Sunday, 4 January 2009

American Man with an Opinion

I always seem to attract people who like to talk. Maybe I have one of those faces. Once I spent three hours chatting with an Israeli tourist in a Pret A Manger in Glasgow about, well, nothing in particular.

On Friday I was meeting a friend at the bus station. It being the first 'business as normal day' post-New Year the place was mobbed and full of people either returning to Glasgow after the festive period or getting the hell out of this crazy city. I managed to find an empty bench and a few seconds later an elderly gent sat next to me. Elderly, I'd say he was in his early sixties. We got chit chatting and he asked me what I was doing at the bus station. I explained I was waiting for a friend and we were going to the cinema to see The Reader. For those that don't know, part of the plot is concerned with war crimes in World War II.

The gent nodded and said "You know, people talk about war crimes as if they never happen anymore. But what is going on in Gaza at the moment...to me that's a war crime. And on both sides may I add. Hamas ain't innocent but the Israelis are just as bad."

War crimes are the de jour phrase at the moment. This morning I read in the paper that a Rwandian singer called Simon Bikindi was sentenced to 15 years in prison for using his music to incite violence during that fateful time in 1994. Not a politician, not a member of the military. A mere singer. Could the actions of Robert Mugabe be classed as war crimes? He seems locked in conflict with his own people, officials from neighbour states, the United Nations and just about anyone else who disagrees with the suffering and pain he is inflicting on his country.

I am not even going to pretend I know enough about the Middle East situation to comment. All I shall say is that it is ordinary people that are getting hurt, being killed. And surely that makes it a war crime and, if it doesn't sound too pompous, a crime against humanity.

2 comments:

Mark Buckland said...

You read The Reader? Great book.

A Woman with an Opinion said...

Indeedy do, I thoroughly enjoyed it too :) If you enjoyed the book, it's worth giving the film a look. It's not very long by today's standards (around 90 minutes) and is very faithful to the book. That always get a thumbs up!