Bosnian activists erect memorial for war dead

Group of activists gathered by "Because I care" initiative, during the night set the memorials to war victims in places in which authorities did not want to do it.

Bosnian activists erect memorial for war dead

World Bulletin / News Desk

In the night between Friday and Saturday members of citizens's initiative "Because I care" set the memorials to war victims in Bugojno, Foca and Konjic said.

In a synchronised action, they erected identical marble plaques in three towns across Bosnia in the early hours of Saturday.

Memorials are set in these three towns and draw the public attention to the rights of war victims to mark the places of their sufferings, said a statement released by "Because I care" initiative.

The memorials in the southeastern town of Foca, the central town of Bugojno and the southern town of Konjic all bore the text: "So that it never happens again. In memory of the victims of war crimes committed in the area of (Foca, Bugojno or Konjic)."

When Bosnia tried to become independent of Yugoslavia in 1992, Bosnian Serbs launched a separatist war with the backing of the Yugoslav government in Belgrade.

In Serb-run Foca, local authorities have never allowed for a memorial to be raised for more than 1,600 Bosniaks who went missing after Serb forces overran the town in spring 1992. Many were later found in nearby mass graves.

The memorial is set in front of the building of the sport hall "Partisan" in Foca which was used for a camp of raping women during the Bosnian war. Victims of raping several times tried to set the memorial to that place without success.

There are no official memorials to the Croat civilians detained and killed by Muslim forces in Bugojno, nor for Serb men, women and children killed by joint Muslim-Croat forces in Konjic.

The 70 kg (150 pound) plaque in Foca was cemented to the pavement outside a sports centre where hundreds of Muslim women were enslaved and raped by Serbs.

Others were fixed in place in pedestrian areas of Bugojno and Konjic - but only with glue, said activists, because they did not have time to cement them in during the night raids.

"COLLECTIVE AMNESIA"

"Setting the memorial, we want to honor all civil and war victims and remind that neglecting crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina is unacceptable. At all authority levels in Bosnia and Herzegovina, planned and systematic denial of the war crimes is being conducted. War victims are denied their rights. Facts related to the crimes are passed over in silence," said the statement.

All members of the initiative declare themselves only as civic activists. "Because I care" initiative they describe as a voluntary initiative with purpose of "raising the public awareness on war victims' rights and fight against inciting hatred among youth."

"They (the authorities) can remove or destroy them but we shall put up new ones again. We'll show to nationalist elites that their attempt at collective amnesia isn't working."

Nearly two decades after the war, in which around 100,000 people were killed, Bosnia is a single state but deeply divided between its three ethnic groups and floundering on the edge of the European mainstream it wants to join.

A large memorial has been built, following international pressure, to victims of the biggest single atrocity of the war - the massacre of 8,000 Muslims by Serb forces in and around Srebrenica in eastern Bosnia.

But local authorities have in the past dismantled memorials created by unofficial groups.

Activists chose Foca, Bugojno and Konjic because the U.N. war crimes tribunal has issued verdicts relating to war crimes in all three. Bosnia's war crimes court has jailed several people for the killings in Bugojno and Konjic.

"We want to shame our politicians and the international community," said the activist.

"It is inconceivable that 20 years after the war they have not created memorials nor allowed the commemorations of the crimes and victims," said the man, who declined to identify himself by name.

Memorials are financed by citizens. They deny any relation with "donors or other groups".


Last Mod: 26 Ekim 2013, 14:39
Add Comment