Lorenzo Orsetti: The life of an anarchist partisan of the 21st century
From AMW English
Lorenzo Orsetti was a anarchist fighter who was 33 years. Tekoser Piling was the battle name with which he had been given. He had traveled to northern Syria in September 2017 to join the Kurdish resistance that, at that time, was fighting against the last Islamic State (Daesh) jihadists in the city of Raqqa, considered for several years as the administrative capital of the Islamist group in Syria after the fall of Mosul in Iraq.
Orso, as they also nicknamed Lorenzo, was in Syria knowing that Daesh - the contemptuous form with which the Kurds call the Islamic State - was not the only enemy that threatened the freedom and integrity of the Kurds, Yazidis, Assyrians, Turkmen and Armenians in the region. The Turkish state, led by the dictator Recep Tayyip Erdogan, had already used very hostile language against the Kurds of Rojava (Syrian Kurdistan) in which he threatened to erase them from the north of the country. These threats were fulfilled months later, in January, with the invasion by Turkey of the Kurdish canton of Afrin.
In the words of his companions Lorenzo was a tireless fighter, with very high morals, and convinced by the ideals of the revolutionary fight. His ideals were those of Kropotkin, Cafiero and Malatesta: a committed and consistent libertarian communist who defended liberty, equity and justice for the oppressed until the last moment of his life.
Lorenzo had fought in the battle of Afrin against the jihadists of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), self-styled “Syrian National Army” and the Turkish army. There he lost several of his comrades, among them, the anarchist Sevger Ara Makhno, a Turkish anarchist militant who decided to cross the border of his country and join the Kurdish resistance against the neo-Ottoman regime and its partners in Syria. Sevger had shared a military unit with Orso. Both were part of the anarchist brigade Tekosina Anarsist (Anarchist Struggle, in Kurdish) of the International Freedom Battalion.
Lorenzo Orsetti was born on February 13, 1986 in Florence, Italy. During his life in his native Florence, Orso worked from the age of 16 as a restaurateur, waiter, chef and sommelier. In his city, the services of that sector are very requested by the bourgeois class. He also worked in luxurious restaurants where he met rich people all the time. Following the logic and goals imposed by capitalism, Lorenzo had a “good job” and, despite being a worker, a humble worker, had a life full of opportunities in a sector that allowed him to make a career. However, he was tired of European individualistic society, of “Italian mediocrity”, of consumerism and indifference against the most vulnerable and forgotten sectors. ”I’m tired of serving food to the rich,” Lorenzo told his friends.
He was a revolutionary, he felt he had to take a step further. Since he had read about the Rojava Revolution, the Kurdish resistance in Kobane against Daesh, Lorenzo believed that his place was not in Italy, but in Syria. He had an internationalist spirit like the men and women from all over the world who went to Spain to fight against fascism in the International Brigades in 1936, the anarchists of the CNT that he admired so much. His phrase summed it up perfectly: “Better to add life to the days than days to life.”
Lorenzo fell martyr in Baghouz, in the province of Deir Ezzor, a few days before that city was liberated by the Kurds. It was the last bastion of the Islamic State in Syria. Lorenzo’s body was recovered and he will be buried in his beloved Florence according to his parents. This Sunday, March 31, there will be a demonstration in memory of Orso in his native Italy, organized by anarchist, communist and anti-fascist organizations.
A libertarian who could not stand indifference
“I met Lorenzo in Italy. We were simply compas, I made friends with him in Iraq when we were about to cross the border into Syria, “says Dilsoz, an Italian militiaman who fought against the Islamic State and shared a barracks with Orso. He was also in the TKP / ML TIKKO as well as Tekoser.
Heval Dilsoz is not his real name, like Tekoser, it is his battle name, which he uses for security reasons. In Italy, justice pursues fighters who, like Lorenzo, fought against Daesh. The Italian justice considers them “socially dangerous persons” and they are processed by a fascist Law of 1930 that is still valid.
“We shared more or less the same ideals,” says Dilsoz, who in Italy is a anarchist activist in autonomous nonpartisan spaces. We talked with him and he told us about Orso, his ideals and about the Kurdish revolutionary experience for which Lorenzo gave his life.
-Who was Lorenzo? How was he?
-Lorenzo was, first of all, a person with libertarian ideals and, above all, a companion. He was not very activist in the militancy of his city, but he was well known among his peers. He was a very simple and humble person. He was a waiter, cook and sommelier. He had started working at the age of 16 in the environment of restoration in Florence. That environment is of a very high standard and he had a luxury job, despite always being a worker. He hated his social position, in the sense that he did not like the people with whom he surrounded himself. It was an environment in which he met many rich and famous people. But he could not take that anymore. He always told me: “I’m tired of bringing food to the rich.” He was a worker, a partner and a revolutionary.
Dilsoz also coincides with other companions of Lorenzo: he was a Heval, as they say “companions” in Rojava. ”A mixture of comrade and friend. He was literally a Heval, he was not interested in money or glory or anything, just motivated and interested to act for the cause in which he believed. “If I fall, I wanted it to be for these reasons,” recalls Dilsoz.“Lorenzo was very loved by all his companions. He did not know private property, he shared everything, the only thing he had in Syria was his laptop. Soon his local companions asked him how it was used and he shared it with his battalion, “he adds.
Days after Tekoser’s death, his father Alessandro Orsetti told the Italian press that his “son could not stand indifference”. All those who knew him give the same definition of Lorenzo: a supportive man who was not afraid to face the consequences that could come from defending what he believed to be just.
From an ideological judicial persecution, the harassment of the Turkish intelligence services or the same death, nothing made Lorenzo doubt about his decision. ”Lorenzo was not afraid of death,” says Dilsoz. He always said that ‘it is better to add life to the days than the days to life’. That was Lorenzo: living to do. “
“I was very happy, I was very happy to be away from Italy, from the mediocrity of the Western world, from consumerism and from wage labor. He loved his land, not Italy; He loved his land, his city, but he was happy being away, “says Dilsoz.
From the beautiful Florence to the war against Turkey and the Daesh
-Why did you decide to challenge the liberal monotony and leave Italy?
-I was rotten from Italy, I was really rotten from Italy’s mediocrity: from racism, from everything, and I wanted to do something really revolutionary and be with the people outside of Italy, because in the West there is a lot of talk about the revolution of such and such, but he wanted to be part of a change. He saw in the comrades that they went to Syria to fight a hope, a way out, an opportunity to participate in a revolution, a revolution that is neither anarchist nor communist, because it is the Middle East and has nothing to do with Western society. In my opinion, it can not be classified as an anarchist or a communist, but it is a real revolution. The aspiration of every revolutionary is to be part of a revolution and if it is not today, when can we say of having participated in a revolution?
-In the West, we usually talk about “revolution” only with words, as something nostalgic that only reminds us of past events, of history books. And we tend more to talk about the revolution than to do it. Lorenzo decided, personally, to take his ideals further and defend a revolution that, as you say, is neither communist nor anarchist. The Rojava Revolution is neither communist nor anarchist. It is perhaps as a social democrat, but in the context of the Middle East and the existence of tribal powers. There a revolution with a gender perspective is something very positive and revolutionary … Is that so?
-Yes, exactly as you say. I believe that we, the Westerners, compare a lot, we are very Eurocentric … Even in Argentina. The fact is that the Rojava Revolution, and the peoples of the Federation of Northern Syria, comes from 40 years of seeking the Kurdish people for freedom. This revolution has the same ideology as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK): the democratic confederalism, as well as the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).The PKK was previously Marxist-Leninist-Maoist and, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, they made a self-criticism about the socialism they were seeking and came to the conclusion that they should seek socialism, but renounce the State and build a socialism from the communes and cooperatives. I would not call it a social democracy, but a socialist democracy, but that’s my opinion. After all, it is democratic confederalism and has elements of anarchism, Marxism, socialism and Kurdish culture and the Middle East in general. And the central issue is the abolition of patriarchy, of which I completely agree, since it is the primary form of oppression, that is, the domination of man over woman, of the passage from the matriarchal natural society to the patriarchal society.
-How does this revolution impact on people?
“About feminism, I’m not a feminist, since I’m a boy,” he interrupts, “but I’m in favor of the abolition of patriarchy and education in that direction. Something that impressed me in Syria is just that: to see women leave the house to fight, take charge of positions of responsibility, and so on. This has been, I believe, with all the criticism that can be made to the Federation of Northern Syria, something that can not be criticized: the emancipation of women , because they come from a context in which, in the Middle East , before the revolution, women were literally slaves and remain so in other regions. It is the fruit of 40 years of work of the Kurdish Liberation Movement that has expanded, fortunately, in different non-Kurdish parts of Northern Syria.
- What was the reaction of civilians to see women participating in the liberation of their cities from the dominion of Daesh?
-I was in the military, so I could not see much civil. I saw almost nothing because I was in the militia, but I feel privileged to have seen the reaction of civilians when men and women resumed Daesh cities. For the people it was something very novel, they had never seen anything like this, especially the Arabs. People were very surprised to see women armed and capable; many did not like it, but, from now on, they will have to get used to it.
Lorenzo: Bear in Italy, Tiger in Rojava
Orso, which in Spanish means “Bear”, was the nickname that Lorenzo liked to use in Italy. So much so that when he arrived at the military academy in Rojava he wanted to use a battle name alluding to his lifelong nickname: he chose the word Bear (Hurç, in Kurdish) , but his colleagues convinced him that it was not a good idea , since that word has no positive connotations in that region. So his comrades began to look for another name of another animal and there arose Tekoser Piling, whose literal translation would become “Luchador Tigre”.
Returning to Orso, what units and battle fronts did Lorenzo serve?
-Lorenzo was part of the International Freedom Battalion, which is a conglomeration of communist parties and anarchist organizations. There he became friends with battalion commanders and was sent to Arab or Kurdish units. He was also very committed to helping develop (the anarcho-communist battalion) Tekosina Anarsist. He moved a lot between the fronts because he wanted to fight. He fought a lot in Afrin’s defense and over the battlefield he earned the reputation as a heavy fighter, an elite fighter. Then, he fought in the entire campaign of Deir Ezzor, called “Storm of Cizire”, until the day he fell.
Lorenzo fell martyred at the Battle of Baghouz when his group, which at that time were four more men, were ambushed by an unknown number of Islamic State jihadists. The posthumous video of Lorenzo published by the YPG explains the reason for his decision to join the Kurdish militia. In the images, Lorenzo says smiling: “If you are watching this video, it means that something happened to me.“ And he says goodbye: “I love them all, my family, my friends and my dog… I love them”. Those were his words in the video-testament. When he refers to his dog Orsino, he pauses and becomes nostalgic.
-Lorenzo loved animals, had many photos with dogs. Was it like that in the barracks?
-He was obsessed with dogs, he loved them. I do not like dogs, especially when I learned that dogs eat corpses there. Some dogs ate the remains of a companion who had been hit by a Turkish missile. But he did not care because he loved dogs.
Hypocrisy, demagogy and cynicism
The dead no longer bother. This seems to be the premise followed by Italian media and justice. When the sad death of Lorenzo was known, the news shocked the public. The covers of the newspapers of the day afterwards already had the image: it was that of the “Italian hero.” About his anarchist ideology? Well thanks. For the Italian press and the government, anarchists are drunks, drug addicts and criminals. That data about him is not useful and they can appropriate the image of Lorenzo. The media, with an emotional tone, tried to create a stereotype of Lorenzo as an Italian nationalist hero. Meanwhile, the justice of the country judicially prosecutes Lorenzo’s anarchist and socialist comrades returning from Syria after their fight against the Islamic State. They say they are “socially dangerous”. The “pericolosità sociale” is an Italian legal figure in force since the fascist era of Mussolini that, incredibly, is still valid in the penal code. ”They are heroes and they process them, but when they die, they all want to appropriate them,” declared Annalisa, Lorenzo’s mother.
“Let us pray for Lorenzo and maximum repudiation of his infamous murderers,” was what the far-right politician Matteo Salvini, Italy’s interior minister and leader of the Liberal-Conservative party Liga Norte, tweeted. Salvini is a populist who bases his entire political campaign on social networks. He is sadly known for his xenophobic, Islamophobic and racist positions. It is the typical European politicians who go out of their way to talk about fighting against the “Muslim barbarians” and excuse themselves with the actions of the Daesh to justify their hatred.
“That Salvini talks about Lorenzo is very out of place, Lorenzo was the opposite of him. Salvini wants a world with walls and exclusion, Lorenzo was the opposite, he was one of us whom Salvini and the government daily call ‘drunks, drug addicts, abusive and criminal occupiers’ - says Dilsoz completely indignant. This happens because they always fill their mouths talking about a crusade against Muslims and blah blah. But when it comes to fighting against Islamic extremism and the jihadists, it was the anarchists of the social centers who fought them. At least, in Italy, I do not know in other countries. Those of the Northern League or of the 5 Star Party that are in the government to fight were not left, it was us. So they just talk. “
-What happens with the comrades of Lorenzo who return from fighting against the Islamic State?
Five comrades from Torino and one from Sardinia (who returned from Syria) are being prosecuted, accused of being socially dangerous. The Turin comrades are processed or being prosecuted. They are anarchist organizations or autonomous (left), and especially non-TAV (who reject the construction of a high-speed train between Lion, in France, and Turin). The Sardinian partner, for being independent and being from a Sardinian independence family.
That was what was waiting for Lorenzo if he returned alive to Italy?
Yesterday (on Monday, March 25), during the Court hearing, a great controversy erupted as a result of the fall of Lorenzo. Many people said, “Well, how is it possible that when they die they are glorified and when come alive are they processed?“A Prosecutor in the case said that if Lorenzo returned safely, there would be no judicial process against him, because the moderation they ask for the companions is for their activities in Italy. It is totally hypocritical. Saying this lie, they tried to get out of a very uncomfortable position for themselves.
-What does it mean to be considered a “socially dangerous” person?
- The law of social dangerousness is fascist, from the fascist period of 1930, promulgated with the Rocco Code (criminal) that is still valid at the time of democracy. It’s not a criminal conviction, because you do not go to jail for that. It is a measure taken by governments when they consider that someone is dangerous. It’s ridiculous, it’s something fascist. It means being deprived of a passport, even a driver’s license. You have to have a fixed address where you must be obligatorily from 9 o’clock at night and you can not leave until 7 o’clock in the morning. In addition, you can not frequent public places, such as assemblies or political demonstrations. They can also expel you from the city where you live if you were not born there, and they can even forbid you to leave your city.
- Do you want to say a few words to finish?
-Yes. I call on all revolutionaries to support this revolution which, in order not to be Eurocentric, is neither communist nor anarchist, but it is a struggle of the human being for emancipation. I think it is a hopeful step of humanity towards emancipation. Ugliness happened in Italy, bad things happened in Argentina, I know it was March 24 against the dictatorship, but the blood of the peoples of the East is not different from that of the peoples of the West. This is very important to remember, because the world needs a different model of development. I went to Syria, like Lorenzo, because it seemed that it was the end of history, the end of the world, there was only capitalism: produce, consume, die. And there I saw, at least, an intention to organize society in a way where there is no exploitation of man over man, of man over woman and of man over nature. At least, the intention is. It is a revolution that, in general, is very good. Then the theories when they come out of the books and are put into practice are different, it is obvious: it is not that an Arab of a tribal community who is accustomed to enslaving his wife, the YPG’s arrive and he automatically becomes an anarchist. But it is very important to support this project. The world needs an alternative to capitalism.
Lorenzo’s last words might have been the ones he wrote and entrusted to a colleague in case he did not come home.
Hello, if you are reading this message, it means that I am no longer in this world. Well, do not be so sad, I’m doing well; I do not regret anything, I died doing what I thought was right , defending the weak and being consistent with my ideals of justice, fairness and freedom.
So, despite my premature departure, my life has been a success and I’m almost sure that I left with a smile on my lips. I could not have asked for something better.
I wish you well and hope that one day (if you have not done so yet) you decide to give your life for others. Because that’s the only way you can change the world.
Only by overcoming individualism and selfishness in each one of us can the difference be made.
These are difficult times, I know, but do not resign yourself, do not give up hope. Never! not even for a moment. Even if the whole world seems lost, and the bad things that afflict humans and the earth seem unbearable, continue to find strength and inspire your companions.
It is exactly in those darkest moments that your light helps.
And always remember: “Every storm begins with a simple drop”. Try to be that drop.
I love you all, and I hope you treasure these words.
Serkeftin! Orso, Tekoser, Lorenzo.