On March 24 evening, I finished reading the last chapter of Elie Wiesel’s book “Night”. It is not the first time I read about Holocaust, not the first time reading about someone’s traumatizing experience. But the way Wiesel has described his experiences (while reading, his face would always come up in my mind when would try to picture the incidents and it made the reading even more painful) and the fact that I am dealing with violence as a citizen of a country trying to come out of civil war, made the reading even more profound and heart tugging experience.
The Maoist insurgency in has killed thousands of my countrymen; women and children. The poor people in the villages are being tortured by sides, the army and the Maoists. For the government, torture is a regular procedure to keep the country safe; they have the legitimacy the world gives for anything “government”. As for the rebels, they behead people, they kill teachers, and they kill children because they are fighting for freedom. In today’s world of political correctness, we are forced to accept that otherwise we will join the ranks of tyrants.
Jews during the Second World War, for long believed that whole world is looking at
and whatever is doing, they would never allow Hitler’s plan of killing off all the Jews to actually happen. They believed that the 20th century world has come long way to allow Hitler’s plans to succeed. But sadly their beliefs were crushed. The whole world watched in silence as thousands perished in the concentration camps, families lost, traditions, culture, life, all gone just because of madness of a single person. After Nuremburg trial the world, lead by promised to the people that this would never happen again. But then as we were resting on our laurels of past, happened, happened and the Kurds were killed in .
Now history is repeating in . The rebel leaders are going in the path Hitler took, the path not directed by reason but solely lead by hate, thirst for the absolute power and the belief that whoever has gun has the authority to do anything. The only difference in the case of is that, unlike the post war world where Nazis were considered criminals and tried for their war crimes, the people have accepted the Maoists as freedom fighters, choosing to ignore all the crimes they have committed against the nation and the people themselves. They have accepted that the there will no be trials against the Maoists; they will be free even after committing murders, beheadings, amputations, kidnappings and extortions.
I find myself trying to understand the violence in my home, learning from the experiences of Holocaust. Among the words of Wiesel I try to find the way to cope with the tragedy when you see your whole community, your life, your neighbors just go away. When I read about hundreds of students kidnapped by the rebels or about abandoned villages my mind goes though the pages of Night again and again. Looking for answers, looking for a reason.
I have to make sense of people being killed just because they chose to differ from what is expected of them, I have to understand the beheading of a journalist and no one coming forward to protest. I have to understand the reason why so many people of are suffering without food and water because of the tug of war going on between the two sides.
Alas, I am not getting anywhere. From Holocaust I learned that we should fight for justice, we should work to establish accountability; we should have rule of law not the rule of gun. But the lessons learned from Holocaust cannot be implemented in . In we cannot ask to hold the Maoists accountable, we cannot ask to have a rule of law. The situation is such that anyone trying to spoil the victory party of the Maoists is labeled a “royalist”, a “traitor”, a “bourgeois” and is threatened with consequences. There is a government, just to fulfill a formality. People know who pulls the strings now, so even ministers speak as if there is a sword hanging over them.
After every major world crises we promise that this will never happen again, we say that we have learned a lesson. That is a biggest lie ever told. We never learn from history, we just read it and forget it. How can you explain two world wars, numerous conflicts and millions of people suffering every day?
The supreme irony of situation in is that the establishment is portraying the Maoists as victims. All their prisoners are being released, their leaders are hailed as visionaries, and to top this all human rights activists are championing the rights of Maoists. What about the “real victims”? Well, that is a question you are not allowed to ask. You cannot understand this “amnesty for war criminals” by reading Night or history of holocaust, because after World War II the Nazis were tried (with varying degree of success, I agree), sentences were handed out. An effort was made to get something done. You have to agree that the rights and justice situation in is worse than what happened after World War II.
I thank Mr. Wiesel for writing Night; at least I got a better understanding of the Holocaust, the conflict, human cost and what justice and perseverance means. To understand the logic behind glamorizing terrorism and treating criminals like heroes, I guess I will have to wait for sometime.