Agape: In Search of Universal Love
from the novel, The Lodging for the Rose
Rolf. A. F. Witzsche
Story 2 - Shoot Them!
Story 2 - Shoot Them!
"I was still working as a journalist at the time," said Ushi quietly. "Journalists are trained to observe; not to intervene. A human being may be impelled to intervene by the force of conscience, but I was a professional journalist on a professional assignment. That option wasn't open to me. I had a professional protocol to follow. It was in my blood to observe. I was trained to do this. I was good at it. I observed everything. Except, Peter, this was all that I did."
"Could you have done more?" I asked.
"I don't know. Honestly, I don't know!" she replied.
I saw tears forming again.
"My story was printed in our national newspaper with a big headline proclaiming my heroism," she said. "I became a celebrity, but I couldn't talk to anyone about my experience out of sheer shame that it happened at all. I was ashamed that I was still living. Am I making any sense?"
I nodded, but I wasn't sure if this was honestly done.
"It happened so fast," she said, "not at first, but later on it did. I had been sent to Nicaragua and El Salvador. My El Salvador story started with the body dumps."
She explained that the 'body dumps' were certain areas outside the cities where families or friends were frequently searching for the remains of their loved ones who had disappeared without a trace. They usually found them there, often mutilated. She said her report was a collection of their stories. One brave soul had told her that it was far easier to bear the pain of finding them dead, than not knowing, and having to live with the endless pain of imagining their torture.
Ursula told me she could easily imagine the pain these people must have felt, out of the background of her own experience in Afghanistan. She had been careful not to get too close to anyone, so as not to have to suffer the same pain all over again that she had suffered before. She told me that she still had all of the pictures of the people of her experience in Afghanistan years earlier, both on film and in her mind, including those of the people of Kohlm. She told me that she hadn't been able to look at these pictures for a long time. Still, she told me that when she was in El Salvador, she felt that the victims of the massacre in Kohlm had been a thousand times luckier. Their life had ended in the flash of a moment. Those who were cycled through the body dumps were evidently put to death slowly over periods of months, becoming disassembled in the processes of torture that few had witnessed and even fewer could comprehend.
A security official had told her during an interview that over the years forty thousand people were cycled through the dumping grounds. Some of them were executed by the death squads, some were tortured to death by the secret police or by one of the numerous private security forces like the goons of the 'electric' company. The same official told her that some of the death squads were even feared by the police. He had told her that entire villages had been wiped out, usually without a warning or anyone knowing why. There is always this buzz word in the air, something about communism, pro or con, that stirs the rampage, that keeps the killing going. "Most people didn't even know what communism is all about," she added.
I told her in a quiet voice that I had heard about the body dumps, but that I had never been there. I told her that I could imagine what she saw, because brainwashing is a deadly game no matter who is involved and what the buzz words are. I told her that brainwashing kills people as human beings. I said, "It takes away our right to be ourselves."
(c) Copyright 1998 -
Published by Cygni Communications Ltd. North Vancouver, Canada