When the examining magistrate dryly tells you " I suppose you'll have to wait, if we find anything , we'll call you.", when the tired expert gathers his things in his worn attache case and the last policeman shuts the door behind him, you are alone, all with yourself. Alone in you burgled flat... Nothing will remain the same from now on. Never. Not because of the stolen TV set or video. Not because of house turned upside down and broken furniture. Its your life that is upturned. The strong feeling, that you are no Englishmen, and your home I not your castle.
Perhaps the burglars will be caught. Perhaps you'll be asked to sign a receipt and receive some of the stolen things. If the thieves haven't succeeded in disposing with everything. You'll be asked to come to be questioned once or twice, until the burglars are released on bail , or more unlikely, they are given a conditional sentence. They are good boys, from good families, and never before have done such bad things.
But all that will mean nothing to you. What has gone is your sense of security. daily, as you come back home from work, you'll be asking yourself whether the house has not been broken into. You'll no longer worry about it, rather a kind of grim curiosity. You know, you are positive that one day this will happen again . Neither will the armoured door, nor the four prong lock, nor the chain help. Nor will you get a Rotweiler , not only because it is not you preferred breed of dog, but as you're sure the dog will be stolen as well.
A gradually you pray , that next time they come , you will not be in. You will have read enough reports on crime to realize that they , THEY a kind of horrifying, cruel, remorseless faceless collective image , can also do much worse, without a wink of the eye. Much worse than getting away with a TV set. And you carry on like hat, day after day.
Any criminally motivated attack inadvertently leads to lasting behavioral changes. For no reason , one tends to become a recluse, to have a sense of being vulnerable in spite of the fact that there is no direct threat. Habits are changed. One starts thinking of how to protect himself and those around him from what he or she have lived through.
In daily contact with people from ones own circle one keeps turning back to the torment experienced. Life begins to be determined by a instance of a burgled home, rape ,or beating. A 32 - year old raped woman for years after would inadvertently say , when introduced to men " You know, I was raped some time ago". With time this had become a dominant event in her life.
The Media - from Information Source to Accomplice
The long list of details of crime and violence, and attacks only strengthen the sense of the man in the street in feeling as a potential victim. And criminals evading justice makes this feeling a real threat. When a bandit who had attacked you, who had ransacked your home, who had threatened you life is set free a day after his arrest , and you for years will struggle with the consequences of his action, one inevitably feels vulnerable, not only vulnerable, but also not avenged. No doubt, and this is a psychological trait, retribution to a certain extent reduces ones suffering.
The daily press and daily broadcasts create the general impression that anyone could be the next victim - just as something happened to X and Y yesterday. Of course , the "Thank God, it happened to him, not to me" attitude remains, yet, even behind this sadistic optimism , deeply everyone has the fear "won't it be me next time?"
A kind 70 year old woman has been in hospital several months , because of this fear. Simply because a group of teenagers beat up and mugged a neighbour of hers in the near by underpass, while she herself regularly would go over the barrier of the motorway at peak hours , returning from her daily walk in the King Boris' Garden until one day a car failed to stop on time. Today the old woman still walks with he walking stick. Of course it is the job of the media to inform the public. To inform the public in general. And that includes the seamy side of life, and all it stands for . Is that journalists fail in their ability to offer the right dose ( was the blood is too much)? Or the public in Bulgaria has not yet got used to open violence, yet the information is seen as a warning, as a threat.
A white Mercedes Benz with a blood strewn body. The doors of the luxury car are open, the bullet-riddled body is in an uncomfortable position , fallen over the steering wheel. Blood is streaming along the crack in the asphalt. The bluish light of the flood-lights gives an unreal , atmosphere to the scene, Long shadows go around the car. The successive gangster boss has been killed...
A new social category of people emerged with the arrival of democracy - that of the former sportsmen. For there was no room for youths , who in early days had worked harder on training in weight-lifting, than on literature and mathematics . And then they put away their medals and prepared base-ball bats, in search for a niche , which would ensure a fine life and wealth. They were the first victims of democracy. No sooner had the country forgotten their sports records, the bosses , pulling the strings of these mighty puppets decided they had no need of their services . They had no need of the services of those, who could recall they were those worthy of praise, not the men hidden behind the dark window of limousines , enjoying immunity from persecution, those who bought them in the very beginning. The mighty sportsmen then could turn against those , pulling their strings. That is how it all began. Stefan Mirolslavov - Kroushata ( The punch - bag) , a European and national champion in wrestling was killed by a sniper on the Lovech-Sofia road, Assoc. prof. Tsvetan Tsvetanov , a lawyer and competitor in taeekuondo - Dan 4 , and Chairman of the Central Army Sports Club and the then Bulgarian Council for Physical and Sports was shot with five shots point blank in the Iztok quarter ; the same caught up with Vassil Iliev, Atanas Komshev, Tzvetan Iliev - Baroto... Victims of the ambition to get quick rich. Get quick very rich. The public simply called them gangsters , the public thought they got what they had asked for and gave them no further thought. It was a mater of the mentality of Bulgarians - " I mind my own business, I don't get much , let them sort things out themselves". Yet this time national psychology had mislead - them - they had taken their lives in their own hands. They were in the firing line and began to buy armoured limousines, hired body-guards, placed armoured doors to their flats and offices. Sooner or later the bullet would reach them. At the same time together with the big fish all sorts of petty criminals came out, feeding the middle echelon of bandits , who in turn paid their dues to the big bosses. Although Bulgarian criminals did not join the associations of the Mafiosi around the world, they quickly made their own structures , adapting to the market and competition.
Gradually people understood that, that not only Mafioso's could be victims. Killers could be hired for 1000 Bulgarian leva. ....
It would be no exaggeration to say that every one Bulgarian has been affected by some crime, and if someone has not suffered from criminal action, it is his brother, his neighbour, his mother-in-law. In most cases , even the criminals are caught, they are never tried. There is no retribution. This no longer causes any surprise. It only makes people's fear greater, for this automatically strengthen their confidence, that whatever they do, with a good lawyer and sufficient money they will get away with it. Bandit's confidence contributes to this fear. Even the people in uniforms, the police, entrusted with law and order are cautious. For these bandits are ready to shoot a policemen, without a wink. The worst part of the story is that if a policeman applies the law to its full extent , inevitably some prosecutor and defense lawyer will come up with the charge, "Why this discrimination". The police cannot do their job in a climate of fear and insecurity, without public support. It is a vicious circle - bandits are fear nothing . The police fear for themselves, their families, their jobs. People worry about their property, their honour, their life. Fear is everywhere, only those , who should be afraid are fearless.
Why Should Children Suffer
There is a family of Gypsies in the Tzar Ivan Assen II Quarter in Sofia. The only family of Gypsies. Neighbours say they are hardworking and decent people. They make a living as best they can.
Occasionally one of the dark-skinned little girls , about 12-13 year old, goes to the little stall on the rod, next to the Printing Combine, to get chewing gum or something else, but never joins the queue, even if there are only two-or three people. The smiling child awaits for everyone to pass, and when there is no one left, passes the money and quickly leaves, always smiling.
This child has its rights like every other child. Yet it already knows that means nothing. That things are different. They can always treat you roughly, throw you out, even beat you up. Simply because you are different. Its life is dominated by the thought that it is a potential victim, a thought which will persist throughout its childhood, and be passed on, forever...
A young woman, who, thank God, has never been victim to assault has been taking her daughter to maths lessons. She waits for the lesson to finish and they go home. When the child goes o the cinema with friends inadvertently some adult accompanies it. There is nothing wrong in that, unless you realize that this child is not 5 , but 15 years old. Fear is constantly instilled in her - fear of dark corners, unknown men, fear in general. Not only does this discourage initiative, but the child is full of the bacillus of fear, which is difficult to overcome, and passed on down...
The large, deep eyes of an eight year old boy looks don from a photograph on the walls of stations, bus-stations, lamp-posts and trees, questioning eyes of Savestin Deyanov, He left his home at 17.10 on May 6th 1997 . None has seen him since... "I will be fined , if I refuse to send my child to school, who is responsible when my son is denied the right to be a pupil?" wrote Todor Deyanov Savestin's father on September 15th , when his son should have started school
The question remains unanswered. Unanswered for thousands of parents "All parents have to live in fear, and feel helpless, should what happened to me befall them" writes the desperate father. No comments are necessary.
Fear - Neutrality - Indifference
A group of scruffy, long-haired drunkards were brutally molesting a young woman. She is resisting, trying to get away. The scene took place on a central boulevard in the capital, at lunchtime. People were passing by all the time. No one stopped, no one intervened. No one is willing and ready to risk any counteraction to violence. Because another's misfortune can easily bring trouble to the person coming to someone's help. Hooligans and street bandits have no respect for the public. And the pubic no longer believe, that society has the force to resist the forces against law and order.
For it is the citizenry - the common people - the core of a civic society, that are absent. They have all hidden in the shells. The public are a force, yet are not aware of it. Citizens are alone as fear is not a binding factor. And of course , when the man in the street is assaulted, mugged, raped, kidnapped and killed in broad day light. All of us silently observe. Any act of violence and the freedom of the individual against freedom, and property provokes hidden anger. The pathological fear of becoming the next victim block the expression of this anger in a spontaneous reaction. Anger accumulates and generates hatred - hatred against powerless rulers, the rich , those who justly enjoy their wealth , and those with ill gotten wealth, against thugs, drug addicts, gypsies etc.
Hatred and anger constantly build-up. It builds-up in the members of society at odds with itself. And one day this accumulated hatred can explode and turn into violence. Uncontrolled violence. Uncontrollable force. Beyond control.
Is an Avenging Justice Facing Us?
Do you remember that film with Michael Douglas - "Descent" ? A petty official , a victim of the boring bureaucracy, a victim of merchants , who dispise everyone, a victim of traffic jams, becomes a killer. The executioner of the system, which oppressed him. The people, who humiliated him. The petty official , turned into an agent of destruction. Eventually - the force of self-destruction. For all the external oppression he wished to destroy was not so terrible , as the force of destruction within... I am not offering a lyrical note. Increasingly the victim becomes a killer , provoked by the brutality of criminals, the helplessness of the legal system, driven by the forces of survival. On the 27th of October 1997 Yavor Iliev, 22, attempted to steal the Mercedes Benz of the businessmen Edi Minasyan. The car thief was armed. The businessmen used his gun, legally registered and shot the car-thief. I will not dwell on the problem which faced the businessman proving he was shooting in self-defence. At the time of the incident the Criminal Code still had texts (Art 12 and 13) , limiting self-defence; subsequently they were revoked by the Constitutional Court. However in June 1998 Minasyan , a private person, placed an order before BBSS GALLUP, for a sociological survey. Thirty two percent approved his action, 21,4 per cent expressed more than approval, 35,1 percent would have shoot under the same circumstamnces , and 30,1 per cent hesitated, 27,5 per cent believe the law does not allow a person to defend himself, and still another 40,3 percent are ready to provide more rights to the culprit than the victim. Fourty-four point seven of those surveyed would obtain a fire arm. All these statistics are indicative. Together with the frequent instances of taking the law in one's own hands, come the call for the action of the strong hand , the introduction of capital punishment. Aren't we coming to the times of mob law? When victims become murderers, or rather double victims. For every killer is in a sui generis victim. Taking the law in one's own hands is no solution. A loaded gun under the pillow is no treatment to nightmares and a trembling hand.
Fear Keep the Garden better than the Gardener
According to specialists the crime situation in Bulgaria, in spite of some improvements, remains complex. While the total of crimes (according to data from the Ministry of the Interior) has been falling, they have begun heavier crimes. Increasingly criminals do not hesitate to use arms, even in instances where this was never heard of. Even burglars are armed today, and can lose control, at the slightest resistance . Even Police have been shot.
So the man in the street has every reason for fear, and so do the police cause for concern. Fear should protect us from becoming victims. Not to become victims of fear. Precautions - without becoming a persecution mania and paranoia, could in fact protect us and a relatives and friends, and our homes against burglars. And that protection is not turning to the gun, the pump-gun, the Rothweiler, and an electric current along the barb-wire fence. Simply because one hears a shuffle, there is no reason to draw our gun. We should know what to do, at the right time, and how to help ourselves, and our neighbours.
Fear in Bulgaria has reached the stage when there is talk for the need of a strong hand. Not even a velvet glove. People are ready to part with some democratic rights, in order to feel safe.
It was easy for fear to be born. It came in place of the old fears from totalitarian days. And the efforts of society as a whole will be needed to drive it out. We need the confidence, that no criminal can be stronger than society, protecting its values. Of course , values are also necessary, which society will stand for.