OPEN LETTER ON THE OCCASION OF THE GRAZIANI MEMORIAL INCIDENT
|His Highness Prince Ermias Sahle Selassie Haile Selassie|
Prime Minister Mario Monti of Italy:
The Global Alliance for Justice – The Ethiopian Cause presents its compliments to the Honorable President Giorgio Napolitano, and the Honorable Prime Minister Mario Monti of Italy.
Our Alliance recalls, with deep appreciation, the long and historic relations between our two nations, Ethiopia and Italy, and wishes to draw Your Excellencies’ kind attention to the recent action by the Italian Government of establishing a memorial and an adjoining “park” for the notorious Fascist war criminal and genocidist, Rodolfo Graziani.
Your Excellencies are aware that on August 11, 2012, a ceremony was held in the presence of a Vatican representative during which a memorial was opened draped in the Italian flag to “honor” Rodolfo Graziani, one of the most heinous figures of the Second World War.
Italy has long been a supporter of the victims of Nazism and Fascism thus this incredible insult to the memory of over 1 million African victims of genocide is incomprehensible. Even more appalling is the lack of official action and condemnation of the Graziani memorial. We, therefore, demand, in the name of justice and respect for human rights and humanity, that the Italian government dismantle this outrageous memorial and adjoining “park” immediately.
In 1937, Rodolfo Graziani directed a three day massacre of over 30,000 unarmed civilians in the capital of Ethiopia upon the orders of Benito Mussolini. Over 440 Christian monks were singled out and murdered. People were dismembered and soldiers took photos of the hangings, beheadings and torture proudly alongside their dead victims. The “Graziani Massacre” is well known to every Ethiopian and virtually and disgracefully unknown to the rest of the world. Graziani, prior to arriving in Ethiopia, was named “The Butcher of Libya.” In Libya, Graziani presided over concentration camps, used chemical weapons and murdered thousands of innocents for Fascism.
In Ethiopia, one million Ethiopians perished as a result of the genocidal Fascist occupation. 2,000 churches as well as 525,000 homes were destroyed. The poison gas sprayed by numerous Fascists air planes also destroyed 14 million animals and the environment. Gaziani later came to be forever known as the “Butcher of Ethiopia”.
Humanity will never forget the victims of genocide under Fascism including those tortured and lynched in the Graziani Massacre.
Italy has achieved a great deal since the defeat of Fascism, including making enduring peace efforts with former enemies like Ethiopia. Former Italian President Oscar Scalfaro’s 1997 visit to Ethiopia is an example. That year, President Scalfaro formally apologized to the Ethiopian people for the invasion and promised meaningful cooperation including the return of looted artifacts (some of irreplaceable national significance) to Ethiopia. While better trade relations and foreign assistance has healed some of the wounds of war, the death and destruction at the hands of Mussolini’s forces in Ethiopia during 1936-41 remain largely unaddressed.
Today, Italy must immediately act to halt a handful of right-wing extremists from ruining Italy’s international reputation and credibility. No park or memorial should be named in honor of Rodolfo Graziani and those who perpetuate it should be stopped from doing so. If someone were to paint a portrait of Mussolini on the side of the Coliseum, wouldn’t it be a national imperative to reverse that? We expect such action now to reverse the opening of the “Rodolfo Graziani Park and Memorial” which occurred on August 11, 2012 in the little town of Affile, 50 miles east of Rome.
Ethiopians and Italians around the world join the international community in proclaiming: “Never Again!” to genocide and we expect immediate action by the Italian government to reverse this disgraceful attempt to celebrate hatred and racism which violates Italy’s own Law N° 205/1993 prohibiting the dissemination of ideas based on superiority or racial and ethnic discrimination.
With the expressions of our highest regard,
His Highness Prince Ermias Sahle Selassie Haile Selassie
President of the Ethiopian Crown Council, and
Chairman of the Global Alliance for Justice – The Ethiopian Cause