War does not determine who is right…

“War does not determine who is right – only who is left.”

Bertrand Russell

From Syrian Atheists

* * *

Aza’s Story
Bosnia, 1990s

(from ‘Escape from Bosnia’ as told to Sue McCauley)

“On 27 March 1992 I went home to Purtici…I was going to stay for the week, then return to Sarajevo as I had oral and written exams coming up. On the way home I stopped off at a mountain town where I had some close Serb friends, and went to have a coffee with them. One of them said to me, “Please don’t go into Zepa. There’s going to be war there.”

I thought he was joking. “Why should there be?”

“Can’t tell you that,” he said. “It’s not my fault, it’s not your fault, but there will definitely be fighting in Zepa, and very soon, so keep away from there. Leave Bosnia. If you don’t have the money to leave, I’ll give you money. Just go.”

“No,” I told him. “I don’t want to. I can’t leave my family. I can’t leave my little sister. I can’t leave my friends.”

I was laughing, I really thought it was a joke. I said, “If there’s a war and I’m in Zepa with my family, will you kill me?”

“I would never kill you, or your family, but if the fighting starts, get well away from the road. Go into the forest and hide.”

You silly man, I thought. So I went home. On 5 April there were big meetings and rallies in Sarajevo and after that all travel was stopped. I could not get back to the city…”

“In the second week… we had heard that the Serbs had taken Visegrad, a border town, and we were trying to work out what we should do. Visegrad was a very long drive from Zepa, but by river it was not far at all and anyone who came to Zepa from Visegrad would usually come by boat.

But the people who came now were not in boats – they floated down the river tied to pieces of wood in the form of a cross, or just on their own. Dead bodies, about a hundred and fifty of them. Some had names attached to them like luggage labels. Some were so mutilated there was no way of knowing if there were male or female. A mother and her small child were roped together and put on a kind of raft so their bodies wouldn’t just sink from sight. There was a woman’s body with a long stick running from mouth to anus. Was that the means of her death or did it happen afterwards? How could we know?… From that time we knew we could rely on nothing…”

“One night we had all listened to the evening news at seven o’clock…. My mother and grandparents had gone out to say goodbye to the visitors and when I looked through the window I saw that those leaving had taken cover in our little woodshed. I asked my mother what was happening.

“Shhh,” she whispered. “There are soldiers out there. You can see the green uniform.”…

I could see a soldier about five hundred metres away in an open rolling field. I started to walk towards him…. I had on my usual clothes, black trousers and black T-shirt. I liked black and wore it a lot; black clothes were considered a Serb thing. I walked towards the soldier and, when I got close to him, I felt rather sick because he had a big, heavy machine gun and at least one grenade. I said, “Hello.”

He stopped walking and a big smile came over his face. “Oh, hello. How are you? What are you doing here?”

I said, “Oh, everyone has left the villages and become separated. I don’t know what’s happening. What are you doing here?”

“I left the line,” he said. “I’m trying to find my way back.”

I told him he was heading the wrong way… Thinking he knew me, he trusted me…

“Come with me to my place,” I said, “and have something to eat, then I’ll show you which way to go.” I took his gun. “Let me carry this for you.”…

We walked towards our summer house where all the people were hiding and when we were quite close he saw the faces looking out and my mother coming forward, and he looked at me and his eyes were saying, “You bitch!” Then he was surrounded and bombarded with questions….

The man began to answer our questions… And then – I’ll never forget this – Alide walked out of the house, cradling something, and walked up to the soldier. Everyone was looking at her, and we saw that she was holding a big piece of bread. “I brought this for him,” she told us. “I think he is very hungry.”

The soldier began to cry. He told us than that he was married and had two children. He was shaking so much… You could see he was very scared…

My grandfather said the soldier should be taken to our militia’s headquarters nearby, for interrogation by out commander. Before he walked away the soldier looked at me and said, “Thank you.”

But the commander wasn’t at the headquarters, so some other people questioned the Serb soldier. As they knew, earlier that day two or three other Serb soldiers had become separated from their group and some of our refugees had told them how to get back to where they wanted to go. An hour or two later those refugees had been shelled by the Serbs. So, after questioning the soldier, our people set off to take him to another house, closer to the forest. On the way, they said, he’d tried to run away and so they killed him. Maybe, that was true, maybe it wasn’t. It made me wish that when I first spoke to him, I had told him to turn and run as fast as he could…”

(from ‘Escape from Bosnia’ as told to Sue McCauley)

18 thoughts on “War does not determine who is right…

  1. Reblogged this on waywardspirit and commented:
    Fun Perspective, diversity, how does this make me feel?

  2. george-b says:

    Reblogged this on euzicasa and commented:
    Unfortunately nobody seems to care, unless they are directly affected! Just like with everything else about humans!

  3. Naomikko says:

    “When you learn, teach, when you get, give.”

  4. ajaytao2010 says:

    there are a lot of more stories apart from this

    you are right

  5. Willy Nilly says:

    Brings back a lot of memories to me. I don’t speak of them. Not yet anyway. Before I went to Bosnia, I studied the entire region history, language, religious practices, politics, cultural differences. The list goes on. I did this to understand the thought process of predator and prey. What I found changed my life forever. I lived in a world where I equally regarded Serb, Croatian, and Bosnian. Now things are better, so I feel better.

    • Otrazhenie says:

      Did you go to Bosnia with peacekeepers? Would love to learn more about your experiences there, if they are not to painful to think about. 😦

      • Willy Nilly says:

        Yes, I was with the second SFOR rotation before America decided to make the peace mission permanent. After it became a permanent mission the money and materiel flowed into the country and a lot of improvements were made. I wrote several short stories about the worst of it but when I let my sister read it she was traumatized so I never published it. I chose to right about less trauma and more of the defining moments where I and my soldiers grew spiritually and mentally stronger for the experiences we shared. The Willy Nilly stories are about those times. The times in the desert war are also there, again, more light hearted about silly things that people do during tough times.

      • Otrazhenie says:

        I can understand your sister’s reaction. A few of my readers questioned why I published a story of a soldier in Chechnya as they felt a bit traumatized by that.

        Unfortunately, any war and conflict is traumatizing. Hiding such ‘traumatizing’ accounts distorts the true picture, leaving only glorified impressions as in most war movies. My grandma lived in Russia during the Second World War. She always refused to watch movies about the Second World War, calling them ‘glorified fairy-tales’.

        People should see the real picture and get traumatized deeply enough to resent any war and conflict and put more effort into finding peaceful solutions.

      • Willy Nilly says:

        I agree 100% My wife is from Korea. She was born at the beginning of the Korean war. Her family was considered the highest class but lost everything. It was ironic that my father fought in the Korean war and I was able to walk on the very ground he fought for. He help save the child I would later marry. 🙂

  6. […] War does not determine who is right… […]

  7. […] Russia, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Chechnya… – this can happen to anyone […]

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