Women of Srebrenica honored for highlighting the 1995 massacre

SREBRENICA, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — They were the ones who lived in a world where their husbands, sons, brothers, uncles and nephews were slaughtered. They were the ones who fought so that the world would not deny or forget the truth of what happened in Srebrenica.

As thousands converge on the eastern Bosnian city to commemorate the 27th anniversary On the Monday of the only recognized genocide in Europe since World War II, the crucial role women have played in forging a global understanding of the 1995 massacre is also recognised.

A permanent photographic exhibition of portraits of women from Srebrenica opened on Saturday at a memorial center dedicated to the more than 8,000 victims of the massacre. The center in Potocari, on the outskirts of the city, is set to host an international conference of women who will discuss how they found the strength to fight for justice after being driven from their homes and witnessing their loved ones being taken away to be killed. .

“After I survived the genocide in which my most beloved son and my husband were killed, it was the injustice of their killers, their refusal to acknowledge what they did and to repent, that pushed me to fight for truth and justice” Munira said. subbasic.

Subasic’s relatives were among more than 8,000 men and boys from the Bosnian ethnic group, made up mainly of Muslims, who perished in a 10-day massacre after the town was overrun by Bosnian Serb forces in the final months of the fratricidal war in Bosnia from 1992-1995. war.

Bosnian Serb soldiers dumped the victims’ bodies into hastily constructed mass graves and then excavated the sites with bulldozers and scattered the remains among other burial sites to hide evidence of their crimes.

Bosnian women and children were herded into buses and driven out of the city.

But as soon as the war was over, Subasic and other women who had shared her fate vowed to find the remains of their loved ones, bring them back to their village, and bury them there.

To do that, they created an organization, Mothers of Srebrenica, which participated in street protests and other actions to stay in the public eye. They demanded that the mass graves be located, that the remains be identified, and that those responsible for the massacre be punished. To date, almost 90% of those who disappeared after the fall of Srebrenica have been counted.

“People often ask us who supported us, who supported us from the beginning. But it was nobody, we did it alone,” said Sehida Abdurahmanovic.

“Pain is the best and most difficult education, but also the most honest, because it comes directly from the heart,” he added.

Since the end of the war, Srebrenica has been located in the Serb-led Bosnian entity of the Republika Srpska, while many of its pre-war inhabitants live in the country’s other entity, the Bosniak-Croat Federation.

In the years immediately following the war, mobs of angry Bosnian Serbs went to great lengths to prevent women who had survived the bloodshed from visiting newly discovered mass graves to search for items that once belonged to their loved ones. To intimidate them, crowds lined the streets, shouting and throwing stones at the buses carrying the women.

But the women kept coming back. For a long time, they had to be escorted by NATO-led peacekeepers, but still refused to bury their identified dead anywhere other than Srebrenica.

Finally, in 2003, the Bosnian Serb authorities relented under pressure and allowed the survivors to inaugurate the victims’ memorial cemetery in the city.

So far, the remains of more than 6,600 people have been found and buried in the cemetery. The remains of 50 more victims, recently found in mass graves and identified through DNA analysis, will be buried there on Monday.

Dozens of women from Srebrenica testified before the UN war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, helping put nearly 50 wartime Bosnian Serb officials behind bars, collectively sentenced to more than 700 years in prison.

“After my husband was killed and I was left alone with our two children, I thought I couldn’t work, but the pain kept us going,” Abdurahmanovic said.

Raised in a patriarchal society, the women of Srebrenica were expected to suffer in silence and not confront Serbian leaders, who continue to minimize or even deny the 1995 massacre. Instead, they changed their lives, established support groups, commemorated the victims and retold their trauma to all who were willing to listen, including queens, presidents, prime ministers, diplomats and journalists.

“The story of what happened in Srebrenica has been written on white marble tombstones in the memorial cemetery, which would not have existed if we had not insisted,” said Suhra Sinanovic, who lost her husband and 23 other close male relatives in the massacre. .

He said that the Bosnian Serb authorities had underestimated the women of Srebrenica.

“If, God forbid, war broke out again in Bosnia, maybe (the Serbs) would do things differently by letting the men live and killing the women,” he said.


Conversations are the opinions of our readers and are subject to the Code of conduct. The Star does not endorse these views.

Leave a Comment