Gariwo: the gardens of the Righteous

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The words of Akram Aylisli

Azeri writer for dialogue with the Armenians

Akram Aylisli is an Azeri writer. In 2013 he published a book about the relationship between his people and the Armenian one. As the Consul of Armenia to Italy and co-founder of Gariwo, Pietro Kuciukian, had told us, Aylisli found himself confronted with "exemplaries of his books burnt under his house and a reward to 12,700 dollars promised to anyone who will cut his ears. An old man, he was deprived of his pension and the high state honours that had been bestowed o him for his cultural merits".

Aylisli was expected to appear on 31 March in Venice to present his book Stone Dreams, now translated into Italian, too, by Guerini publishing house, but he was halted by the Azeri authorities at the Baku airport.
Following we publish the writer's message, which was read yesterday in Venice by Prof. Aldo Ferrari.

When I was back in Baku, when I thought of how I would begin my remarks, these harrowing words came to my mind: “In front of you there is a completely helpless person”. But suddenly I heard my inner voice, upset, say: "Do not complain, do not grumble like an old man. You are certainly not the only one in this world to face such a situation, and there are people who are even more helpless than you!”
And unfortunately it is so, dear colleagues. Now we are all defenceless in the face of an unthinkably cruel era.

In history, there are times in which nothing call fill the void of human hearts; not religion, nor science, nor even literature. The spiritual and art authorities have vanished in the past. The state authorities of the most advanced countries have been proven inadequate to propose any idea whatsoever able to make us exit from the moral and spiritual blind spot we are in.
Once, my fellow citizens or worshippers used to curse the Soviet power because it had shut the doors of our temples. Nowadays, in my country the number of mosques is nearly the same as the one of schools, but nonetheless some citizens of mine have never really come closer to the sky.

In churches and mosques there is little room, just like in human minds. People lack the moral strength to look at the future with hope, and have no more time to delve into their own souls. All over the world, the level of general knowledge has sunk, and people have grasped that culture offers no safety. 

“Lord, this world has chilled me
Forgive me for strolling around in my home in a coat 
Here we have destroyed what is yours
And we have nothing ours to warm us up.”

It is difficult to express the pain of our hearts better than the young Russian poet did in these four verses. Today every one of us is in facts powerless. Not only the individuals, but entire peoples and nations have discovered they are defenceless.

No one will bear the responsibility for criminal political adventures - in Chechnya, the Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libia, Siria, Yemen, in Donbass - that cost hundreds thousands lives and ruined millions human fates.

As Solženicyn used to say, violence and lie walk hand in hand. Violence does not stay alone, it cannot; it is always mixed with lie. Nothing else but lie can conceal violence.
Violence does not only consist of the terrorist attacks that take place all over the world at an unprecedented pace, and which spark in each of us a lot of anguish for the fate of our dear ones and ourselves. Violence is no less terrible for the fact that it subtly enters our conscience creeping, ruining our hearts, killing our faith in goodness and justice, and making us defenceless in the face of ignorance and obscurantism, and ruthlessly confuses good with evil.

A lot of human beings with nothing, or rather only an evil void, within their souls, hide behind the so-called national idea and sow hatred between people and nations who have peacefully coexisted 'till the other day. The nationalist are even more dreadful as they are optimists with a hardened heart, refusing the tragic understanding of life and thus radically opposing the Truth. Theirs is a rebellion against reason and humanity, a shameless lie devilishly spread by the propaganda of people who have become cruel, who arrogate themselves with impunity the right to present themselves as the bringers of the only righteous idea and as fighters for the people's happiness. This patriotism imposed from on high provides great opportunities to these fascist-like bastards to turn people into a brainless mob. But we know that what is closer to the crowd can be bought easily. And that addressing a mob as if it were a people produces a lasting and evil kind of obscurantism.

When you live in the middle of sinners, sin stitches on you. But a writer is a true writer, when even in the direst straights he can keep in himself  a clear conscience in the faces of authentic truth.

“Truth is higher than Nekrasov, Puškin, the people, and Russia”, wrote Dostoevskij. And another writer, Salman Rushdie, living in the same ages as us, warns us: "Beware of the writers who proclaim themselves voices of the nation”.

To obtain the crowd's love you can write as you wish and what you like, but only a few writers obtain their reader's love and become dear to him. All true literature is an honest pathway, a pathway walked through in thought and feeling by the writer. A writer is not such for being adored by a crowd of readers. He is a true writer if he authentically expresses permanent moral values and the people give in their suffering to him. A writer is a teacher emerged from the heart of the people and he is absolutely innocent, when politicians fail to understand this magic ability of his.

The psychology of power does not bear the writers who have their own way to look at the key events in a people's life. Also in my case, the power was cruel and merciless. 

But I do not want to delve into this topic for too long.  I do not want to tarnish the reputation of my small country in the face of a foreign audience; and I will not love less my country following what its current leaders have done to me. In my story there are many sad, but also useful and instructive things.
I think through this little work of mine, which has just been published in Italian, as well, I managed to reach my main goal: rescuing many Armenians from hatred against my people.

I understood in this bloody conflict neither us nor the Armenians are guilty; people would never wage war against each other if only politics did not interfere in their lives. I got persuaded once again that our peoples are not good in themselves, but together they are simply wonderful. 

I have always been aware that from the invisible to the visible we can proceed only through suffering. Now I walked through this with my steps, trying not to stumble, not to fall. Apparently my soul had to be tormented against to become aware and understand itself among a crowd of people prone to sell themselves quickly and betraying on a seasonal basis.

There are some episodes in lives, which are worth many lives. In this episode of my life I am a hero for somebody and a traitor for others. Personally I never thought, even for a moment, of being a hero, nor a traitor; I have always thought I am a normal writer and a humanist able to feel compassion for the other's suffering. 

 I found myself in the same situation as Galilei, who did not doubt even for one second he was right, but through a truth which was indisputable to him did not however succeed in reaching the rusty hearts of the guardians of the ruling dogmas.

I lost my calm and wellbeing because of a little step I made for two similar people to come closer, not only in the name of their geographic vicinity, but also in the name of a fate they have shared for many centuries. And I nurture no more dear dream than that of seeing them together again. And I would really like to live until that bright day

1 April 2016

Dialogue and reconciliation

it is the Righteous, rather than the victims or the persecutors. to speak to the future generations

In the torn social fabric of a country where a genocide case or other crimes against the humankind have occurred, it is very difficult, even after many years, to resume a kind of dialogue to re-establish relationships and rebuild civil coexistence between the victims - including survivors or their relatives, refugees and their heirs - and the persecutors, accomplices or passive bystanders. To this we should add the role of the State, its officials and government members, who often try to deny what occurred and refuse taking up the - however apparent - responsibilities of the massacres. Only the reaction and heeding ability of those who have not bowed their heads to the uniformation of behaviour within the group of the persecutors and have refused to conform to a conduct which conscience cannot approve, can allow people to resume a kind of communication which is able to combine the need for truth and the assumption of responsibility with an opening to future hope and a shared project-making. The Righteous are the only ones who have what it takes to do that.

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