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War crimes, war criminals, who deserves death?

VaporwaveHistorian

The Archbishop of Nova Justiniana and All Cyprus
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Look, I am extremely happy today that Henry Kissing-my-ass kicked the fucking bucket (at least half a century too late, but well, we'll take it). I fucking feasted, I blasted music, just had the time of my life. You know, he's an asshole. All that shit he's done.

Then, I've seen a [Westerner] friend say "all war criminals go to hell" and, well... It really hit something in me that I didn't think I still had. I'll explain.

Before I start: Do not blame anyone I will talk about. Do not curse anyone. They have been cursed by their conscience either way. Most are dead and gone. Those who don't deserve all the shit, but do not curse the ones I will talk about. Please.



I have been carrying a great burden on me for the last six months or so. I sometimes hinted at it to some friends, just fucking let it out to some, and had been implying some things in some places too. I don't think I revealed this here before, but here I go.

Please do not curse anyone. Do not laugh at this, I wish it was a joke.

I have war criminals in my bloodline.

I am not related to the big-name politicians. Certainly not Henry Kissinger. No, my ancestors have nothing to do with Germany. We hail from a small island in the Mediterranean, some of you know it already. It's small, but big enough to fit all that hell in it. Just 50 years ago, shit was going down. Kissinger surely was involved in the shit, caused many of it. I am glad he kicked the bucket because he has blood on my neighbors on his hands.

But then it hit me. Fucked me up. Who else has the blood of my neighbors on his hands? My fucking family.

Do not curse them. They regretted it, they spoke against it for the rest of their lives, cried about it until death. It's their curse, their nightmares, their guilt. It followed them to the grave. They exposed what they were made to do, some were published as articles in newspapers. Now, he's in the grave. I love him. I feel weird.

I know it sounds fucking horrible. It is. I was visiting my homeland. It's always tough because there was a war fifty years ago and everyone feels dead since then. My father was a kid who witnessed war. Had to sweep his mother's severed fingers off the house floor, witnessed massacres, kicked an unknown object as if to play like a football and it was revealed to be a severed head+helmet of a soldier in a field. He was a kid. He sits on his red couch in Sunday afternoons and reads for hours. Pile upon pile of books about Cyprus. Sometimes he goes silent. I hate it when he is silent.

And we were back in homeland. My mother hails from a different country. My mother, my grandmother (mother's mother), my father and I were there. Mother&gma treated it like a vacation. My dad and I took a little escapade to drive through the fields and he'd point at random places: "A massacre happened here," with the details. It would get me sick. He'd talk about this one massacre he personally has heard happening, and let a bitter broken laugh in the end to break the tension. It would fuck me up, the most upbeat of songs from the 80s playing on the radio, I wouldn't dare touch it. I wouldn't dare say anything.

I'd get drunk late into the night. Drunk as first thing after breakfast. Mother would hate it. Father said nothing. I walked the fields and wondered how many graves were under my feet. It triggered psychotic episodes. I kept talking about the fascists. Fascists outside the door, fascists in our heads creeping through our eyes. Father pointed at an establishment and said casually that they used to kill journalists back in the day. I refused to buy soda from them afterwards, saying they are fascists, I don't want a fucking fascist soda. Father laughed, sipping his own soda. Fascists in our heads, fascists in our stomachs.

Few hours before our departure, it was a family dinner. Everyone would chat about the good old days. You know, your uncle used to beat your father up as a kid and now everyone is laughing about it on the table, especially your father. Then your father points at your cousin, talking about her father's some relative's crime. "Your relative and [my relative], along with a few others, killed this guy-"

And people knew that. People know it. People refer to our neighbors as "Ah, the one with the son who is probably involved in this guy's murder back in the conflict" or whatever. Blood on our hands, I knew that our village had blood on its hands as every village has. I knew that every family probably has at least one murderer.

I just didn't want to ask about my own fucking family. But they blurted it out. Feasted. Drank. I don't remember the next few hours. I just texted a few friends of the "other" side (Cyprus is mainly of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots), and I cryingly confessed to them that I have murderers in my family.

One (from "my community") laughed and joked, "Now we gotta kill ya, sorry man, I don't make the rules."

One comforted me, "We all have at least one murderer in our family."

One said, "We can't change the past or bring back the dead. We can work for peace, though. We can save the future."

And I sat on the couch. Shaking. Shook for hours. Went back home. Shook for days. Tied a miserable noose and stared at it at 3 AM.

I wanted to talk about it. How can you talk about it? I was shut off for days. Taken to a shrink, got diagnosed, given meds. Never talked about it, but father fed me Cypriot food for days to make sure that I was actually eating something. He took me to eat something proper, and on the way there, I kept talking about crucifying politicians. He knew that I was having an episode. Old music on the radio. His sweet laugh. Warm tea in our stomach better than alcohol into the night. He took care of me as if I was a baby again. A baby who talked about torture. A baby who could talk about nothing but revenge. From who? I don't know. I don't even remember what I said half the time. He laughed. He gave me food.


I took around a month. I read the very article detailing the murder my direct relative has carried out. The very article written by my father who works deeply in these matters. Oral history, if you will, more of the journalism type. It was filled with guilt.

People are killing each other back in the day. It makes people join the illegal paramilitary organizations. When the paramilitary carries out a killing, the village of the killers become famous for being "heroic". So, my relative and a few friends (all of them in the paramilitary) hear about it. They decide to kill someone so our village becomes heroic, too.

They pick a shepherd, a civilian, who belongs to the "other community". They go to the field, greet him, smoke with him. He understands that he'll be killed. He asks that the little flute in his hand that he carved will be given to his child.

They kill the shepherd. Hands shaking, they kill him. They kill a civilian there, throw his body down the well. They kill his dog because it barked. Down the well. They steal a few of his sheep. They eat the sheep and feast at night.


It was 1963. Exactly 40 years before my birth.


I've known this guy. He loved me. I loved him. I still love him. I still cry when I think about his death. He died a few years ago and I only knew about this murder this year. I use his goddamn cane. I have him set as my wallpaper as a family picture. I might as well have been his favorite grandchild.

Don't curse him.

My father let me know that he regretted this. He admitted this. Confessed what he has done. All the other things the paramilitary made him do. My father wrote them, sent to newspapers, documented them. They formed some sort of a community to expose the paramilitary. He himself then helped with some missing persons search. He cried about his crime until his death.


I didn't want to call him a war criminal. I sat down and took an hour or two, reading through the Geneva Convention shit. It fucked me up. In the times of armed conflict (I believe this can be called a civil war), being a member of an armed group (paramilitary), hurting civilians. This is a war crime. And I can't say those words, it makes me feel horrible because I love him, but if I want peace on the island, I have to face this past. He is a war criminal. I descend from a war criminal.



I thought about what to do. The shepherd had at least two children. Two children. One son, one daughter. Can't find them, can I? Is his body found? Do I show up at their door with six sheep, saying, "I'm sorry that 60 years ago, my grandfather-"

What do I do? Find my grandfather's gun if he had one, bring it to them in a box, and ask them to shoot me in the very field? I wish. I fucking wish. I wished that. I dreamed of that. I thought about that. I planned that.



And when I go back home, I know that war criminals are not some kind of "distant breed", the type you'll only see on newspapers. No. I see them. I just don't know that they are one. They drink coffee and beer, they chat, they feast, they laugh. They are the kindest people on earth. Some believe they have done the right thing. Some regret it. You will never know who is a killer and who is not. You will never fucking know. They are all around you. There are war criminals everywhere and they are the sweetest people on earth. You love them, they love you, and they have fucking murdered and raped and looted and tortured and-



At least it was just murder, not rape, right? Can't believe I'm saying those words. Excuse me for it all.

He didn't torture either. There was mutual-looting after people were all driven out of their homes, and people excuse it as long as it was just to cover what they have lost in the war. But we have another incident in the family, a kid of our family taken by army to loot an enclosed city, but that's not her fault. That's on the army. That's a whole another thing. I won't get to this.



I feel sick. I feel so fucking sick. My grandfather lived well. He raised my father to hate war with its everything. My father didn't manage to raise me to hate war, because he'd rather avoid the topic of war except the times he'd shout that it's ALWAYS horrible and ALWAYS kids are dying and I'm a fucking fascist if I advocate for death. He was right, but I was young and just wanted to debate. He could have explained things better, but he is a massacre witness. I grew up and learnt about his dark memories. I never push him to talk about things, but I let him ease his burden onto me. Someone's gotta take the family burden in every generation. My father did. Now I do.

People act like war criminals are men in suits. I've never seen my grandfather in a suit. He'd give me a knife on the field to cut cucumbers off. We'd pick eggs from the farm. He'd cheer and laugh and down three cans of beer in less than an hour. Never knew how much of a pain he had in him. Worst mistake you can ever make in the days of your youth. It ran through our blood. It is in my blood. It's not going away.

It's in our blood.

Every friend of "my community" had at least one family member in the paramilitary. Sometimes it was to defend the village, yes. Could be just logistics, too. But some killed. We don't like asking questions, but we have to. Soon enough, they will die. Someone has to save the crimes from getting lost into history so if someone's grandchild approaches us and asks where their grandpa's bones are, we can tell them the story of how the very person we love has murdered the very person they never got to see.

And I am so fucking sorry about it.



I had deep thoughts about war criminals after the revelation, you know? I ended up with this: I do not stand for war criminals, I stand for humans. But sometimes those categories overlap. I mean, every war criminal is a human.

It's not some sort of de-nazification. You are not going to scrape off their faces from family photos. You are not supposed to curse their names upon mentioning. You have to mourn for his crime, you have to mourn for his victim and pray for him, you have to do ANYTHING to make things right. You have to devote your entire life to peace between communities so you can make things right. You have to remember this bitter story. You have to get sick of remembering this, so you will NEVER EVER point a gun at your neighbor. Never ever stand for hate. Never fucking advocate for shit like this.



My grandfather would admit in an interview with my father that they made the island like this. Their actions, the fucking paramilitary and the constant fear-turned-hate would divide us, kill us. He'd expose the paramilitary. He'd curse it until his death.

And he saved lives. One time, a paramilitary would give a death order. My grandfather went and warned the guy discreetly, causing him to abandon his home and move far away. Away from the island. Paramilitary would never get to the guy. The guy would be safe. Very bitter about leaving home behind, yes, but alive.

And my grandfather would be ratted out by the paramilitary to the armed forces of the "other side". He'd be captured and beaten up. Perhaps they planned to kill him, but they didn't do it. My grandfather walked out alive that day, and quit the paramilitary. This happens long after the war crime. And my grandfather lives his life praising his old neighbors of the "other community", emphasizing how war shouldn't have happened. He keeps saying that hate&fear was a mistake.

He's dead. God bless his soul. I can't get over his death. I visited his grave with my father quite often. One time I dipped my finger in his soil and ate a bit of it. The soil, I mean. I ate a bit of soil in the most intimate ritualistic-like ways a tribe member could do. I'd touch his gravestone, think of his smile, and break down. I held his cane so close to me, kept on picking lemons from his tree in the garden, and kept on loving it. After my education, I'll move to his now-empty house, and I'll make things right.

I'm working on political projects to make things right. Establishing trust. Openly cursing the paramilitary to the expense of friends and loved ones. People hate me for speaking so loud like that. They say, "The paramilitary was there to save you! The army came in to save you!" and I fucking tell them about the massacres. I think of the war crime. People tell me, "The other community killed you!". My grandfather killed a civilian. My grandmother had a doctor of the "other community" stitch the bleeding wounds of his severed fingers up, and when the army of the "other community" pointed a gun to her head, the doctor risked his own life to save my grandmother. Life is not about sides. Life is about humans. And humans are all kinds of things. Angels and war criminals. Both at the same time, too.

I'm outspoken. Father says it's dangerous but loves it. Mother says it's dangerous and hates it. I don't know half of the shit I say in anger in political matters, and my mental illness was directly diagnosed due to the Cyprus issue. This thing made me sick in the head, and I don't know what curses I say when I am mad.

But I know I'm doing the right thing.



Now, war criminals... Do they deserve to die?

They deserve to feel guilt, I'll say that. Includes my grandfather. I came up with some pretty creative torture ideas for Kissinger, I'll admit. But I can't say it for every war criminal. After all, I've known one. And he's been the sweetest person on earth. He saved lives, too. And it kills me.



It's 1:30 AM. I have a roommate in the room and it's the only thing keeping me from crying or just staring at the wall for hours. My father does it sometimes, stares at the wall emptily. I get it now. I get why he does it. I want to talk to him about it, but I never will. We will take this to our respective graves, our fucked-up father-son bond that survives not on parental acts, but on the shared trauma of the war that makes us drink and curse and die a little, day by day.



Now that I've let it all out, well, it feels weird. I tried so hard to forget about this. I tried so hard to not think about this. But anytime I'm taking a walk, thinking about Cyprus; it's there. In my head, there's always a conversation. Someone asks about it, a voice in my head asks about it. And I say, I know how the war was. My family was in it. They killed. They fucking murdered. I am so fucking sorry. I don't know who I'm apologizing to, but I just wanted to talk about this.

We all think of war criminals as people so distant. Yeah, folks lived back in 40s and died later on, yup. But you can't say the same when you have their exact nose. You smile just like them. You use their cane and the family photographs are so sweetly in your room. And you love them. And it kills you.


It kills me. I hope my sister doesn't know. I'll let her live innocently.
 
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nakadashi

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All I can say is that your feelings are valid. If you feel sad, allow yourself to cry. Cry as much as you need. And once you have done so you might be more capable of separating your feelings (which might be sadness, anger, disgust) from your ideas, particularly the idea that you are in part guilty of any crime, which by reading the story I can say you are not.

Keep going to therapy. You did a great job at writing all the thoughts you had, and might be a good idea to share a copy with your therapist so they can work on the specifics.

I wish you the best and hopefully you can recover inner peace soon.
 
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VaporwaveHistorian

The Archbishop of Nova Justiniana and All Cyprus
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All I can say is that your feelings are valid. If you feel sad, allow yourself to cry. Cry as much as you need. And once you have done so you might be more capable of separating your feelings (which might be sadness, anger, disgust) from your ideas, particularly the idea that you are in part guilty of any crime, which by reading the story I can say you are not.

Keep going to therapy. You did a great job at writing all the thoughts you had, and might be a good idea to share a copy with your therapist so they can work on the specifics.

I wish you the best and hopefully you can recover inner peace soon.
Thank you so much. This is a very comforting message. I have always expected in me that people would blame me for it, but seeing such an understanding message is soothing. Thanks a lot.

I should mention it in therapy the next time I go. I go rarely, for twice a year checkups or so, but I should. Thank you so much truly!
 
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