I went from Baku to Ganja by bus today. Before arriving in Ganja the bus stopped here and there along the road to drop people. At one of those stops a woman started to scream out loud and full of fear. Everybody turned his or her head and I saw the woman, crying and screaming and trying to stay seated in the far corner of her seat and a man standing in the central corridor of the bus, pulling her hair, battering her violently, twisting her arm and yelling at her. The whole bus was starring at them, but nobody was trying to calm down the man, let alone to help the woman or to stop his beating. The people in the bus, including the drivers, didn’t even say one word. I was shocked from this situation, from the violence of the men, the fear of the woman, and mostly from the apparent and willful unresponsiveness of the people. I asked why isn’t anybody intervening, why isn’t anybody doing anything? The people just shrugged. Shouting the men dragged the screaming woman forcibly out of the bus and pushed her in a car that was waiting at the street. The bus driver immediately pulled out and everything seemed to be forgotten. I asked one driver and some other people in the bus why everybody is so ignorant and the people just said that those things happen and that it’s the family’s problem.
Civil courage is rare all around the world but this doesn’t justify abdicating from one’s responsibility to back people, who are exposed to acute violence. The reasons for the conflicts do not matter. It is none of our business why two people are fighting and arguing with each other. We are not to judge who is there to blame and this does not matter after all. But I strongly believe that it is our business if a person screams out of fear and if we witness how a person is beaten and exposed to violence. This makes us responsible to intervene, to back the person in need and to stop the violence. But of course, to feel this responsibility we firstly need to perceive every human being regardless their gender, age, skin color, believes or passport as equal.
It seems easy to call for civil courage, but it is difficult to muster civil courage. Apart from asking the other people around to intervene, to do anything and to stop this, I honestly didn’t know what to do, I only was and I am still shocked and frightened.