- By Arakan Sein
The title was given by Hans Haug For The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. It is doubtless correct not to ascribe the foundation of the Red Cross to a single person, but to the “ Committee of Five” as a whole which moreover very soon found friends and active helpers in European Countries. The members of the International Committee for Aid to Wounded Soldiers were very different in age, profession and experience and yet they all supplanted, promoted and supported one another.
They were inspired by the same basic feeling and the same basic idea and could direct their strength in joint work to the goal set by Dunant. All five members had the fate of the sick, wounded, imprisoned and socially disadvantaged at heart and all were set on finding ways and means of diminishing the suffering of war victims.
The five members of the Red Cross were aware of their limitations and the smallness of their country; but they were optimistic, courageous and keen on action.
In 1859, the 31-year-old Genevese citizen , Henry Dunant, was a witness to the suffering caused by the battle of Solferino which led to the liberation of upper Italy from Austrian domination. As night descended on the battlefield after only 15 hours of hard combat between the French- Italian and Austrian troops, about 40,000 would lay in their blood. Dunant heard their screams and moaning, their calls for help which were frequently in vain as the medical services were insufficient for the enormous task. In this terrible situation, which frightened and appalled him, Dunant was driven to action. After the dreadful days in Solferino, Dunant returned to Geneva to see first of all to his business affairs. Then he took decision to commit the Solferino experience which still haunted him to writing. For a year he devoted himself to this with diligence and through reflection. The more he gave attention to the northern campaign, the more he saw before him the misery of the war-wounded and gave the thought to the question of how repetition of such a calamity could be avoided.” In this state of pent-up emotion which filled my heart, I was aware of intuition, vague and profound, my work was an instrument of God Will; it finite consequence for mankind.’ The book ‘A Memory of Solferino ‘appeared in 1862. Factually and actually it described, the preparations for and the course of the battle and painted with shattering vividness the picture of suffering which had become so deeply embedded in Dunant’s soul. This suffering and dying of thousands of young soldiers could to a large extent have been avoided if medical services had not again proved almost totally inadequate.
In passing I would like to describe our Henry Dunant Medal winner Sai Aung Hlaing Myint. He was 21 years old when he received the medal at the 23rd International Committee of the Red Cross Conference in Bucharest, Romania in 1977. Eighteen people had won the award, but he was the youngest. He was only third Henry Dunant Medal recipient in all of Asia. The Red Cross member and ethic Shan rescued a soldier from a sunken truck after diving for about 20 minutes in icy Ayeyawaddy River in Kachin State in January, 1976.
In conclusion, the author would like to urge our Myanmar people to do noble things to win international awards in the hope of supporting the tasks left behind by Henry Dunant and Sai Aung Hlaing Myint so that our Myanmar people would be proud of them in the world.