She asked us, “What’s it like in America?” My Danish comrade and I just laughed. “I’m Danish, and he’s Australian”, he said. I suggested we keep walking, just assuming we were being baited for some kind of elaborate Moroccan scam. But, something didn’t feel right. She had a broken arm, and a few visible bruises. Behind the injuries, she looked young; maybe early twenties.
Later that afternoon, we ran into her again. She was in the back of a ute, a megaphone in her good hand, leading a crowd in a pro-democracy chant. I raced after the vehicle, and interviewed her when she eventually passed the megaphone on. Over the past two years, all of her limbs had been broken at some point by police. She had broken ribs after being beaten by pro-government thugs. Her entire life was devoted to the reformist, pro-democracy February 20 movement. She was angry, sober and utterly inspirational.
My Danish comrade and I got what we needed and ran, police were everywhere, and I didn’t want to lose my footage. Taxis refused to stop for us. It was dark, and pouring with rain. I got worried. Then, the ute (now covered) swung around the corner. “Get in!” We were hauled into the back, and driven to the train station. Behind us, the protest was dissipating, but police were everywhere. Sheltered from the rain, under the canopy my comrade lit a cigarette.
It pays to listen to people. Not just what they say, but how they say it. Suspicion is healthy, but sometimes it´s worth looking into someone´s eyes and just connecting for a moment.
I tried calling her a week later for a follow up interview. Her phone just rang out over and over. I haven’t heard from her since.