One of my acquaintances in Armenia – only 19 years old – has been acquitted from the army after having a heart attack. This was after several months of service during which he was apparently tortured. The army has forbidden him from being treated in a hospital perhaps fearing that could initiate a charge against his superiors. I have never heard of a teenager having heart attack, especially that the particular person used to be a hard worker and did everything to support his single mother and two sisters from a young age. Oppressed people are often triple persecuted almost anywhere (this is why you have poor kids from America fighting in Iraq)…

Media violence and real life tragedies – such as the ongoing genocide in Darfur – may have desensitized us all. I remember telling my class earlier this year that I felt horrible for having become desensitized.

I guess stories like the following have “contributed” to my desensitization (after having heard this one, I became “immune” to other stories):

During the genocide in Rwanda, one way of killing women was throwing them down the toilet. How? Well, the “toilets” were actually wells in the rural areas used as restrooms. There was no sanitary or water system at some places. Some Tutsi women, after they saw their family killed, were thrown down these wells. But before that, there fingers were chopped off so that they could not climb up and would drown in the toilet. This particular incident has really stayed in my mind from my 2005 genocide studies course where one of the witnesses to the Genocide shared the story with us.

Yesterday, nevertheless, I was told of another particular crime against humanity that shocked my conscience. An American colleague told me that her step-grandfather had participated in Operation Phoenix in the Vietnam war and used small Vietnamese children as protection. I was not sure what she meant so I had her to explain it to me again. Apparently, the American soldier tied live Vietnamese children to his chest so that when he was shot at the kids would get shot instead and he would survive. I was too disgusted to ask more particulars (such as how many kids he had killed this way), but I managed to find out that he has not been charged for these crimes against humanity.

No wonder why the U.S. did not sign on to the 1948 U.N. genocide convention until the late 1980s. I also remember that America refused to sign it until it was guaranteed that no American would be charged under that! What the…

Anyhow, I had changed my mind and was not planning to share this story at Blogian until a few minutes ago until I heard of a similarly disgusting and largely unreported crime that happened in Armenia a few days ago.

A young soldier of the Armenian army was shot to death on his forehead after laughing at one of his superiors in Karabakh. The teen was from the Republic of Armenia and was transferred to serve in the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh – a de jure part of Azerbaijan and a de facto part of Armenia. In case you didn’t know, largely sons of poor families in the Republic of Armenia get to serve in Karabakh because their parents cannot bribe the officials to have their children assigned to nearby bases.

This particular family is even poorer – to the extent that they cannot travel to Karabakh for the trial. Having left with no choice, now they are saying that their son is not a citizen of Karabakh and he should not have been taken to Karabakh in the first place. This is an argument used by the Azerbaijani government and they will most likely take a note of this incident to their propaganda. Unfortunately, Azerbaijani soldiers are treated no better – if not worse – in their own army to the extent that some of them choose to stay in Armenian prisons (after being captured for crossing the border) than to go back to the Azerbaijani army. One reason is perhaps Azerbaijani soldiers tend to get a long jail time after being turned back to Azerbaijan from Armenia. The xenophobic conspiracy theory says they must have cooperated with Armenians otherwise they wouldn’t be arrested in the first place. An Azerbaijani journalist was similarly placed to jail for traveling Karabakh and talking to Armenians.

I guess the bottom line is that both Azeri and Armenian soldiers are facing torture in their own armies. This is really scary and sad and makes one wondering of the crimes they would commit against each other if the war restarted.

This is a poorly organized entry with few transformations… I guess I just tried to share feelings and thoughts that had been bothering me in the last few days.