BESIDES HUNGER, SILENCE ALSO KILLS

Marco Pannella
La Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno


ABSTRACT: Thousands of mayors, supported by as many prelates and parish priests, have presented to the Chamber of Deputies a popular-initiative bill against extermination by starvation which is a revolutionary approach to the problem which would commit the government not to major, generic appropriations of funds for under-developed countries, but to a pilot intervention in a pre-determined area and time period aimed at guaranteeing the survival of three million people otherwise condemned to certain death from hunger, thirst, and disease. Marco Pannella directs the campaign, committing himself to a hunger and thirst strike, aimed above all at activating with utmost urgency the political will of the major parties' secretaries, both in the government and in the opposition. Hundreds of citizens in various ways - with letters, telegrams, and other concrete forms of pressure - support Pannella's non-violent action which has met, among others, the consensus of PCI [Communist Party] Secretary Berlinguer, who declares "the PCI's agreement with the principle lines of the mayors' project and its commitment to seeing it approved very rapidly". In the following article, Marco Pannella emphasises on his non-violent action and the results obtained by the hunger strike of Negri, Spadaccia and Vecellio with the precise aim of making available information on the campaign "Survival 1982". (LA GAZZETTA DEL MEZZOGIORNO, (1) July 13, 1982)
(We have received and are pleased to publish the following article.)
One has a right to one's own identity, one's own history, one's own life which in a democracy ought to be inalienable. Faced with the threat of the annihilation in progress of ten of millions of people, I have put into play the most extreme tool of non-violence, not for polemics against whomsoever, not to convert those who have other convictions, but to support in this way the many, prevalent hopes and intentions in the Italian political world and institutions which are in agreement and harmony with the government ministers, ministers of the Church, the more than 80 Nobel Prize winners, the overwhelming majority of European Parliament members and the Italian mayors who have presented the bill of popular initiative. I have said, repeatedly, I have attempted to cry out this simple truth: it is in order to contribute to morally strengthen in the decisive hours this unique, prestigious and powerful front against a politics unaccustomed to hope and belief in itself that I have fufilled and am fulfilling my dutyh as a pacifist and a Radical. Once again the mass mediaa have succeeded in distorting the sense of this action and this message which, in a different way, was the same as the message of Spadaccia, Vecellion and Negri. Spadaccia and Vecellio have managed to stick to the very heart of the problem: the institutions must succeed in respecting the intentions and the declarations so often expressed with a timetable of decisions finally stated and established. Without their battle, mine could not even have been attempted. Giovanni Negri, for his part, has succeeded in bringing off a political and civil action of extraordinary importance: the front which these days is being formed between the Parliamentary Vigilance Commission (that is, the Parliament), the Administrative Council of the RAI-TV, a significant part of the journalistic world and of operators in the radio-tv field of the most diverse political groups in an unprecedented stock-taking of the limits and dangers which weigh on the functioning of the state radio-tv information service, owes much to his initiative in creating disarmed daily dialogue, collaboration and active trust and hope towards those who have always appeared to be nothing but enemies and adversaries. This action has brought about at least the following results: 1) The area has been isolated to all appearances - restricted but very powerful - of those who have erected a wall between the country and democratic policies, between the right to knowledge as the foundation of the democratic game and the systematic violence of deceit; this area has reacted with almost desperate determination to violate the law, the regulations, every morel and professional principle; 2) It has resulted in the circulation of significant and substantial amounts of unpublished information - in great part on the radio - precious at this time, on the fight against annihilation from starvation in the world. And finally, it has allowed the theory and practice of the Radicals' non-violent fight to take a great step forward, for which I especially thank him, just as I thank each and every incomparable Radical Party comrade, those who are more than ever making it possible for this organisation of little more than 1,500 European citizens to give substance - literally - to a policy of peace, life and hope. But it was and is vital in these dramatic and extraordinary hours to remember and demand the right to one's own identity, which strikes me as having been cruelly distorted with regard to Negri and myself, and denied to the members of Parliament and the militants who in these days have (and we will have to return to this subject soon) worked and are working hard, intelligently and with strenuous dedication while being censored and annulled by the written and spoken press. At the distance of a few hours from renewing my hunger strike, I want them to know how much strength and love they give me for life and for our ideals, and how much I owe them. We are just about to win out; millions of people whose names had already been written in the rolls of the dead are on the point of regaining life. It will still be tremendously difficult, but we will make it, we have to make it.