Gino Strada and Alberto Cairo


I’m publishing a letter sent by Gino Strada and a response to the post of 25 May 2006 from Alberto Cairo.

“Dear friends,

This evening I’m reading Beppe’s Blog where there are your comments to my reply to the polemics sparked off by Alberto Cairo.
”The war is finished” he had declared – “the hospitals of Emergency are useless.” Today 29 May, the Kabul Surgical Centre has 71 patients sleeping here, all hit by projectiles, all civilians (you will be able to find their stories, perhaps by tomorrow on I believe that that is the “best” response to the distortions of reality. [….]

However I am disturbed by and I distance myself completely from a certain aggressiveness and the insults towards Alberto Cairo. I have a range of opinions that are different from his. Some are not reconcilable on many issues, but I believe that Alberto is a competent person and that he is passionate about his work. This must be appreciated because it is valuable.
Today’s Afghanistan obliges us to promote another value: that of the choice of non-violence. The first step in this direction will be the end of military occupation. [….]

The repudiation of war “as a tool” does not leave space to distinguish between this or that war. Our Constitution forbids the use of the tool of war. We citizens, must find the way to work so that the politicians respect the Constitution to which they have sworn fidelity. [….]

Utopia? Yes, just as many years ago was the abolition of slavery or the elimination of small pox. [….]

If we were in a position to close the Resuscitation Unit for lack of victims to be “resuscitated” we would be the first to celebrate and if that were to happen we would surely let you know.”

Gino Strada

“I’m more than 50 years old.
I am living proof that age and wisdom don’t grow at the same rate. An old acquaintance said that. I should have believed him.

When I come back to Italy, I pass the time with my closest friends. I visit my parents or I do my own thing. I avoid every possible chore. I don’t go looking for contacts with the press nor to give interviews. In compensation, I do accept invitations to dinner with friends, especially if they are good cooks. That’s what I did during my fleeting visit to Milan at the end of March. There were 8 of us and I’ve known them for thirty years.

They introduced me to a serious lady. She was a writer and journalist. It seemed normal that she asked me about Afghanistan. I replied freely. I felt I was with friends. [….]

At the end of the dinner she suggested that I meet her for an interview. I wanted to say No. I didn’t like the notebook at the table and I was on holiday. But she’s a friend of friends and I didn’t want to be awkward. Nor did I want to miss the opportunity to talk about Afghanistan that is always less fashionable.

When I met her again we chatted at length. She left me with the promise that she would send me the piece so that I could approve it before it was sent to the newspaper. [….] Instead, the piece never got to me. A few days later it was published.

It was Gino Strada himself that told us about this. He was furious about what had been written about his hospital. I was speechless. I know. It’s impossible to transcribe a whole interview. Space is a tyrant. [….] but why did they go looking for what could be hurtful and create useless polemics? And why didn’t they send it to me to check it as they had promised? [….]
Anyone who has read anything that I occasionally write from Kabul knows this: I try to stay calm and to reflect. I avoid giving cause for a disturbance. I talk about facts. I don’t launch into political declarations. It’s not my job and I’m not good at that. I imagine that a lot of people are annoyed by this article: men and women volunteers who work in Kabul, the Red Cross, Emergency.

I am sorry. I have frequent contacts with many of them. With Emergency we have patients in common. I hope these will be always more numerous. We are here for them. [….] The interview is harmful to me as well. It puts things into my mouth that are not precise and that I did not approve.

I hesitated before writing this blog. It’s the first ever in my life. It’s the final one on this topic. My intention is not to counter what has been said by Gino Strada. I am writing for the volunteers and for all those who support humanitarian organisations. They do not deserve polemics of this type that serve no one and are useless. I ask them to forgive me. In fact it is they who count. They count wherever they work, in Kabul, in Africa, in Italy or in their own street [….]”

Alberto Cairo

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 03:34 PM in | Comments (2)
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I would like those claiming to helping the Afghans respond to the people of Afghans.
Why is it that they can arrange protest and have unlimited publicity for their staff & colleagues, all Europeans naturally but never protest against the slaughter, butchery and carnage of the very people they claim to be helping?

Surely it would be more useful not to have casualties and do everything possible to stop the casulty

Mass rioting reveals depth of Afghan opposition to US occupation Bill Van Auken, WSWS
Meanwhile, the independent Kabul daily Cheragh commented: "The 29th of May was a general day of mourning and tragedy for Kabul residents.... The incident was painful and shameful because the peacekeepers and protectors of people’s lives and properties carried out a terrorist act and killed dozens and injured hundreds of people.... Yesterday people learnt some new meanings of the terms like 'cooperation’ and 'human rights’.... [T]hey came to realize how much importance their international friends give to them...."

Posted by: Marcia Visanji | June 2, 2006 01:08 PM

It is not possible to describe the press accurately: its members have become other than people - they are more like Pavlov's dogs (but that is an insult to animals), responding to their editors' dictums.
I hold the press responsible for a great deal, for its members never fail to foment any situation which shows signs of being 'newsworthy'.
Reporters - there are very, very few journalists left in the world; and what we read in our dailies nearly always comes from publicity handouts - cannot EVER be trusted: anyone who believes one to be nice, or understanding, or sympathetic, or willing to report one's views without distortion ... that person can only be terribly disappointed.
Fortunately for this particular issue, it seems that not too much damage has been done, for both men show every sign of common sense.
But there is a serious lesson to be learned from it.

Posted by: Margaret-Rose STRINGER | June 2, 2006 12:45 AM

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