Alan Johnston: 100 days

June 20, 2007

Let’s keep him in our thoughts. On Monday, the BBC’s Vin Ray shared an email from John­ston, recount­ing a story from Grozny. Here it is:

I was with a journ­al­ist, not a BBC bloke, who very much liked being in a war zone, and dur­ing the battle for the city, we were in an aban­doned block of flats. We went into an apart­ment where a shell had come through the liv­ing-room wall. And I remem­ber hear­ing this guy imme­di­ately start talk­ing about wheth­er it had been a bazooka shell or a rock­et-pro­pelled gren­ade that had done the dam­age, and where the sol­dier who fired it must have been stand­ing on the street out­side.

But if you looked around the room for a minute, you could see the life that used to go on in it. You could see the books that the fam­ily used to read, and the sort of pic­tures that they liked to hang on the walls, and, from pho­to­graphs, you could see that they had three kids and that the old­est girl had gradu­ated from uni­ver­sity. Of course, their story, what had happened to them — what they were, and what they had lost — was what the war was all about. It did not really mat­ter wheth­er it was a bazooka or a rock­et that had turned their world upside down.


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