December 4th, 2008
05:32 PM ET

Voices of hope in the face of evil

Program Note: Christiane Amanpour introduces you to the courageous few who saw evil and tried to stop the killing. December 4, 9 p.m. ET

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/WORLD/europe/11/24/sbm.amanpour.essay/art.amanpour.jpg caption="CNN's Christiane Amanpour in a Sarajevo cemetery; she returned to Bosnia for "Scream Bloody Murder.""]

Christiane Amanpour | BIO
CNN International Correspondent

No one teaches reporters how to cover a war, much less wars that include genocide. Most of us rely on the wisdom of experienced colleagues and a lot of on-the-job training.

My first war assignment - Bosnia, in the 1990s - included visits to the Sarajevo morgue to see the bodies. How else would a journalist know exactly how many Muslim children were cut down by Bosnian Serb snipers? How else could we put names to civilians left faceless by mortar shells from the surrounding hills? I learned what it means to bear witness.

I found my voice and my mission in Bosnia. I learned to seek the facts, to tell the truth no matter how difficult or unpopular. I learned that objectivity meant covering all sides and giving all sides their hearing, but never to draw a false moral equivalence when none exists. I learned never to equate victims with their aggressors. I learned that there are limits to the style of journalism that goes: "On the one hand, on the other hand."

Most of all, I learned that as reporters our words and our actions have consequences and that we must use this powerful platform, television, responsibly.

But how many times have people asked me, when I've come back from a place like Bosnia or Rwanda: Is it really that bad? I have found that many people want to believe that I am exaggerating. I guess they do not want to believe such evil can exist. Or perhaps they just do not want to be pushed into that moral space where they would have to take a stand and do something.


soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. Anna, HK

    Thank you for your report on Genocide, showing a face of the world that many of us definitely would not see in reality. Highlighting the importance to recognise the early signs when evil is happening & put a halt to it. There is evil in the world, but I believe that good & hope will triumph over evil.., a time when the world will see heroes... discerning individuals that will see what is happening & tell the world that it must be stopped.

    December 5, 2008 at 8:12 am |
  2. Hakan S.

    This was a great program, but it failed to include another genocide that took place right here in U.S.A... The killings of the Native Indians for their land and locking them into reservation camps! I don't feel good about realizing that my ancestors might have been capable of killing innocent Armenians during 1900 century. But it is unfair to blame younger generations for crimes committed by previous generations. This is not the way to achieve reconciliation.

    December 5, 2008 at 3:23 am |
  3. Ilhana, Bosnia

    Christiane Amanpour is a bright light in the world of journalism, and has done tremendous job in informing the Western world about the genocide in Bosnia.
    Even though more than a decade has passed since the war, the reminders are still here, and not until every single Serbian war criminal is in prison we will not see a step in the right direction in overcoming the horrible consequences we are still faced with.

    In response to jim's theories – Bosnian Serbs were NOT justified – they wanted to exterminate Bosniaks in their own country Bosnia, following the split between countries of former Yugoslavia (where Bosnian nation was always denied and put under a Serb-Croat rug). If you need proof of that, please visit Srebrenica and thousands and thousands of graves there, Sarajevo, and thousands upon thousands of graves there, Bosanska Krupa, Foča and all other cities, towns and villages in Bosnia. They all bear the horrible mark of genocide. Please inform yourself before you state that the slaughtering, raping, wounding, sniper killing, mutilating innocent men, women and children, sieges was somehow "justified"!
    Europe should have done something, instead they just watched this genocide happening. Attacks against Serbian paramilitary forces of butchers should have started way before any of this happened. As it is, I along many other of my fellow countrymen and women were fortunate enough to survive the genocide, but there are some 150.000 + that didn't. And now these same butchers, many of them still walking the streets of the cities they bombed and depopulised, are trying to finish what they did during the war. Karadžić wants to make a mockery out of the tribunal in Hague, but I, like many Bosniaks, keep hope that he will be judged properly and sentence to life in prison, although the only proper sentence for him and his butchers would be to deport them to Srebrenica and experience life in the concentration camps, and even that would be mild. Mothers of Srebrenica should judge them, mothers who lost all their sons, their husband, father, brother, uncle, everyone.

    p.s. People who commit terrorist attacks are not true followers of any faith, so please don't equal Muslims with those extremist groups.

    December 5, 2008 at 2:56 am |
  4. MULGA

    I have been watching the fabulous presentation by Cristiane Amanpaur about the "screaming Bloody Murder" – Genocide. In this instance something strike me when I heard from Christiane the word "BUTROS BUTROS GALI" The then Secretary of United nations . It remind me that Mr. Gali (I am not sure if I spelled his name correctly) was the worst, incompetent, inupt sectetafry ever since the United Nations Organzation came into existence. Genocide, war, coruption, unrest, hunger, disease etc. took place all over the world in his era. Farther more, his atemptd to pullout the United Nation's pease keepers from Ruwanda while slaughtering process under way on Ruwandan citizens but failed when the refusal of the then hero General, Chief Commander of the Pease Keepers, to do so. This shows that his characterstics that he is decieved racist criminal. There fore, he is responsible for victims of criminal activities, hunger, disease, and human rights violations int the world under his watch during his reign. Finally, I like to appreciate Cristiane Amanpour for her dedication bringing into attention these international crisises.

    Thank you!

    December 5, 2008 at 2:44 am |
  5. Jen

    I watched your special "Screaming Bloody Murder", with awe and shame. Awe for the victims who showed enormous strength, in the face of horrific personal and national tragedies, shame for the rest of us who enjoy the luck of being born in the right place at the right time, yet oblivious to the suffering of our brothers and sisters around the world. If you believe, as I believe that beyond our physical presence, we are but souls with experiences and thoughts from so many connected lives, we need to share the reponsibility of action. It's not the responsibility of the politicians, or UN. It's each one of us, one step at a time, one day at a time. Thank you so much for educating us from your courageous career as a front-line reporter.

    December 5, 2008 at 2:07 am |
  6. Tammy, Berwick. LA

    Thank you for continuing to shed light on these atrocities. On Tuesday I showed the map and slides from this program to my high school freshmen. They are reading Night for me and had recently watched Hotel Rwanda in another course, but it still wasn't sinking in for some. When they saw the slides from Bosnia and Rwanda and Darfur and realized these events happened during their lifetime, it became real for them finally. They asked hard questions, many that have no answers. And they began thinking about right and wrong in humanity in a way they haven't before. We can never forget, and education and remembrance are the keys. This was one amazing way to accomplish that.

    December 4, 2008 at 11:32 pm |
  7. Shannon

    As I watched the special I was struck by a thought that was a little disturbing to me but worth mentioning....It seemed to me that Genocide was a little like a forest fire....almost a way of thinning out a population or so to speak. I know it's a Terrible thing and should Never happen under any condition and that the people responsible are evil and unstable, I just thought there were weird parallels.

    December 4, 2008 at 9:27 pm |
  8. Texas

    Christiane Amanpour, you are incredibly brave; your work is not in vain.

    December 4, 2008 at 9:09 pm |
  9. Minou, New York City

    "..perhaps they just don't want to be pushed into that moral space where they would have to take a stand and do something."

    It's a lot more convenient to ignore the problems of the world than realizing we are all responsible for one another. Regardless of how far apart we live, in the end, we are all one, and what one person does affects all others.
    Thank you for being one of the most trustworthy reporters ever! When you talk, I listen.

    December 4, 2008 at 8:31 pm |
  10. Max

    I think a LOT of people don't BELIEVE things unless they see it or KNOW it first hand ...

    People are desensitized by various forms of MEDIA including movies.

    December 4, 2008 at 8:05 pm |
  11. pati mc., camp hill, pa


    For years I have held you above all reporters and in my very highest esteem.

    It is quite simply for this very reason: "Most of all, I learned that as reporters our words and our actions have consequences and that we must use this powerful platform, television, responsibly."

    If only more would follow your lead.

    Anxiously I await "Scream Bloody Murder" later this evening. Thank you for your dedication to the most horrid and difficult subjects and continued health and sucess to you in the future.

    December 4, 2008 at 8:02 pm |
  12. jim

    We should not have even gone to Bosnia. The developed countries in Europe should have got involved. After all, it is in their own back yard. I don't have all the facts but it is possible the Bosnian Serbs were justified. After all Christiane Amanpour muslims are causing 95% of terrorists attacks. I do believe they killed innocent women and children. I guess it is acceptable for them to do this. I definitely wouldn't turn my back on them.

    The United Nations should address the Rwanda crisis. They can use military from developed countries in Europe for what little military they have. The US should just provide logisitics support.

    December 4, 2008 at 7:59 pm |
  13. Joanne, Solvay, NY

    What can we actually do to prevent such attrocity? We tried to become the "world police"...and now, we pay with the ruined lives of our fighting men and women, injury, lasting psychological problems, our failing economy....These issues belong to the world, not just the USA. I don't blame our presidents, past and present, my eyes turn to the UN.

    December 4, 2008 at 6:54 pm |
  14. Melissa, Los Angeles

    I'm completely baffled as to why the Clinton administration did nothing against the Bosnian Serbs. How can our government allow the slaughter in Rwanda and Darfur? After the Holocaust I would think this country would do everything possible to prevent such terror from happening again yet those 3 instances prove that this country and others still have learned nothing.

    December 4, 2008 at 6:14 pm |