Ukraine has many reasons to hate the Russians, but there is no need to strip humanity even from the enemy, writes HS’s foreign correspondent Pekka Mykkänen.
Foreign reporter at work you come across situations, stories and images that cause great depression and sometimes even nightmares. I describe some such things below and therefore encourage sensitive readers to read something else.
My descriptions are related to situations where the parties to wars have stopped treating the other side as human beings.
Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Jussi Halla-aho (ps) recently wrote on Facebook, that the dehumanization and demonization of the Russians who invaded Ukraine is necessary in order to kill the Russians as efficiently as possible. This sparked a debate in Finland.
Read more: Making war does not require demonizing the enemy, say war experts
Read more: According to Halla-aho, demonizing Russian soldiers is necessary – other members of the Foreign Affairs Committee comment
According to him, it is useful in war to get rid of the inhibitions that might hinder killing.
“In normal times, this inhibition allows society to exist as we know it. In wartime it is a disadvantage. This inhibition is aimed at suppressing by stripping the enemy to be killed of his humanity, i.e. by demonizing him or describing him as a rat, cockroach or other disgusting animal.
Halla-aho’s words are startling. In a different social situation, they could be dangerous.
I am traveled as a journalist to more than ten conflict zones. One of the trips, to Rwanda in the summer of 1994, came right back to me when I read Halla-aho’s comment.
In the propaganda of the architects of the Rwandan genocide, the Tutsi victims of the genocide were called cockroaches and snakes. Such speeches helped set off a hundred-day wave of killings that involved tens of thousands of people and killed perhaps 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus.
The dehumanization of another part of the population was invisible and the murder was as concrete as possible. A large number of people were mutilated with machetes. Between and in connection with the killing, there was rape, a lot. According to the UN estimate, there were 100,000–250,000 rape victims.
On the second day of the genocide, April 7, 1994, a bloodthirsty mob chased the first and so far only female prime minister in Rwanda’s history Agathe Uwilingiyimanan. He was no more seen as a decision-maker of his country than as a person.
Uwilingiyimana’s body was left lying at the crime scene, almost naked, with a bottle of beer stuffed into her genitals. Half of his face was torn from a bullet, said the eyewitnesses who found the prime minister later at the Rwanda genocide trial.
The victims of the Rwandan genocide lay on a plant holiday in May 1994. Picture: Reuters
Halla-aho assesses in his article that the “demonization and carnivalization of killing” of Russian soldiers is right and necessary, even a kind of mental health project that would benefit Ukraine and its allies.
“If Russian soldiers are thought of as valuable people and they are STILL killed, I believe this has much more damaging consequences both for the mental health of Ukrainian soldiers and the Westerners who help them, and for the reconstruction of a normal society after the war,” Halla-aho stated.
Halla-aho talked about the carnivalization of killing, apparently in the context of the “jaxuhali grenades” donated to Ukraine, but that thought reminded me of a different kind of killer carnival – the ones seen in West African Liberia in the spring and summer of 1996. There, for a few weeks, the warfare turned surreal into a horror film where humanity screamed his absence.
For weeks, the capital, Monrovia, was on the rampage with drug addicts fighters. The members of the squads, consisting of young men and little boys, shot each other with assault rifles and beat off the heads of captured enemy fighters.
Numerous fighters also engaged in cannibalism and were commanded by “generals” with nicknames such as George Bush, Saddam Hussein, Butt Naked and Fuck Me Quick. It was as if in Liberia they had tried to break all the records of how outrageously war can be fought.
I chatted A British cameraman for Channel 4 in Liberia Wise Team, who had been following the Monrovia massacre for weeks and was shaken by the experience. He said that his employer could not show nearly all the material he filmed.
“I watched through the camera from a few meters away as one of the guerillas lifted the bloody heart from the cauldron and showed a piece of it with a crazy gleam in his eyes. There were two bodies in the background, whose entrails had been torn out,” Wise said.
Wise said he tried to ask the fighters why they had engaged in cannibalism. That what had happened to them.
“They walked away embarrassed. They didn’t dare to talk about the whole thing, because it’s not really in their blood. Their reactions can be compared to a moral hangover.”
They may have been gnawed at by the guilt of crimes that led, for example, to the president of Liberia by Charles Taylor to be sentenced to 50 years in prison for crimes against humanity. Humanity.
A fighter carries his wounded comrade in Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, during the raging war in May 1996. Picture: Corinne Dufka / Reuters
Here at one point one might think that what else could be expected from untrained African fighters. You can answer that inhuman behavior stalks those participating in the war regardless of continent, skin color, education level and declared ideals. That’s what the Russian soldiers are with their brutality witnessed.
This is also evidenced by the torture practiced by US soldiers and intelligence officers in the so-called war against terrorism at the beginning of the millennium.
The United States justified torture by saying that it was not torture in the first place – or that it was a strictly limited activity and even more so in accordance with the constitution. And, of course, the aim was to obtain important information to protect innocent lives.
But soon from “light torture” (torture lite) there was brutal violence that led to the death of several people. And sometimes just plain fun without any informational purpose.
Iraqi In the Abu Ghraib prison, American soldiers ripped souvenir photos of themselves. In one of the most sickening pictures, a war dog barked at a terrified Iraqi prisoner in the cell corridor, who had been stripped of his clothes in addition to his humanity.
American soldiers also took souvenir photos of an Iraqi man who had been beaten to death and buried in the ice Manadel al-Jamadin next to the body. The soldiers, smiling broadly in the photos, called al-Jamad by the carnivalesque nickname Frosty, a reference to the children’s snowman song Frosty the Snowman.
American soldier Sabrina Harman took a souvenir photo of herself next to the body of Iraqi man Manadel al-Jamadi, who had been beaten to death in Abu Ghraib prison in November 2003. Harman was sentenced to six months in prison for prisoner abuse and dismissed from the armed forces. Picture: US Administration
In December 2007 in Chicago, I interviewed an American soldier named Tony Lagouranis. He said that he was ashamed of his actions, which produced insignificant benefits for US intelligence, but which created trauma for both the tortured and the torturers.
Lagouranis said that he had used sleep deprivation and stress positions on the Iraqis. He kept prisoners cold and hot, intimidated and humiliated. One prisoner was tricked into a mock execution by Lagouranis. They are notoriously horrible experiences. He scared another prisoner with a dog because “the dark side of me wanted to see how the man who defied us for a long time covered his balls in fear.”
Lagouranis, who considered himself a war criminal, but like many others was not prosecuted, suffered from nightmares, hallucinations and panic attacks due to his experiences in Iraq. He was released from military service due to mental problems.
Since the end of the Cold War, the strategic goals of the United States have included spreading democracy and human rights to the world. The torture practiced at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere worked perfectly against this goal.
The United States tried to explain that torture was committed by “rotten apples”. But with hundreds of cases, the view of the rotten apple tree opened before the world, as an American professor of law and philosophy David Luban has stated. The rot had spread in the armed forces and among the intelligence people like an ink blot on paper.
Authorities opened the graves of Ukrainian civilians and soldiers who died in the war in Izjum in September. Picture: Outi Pyhäranta / HS
Jussi Halla-aho stated in his article that the HS would have been guilty of “piousness” and terror detached from reality, when the paper reported that Ukrainians have also possibly committed war crimes, for example by executing those who surrendered.
I assume Halla-aho is referring to recently to the things I writein which I stated, based on videos published on social media, that Ukrainian soldiers may have been guilty of the executions of surrendered Russian soldiers.
Is telling about suspected war crimes pious horror? Are surrendered Russian soldiers rats and cockroaches that can be treated accordingly?
The UN Human Rights Office and the Ukrainian prosecutor’s office have announced that the events shown in and surrounding the videos will be thoroughly investigated. While investigating the war crimes allegations, Ukraine is signaling that it is ready to wage war in accordance with international humanitarian law agreements, no matter how the other side acts.
HS:n interviewed according to military experts, there is no need to motivate Ukrainians to defend their country by raising blind hatred or dehumanizing Russians.
“If the enemy is seen as a rat or a cockroach, such an attitude can lead to excesses and war crimes. The good side of professionalism is precisely that the laws of war are followed. That way you can live with your own actions after the war,” said the docent of military sciences Ilmari Käihkö.
I went In Ukraine at the beginning of the Great War last spring, and the memory of the trip left me with the feeling that I got to experience something special: to be a guest of a great, heroic and humane nation.
Ukrainians have a million justified reasons to hate Russians, but the signs of giving up their own humanity are not visible among Ukrainians in general. Ukraine does not want to return to the time before the Geneva Conventions, which define the rules of war and, among other things, the humane treatment of prisoners of war.
The best mental health project for Ukraine is to understand right now that sometimes the war is over – and that history knows how to distinguish the brave defenders of their homes and families from those who put their humanity on hold.
Therefore, Ukraine has already won the war, every day since the aggressor crossed its borders.