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Wednesday, March 30, 2016


by David Chorlton

On March 24, the international tribunal in The Hague delivered the Radovan Karadzic verdict - more than 20 years after he was indicted and eight years after he was finally arrested. By this judgment, like most of those delivered by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) judges, nationalistic ideologies were described as the reason behind the killings, tortures, forced detentions, mass rapes, ethnic cleansing and genocide. Unfortunately, people from the Balkans, but also in other parts of the world, did not grasp the message hidden behind the legal jargon. Over the years, international tribunals have never put enough effort to make their decisions clearer to average people; and this is often abused by politicians who interpret those decisions however they like. . . . After 23 years of work, the international tribunal in The Hague did not succeed in having a real impact on the people of the region. We did not hear loudly and clearly the judgment against nationalism, even though the judges did issue many. —Nidzara Ahmetasevic, Aljazeera, March 27, 2016. Photo:  A survivor of the 1995 massacre in Srebrenica prays by her husband’s grave at a memorial centre in Potocari, on 24 March 2016, the day the former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadžić was found guilty of genocide. Photograph: Elvis Barukcic/AFP/Getty Images via The Guardian.

The scene today is tranquil
at the window where
a verdin flies between the roses
and the bougainvillea
unaware that glass is all
that keeps it safe from cats
alert to its every movement.
Outside, the afternoon’s
long shadows alternate
with glowing pavement
and winter’s dormant grass
begins to green. By the hour
news breaks in: the morning radio,
analysis at noon, and television
with its reruns of the panic
after Tuesday’s attack, translated
from French and Flemish now
and who knows which language
next. Interviewing experts
brings no more comfort
than the speeches made
by candidates campaigning.
The sparrows are chattering
in the bushes, and mockingbirds
pursue the last, late insects.
The battle for Mosul
won’t be over soon, Boko Haram
sends young girls out
to become stars for a moment
before being dead forever,
and every holiday in Europe
begins with armed guards
on patrol. Home is a good place
to be, watching lovebirds
in the sumac, listening to the news
that Radovan Karadžić
has been found guilty, guilty, guilty,
of killing on a scale
others only dream of, yet he still
finds a word for innocent
that applies to him alone.

David Chorlton is a transplanted European, who has lived in Phoenix since 1978. His poems have appeared in many publications on- and off-line, and reflect his affection for the natural world, as well as occasional bewilderment at aspects of human behavior. His most recent book, A Field Guide to Fire, was his contribution to the Fires of Change exhibition shown in Flagstaff and Tucson in Arizona.