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miercuri, 5 octombrie 2022

The images of the war

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For 13 days now we have been writing about the war in Ukraine. Since the morning of February 24, when a colleague rang the alarm shortly before 6 a.m., we have all been in a swirl. Each newsroom staffer sees hundreds of stories and pictures every day and selects a few dozen for publication.

Almost all of them are about suffering and death. Our senses gradually fade, we turn into news-making machines. We rarely have time to see the drama behind the news flood. The horrors flick by, one tragedy is quickly replaced by another. We have lost track of them in the statistics of war.

Of the hundreds of reports and images flurried by the international press and local correspondents in Ukraine, a few are still running somewhere in the back of the brain and making their way into the hardened soul of the news machine.

I can’t forget the astonishment of the teenage girl in Kharkiv who discovers that her parents in Russia live in a reality fabricated by official propaganda. Anastasia tries desperately to convince them that the Russians are killing civilians all around her, but from Russia, the war looks very differently: The Russian soldier only targets military targets, her mother tells her, he will never hurt you.

„I told her there were civilian casualties. „But that’s what we had when Ukraine attacked Donbas!” she laughed. For a moment I couldn’t breathe. I heard my mother say that so cruelly, it broke my heart.”

How must the unfortunate girl from Kharkiv have felt when she realized that not even her own parents believed that she was in mortal danger? What a tragedy! To see your parents trapped in a fake world, captive to assassins.

I am haunted by the image of the man with a cat in his arms, staring blankly at a pile of rubble that used to be his home. He lost everything in the bombing; a daughter in a wheelchair, his wife, two sons-in-law, his mother-in-law. Only he and his cat Marisk survived the attack.

What meaning does life have for this 54-year-old man? How can a man from whom the Russians have taken away all that was dear to him imagine his future? How can a man endure so much pain? Who punished me so cruelly, the Ukrainian must have asked himself in his lonely days and nights, to let me live and see hell on earth?

Children separated from their parents. You’ve seen them everywhere, but we can’t imagine in our adult minds the terror of the unknown and the sense of insecurity in their hearts. An 11-year-old boy arrived alone in Slovakia, with just a backpack on his back, a plastic bag, a passport, and a handwritten phone number.

Sursa foto: Facebook / Ministerul de INterne Slovac

What must have been in his parents’ hearts when they sent him out into the wide world to protect him from bombshells and tanks? But what could possibly have been in the mind of this little boy, who found himself alone, and whom the war had driven out of the world of children’s tales into a nightmare?

Two other teenage girls, brought to the train station to be sent away by their parents, who are too tied to their town to go anywhere else. How will they get a start in life? With what dreams? With what hopes?

The images of the dead children, published by Olena Zelenska, the President’s wife. You’d like to quickly forget their innocent looks, their smiles, to forget that they bled to death under the desperate eyes of their parents. But they must not be forgotten, they must be avenged. Olena Zelenska’s message resonates like a bombshell in the flesh of the Russian invaders:

„I call on all honest media in the world! Tell this terrible truth: Russian invaders are killing children. And they are doing it deliberately, shooting to kill, to bring us to our knees, to prevent humanitarian aid. Show Russian women – tell them what their sons are doing in Ukraine! Show these pictures to Russian women – your men, your brothers, your compatriots are killing children like your own! And you are personally responsible for the death of every Ukrainian child because you give your tacit consent to these crimes.”


The scenes of the past 13 days of war have left a lasting impression on the mind, with dozens and hundreds of images of Russian convoys destroyed by drone strikes, as in a video game, to the cheers of the operators; images of Kyiv metro stations turned into shelters, of civilians in Kharkiv and Mariupol left without water, electricity, and heat, sweltering like cattle in stinking basements, with ordinary Ukrainians stopping Russian tanks with their bare hands, with the protest of the elderly lady in St Petersburg dragged off by the security forces and with thousands of young people facing the increasingly harsh dictatorship installed in Putin’s Russia.

These are harrowing, gut-wrenching images that are hard to digest, even when viewed from a distance behind a computer screen. War correspondents, reporters on the ground in Ukraine, are witnessing even worse. They are broadcasting from under gunfire, from among mutilated corpses, as bombs and bullets spill blood and death all around them. They too find little pause to take a breath, to pause for reflection.

Overwhelmed by the apocalyptic scenes, some of us lose hope or build around us a shield of indifference. Evil seems to take over everything around us, the world is slowly sinking into darkness. Yet humanity is overcoming barbarism. There is always a ray of light making its way through the sea of darkness, through the most terrible wars. It comes from the kindness and solidarity of people in times of hardship.

There are not many moments that Romania can be proud of in its recent history, but the way ordinary people, NGOs, civil society, and the authorities mobilized to help and host the refugees from Ukraine in their homes was exemplary, touching. It is not only Romania that has shown its generosity.

For example, I saw Polish women leaving baby carriages at stations where refugee trains were due to arrive. The Western world’s determination in isolating Russia has, with few exceptions, also been impressive.

These actions too make up the images of the war, they are the other side of it. They remind us again and again that people have unsuspected resources of goodness when the world is about to collapse. There is still a glimmer of hope when all these solar energies are set in motion. Russia can crush Ukraine with bombs and under the tracks of its tanks, but no war can defeat people’s solidarity in times of trial and their ultimate humanity.

Translated from Romanian by Ovidiu H.

Sursa: www.g4media.ro

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