They go from house to house, rounding up the innocents, while we stand, safety catches locked, doing nothing. It’s orders, policy. Doors are kicked in, wailing villagers extracted, herded like cattle into a corral by the market. Even up wind we can smell their sweat, their fear. Peacekeeper, I spit and the word seems to settle there in the sand. Still we do nothing.
The sun scalds, bleaching the mud brick streets the colour of bone, so that even the shadows hide. Muzzles are raised, bolts drawn back, ready for the slaughter. The lieutenant mutters ‘stay focussed’ but there are orders and there is what is right. I am a man, before I am a soldier. I raise my rifle, the first butcher dies and now we are truly weapons free.