Gariwo: the gardens of the Righteous

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To stop the oppressors and defending the future

The role of a testimony in the course of a genocide is very important because it allows to denounce the ongoing crime and ask the world to stop it.

Armin Wegner already did so at the beginning of last century, during Armenian genocide in Anatolia. He was left unheard, as unheard was Jan Karski, messenger of Polish resistance in London and Washington, who did not manage to forgive himself for the rest of his life because unable to convince the powerful people of the necessity to intervene in order to stop Shoah. Both of them, however, did not confine their action to the call for international intervention, but felt the duty of providing documentary evidences of the persecutions. They became testimonies beyond the present, for the future. Wegner, at great risk of his own, took hundreds of pictures - the only thorough document survived to this day - able to prove any attempt to deny Armenian genocide wrong and do justice to the victims. Karski wanted to verify in person, at risk of his life, what was happening in the Warsaw ghetto and in Nazi lagers, where Jews were deported, in order to testimony the truth with a cogent argument, against the plan to conceal the extermination proofs.

Writers, poets, intellectuals in Soviet Union who dared denounce the despotic regime, which deprived of freedom and dignity, were sent in gulags, where many of them died of hunger and struggles. Only the persistence and the courage of figures like Alexandr Solzenicyn or Varlam Shalamov manage to break the silence surrounding the tragedy of persecution of million innocent victims, unjustly accused as enemy of the people. Still today the opponents to authoritarian regimes withstand harsh repressions, and the same fate concerns the ones who denounce human rights violation in those countries. Foreigners, journalists, intellectuals, testimonies are often threaten, imprisoned or distanced as well, to force them to silence.

Many international associations defend human rights and try to support opponents and testimonies. But it is also fundamental to put young people in contact with these figures of moral resistance of past and present, proposing them as examples to the single consciences, in order to promote an attitude to civil commitment, not to be unproductive emotional adhesion promptly dismissed, but to become a personal undertaking of responsibility towards the others and commitment for the future, in pacific cohabitation terms.

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Hassan Amdja

the Circassian officer who denounced the massacres he had witnessed during the genocide of the Armenians