Altiero Spinelli, Vera Vigevani Jarach, Jurij Dmitriev and Narges Mohammadi are the figures who will be honored as the new Righteous in 2024. It was decided by the Assembly of the Association for Milan Garden of the Righteous - composed by the Gariwo Foundation, the Union of Italian Jewish Communities and the Municipality of Milan - which also chose the theme for the March 6 celebrations at the Monte Stella Garden in Milan. The Day of the Righteous of Humanity 2024 will be titled "Remembrance and Responsibility. The example of the Righteous in the face of challenges of our time."
"Love for truth, freedom, justice, respect: these are the values that inhabit Milan Garden of the Righteous thanks to the stories of the women and men whom we honor here," says Milan Mayor Giuseppe Sala. "In a world torn apart by wars, hatred, violence, discrimination and abuse, the commitment, determination and courage of the personalities we will honor on March 6 at Milan Garden need to be recognized, celebrated, remembered and told, especially to the youngest. In this way, what the Righteous have taught us will last in the mission of stimulating real improvement in our society."
"The Milan Garden, like the Gardens of the Righteous in the world, is a place where the memory of those who live or have lived for the good of others is cultivated and grows like the trees that populate it," says Municipal Council President Elena Buscemi. "Once again this year the choice has fallen on figures of yesterday and today who represent the best and most courageous response to the evils of our time. Even today, we still need exemples of light that provide, in difficult times, a trail to follow. Unfortunately, in Europe and in the world wars and hate campaigns are taking place, affecting first and foremost the most vulnerable, children and civilians. The Righteous are people who have fought against hatred and war, for a better world. By their example we should all be inspired."
"The Garden of the Righteous has a unique function in our city and represents an example of excellence for our entire country," explains Gabriele Nissim, president of Gariwo Foundation. "In the face of every form of hatred that affects women and men in every part of the world - the Middle East, Russia, Ukraine, Armenia, Argentina, our own Europe - the Garden teaches hope and trust in humanity, through the story of the moral people of our time. Our message is to convey an idea that can be picked up by every young person and citizen in their daily lives. This is why remembering in the 2024 ceremony Vera Vigevani Jarach, the soul of the search for the desaparecidos in Argentina, Altiero Spinelli, the protagonist of the new idea of Europe after World War II, Narges Mohammadi, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and soul of the struggles for human rights in Iran, and Russian historian Jurij Dmitriev, sentenced to 15 years in penal colony for his work documenting the gulags, is a stimulus for our commitment to democracy and respect for others. As taught by Seneca and Marcus Aurelius, who warned us not to become victims our egos."
Below are brief biographies of the Righteous, available in full in the Gariwo Encyclopedia.
Altiero Spinelli (1907-1986). Politician and writer, he began his antifascist militancy when he was just seventeen, in response to the Matteotti murder. In 1927 he was arrested in a bar in Milan because he was considered a dangerous element by Mussolini's regime. From that time, Spinelli began a long period of imprisonment in Fascist jails, also being imprisoned in Ventotene, an island of confinement for political dissidents during the dictatorship. There, Spinelli drafted, along with Eugenio Colorni and Ernesto Rossi, For a Free and United Europe. A Draft Manifesto, better known as the Ventotene Manifesto. A revolutionary document, which laid the political and ideological foundations of the future union between European states. Released from prison in 1943, Spinelli became one of the main animators of the battles in favor of European integration, devoting the rest of his life to politics.
Vera Vigevani Jarach (1928). Italian journalist living in Argentina, co-founded the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo. Born and raised in Milan, she moved to Argentina with her family (with the exception of her grandfather, who was later deported and killed in Auschwitz) after the fascist racial laws. On June 25, 1976, a few months after the coup of Videla's Junta, the military kidnapped her daughter Franca. Since then, Vera Vigevani and her husband Giorgio Jarach have not seen her again. Vera Vigevani was among the founders of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, a movement that demands justice and truth for the many desaparecidos kidnapped, tortured and killed during the dictatorship. Even today, despite her 95 years of age, Vera Vigevani continues to bring her witness of the regimes she lived through to schools, promoting values of democracy and respect for human rights among students.
Jurij Dmitriev (1956). Russian historian, director of the Karelia regional section of Memorial, Russia's leading NGO on historical memory and human rights monitoring, as well as the leading research center on Soviet repressions. Dmitriev was the author of the "books of remembrance", anthologies containing thousands of names and biographies of victims of Stalinism. He also discovered two of the most important mass burial sites of the victims of Stalinism: Sandormoch and Krasnyj Bor. His courageous work on remembrance has made him unpopular with the Russian authorities, who, starting from 2014, have subjected him to increasing pressure. Since then, Dmitriev has been the subject of three trials, all marked by violations of the right of defense. He has been sentenced to 15-year in penal colony, despite the fact that all independent expert's reports had denied the prosecution's theories.
Narges Mohammadi (1972). Iranian activist, in 2008 she became vice-president of DHRC, Defenders of Human Rights Center, an organization that has been defending conscience and political prisoners in judicial proceedings. Narges Mohammadi has dedicated her life to the struggle for human rights in Iran against the oppression of Iran's theocracy. She opposed the death sentences (even against minors) ordered by the regime and denounced judicial officers responsible for torture. Since the 1990s she has been entering and leaving prisons. Her last arrest was on April 21, 2022, when she was sentenced to eight years in prison for alleged crimes against Iran's national security. On October 6, 2023, she received the Nobel Peace Prize "for her struggle against the oppression of women in Iran and for promoting human rights and freedom for all."
The Assembly also approved the nominations received by the Association for the Righteous reported by civil society. Once again this year, in fact, reports came in from citizens and the world of associations of exemplary figures whose stories will be remembered during ceremonies marking the Day of the Righteous.
Their names are: Father Gianantonio da Romallo (born Giacomo Federico Agosti), Mother Luisa Arlotti, Vesna Bosanac, Biagio Conte, Caterina Giordano, Sister Maria Goglia, Patria, Minerva and Maria Teresa Mirabal, the crew of the Transatlantic Rex, Arminio Wachsberger, Zabel Yessayan.