Many of us don’t know why the recent news of the condemnation of General Rios Montt in Guatemala is such a big deal. He has received a sentence of 80 years for genocide and crimes against humanity (click here to read more), in a sort of Guatemalan Nuremberg trial. The genocide claimed 200 thousand people.
If you wonder what it means for Guatemalans of every age, look where they demanded his trial.
The angel image on the back of the man’s T-shirt is the photograph that came to symbolize the country’s civil war, by a photographer who made it his life’s work not to let his countrymen forget (click link for more of his images).
The man is wearing the shoulder blades of one of the many bodies that were found in mass graves in Guatemala, thanks to the General.
This is what Guatemalans who were lucky enough to find their relatives were left with.
The story of what Guatemala has been through is familiar to our parents, but most of us don’t know it. We should.
Listen to it here, on the incredible radio that is This American Life. I listened to it a few months ago and sobbed through most of it, but I feel and always will feel that we owe it to those who have suffered to hear their story and know it. So please consider giving up one evening of your Mad Men fix and learning something you will never unlearn.
To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark.
- Victor Hugo
This year marks the 20th anniversary since the beginning of the Bosnian conflict. I was 19 years old when it began, and even though I remember my father covering the conflict for Reuters from Belgrade, I didn’t pay as much attention as I now know I should have. So now I will. No matter how hard it is to lay eyes on these images, it’s a small gesture of acknowledgment and respect towards all those who suffered and still do.
These are images taken by top photojournalists of their time covering the conflict, courtesy TIME Lightbox.
“I had to run away never wanting to look back. For, I felt, I had just witnessed mankind at its worst, something that even today still affects me, how simply mankind can be led astray from moral behavior, with politicians and media that can use hate laced with patriotism to drive their wicked agendas.”
-Christopher Morris, VII.
“I was approached by a group of three or four young girls that told me about a woman who hung herself on the tree nearby.They took me to some woods where I saw the surreal scene: a woman wearing a red cardigan looking more like levitating than hanging, several meters above the ground, surrounded by green leaves. On my way back I saw a U.N. soldier and I told him about what I saw. He said something like ‘let’s take care of those that are alive, for now.’
(Photo/quote, Darko Bandic)
“The dead woman had been walking towards Sarajevo, presumably from the countryside, given her attire, and had passed along a stretch of road exposed to Bosnian Serb or Serb snipers. Someone had shot her in the head and her body lay exposed on the road as cars sped by at top speed to avoid a similar fate.”
- Photo/quote, Santiago Lyon.