I volunteer with the Red Cross, and today attended an annual colloquium on our activities. One volunteer told about volunteering in conflict zones in Afghanistan and throughout Africa. This prompted another volunteer to tell some stories from his home country, and I am still reeling.
He explained that he had heard about several prisoners that had been tossed in prison, beaten, and kept without medical aid. The prison guards would not let anyone in to help them. He set up a protest in front of the prison with placards that said "Down with the president!" and was promptly thrown inside. His father was a high-ranking officer in the local police service, so he was confident that he would get out. Indeed, he was released soon thereafter, but not until he had spoken with a few prisoners and catalogued on what pretext they were there and what their injuries were. Once he was released, he worked with Amnesty International in order to get Red Cross staff into the prison to treat them.
He did something like that a second time, and then his father had a serious talk with him. With his youthful optimism and confidence, he hadn't realised that his actions might put his father in prison too.
The world has seen so many wars, conflicts, genocides, and massacres, and the response is "Never again." We know that we cannot be complicit. But what would I have done in his shoes?
A festival like a war zone
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