War Crimes Across Three Continents And The Lives They’ve Altered
By Nick Turse
Cross-posted with TomDispatch.com
“The wandering scribe of war crimes” is how TomDispatch regular Ann Jones once described me. Indeed, for more than a decade, across three continents, I’ve been intermittently interviewing witnesses and victims, perpetrators and survivors of almost unspeakable atrocities. I can’t count the number of massacre survivors and rape victims and tortured women and mutilated men I’ve spoken with, sometimes decades ― but sometimes just days ― after they were brutalized. In almost every case, what occurred in only a matter of minutes irreparably altered their lives.
I’ve also spent countless hours talking with another class of atrocity survivors: witnesses who did little else but watch and perpetrators who beat, tortured, or killed innocents in the service of one government or another. In almost every case, what occurred in just a matter of minutes irreparably altered their lives, too.
Decades later, he relived it every day ― her shattered nose, the blood, the screams.
Sometimes, it seemed as if the survivors coped with the trauma far better than the perpetrators. I remember an American veteran of the Vietnam War I once interviewed. He had a million stories, all of them punctuated with a big, bold laugh. Jovial is the word I often use to describe him. We talked for hours, but I finally got down to business and he quickly grew quiet. Then, jovial he was not. I asked him about a massacre I had good reason to believe he had seen, maybe even taken part in. He told me he couldn’t recall it, but that he didn’t doubt it happened. (It wasn’t the first time I’d heard such a response.) While he had endless war stories, when it came to the darkest corner of […]