Over 200 years without the death penalty

Festa della toscana dedicated to global abolition of death penalty worldwide

Editorial Staff
December 1, 2005

November 30 marked the official day of celebration of the Tuscany Region. The date was not picked at random but chosen to celebrate a significant event that occurred over two hundred years ago on November 30, 1786. On this day, Grand Duke of Tuscany Pietro Leopoldo officially banished corporal punishment from the region’s legal code. It was the first time in modern history that a government within a European nation officially outlawed the death penalty.

 

In 2000, the region made November 30 an official day to honour and to celebrate its past and continued progress in promoting human rights, and over the years these festivities have spread to a global level.

 

In 2002, the Tuscany region, together with the Rome-based Sant’ Egidio community, created the initiative “Cities of Light,” which now involves over 300 cities around the world. Participating cities illuminate their most important monuments on November 30 as a sign of support for the international campaign to end the death penalty. The Coliseum in Rome, Plaza Santa Aba in Madrid, the Central Obelisk in Buenos Aires, and the Moneda Palace in Santiago are just a few of the many monuments that were illuminated on November 30, 2005. 

 

Back in Tuscany, the Festa della Toscana actually began several days before November 30, with numerous events and initiatives dedicated to the region’s secondary theme this year: Europe. Under the slogan “Europa, Europae”, the region aimed to find solutions for a Europe that is still not completely united.

 

Likely considered the highlight of the festivities this year, a free concert was held at the Mandela Forum on November 29, uniting some of the top Tuscan musicians, including Piero Pelù, Irene Grandi, and Jovanotti (who’s Roman but has a Tuscan mother), for an animated evening of music and unity against the death penalty. The concert was officially dedicated to Iranian journalist Akbar Ganji, who has been persecuted and tortured for his political beliefs.  Ganji has been in prison since 2001. 

 

The pending execution of U.S. death row inmate, ex-gang member turned Nobel Peace Prize nominee, Stanley “Tookie” Williams, was also a central topic throughout these events, and efforts were made to add pressure to the campaign requesting California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to give Williams clemency. Williams’ execution date is set for December 13.

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