Remembering Vik through his mum’s words, Egidia Beretta Arrigoni

settembre 22, 2013 in Traduzioni da Anna Zorzi

Written by Sonia Trovato, translated by Anna Zorzi Bandierina-Italiana

Should I die in 100 years, I’d like people to read the following words on my tombstone, which Nelson Mandela pronounced: “A winner is a dreamer who has never stopped dreaming. Vittorio Arrigoni: a dreamer”.

il viaggio di vittorio

I have no fangs because I’m not a wolf, that’s what Vittorio Arrigoni wrote in a  composition at elementary school. And that is what one can learn from the  biography written by his mother, Egidia Beretta, titled Il Viaggio di Vittorio (Dalai Editore, 2012,pp 185), an extraordinary  portrait of her son, who spent his whole life fighting the “wolves” and defending the oppressed.

Although he became popular in the media and newspapers as a volunteer in the Gaza Strip, Palestine, his journey started in  a small town in the province of Lecco, near Como Lake,where he was born in 1975 “with his little  fist  clenched up in the air” as if he wanted to foretell his future as a revolutionary. He was brought up in a family of small entrepreneurs who taught him the value of antifascism and of solidarity. When he left school, instead of going on seaside holidays to Ibiza or somewhere noisy with his friends, he went to Peru, where he started the first of a long  series of  work fields  organized in Europe and Africa. In 2002 he got to Palestine ad he fell in love with it: My love for Palestine is deeply rooted. I am heavily into human rights and I strongly believe that nowhere else they are trampled on as Israel does in Palestine . Even though he made other  journeys in Congo and Lebanon,  he felt a strong bond with those Mediterranean people, who were ignored by an uninformed (or misinformed) public opinion and for the benefit of whom  in 2004 he founded the blog Guerrilla Radio.

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In 2008 Arrigoni was on board the Freedom Fotilla, a ship of The International Solidarity Movement , which challenged Israel and attacked Gaza, breaking in this way the Israeli blockade in the Gaza Strip. From then on the Italian activist, with a kefiah round his neck and Handala, the symbol of  Palestinian Resistance created by the cartoonist  Naji  al-Ali tattooed on his arm,  transformed himself into a human shield to protect the fishermen off the Gaza Strip coasts because he hoped that the presence of an international person could discourage the Israeli soldiers from attacking the Palestinian fishing-boats.

During the Operation Cast Lead,  renamed by Arrigoni as a massacre, he was one of the few volunteers still in Gaza who escorted the Red Cross ambulances on their way to the hospital in Al Quds. In those terrible weeks his blog, through Arrigoni’s privileged position as a witness on the spot, became an important reference point  to understand the atrocities committed by the Israeli war-machine against the Palestinians. I wonder how Israel can consider itself a civilized, democratic  country if, when it wants to flush out its enemy hidden in an inhabited building, its army unhesitatingly tears it down  and kills the innocent people living in it. Stop and think about it: it is as if the Italian Army heavily bombed the centre of Palermo, while trying to capture a dangerous boss of the Mafia,  wrote Arrigoni on 10 January 2009 in one of his reportages ,first published in Il Manifesto and then collected in the book Gaza. Restiamo umani (Manifestolibri, 2009, pp.144).

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Vik felt it necessary for him to write about the Palestinian Cause and he became such a bright and clever writer that he managed to undermine the massive operation of disinformatia , according to which Palestine is a den of  bombers against  Israel, the only defender of democracy in the Middle East. One of the best-known supporters of this thought is the Italian writer Roberto Saviano, who  took part to a public Zionist demonstration in Rome in October 2010, where he praised the hospitality of Israel. The hospitality of Tel Aviv is an indelible memory to me, my dear Saviano, I still carry its scars impressed on my skin, because I was jailed and tortured in Tel Aviv twice just because of my commitment to human rights, declared the Italian activist in a video message and added that he couldn’t see the difference between the Mafia boss Brusca, who burns a child in the acid and your friend Peres, who has burnt more than three hundred and fifty children in white phosphor. Justice and human rights can’t be selective.

Both Israel and the American fundamentalist Zionists disliked him so much that they put a reward on his head, but Vittorio didn’t care about it (it isn’t necessary that my enemies and those who want me dead offer that money, the Israeli Army well knows where it can find me, even tonight, I am in the ambulances of Al Quds Hospital in Gaza City). But, quite inexplicably and   for still unexplained reasons, he was murdered by a Jihadist Salafi cell.

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Il Viaggio di Vittorio  is a passionate tale  of  a special life spent in defence of human rights, written  by a warm and loving pen, his mum’s pen, who didn’t write it from the cold point of view of a biographer, but from the privileged perspective of a mother with a special relationship with her son, as it can be inferred from the large correspondence between the two of them. His parents were able to understand how their first-born, once  in Gaza, felt that he was in the right place at the right time  and they  lovingly supported him even when they saw his sufferings when, temporarily back at home after the Operation Cast Lead,  he woke up screaming in the middle of the night because of nightmares  which put his sick heart at risk and worried his fond parents.

arrigoni 3Egidia’s memories come from the awareness that the duty of bearing witness is stronger than the solace of silence  and from the desire to assemble the pieces of the puzzle  of her son’s life, who died prematurely and whose death was commented with either  sentences like he could have stayed at home and he would now be safe and sound or with the silence from the institutions, which  after the due condolences failed to attend his funeral.  Vittorio would have replied to the first like this: I don’t know if I am earning my place in heaven, what’s sure is that soothing the sufferings of these innocent makes a life worthwhile living.  As for the political institutions’ neglect we can reply to it with our participation as citizens to the second commemoration of Vik at Bulciago on 14 April starting from 4 p.m, during which vital commodities (rice, flour, honey, tuna fish and  pulses) will be collected and sent to Gaza.Stay human.
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