guide that saved them at Bardo Museum in Tunis - Hamadi ben Abdesslem has expressed again his gratitude and excitement. "To find myself today for the ceremony at the Garden of the Righteous of Monte Stella and to be honored as Righteous together with other people is for me a great satisfaction. I have realized that within myself something beautiful is emerging, the joy of living for a cause: the responsibility in fighting hate under all its forms. I would like to share with you what I felt after what I have experienced at the Bardo, but above all after the recognition of Gariwo. They have researched and recognized me, Hamadi, a Muslim Arab tourist guide as a Righteous. Something marvellous…”

Similar to Hamadi’s story, we find the story of Lassana Bathily, the young guy from Mali who rescued the Jewish customers of the Hyper Cacher in Paris. “I am very happy to join you today. We, as younger people, must learn to know each other better... Without talking to each other, without knowing each other, people give us a wrong look, and this is impossible to accept. To me there are not the black on one side and the white on the other, but there are only human beings who must live together on the same planet. We must remain hand in hand to fight any form of racism.”

Righteous of the dialogue, and therefore, against hate, as Etty Hillesum, the young jewish girl deported to concentration camps who till the very end, believed in the human ability to choose good, and refused to assimilate an entire nation to the image of evil. To remember Etty Hillesum, there was the director of The research Center to her dedicated, Klaas Smelik. “From her diary, it turns out to what extent Etty Hillesum cared about the future generations. She thought they would have to start from her experiences as a Jewish woman during the years of persecutions. It is up to them, she said emphatically, to develop new thoughts. Now we ask ourselves: have those new thoughts arisen? Or have those old ones of anti-Semitism that threaten Jews come back in Europe? We cannot remember the dead and at the same time remain passive. Remembering demands me to act, to observe what happens in the world. Who are the outcasts of our times? Where is hatred preached?"

To recall our attention on what is happening today in the world, the words of Pinar Selek, the Turkish sociologist committed to the defense of the Kurdish and Armenian minorities, who's has been persecuted, tortured and forced to exile in France. “Being recognized as a Righteous - Pinar told - is a great honor for me. It’s a strong message for all those who are resisting against barbarity. The actors of the fighting call us to not get accustomed to untruth. We are told that the Armenian genocide is not an historical event, but an actual one. It not only shadows the Turkish government for Armenians and other communities, but also feeds the authoritarian regime which represents a danger for the entire world. I honour to this fight for freedom which desired a world without the necessity of Righteous".

The ceremony was closed by Giovanni Bloisi, the biker of the memory, that on March 21 at 3.50 pm is going to be to the Garden of the Righteous of Milan, as a stop-over of his journey which from Varese will bring him to Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem, in memory of the Jewish Sciesopoli and the children of Selvino.

20 March 2017

European Day of the Righteous 2017 at Milan's Garden of the Righteous Worldwide

in honour of Raif Badawi, Pinar Selek, Etty Hillesum, Lassana Bathily and Hamadi ben Abdesslem

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On January 24 2003, in an area of the Monte Stella hill park in Milan, we inaugurated the Garden of the Righteous worldwide, run by an association set up on purpose by the Milan City Hall together with the Union of the Italian Jewish Communities and the Gardens of the Righteous Worldwide Committee-Gariwo.
Over the years we have honoured exemplary figures of moral resistance from Rwanda, Latin America, Bosnia, the European countries torn by Nazi and Communist regimes, from Tunisia, Russia, and Iran.

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