Gariwo: the gardens of the Righteous

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Six new Righteous at the Garden of Milan

to be honored on next 6 March, EU Day of the Righteous

The stone at the entrance of the Garden of Milan

The stone at the entrance of the Garden of Milan

The Associazione per il Giardino dei Giusti di Milano chose the exemplary figures that will be honored during the yearly ceremony on Monte Stella Hill on next 6 March, European Day of the Righteous

Starting from the commemorations planned for the centennial of the Armenian Genocide, the choice of the new Righteous envisages the needs of our modern world. Therefore we will honor figures that in very different contexts have worked to respond to the tragedies of History, enforcing the primacy of conscience.


“I am very happy that the Committee of Guarantors of the Associazione Giardino dei Giusti di Milano approved all nominations put forward by Gariwo. In particular in this moment of major tension following the attack to the symbols of European values in France, I wish to point out that among these figures, who will be honored next 6 March at the Garden on Monte Stella Hill on European Day of the Righteous, there are two young Syrian activists who did not hesitate to put their lives to risk to defend those very values against any kind of dictatorship and fundamentalism”, said Gabriele Nissim, chairman of Gariwo, the forest of the Righteous.

“These new Righteous witness to the essential commitment of men and women who have bravely fought and are still fighting every day against the Mafia and in favor of migrants by putting their own lives into the service of others, even running the ultimate risk - said Basilio Rizzo, president of Milan City Council –. It is equally important that some of them are of Muslim descent, a choice that we have supported and strongly believed in. All these people are examples that help us reflect on the real emergencies that we have to face and the true values that we must defend and abide of”.

Six are the people to whom we will dedicate trees and memorial stones on 6 March at the Garden on Monte Stella hill - an area that has been recently assigned in concession for free by the City Hall to the Associazione Giardino dei Giusti di Milano that has already been caring about the relating activities, in order to redesign it by realizing new facilities:

Mehmet Gelal Bey
Through the memory of this man we wish to remember all the Ottoman Righteous who at the time of the Armenian Genocide have refused being on the executioners' side and have rescued the victims and born witness to the truth even paying the ultimate price. Gelal Bey, “vali” of Aleppo, from 1914 to 1915 opposed the deportation of the caravans of women, elders and children into the desert of Der-es-Zor. He organized camps for the Armenian refugees who flocked into the city by the thousands, prepared a network of rescue of the ill and of distribution of food. He helped many flee or reunite with their relatives. He was sacked and moved to Konya. Also here he opposed the orders of deportation and he was again demoted. He lived in poverty, full of regret for not managing to prevent the extermination of the Armenian people. His nomination received the support of Honorary Consul of Armenia, Pietro Kuciukan, of the director of the Armenian House of Milan Marina Mavian and of the President of the Union of Italian Armenians, Baykar Sivazliyan .

The women and men of the Coastal Ward of Lampedusa
The rescue work by the Coastal Ward of Lampedusa could be considered as a professional duty. As a matter of fact the women and men who spend their lives to rescue the destitute people heading for our coasts do so with a sense of humanity and a spirit of sacrifice that goes far beyond the simple compliance with a duty. They go so far to put their lives into risk. These men and women risk their lives, each with great courage and selflessness, from Lampedusa on the other Italian shores, to rescue the castaways fleeing from hunger and violence.

Razan Zaitouneh and Ghayath Mattar
Razan and Ghayath have bravely resisted the cruelty of the Syrian regime and fundamentalism by wielding pacific propaganda and truthful information about the events unfolding in their country against violence. Both paid a very high price, the former with his death and the latter with detention, hiding and in the end the abduction by extremist gangs with an alleged involvement of the regime, for this choice of fairness and civil coexistence that ought to set an example for all people of good will. Their nomination was supported among other by Shady Hamadi, Syrian writer and activist, the spokesperson of Amnesty International Italia Riccardo Noury, and Lorenzo Cremonesi, Corriere della Sera's correspondent in the Middle East.

Rocco Chinnici
Rocco Chinnici, top-rank magistrate of Palermo assassinated by the Mafia on 29 July 1983, was the first one to grasp the importance to act following an investigative strategy and a judicial organization able to keep up with the challenge, in a clear and structured way. He formed the core of the first anti-Mafia pool to trace dirty money in the hitherto protected sanctuaries that existed also abroad and ensure the absolute impermeability of magistrates from the pressure of the outside world, seriously polluted by the Mafioso mentality and interferences. He understood the importance that young people be involved in the contrast to the spreading of such a mentality and the enlisting in the Mafioso organizations, going in person to speak in schools at the price of subtracting time and dedication to his family commitments, that were very dear to him. His nomination is supported by Nando dalla Chiesa and Father Don Luigi Ciotti of Libera, and by Antonio Ferrari, editorialist of the Corriere della Sera.

Alganeh Fessaha
Italian and Milanese citizen of Eritrean descent, awarded with Golden Ambrogino in 2013, president of NGO Gandhi, has spent her life for years, with selflessness, humanitarian spirit and often risking her life, to assist and often take out of very dangerous situations the refugees, particularly those from Eritrea, Ethiopia and Sudan. In Lampedusa last year she assisted and rescued the refugees surviving the massacre and in North Africa and the Middle East she rescued other hundreds lives from human trafficking. 

15 January 2015

The European Day of Righteous

The value of individuals and personal responsibility

On May 10, the European Parliament in Strasbourg adopted the Written Declaration establishing March 6th as European Day in memory of the Righteous.
The concept of Righteous, born from the elaboration of the Yad Vashem Memorial to remember the non-Jews who rescued the Jews, becomes the patrimony of all humanity.
The term "Righteous" is no longer confined to the Holocaust only; it becomes a point of reference for those who remember the genocide and totalitarianism in all their efforts to defend human dignity.

The significance of this decision is reminiscent of one of the cornerstones of European culture: the value of the individual and personal responsibility.

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