One, Ten, One Hundred Lorenzo Orsetti

And the newspaper writes “100 thousand victims”, but they were unnecessary souls belonging to distant Mesopotamian people. You cry for a moment and then… You wash your soul and you forget… You forget  —  Anima, Fausto Mesolella

“I’d do it again thousands and thousands of times”. These were the last words by Lorenzo Orsetti, the Italian volunteer who died fighting against the Islamic State in the battle for the last stronghold of Daesh, the city of Baghuz, just five days before its complete liberation. Lorenzo, whose call sign in Kurdish language was “Heval Tekoser”, moved to Syria in 2018 to join the Syrian Defence Forces. Born in Bagno Ripoli, near Florence, he chose to leave Italy and his job as chef, to fight for his ideals.

Since 2014, in the northern part of Syria, Kurds founded the Republic of Rojava, an unrecognized State based on communitarian democracy, religious freedom, ecologism and a sustainable economic model, strenuously opposing the Islamic State. Women empowerment is another fundamental pillar of Rojava. The images of Kurdish girls fighting the Caliphate became a powerful, wonderful symbol, especially considering the fact that women are considered as mere slaves for Daesh. Lorenzo recognized in this revolution the materialization of his political ideals of anarchism — often wrongly associated with wanting to smash everything and do whatever you want — so he decided to fight to keep this fragile flower alive, a flower grown in one of the most unstable and violent regions of the world, the Middle East. A place that, geographically, is so close to us but that, at the same time, still looks so far away from our everyday lives, despite all the reports we see on TV. Indeed, by bombing us with repeated brutal images, media have the only effect of keeping us detatched in general indifference. Maybe, it is precisely for this reason that these realities seem to us an outside world to the point where, if someone goes there, they look alien-like.

On March 25, as a matter of fact, the court of Turin postponed the decision about the application of restrictive measures for social danger towards five people who joined Lorenzo and the Kurdish army, treated as equivalent to ISIS foreign fighters, thus as terrorists. This law, introduced decades ago in the penal code by the Fascist regime, imposes very strict limitations to personal freedoms, such as the ban from the home town, the revocation of the passport and the prohibition of participation in gatherings with more than two people. Zerocalcare, a famous italian cartoonist who had already been in Rojava — here you can find his graphic novel “Kobane Calling” in which he talks about his experience — has drawn an ironic cartoon showing two ways to fight ISIS: one on the field together with Kurds, Arabs, Assyrians and people from all over the world (to then be prosecuted once you come back); the second one is that of screaming against Islam and inciting hatred like many politicians hypocritically do during the electoral campaign.

Nowadays, in our liquid society where souls are atomized and disconnected between each other, it seems incredible that some people risk their lives for something in which they strongly believe, something that in our view appears light years away from us. We are people that, hopefully, will never witness a war, having the privilege to have been born in first-class world. We can keep on acting like that, ignoring things, but at one point we will violently crush on the other side, as the reality is that we live in one world where everything and everyone are deeply connected.

May the sacrifice of Lorenzo create a spark in ourselves and make us realize what is happening in this strange place called Earth. Because, as Lorenzo once wrote, “always remember that every storm starts with a single drop. Try to be that drop.”

Photo credit, Simone De La Feld