The human war
The Wellcome gallery on Euston road, London has an excellent exhibtion of Mexican Votive paintings, at the end of the show the curators invite viewers to contribute an experience they would like to see commemorated in a votive painting. I wrote a brief description, see below and was touched and moved when I was contacted by illustrator Melanie Winning explaining she had used my story for a votive image. There is something incredibly theraputic seeing such a traumatic expereince through the eyes of another. Thank you Melanie.
"I was working as a human rights observer and had been asked to remain in the village of Sieda, in the north of the West bank near Tulkarem.
Two wanted men were captured by the Israeli Army, and the villagers asked me to negotiate with the soldiers to make sure the men were not shot or injured before being taken to trial.
I walked over the hill several times to speak with the soldiers asking to check on the condition of the arrested men.
The third time I went to check with the guards, in the house next to where the arrested men were being questioned: I noticed six children aged from about three to eleven years, each with a different soldier holding a gun to that child's head, while the adults of the house desperately rushed around bringing the soldiers photographs and documents.
I pulled out my camera to film this horrific scenario; not noticing an Israeli sniper in the bushes. The sniper then trained his green laser on me moving the laser slowly up and down between my stomach and my heart.
I shouted to him that I was not armed, while still trying to film the six children being held at gun point.
I walked backwards attempting to get out of the range of the gun and up some stairs.
A man allowed me to take shelter in his house; where I continued to try and film the children through the bullet holes shot into the walls of the house.
However, the sniper's gun may have had some heat seeking sensor and he remained able to track me as I moved inside the house.
I went outside so if the soldier did shoot me he could not claim it was an accident.
I was shaking so much it was hard to film.
The Israeli border police arrived and the laser was taken off me and the soldiers took their guns away from the children's heads.
I am grateful that no one was killed, not the six children or my self and I wish to thank who or whatever kept myself and the children safe that day.
Pennie Quinton, Sieda village near Tulkarem in the West Bank, Palestine.
For the people of Sieda village near Tulkarem for sheltering me while I was held at gun point."