Remembrance Vigil for Vittorio Arrigoni


On the 15th April, a pleasant spring evening with the sun casting the sky a mix of pinks, greys and blue, approximately thirty people quietly gathered in front of the Italian embassy in London to celebrate and remember the life and death of political activist and friend, Vittorio Arrigoni. Many had knew Vittorio personally, had worked with him in Gaza or the West Bank whilst volunteering with the International Solidarity Movement, others had passionately read his blog and journals of the tragedy of life inside Gaza, and others who knew him only through the reputation that preceeded him for being a committed and dedicated activist for the Palestinian cause. His life had touched and inspired many, not solely through his bravery and dedication, but through his humanity, his humour and his love of life.

As people gathered, greeted each other with deep hugs, lit candles and drank Mojitos (his favourite), they reminisced about who he was, his achievements, the sadness of a life given to Palestinian liberation and yet so brutally cut short. And despite an immediate sense of loss and confusion as to why such an incredible man was targeted and executed, people also sought to understand how morality can become perverted under the weight of an Israeli siege and in a place where everyone’s life is lived with the spectre of death always sitting in the shadows.

Those who worked with him spoke of how, despite his size and his fearless approach in protecting farmers and fishermen, he became squeamish at the sight of blood and how he had to steel himself for working with the ambulances during Operation Cast Lead. They spoke of how he brought a sense of life and joy to those he spent time with, how his energy and reverie for being himself encouraged others to do the same, how his humanity was infectious and his ability to touch the hearts of all members of the community. Such was this characteristic that he had been given honorary Palestinian citizenship.

And finally, he was renowned as someone who saw himself as a Palestinian in heart and soul. He believed he would commit his life to Palestine, and knew somehow, that his death would be there too.

Amidst the tears, smiles and hugs, the Italian anti-fascist folk song, Bella Ciao was sung, it’s lyrics pertinent and fitting with the life of Vittorio, one that was lived fighting injustice and died for a cause that had become the embodiment of his soul.