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Darkness in the heart

BMJ 1995; 311 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.311.7002.459 (Published 12 August 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;311:459
  1. Ian Palmer

    When I saw pictures of victims of the holocaust I learnt that such horrors were part of the human condition and that we should remain vigilant lest such events should happen again. Fifty years on, genocide and pogroms are back. This time I did not read about them in a book. I saw them while working with the United Nations Organisation as a military psychiatrist in Bosnia and Rwanda.

    Though I had debriefed people who had been to the sites of an atrocity in both countries, I only saw such a site in Rwanda. Late one afternoon after a debriefing session of a group of Royal Engineers who had seen one of their colleagues tread on a mine I visited a site with the United Nations war crimes group where, about six months earlier, 500 to 600 men, women, and children had been massacred. I was filled with an immense foreboding as we drove up the track. The light was fading and I hoped that we had taken the wrong turning. The small church and outbuildings nestled among the trees. As I walked towards the site I was aware of scattered …

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