Initially, I was not thrilled about going back to Srebrenica because of the mental and physical exhaustion I felt the last time I was there. Srebrenica is the location of the only genocide on European soil since WWII, and the wake up call the world needed to end the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. After spending the weekend in Srebrenica, I am once again mentally exhausted, but I have more connection to Bosnia and the gravity of our participation in Marš Mira has set in.
I first heard Hasan’s story two years ago when I had the opportunity to visit Srebrenica. His vulnerability is something that has stuck with me, and a driving factor for studying Human Rights and genocide. We also heard testimonies from two amazing women, Nura and Saliha. They lost their whole families in the genocide, and have to go on living despite this. Nura kept repeating that we are the age her grandchildren would have been, but instead of spoiling grandchildren, she is mourning her husband and sons. I think this resonated with me because my parents have recently become grandparents, and my nephews bring SO much joy into their lives. Nura will never be able to experience this.
After hearing the testimonies, I had many thoughts, but one that I cannot shake is that people are still denying the genocide happened. There will always be genocide deniers, but why? All of the victims we talked to have no hate in their heart, but I feel like I have enough for the whole country. Saliha told us that she goes to the market and buys candy for the Serb boys and girls. Maybe doing this will help alleviate some of the rhetoric they get in school about ethnic Muslims. They are not born with nationalism, and what good is doing for the country to keep perpetuating it? I think the change will come from those who experienced the war, Bosniak, Serb, or Croat, because they understand what it was like, and they have felt losses because of it.