Thursday, July 31, 2008

Karadzic Trial Begins

As the trial of Radovan Karadzic begins in the Hague, my mind is first drawn to the thousands upon thousands of people who lost their lives during the 90s in the former Yugoslavia as it was being rent asunder.
Those dark years filled the lives of ordinary people [just like you and me] with terror, torture, genocide and other unspeakable crimes against humanity.

There were victims and perpetrators on both sides, of course.
But this high visibility trial will focus on the Bosnian-Serb leader and the atrocities he ordered against neighbours and [at that time] fellow-countrymen, many of whose bodies have never been discovered.
Despite the fact that one group was Christian and the other Muslim, this was no theological crusade. The issue here, as with Northern Ireland, Tibet, Israel etc., is LAND.
In fact, it has been reported there is not one iota of difference between the genetic profiles of the Serbs and the Bosnians. So it remains a dirty little secret why intelligent, loving human beings - once friends and neighbours - came to despise and massacre one another.

In Belgrade, the Serbs are now divided about how to view Mr Karadzic.
Some see him as a national hero, without whom modern Serbia could never have been born.
Others are embarrassed by him and his ferocious strategies which [though blessed by the Serbian Orthodox Christian leaders] were decidedly un-Christian and certainly not the deeds of a modern political leader - even in times of war.

You see... ethnic cleansing IS such an embarrassment, after the fact, when you must face the world. The best you can do is hope and pray the international community quickly forgets what you so recently did to obtain your own new-found nationhood and cultural identity.

Similarly, the International Community [if there truly is such a thing] tries hard to forget how it stood by and allowed the whole nightmare to unfold... you only have to recall that Karadzic's grizzly siege of Sarajevo lasted a staggering 44 months while the outside world watched their TV and tried to avert their gaze.
Either way, I imagine most Serbs today are just quietly getting on with their ordinary lives, somehow anaesthetised or in semi-permanent amnesia about the genesis of their new State - just a ghostly face from the dim past, on the front page of today's newspaper as you go to the corner shop to buy your bread.
Doubtless, tomorrow it will be in the bin with the remains of tonight's meal.

Others will not find it so easy to somehow move on with their lives.
While the opening of the trial was broadcast live from the Hague, and people around the world watched Mr Karadzic's gaunt ageing face, another group also watched proceedings.
On SkyNews, at least, we had a split-screen with the trial on one side and a gathering of women who also watched live... some of them sobbing, others stoney-faced in their anger and pain.
These brave women were some of the mothers, wives, daughters and sisters of the 8000 men and boys who were massacred at Srebrenica - just one of the 3 main charges against Karadzic.

We ourselves recall earlier images from TV news at the time - bodies by roadsides, urban war zones, abandoned streets, mass graves, vast sheds filled with the coffins of unidentified mutilated corpses.

Those people were innocent victims of ethnic cleansing.
As such, we can only mourn them and remember them at this time of trials and justice of sorts. They don't really need our prayers.
Despite the horrific circumstances of their untimely deaths, they are at peace now.

Those they left behind need continuing love and support.
They are scarred and damaged people and may never recover.
Partly, they need to see justice is done for their loved ones.
But that will not be enough.
Even if the death sentence were permitted, it would not be enough.
Thank God we don't have that option.
We would be merely adding to the barbarism and futility of the whole unending saga of violence and retribution that plagues our era.

Looking into the face of the alleged organisor of these atrocities, we do not see a man at peace or even relieved that his gruesome efforts created a new Serbia for his people.
He looks like a man haunted by his own past karma and negative actions.
He appears tortured by the consequences.
Even if he comes out fighting his corner - it's just a show.
Prison will not punish him - nor will it rehabilitate him.
However, the symbolic act of catching him and forcing him to publicly acknowledge his crimes will hopefully help redress the cosmic balance a little.

If we are going to feel sorry for anyone, it should be Radovan Karadzic!

We must override our tendency to seek vengeance and replace it with compassion and transformation of the situation.
That will help us to grow and maybe contribute in a positive way to the energy of the situation.

Although the minds of the victims' relatives must be a hell for them, at least they have done nothing wrong and shouldn't blame themselves for anything. They are innocent.

But Karadzic is in dire need of our prayers and good wishes.
His mind must be chaotic and his heart knows exactly what he is responsible for...
All the details and pictures must follow him consciously or unconsciously wherever he goes, whatever he does...

Instant karma!

The crime that carries with it its own punishment.

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