Ex-Combatant Buildings: Reply

June 25, 2018

 Image by BLAIR LYONEV 

 

Violeta writes, "From personal experience of living in the country which was subject of NATO intervention, although I was not directly affected, just passing by destroyed and still not reconstructed buildings makes me feel anxious and uncomfortable. Do these damaged places deserve ‘’another chance’’? In my opinion, yes".

 

One of the most perceptible consequences of every conflict is visual change in the environment, primarily, the change in the constructions. During military interventions, buildings could be totally or partially destroyed, or their purpose could be changed, e.g. schools become detention centers, community center is used as interrogation and torture space, sport arena is space for forced recruited persons training, etc. Additionally, how to perceive the 10 floors tall building which was home for 50 families, if many of its residents were killed or injured during the bomb attack?

 

From personal experience of living in the country which was subject of NATO intervention, although I was not directly affected, just passing by destroyed and still not reconstructed buildings makes me feel anxious and uncomfortable. Do these demolished spots deserve ‘’another chance’’? In my opinion, yes.

 

Almost two decades later, instead of having horrifying “monuments”, these places could have ‘’second life’’, and with this approach, new generations would be spared from anger, bitterness and hatred, which is still existing, despite the fact that, most of them were not even born during the bombing.  And people who went through that horrifying experience will have a chance to go on with their lives with less stress caused with ‘’standing reminders’’.

 

Yes, it is possible to address the buildings with combatant characteristics, and yes, they could be objects of a DDR, Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration approach, however, there is something missing, an important element to add to this this construct. The Rehabilitation, of persons and objects, in this case, ex-combatant buildings.

 

The question is, who among them, face more difficult and more complex role in the rehabilitation, reconciliation and the process of acceptance - Is it the individuals such as an ex-combatant, or a wider collective, as many conceive the built environment to be?

 

Tackling collective emotions, trauma and memories related to conflict is a complex, but necessary step towards reconciliation and reconstruction; however, it could not be replicated. Every conflict is unique, specific and caused by different goals and in different context, and has different consequences. The same is with the approaches to deal with trauma and emotions. How to fit the volume of individual initiative necessary for progress, reintegration and rehabilitation, with the extent of social cohesion mandatory for changes?

 

And finally, post-conflict social cohesion when it comes to buildings and their ‘’reintegration’’ should be based on consensus of community members of that particular micro location. It is related to their past, traumas, memories and future.

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