The remarks by Ulianova Radice in the ceremony in Milan
The annual ceremony at the Garden of the Righteous of Monte Stella Hill came as the conclusion to the three-day event that Milan dedicated to the moral and civil resistance of women for their own dignity, as a universal heritage, to mark 6 March – European Day of the Righteous.
Sunday 6 March at Fabbrica del Vapore, inauguration of graffiti dedicated to Khaled al-Asaad, the keeper of Palmyra. “Street art has ever since produced an identity discourse belonging to the whole of us - said Ivan, author of the graffiti together with Pao, Piger and the Orticanoodles collective. Nowadays we need to bear witness chiefly to the exemplary tales of our times by drawing them “on the skin” of our towns”.
The concert by Maestro Gaetano Liguori, with the readings by actress Sonia Bergamasco, and the international conference about the legislation concerning women’s condition worldwide with Livia Pomodoro, Milena Santerini and Maryan Ismail – both in the Sala Alessi of Palazzo Marino, Milan’s City Hall – were the occasions to learn about the tales of the Righteous women honoured this year at the Milan Garden.
“Brave women – as highlighted by Milan Mayor Giuliano Pisapia during the opening of the ceremony on Monte Stella Hill – united by a great inner strength and the resolve to defend a loftier ideal of dignity and humanity”. The theme chosen for European Day of the Righteous 2016 reassesses the need to support the women fighting against religious obscurantism, “hitting women first of all. We must defeat fundamentalism, and fight those who want to build new fences in Europe” said Gariwo chairman Gabriele Nissim, who furthermore announced the creation of a Garden of the Righteous in the premises of the Italian Embassy to Tunis, in cooperation with Italy’s Foreign Ministry, popularly called the Farnesina.
It was then Gariwo’s director and coordinator of the Associazione per il Giardino dei Giusti, Ulianova Radice, to introduce the tales of the Righteous women and their messages for the ceremony, like the one written by Vian Dakhil, “a fireperson among pyromaniacs”, as she was defined by the spokesperson of Amnesty International Italia Riccardo Noury. Vian is a member of the Iraqi Parliament, and in 2014 she addressed a desperate appeal to the international community against the Isis genocide against her people, the Yazidis. “I am not speaking only in the name of the Yazidi and Iraqi women – said Vian – but also in the name of the thousands women who were abducted, sold and bought again, maltreated and hurt. We have the duty to defend human beings, saving them from persecution. In Iraq, we must work to restore citizen trust, spread a spirit of forgiveness and acceptance of the other”.
Milan’s Sudanese community and Maryan Ismail, professor of Anthropology of immigration, then reminded the audience of the dreadful case of genocide in Darfur and the example set by Halima Bashir, young doctor who had the courage to report and bear witness to the rapes of the Janjaweed militias.
The very rapes that are fought also by Flavia Agnes, Indian lawyer who through her organisation Majlis has managed to rescue 50 thousands women in her country. “Having raised three children in an extremely violent environment, I experienced personally the humiliation and degradation to which victims are submitted - said Flavia at the Garden -. Violence consumes whoever is trapped in it: the victim, the perpetrator and the innocent children. It continues from a generation to the other and therefore it represents a vicious circle that needs absolutely to be broken.”
Headed for the same direction is also Sonita Alizadeh, Afghan rapper who decided to denounce the plight of the child brides after two attempts from her family to sell her to a man as a bride. “My wish is that as this tree grows, families stop obliging their girls to become child brides. Girls all over the world will become stronger””. Sonita’s words, read out by Radio Deejay’s rapper and speaker La Pina – were accompanied by the plasterboards prepared by the children of the schools who were attending the ceremony, reporting some verses of the song of the young rapper.
Brave women, but also mothers courage. This was the case of Felicia Impastato, Peppino’s mother, who defied the civil death of isolation and social contempt by claiming her own distance from the mafia environment and demanding truth and justice for her son killed by the gangs in 1978. It was Giovanni Impastato to talk about his mother, reminding Felicia’s refusal to take revenge for Peppino’s death – as proposed by their “American cousin” – and the strength of his mother in the defence of her son’s memory.
Her strength was similar to that of Azucena Villaflor and the Madres de Plaza de Mayo, who in the Seventies dared defy the Argentinean dictatorship by demanding justice for their missing children. “Our mothers, relentless warriors who sacrificed their lives for their children, could not win over death - said Azucena’s daughter, Cecilia De Vincenti -, but they were so obstinate to win over oblivion. And they returned. They did so by sea, as if they had wanted, once again, to prove the determination that characterized them in life. They returned with the same unconditional love that only mothers have for their children, to continue fighting for them, and for us. Whoever saves a life saves the entire world”.