Italy committed to democracy and peace

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 15 June, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 15 June, 2002, 12:00am

I refer to the report from The Guardian headlined 'Honour for Fascist troops raises fears' (South China Morning Post, June 4), which deserves a response.

It was reported that on June 2, Italy's Republic Day, the country had 'honoured Benito Mussolini's troops with a military parade of vehicles and uniforms from the El Alamein battle'.

Republic Day marks the anniversary of the transition from a monarchy which caved in to Mussolini's fascists, to a constitutional republic and a new democratic era for the country.

Thousands of Italian partisans including President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, and ordinary people, together with brave Allied soldiers, fought (and many lost their lives) to rid Italy of fascism and to make democracy possible.

Italy paid a very high price for democratic government and has proudly demonstrated its abiding commitment to democracy and peace ever since.

To say that on Republic Day it 'honoured' Mussolini's troops and that this prompts concern that 'the Axis forces are being rehabilitated through historical revisionism', is factually wrong and ignores the very basic point that the Italian Republic was itself founded on strong anti-fascist feelings. The constitution explicitly outlaws the formation of any fascist party.

The world has nothing to fear if, after 60 years, Italy commemorates the loss of thousands of young soldiers and partisans, recognising their suffering as human beings.