The three burials of Vittorio

26 April 2011| The Palestine Monitor | By LOB
On the Easter Sunday 2011, people in Ramallah and Gaza gathered to remember and show their respect to Vittorio Arrigoni as he was laid into the ground by family and friends in Bulciago, Italy.

“Today, on the verge of Liberation Day [when in 1945 Italy wrested freedom from fascist Mussolini’s brown shirt], our responsibility is also a promise to ehna nuasil qitah,” stated a declaration read out loud at the Italian funeral signed by hundreds. “We will continue the struggle: the struggle of the poor, the weak, the oppressed, the peasant, the struggle of Palestine to freedom. Where governments do not come, you said, we can act as the civilian population. This is the fight that you have taught us. Your voice is in us, crossing the sky.”

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Vittorio Arrigoni reached Israel almost by chance, his mother said. Photograph: ISM/EPA

At the Ramallah baladia or municipality, speakers recounted memories of the slain International Solidarity (ISM) activist and his dedication to Palestine. They sang some of Arrigoni’s favorite Italian and Arabic songs in his memory.

Una mattina mi son svegliato,” the crowd sung in Italian, “eo ho trovato l’invasor.”

“One morning I woke up, and I found the invader… and if I die as a partisan… bury me up in the mountain under the shadow of a beautiful flower… This is the flower of a partisan who died for freedom.”

ISM co-founder Huwaida Arraf led the event which was streamed live by Al Jazeera.

“In the ten years I’ve been with the Solidarity Movement I haven’t met a man like Vittorio,” she said, visibly deeply affected by the loss of her co-activist.

“He spent his times with farmers, [fisherman] and the people, getting shot at on an almost daily basis,” Arraf said. “Through his spirit he connected with people.”

She explaining how Vittorio had been planning to go home to Italy to see his father who was sick of cancer. But the latest Israeli attacks in Gaza made him postpone his trip.

“He didn’t want to leave the people, and now we have to say goodbye to him,” Arraf said and passed the microphone to other speakers.

“We should struggle more and harder to achieve the freedom Vittorio was fighting for,” said Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi at the memorial.

Several of the memorial’s fifteen speakers made it clear that the killing of Arrigoni was not an act of the Palestinian people with some calling it “the act of terrorists” and “an assassination of the Palestinian cause.”

“We Palestinians know more than most others what sacrifice is and we appreciate from our souls persons like Vittorio,” one said.

“We should be ashamed that we didn’t have the ability to protect this great man,” another said.

Luisa Morgantini, Italian member and former vice president of the European Parliament, asked for people to stay determined to the cause to ensure Arrigoni didn’t die in vain.

“He wanted justice for all,” Morgantini said.

Simultaneously with the memorial in Ramallah, a ceremony was held in The Gallery in Gaza, a cafe and social centre which Vittorio frequented. According to the ISM, hundreds joined together and shared memories of Vittorio, danced dabka and performed rap songs written about him.



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