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Apr-24-2011 02:39printcommentsVideo

Vik's Not Gone

Vittorio you are the dreamer who never gave up and we won’t give up.

Adie and Vik
Adie and Vik

(GAZA ISM) - Vik, habibo, you’re not gone, not for me at least. In life you brought the warmth every time I met you, and to everyone else. You did not see it as a duty or a service but it was just how you were, to rouse and stir the best things inside us all for the better, every day, starting with ‘yallah habibo!’

I’m sorry Vik, for a few days there was the shock and the sorrow, which still re-emerges when I think of what happened to you or read another account of how you touched or brightened someone else’s life in Gaza and beyond. Don’t worry, I’ll stay on the right track, the joyful track, the human track, for the overlying feeling left with me is of your warmth, the comforting feel that a big friendly giant is still escorting me onwards, your huge heart and boundless humanity that is the lifeblood of your actions, so strong that it wraps us all up and takes us with you.

I don’t know when or how it was exactly that your life became an indomitable, unswerving and relentless drive for the cause of others more hard done by and wronged than yourself. You joined the Palestinian struggle for justice and liberation nearly 10 years ago and since I met you it’s been routine for you to use any means at your disposal to put justice for the Palestinians first before anything else.

There have been dedicated people for the Palestinian cause but why so much love for you Vik? Why so much affection? I’ve heard Palestinians saying they cried more for you than when they lost a brother or a sister. Because, probably a long time before your decision to tirelessly and bravely dedicate your life to justice in Palestine, it also became your priority to remind everyone of their humanity for every living minute you were around them.

As you recounted for me that meant attempting to fight your own anguish in Gaza during Israel’s Cast Lead attacks as you met people in Gaza hospitals or ambulances that you aided and reported from, trying to stay strong and positive for the many men, women and children you met who had lost limbs, or loved ones. ‘Stay human’, you titled your book so eloquently describing life during this devastation. With me I saw you entertain kids everywhere we went, them hanging off your enormous arms tattooed with ‘Handala’, ‘Guevara’ and ‘resistance’. Or your time jostling and joking with the fishermen who took you in as their crew and comrade, accompanying them into the perils of fishing under fire from Israeli gunships.

And the laughter, your bellowing roar coming from the gut, bringing us to life in harder times. The story of your arrival on the first Free Gaza boat to huge Gaza crowds while you stood on top waving just a stick around for half an hour not realising the Palestinian flag had blown away a long time before. Our attempts to communicate with Taxi drivers (mumkin! mushkila! Ah mish mushkila! akid!) Our macabre jokes before facing the Israeli firing while accompanying farmers or demonstrations – Abu Tunis was happy to be your sidekick as we faced the music while you sang ‘Ounadikkum’, ‘I’m calling you’. The games we had, spoons, cheat, football with shisha, chai, shawarma, barbecues and our own variations of debka dancing.

Like our brothers and sisters in Palestine who so endeared themselves to us with their generosity of spirit, you too put out there your big warm heart no matter who they were, a dedication to staying human amidst the good and tragic times. Such humble and equal treatment of everyone brought out the humanity in those around us, as did your accepting of your own strengths and weaknesses. And just as people in Gaza loved you, it was their compassion that inspired your love for them, and your unbreakable commitment to their cause.

After arriving and breaking the siege on the first Free Gaza boat to dock at Gaza’s port in 40 years, you wrote:

Our message of peace

is a call to action

for other ordinary people like ourselves

not to hand over your lives

to whatever puppeteer is in charge this time round

But to take responsibility for the revolution

First, the inner revolution

to give love, to give empathy

It is this that will change the world

You had obviously had this inner revolution Vik, and no doubt battled to constantly renew it. You won the battle, you brought more love and empathy than most of us will ever do, and it will warm my heart for years to come. Vittorio you are the dreamer who never gave up and we won’t give up. Like the love, the humanity, the laughter and the courage, your dreams live on inside all of us and through your life you taught us that this victory counts the most.

Your habibo,
Adie

Learn more about the International Solidarity Movement

Story and pre-production by Tim King, Video post-production by Sean King.

__________________________________

End of the Road by Agron Belica

Dedicated to Vittorio Arrigoni

(Featuring Marka)

Produced by Kyle Hall

Co-Produced by Patrick Dreier, Tim King, Sean King and Agron Belica

_________________________________________________

When it comes down to what I’m doin’, What I’m doin’,
What I’m doin’ at the end of the road:
Pride in my words, and passion in my heart.
And ain’t a place that I’d rather start.
And if it comes down to what I’m doin’, What I’m doin’,
What I’m doin’, at the end of the road.
This path I chose you don’t see it, but believe it!
Just know that I’mma have a place to go, at the end of the road.

(Hook-Marka)

Life is sacred; it came from heaven up above;
A blessing from the Lord to be shared by everyone!
Freedom is God-given, something that we come to love;
It’s in the blood to defend it, yes! Our strongest passion!
The message goin’ out to those who transgress and violate,
When we’re overwhelmed, the Lord shakes the earth awake.
Everyone suffers; count the losses, check the death rate!
The ignorant surprised, as they watch the newsbreak.

The tears shed, man. for the ones that are sufferin’—
For the ones captive or dyin’ in the millions;
This one goes out to all my people in captivity:
Everyday we pray the Lord gives you all security!
Free you from the devil’s hand, those who oppress thee;
So you can enjoy your sacred life in the world free!
No one has the right to dictate your future, see?
The message goes out: mercy extends universally!
When it comes down to what I’m doin’, What I’m doin’,
What I’m doin’ at the end of the road:

Pride in my words, and passion in my heart.
And ain’t a place that I’d rather start.
And if it comes down to what I’m doin’,
What I’m doin’, What I’m doin’, at the end of the road.
This path I chose you don’t see it, but believe it!
Just know that I’mma have a place to go, at the end of the road.

(Hook-Marka)

____________________________________________

Most of us don’t want to take responsibility
Save a few brave hearts, inspired God-consciously
Not afraid to parade the doorsteps of authority;
Demand justice be served for the sake of humanity!
Going out to all the brave men and woman activists,
Who put their lives on the line to expose injustice;
Who exert their energy to see we live with dignity—
Your mission and your efforts are recorded in our history!
For all those who enjoin the good and forbid the evil:
Men, women, and children—everyone that is able;
Give a lending hand to stop all that are sinful;
Only with unity can we achieve and become forceful!

Those who left us never will be forgotten;
In our hearts you all will remain with lots of lovin’;
A place for you is set at the end of the road!
May the Lord give you peace and a heavenly abode!
When it comes down to what I’m doin’, What I’m doin’,
What I’m doin’ at the end of the road:
Pride in my words, and passion in my heart.
And ain’t a place that I’d rather start.
And if it comes down to what I’m doin’,
What I’m doin’, What I’m doin’, at the end of the road.
This path I chose you don’t see it, but believe it!
Just know that I’mma have a place to go, at the end of the road.

(Hook-Marka)

Articles regarding Vittorio's loss

Apr-20-2011: Men Die, Lions Rise - Jonathan Azaziah Special to Salem-News.com

Apr-17-2011: Vittorio Never Was as Much Alive as he is Now - By Egidia Beretta Arrigoni, Mother of Vittorio Arrigoni

Apr-17-2011: I Do Not Believe That A Palestinian Killed Vittorio Arrigoni - Gilad Atzmon Salem-News.com

Apr-17-2011: Vittorio and Israel's Attack on the Intellectual Intifada - Lauren Booth Salem-News.com

Apr-16-2011: Was Israel's Shin Bet Behind Vittorio Arrigoni's Brutal Murder? - Tim King Salem-News.com

Apr-15-2011: AMP expresses deep condolences to ISM and family of Vittorio Arrigoni - Salem-News.com

Apr-15-2011: We Mourn Another Friend... Vittorio Arrigoni - Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh Salem-News.com

Apr-14-2011: Hero of Gaza: Vittorio Arrigoni, Kidnapped and Murdered - Tim King and Bonnie King Salem-News.com

Apr-14-2011: Famed Activist Vittorio Arrigoni Kidnapped in Gaza - Feared Dead - Tim King Salem-News.com

Articles regarding the death of Juliano Mer Khamis:

April-05-2011: Losing Juliano - Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh Salem-News.com

April-04-2011: Filmmaker Juliano Mer-Khamis was Murdered Today in Jenin - Gilad Atzmon Salem-News.com

Articles by Vittorio on Salem-News.com:

Mar-23-2011: Israel's Attack on Civilians: Two Children Killed - Vittorio Arrigoni Special to Salem-News.com

Mar-18-2011: Gaza's Youth: Hopes Broken at 15 March End Of Division Demonstration - By Vittorio Arrigoni for Salem-News.com

Mar-04-2011: 15 March Palestine: End of Division - Vittorio Arrigoni for Salem-News.com

Nov-10-2010: The First Targeted US Killing in Gaza - Vittorio Arrigoni for Salem-News.com

Also:

Nov-30-2010: Israeli Soldiers Fire at Road to Hope Convoy Members - Tim King Salem-News.com

Advisory regarding comments: Comments on this story need to be of a respectful nature or they will not be approved.

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Fatima Radjaie April 24, 2011 4:42 pm (Pacific time)

Shahid Vittorio will always stay alive in our hearts, all our thoughts and actions and inspire us not to rest until Gaza and the entire Palestine will be free.
With his tireless struggle and efforts for freedom and his dedication to the rightless people in Palestine he really has deserved, now to be in the best and highest of the heavens, and it remains our duty and legacy, to take on the struggle, where he left and carry on the actions he did for a life in justice and dignity of all people in Palestine.
Ciao Vittorio, you wonderful angel, you will always be with us!

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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.




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