Sunday, September 03, 2006

Beslan Remembered

"The whole world now knows this little town. It would have been better if no one knew where Beslan was," a man said softly during a funeral ceremony.

- Taipei Times, September 7th, 2004

Russians of all ages have been remembering the Beslan school bloodbath, two years on.

A woman lights a candle in the destroyed school gym, where more than 1,000 hostages were held by pro-Chechen gunmen.

Flowers and bottles of water adorn the floor of the gym to remember those who perished. The bottles of water are a stark reminder of how the children were left without food or water by their captors during those 3 days. One, as I am told, still sees fresh flowers everywhere one looks. So many that their sweet scent is overwhelming; so strong that one can almost touch it.

Two years on, this incident still remains a raw nerve for many - myself included. And if it pains me to even think about it, I can hardly imagine the anguish felt by the people of Beslan.

Moving on would seem impossible - it would seem a betrayal of their memory. They seem to be living in two parallel worlds; one where life goes on and another where it has stopped on the last day of the siege.

I ask that my readers pray continually for the residents of this town. In particular, we must pray for them in order that they may once again have peace in their hearts. Let the following story give testimony to the extent of horror and trauma experienced:

In a small flat in one of Beslan's characterless compounds, nine-year-old Laima draws a picture. It shows an armed terrorist, his face covered by a mask.

She draws several pictures until she is finally happy with the result. Then she picks it up, tears it to pieces and sets it on fire with matches.

"I draw the terrorist and burn them for all the children who died in the school. I want to take revenge on them for killing those children."

Since her lucky escape, Laima has been engaged in drawing and burning these pictures almost every day.


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