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Four new “masters of humanity”

the 2019 Ceremony at the Garden of Milan

pupils at the Garden of the Righteous

pupils at the Garden of the Righteous

About 800 students, like every year, have coloured the ledge of Monte Stella hill that hosts the Garden of the Righteous Worldwide. They carry banners, placards and messages for the Righteous. “You are our masters of the humanity”, you read on one of these posters.

It is a heartfelt ceremony, dedicated, this year, to the Righteous of Europe and Africa. In order to rediscover the European values and the importance of the development of the African continent through the tales of Istvan Bibo, Simone Veil, Wangari Maathai and Denis Mukwege.

“This is a Day that celebrated the human beings and their capacity to do good deeds – highlighted Milan’s Mayor Giuseppe Sala in his opening remarks. All these young people make this corner of Milan even more beautiful. And the Garden of the Righteous projects Milan into the future. An antifascist, pragmatic and generous town, which can offer assistance: a model of tolerance”.

Milano thus confirms itself as the moral capital of the cultural movement of the Gardens of the Righteous, that Gariwo has built in Italy and worldwide. “These days – remembered Gariwo Chairman Gabriele Nissim - hundreds of initiatives are being held in Italy, Europe and the Mid-East: from Israel to Jordan, Poland, Britain, from Agrigento to Naples, Benevento, Rome, Brescia and Vercelli. This movement is led by the inspiring idea that every individual, in his own span of control, can always do something to stem hatred, anti-Semitism, racism, and can avert new cases of genocide, totalitarianism and mass atrocities against human beings”. The Righteous are the bringers of this ability to change the world’s fate through acts of courage, peace and determinations.

Istvan Bibo, great Hungarian intellectual, critical conscience of the nation about the collusions with Nazism and defender of democracy during the revolution of 1956, was remembered by his son Istvan and by Julia Vasarhelyi, daughter to his friend and brother in ideas and imprisonment Miklos Vasarhely. Vasarhely read a message from Istvan, who recounted the figure of Bibo: “He was often depicted as naive, as he believed that keeping faith to one’s own principles and moral was not only desirable in politics, but also indispensable in the long term. In other words, he thought that political honesty, good taste and morality were necessary, and he referred to these principles for his life, remaining always on the side of the persecuted”.

These words are followed by those of the Consul General of France H.E. Cyrille Rogeau about Simone Veil, French Jewish lady, Holocaust survivor, who embodied the values of united and generous Europe and fought for the dignity of women and human rights.
“Joining the Pantheon of the most illustrious French on 1 July 2018 - recalled Rogeau – she was the symbol of the struggle against the discrimination of women. Her last words, on her deathbed, were simply: “Thank you”. Now, Madame Veil, it is our turn to thank you. Thank you for being for so many French and European citizens an example and a role model. It is not by chance that you remained for so long in the first place, in the heart of the French people. In these times of uncertainty and unease, may your example inspire all Europeans and those who govern us”.

Along with Simone Veil, we also remembered Wangari Maathai, Kenyan activist, founder of the Green Belt Movement, through which she showed the world the indivisible linkage between sustainable development, democracy and peace. She was remembered by Rahab Wanjiru Mwatha, CEO of Green Belt Movement International and great friend of Maathai.
“Wangari often told people “Don’t forget to smile and laugh every day, even when times are hard"... She would tell me when I was going through a tough period: "Problems that you are experiencing now are like a river - They are "just passing and flowing by". The Green Belt Movement encouraged the women to work together to grow seedlings and plant trees to bind the soil, store rainwater, provide food and firewood, and receive a small monetary token of appreciation for their work. Today, in part because of the Green Belt Movement’s own work, we understand much more completely the linkage between deforestation, governance and peace, about how these three pillars form the foundation for sustainable development”.

As a conclusion, we listened to the remarks of Dr Christine Amisi on behalf of Denis Mukwege, Congolese doctor who dedicated his life to the treatment and social reinstatement of the women victims of war rape, against violence and discrimination. Amisi, who chairs the Panzi Foundation and works side by side with Mukwege, attere words of courage and hope: “Every time that somewhere in the world, the human madness rages out to dehumanize and exterminate other human beings, it is our common humanity that is wounded. Every time visitors come to Panzi and they ask the women about their wishes, they answer without hesitation : « We want peace ». Because if there is peace, we can go to the fields, attend our daily chores without fear of being raped underway, our children can go to school. With our friends across the globe, including those of the Garden of the Righteous, we will be able to help build a lasting peace, a transitional justice and an environment able to promote women’s and human rights in general”.

20 March 2019

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The Garden of the Righteous in Milan (Monte Stella)

against all occurrences of genocide

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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