|My 48 hours alone with Radovan Karadzic|
|Написао Jessica Stern | Nytimes.com|
|четвртак, 23 јануар 2020 19:14|
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Why Did I Let a Convicted War Criminal Practice Energy Healing on Me?
By Jessica Stern | Jan. 16, 2020 | Sunday Review | Nytimes.com
(Ms. Stern is the author of the forthcoming “My War Criminal: Personal Encounters with an Architect of Genocide.”)
There were several times during our discussions that Radovan Karadzic wanted to demonstrate his skill at bioenergetic healing. The first was on Jan. 23, 2015, during the third of 12 four-hour-long conversations we had between October 2014 and November 2016. We were sitting in our little chairs at our little wooden table in the small room allocated to us by the United Nations prison in The Hague. Mr. Karadzic had gone into hiding following his 1995 indictment for genocide and crimes against humanity, including for his role in the murder of 8,000 men and boys in Srebrenica during the Bosnian war. I wanted to understand why he had disguised himself as an energy healer when he was on the lam.
During the period he was a fugitive, he took on a new identity. He lost about 70 pounds, and grew out his hair. In lieu of tailored suits, he took to wearing ratty clothes. He grew a very long beard, the beard of a mystic, and took on a new name and a new profession. The former president of Republika Srpska, Bosnia’s breakaway Serbian province, became Dragan David Dabic, an energy healer offering spiritual cures for infertility and disease.
For more than a decade, the disguise worked: Mr. Karadzic was the subject of the largest manhunt in modern history, before the one for Osama bin Laden. He was finally apprehended by Serbian intelligence operatives in Belgrade in 2008. On March 24, 2016, the United Nations Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia found him guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity and sentenced him to 40 years’ imprisonment. Three years later, the appeals chamber increased his sentence to life.
This is dangerous work, the work I do, studying violent men or men who incite violence. I have to listen without judgment. I have to yield, if only temporarily, to their image of themselves. I can often hover above myself in my imagination, monitoring my reactions. But that doesn’t mean I’m never afraid of falling in or losing myself. I had known, when I’d persuaded the court to let me interview Mr. Karadzic, that I would have to surrender to his idea of himself — as a powerful mystic, a great poet, and a respected psychiatrist.
“Why did you decide to become a naturopath when you were in hiding?” I asked him on that day in January 2015. “Is it really true that no one recognized you when you were in disguise?”
He laughed. “I always say that those who knew me had no idea where I was, and those who knew where I was had no idea who I was.” He smiled, like a prideful, naughty child. For a moment I could see what he must have looked like as a boy.
It wasn’t really a disguise, he said. He was truly interested in bioenergetic healing. I noticed his features relaxing. Up until this point, in the 10 hours we had already spent together, we had stuck mostly to “safe” issues — history and literature. But this subject — the period he’d spent disguised as a doctor of alternative medicine — seemed to revitalize him.
He told me that when he was young and “not wise,” his mother had told him about mystical healing. “I laughed, knowing it couldn’t possibly be true. But later I understood that there are things we don’t understand that are still true.”
He continued: “I’ve seen some very strange things. A relative of my mother used to whisper to animals to heal them. I saw her do it. One of our sheep got bitten by a snake. The sheep was dying. She grabbed the sheep’s ear and whispered something into it. Then the sheep stood up, shook itself off, and walked away.” The memory of this marvel gave him obvious pleasure. I noticed that his prison-pale face had grown flushed, that he looked younger than his 70 years.
Imagining this scene, I relaxed my guard somewhat. In my mind’s eye, I saw the sheep stand up, shake itself, and walk free.
“We had a lot of land, some cultivated, some quite wild,” he continued. “We children were very curious about the wild land, but also scared. There were many snakes. We had a cat. The cat liked to run out in the uncultivated part of our property, just as we did. One day I saw the cat staring at a snake. The two of them just staring at each other.” He paused. I tried to imagine the scene. I don’t like snakes.
“Finally, the snake bit the cat,” he said. “Then I saw the cat start to eat some leaves. Many leaves. Who ever heard of a cat eating leaves? After two hours she threw up. Then she was fine.”