(Speech given in Rome at the Italian Parliament on January 29, 2016)
Friends and Comrades, it is a great honor to be standing here – at the Chamber of Deputies of the Italian Parliament.
One year ago I was driving through the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon, monitoring the situation in the refugee camps there. Winter was approaching and the mountains on the Lebanese–Syrian border were covered by snow. It was cold, very cold.
Some 20 minutes, after leaving Baalbek, I spotted an extremely humble makeshift refugee camp, growing literally from the road, in the middle of nowhere.
I stopped. Together with my interpreter, I walked inside and engaged several people in conversation.
The situation was desperate. Children were hungry and could not register for schools through the UNHCR or through the Lebanese government, which, by that time, had almost collapsed. Many electronic food cards that were issued to the migrants did not function. Work permits were not offered, and without proper paperwork, local social services could not be used. In brief: a total disaster.
I was told that in this area, some Syrian migrants had already been starving.
This was Bekaa Valley, a tough place to start with, and full of ancient traditions, clans, gangs and narcotic-business. Refugees were expected to keep their heads down, or else…
Before I left, two little girls, two sisters, approached me. Both had swollen bellies, suffering from malnutrition. Both were dressed in rugs. Both looked deprived.
But after spotting my cameras, they were mesmerized, smiling at me, showing tongues, laughing.
Their country was in ruins, their future uncertain.
But these were just two little girls in the middle of the mountains, two girls excited about each and every little detail of life. Such innocence! Such hope! People are people, and children are children, everywhere, even during wars.
Unfortunately, I have witnessed too many of them; too many wars. Too many barbarities performed by NATO, by the Empire, by the United States and Europe.
Later, working on the Greek island of Kos and in Calais in France, I kept thinking about those two girls, again and again.
The West (or call it NATO, or anything you like – we all know what I mean!) has, in the most cynical manner, destabilized and destroyed the entire Middle East. As it has in virtually all the continents of the world, it ruined tremendous cultures, plundered all it could put its hands on, turned proud people into slaves. Libya and Iraq are no more! I can testify, as I work all over the Middle East.
And then the West enclosed itself into its gold-plated bunker, slowly and disgustingly digesting its booty!
How many refugees are there that Europe says: “it cannot accept”? 1 million? Tiny, miniscule Lebanon has 2 million, and it is coping; badly but coping!
And Lebanon did not destroy Syria, Libya, Afghanistan or Iraq.
You know how it all feels like? Like observing a woman who was gang-raped, whose husband was murdered in front of her own eyes, and whose beautiful house was looted. Now this woman, just in order to save her starving children from the rubbles, is forced to go to Europe, to the rapists and thieves who destroyed her life, asking for shelter and food. And they spit into her face! They say: “It is too much for us, too difficult to accommodate you and others like you! Woman, you came to take advantage of us. You came to have a better life at our expense!”
This is how it looks from the outside. This is how I see it.
And I want to puke. But there is no time… One has to work, day and night, to stop this madness.
The West, of course including Europe, is too hardened by its own crimes, too cynical, and too unrepentant.
It remains blind, because it simply does not pay to see!…
Great, great speech. Please read the rest of it at the above link.