Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Could It Happen Again?

January 27th is the World Holocaust Memorial Day, a day on which we are asked to take the time to reflect on what can happen if racism, prejudice and exclusionary behaviour are left unchecked and unchallenged. Whilst the Holocaust is a specific event tied to Nazi persecution during World War 2, the organisers also ask that we take a moment to remember the victims of subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda and Bosnia as well as the ongoing atrocities in Darfur.

The events in Srebrenica will never fail to shock, particularly if a human face is put to the suffering. I came across this video by the Bosnian HipHop artist, Genocide, on the Srebrenica Genocide Blog. As a young boy Jusuf had to leave his home town of Zvornik, some 45 minutes from Srebrenica, having watched the previously multi-ethnic city filled with mosques and churches be cleansed of the entire Bosnian Muslim population. He became a refugee and today lives in New Zealand. He has given permission for his song to be downloaded for free in order that he can help keep the message about this genocide current in the worlds memory. It is an excellent song in its own right and well worth a listen. Please do so, and in that time spare a thought for those killed and those who remain, so affected, so destroyed.

(further testimonies from Srebrenica survivors and those who were involved in the events of July 1995 were collected and published by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC and can be viewed on the Srebrenica Genocide Blog here)


Trish @ Mum's Gone to... said...

A very haunting video. Thanks for the post - made me stop and think, as did your previous one about aid distribution. My son has a full day at school today revolving around the Holocaust: it will be interesting to find out later how he got on and how it has affected him.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for that commemoration of Srebrenica. It's also worth reminding your younger readers that Srebrenica wasn't a unique event in the Bosnian war. When the ICTY gave its ruling in the trial of Momcilo Krajisnik (third member of the Karadizc-Plavsic-Krajisnik consortium, temporarily enjoying Her Majesty's hospitality in Wakefield Prison courtesy pending implementation of the ICTY's care in the community arrangements) it confirmed that acts of genocide had been perpetrated across Bosnia. It failed to confirm that the crime of genocide had been committed elsewhere than at Srebrenica because the prosecution had not established the direct connection between Krajisnik and the individual perpetrators of those acts.

Never Again means ensuring that genocide is acknowledged and apologised for and above all that there's no profit to be made from genocide. The EU needs to be very careful about its rush to welcome Serbia's candidature while there's still so much refusal to acknowledge the past and official support for the trouble-stirring beneficiaries of Srebrenica in their comfortable suits and comfortable offices in Banja Luka. The Bosnian English rendering that describes Republika Srpska as the "creature of genocide" rather than the "creation of genocide" is in its way fact rather

Sorry for the polemic, I'm very angry about "back to business as usual", particularly after being involved in the controversy about Noam Chomsky and his insistent denial of the realities of Trnopolje and Omarska.

Marek Edelmann who died recently, the last surviving commander of the Warsaw Ghetto resistance fighters, at the time described what was happening in Bosnia as Hitler's posthumous triumph.

The US Holocaust Memorial Museum has a tremendous gallery of witnesses at

There's an interview with Hasan Nuhanovic about Karadzic's arrest at
- the Bosnian genocide is still unfinished business.

Have you read Emir Suljagic's "Postcards from the Grave"?

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I didn't explain Marek Edelmann's comment. Bosnia was Hitler's posthumous triumph because the world stood back and did nothing to prevent the genocide, in spite of all the lessons it was supposed to have learned from the Holocaust.

Anonymous said...

It's horrific. It will make anyone stop and think and hopefully be grateful for the freedom (in our country anyway) that we enjoy today. Thank you for this very thought-provoking post.

CJ xx

Ju said...

Very moving post, and a reminder that blogging its not only for the fluffy events in our lives. Well done for the step further.

Muddling Along Mummy said...

That's a haunting video - thank you for posting and raising awareness

I know I'm guilty of forgetting that such awful things have occurred in my lifetime - we need to ensure that these events stop and aren't repeated

Nicola said...

Great post. It's good to stop and pause to think about what is really important in life. And while some daily behaviours seem untenable and unbearable - really they are nothing in comparison to the atrocities that are committed against humanity every day.

nappy valley girl said...

Yes, it's something we should all remember. It always astounds me how something like this could have happened so recently in Europe, let alone the Cambodia/Rwandas of the world. Good post.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, a moving post.
I went to the musueum in D.C. last year.
What they have achieved there is phenomenal in terms of information history and impact. I thought I knew a lot about the Holocaust before I went, but was un-prepared for how much more I found out and how I would feel in there. we were in there about 5 hours and left in pieces.
They have these small film theatres too where they showed documenatries about Rwanda and Darfur and reading this this morning I was really struck by Owen's comment
"Bosnia was Hitler's posthumous triumph because the world stood back and did nothing to prevent the genocide, in spite of all the lessons it was supposed to have learned from the Holocaust"

Lady Mama said...

Awful. As Nappy Valley Girl, said I too have a hard time believing something like this happened so recently. So very sad.

Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy said...

Trish - It is important to remember it. We always think it will never happen again, but I'm sure that it will...

Owen - Thanks for your comment. It is important for people to realise that to classify something as 'genocide' there are very tough criteria, which means that when something is called Genocide, it really is. I have read Postcards from the Grave, wonderful book. Have you read Elizabeth Neuffegers 'The Key to my Neighbours House' which also interviews Hasan Nuhanovic.

Owen 2 - And the important thing is that the world learns from the genocides since 1945, but I fear that despite all the rhetoric, we won't.

CJ - It is indeed horrific. Thanks for your comment. x

Ju - blogging is amazingly powerful, and reflects peoples lives, from the fluffy to the horrific and all the bits inbetween.

MAM - That is why to remember what has happened is so important. I have friends here who are convinced that Europe will go to war again (EU integration notwithstanding).

Nicola - You are right. Sometimes I really have to remind myself to use the reset button to get things into perspective. x

NVG - me too. Bosnia is not very far away at all. It is closer to England than Greece (for example).

missbehaving - my parents have been to that museum and really found it moving. To keep remembering, even though it is awful, is so important to make people aware that it can.. and does happen.

Lady Mama - It wasn't long ago at all. Or far away. So very very sad.

Sandy Calico said...

Hard to believe it was so recent.

On a lighter and totally unrelated note, I have tagged you at mine if you're up for it:

A Modern Mother said...

That video is very moving.

Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy said...

SC - thanks for the tag! I'll be right on over.

MM - Many of the images from the video were used as posters all around town a couple of years ago. They are just as moving as still pictures.

Anonymous said...

(I seem to have lost my post - apologies if it turns up again) I have to confess I haven't got round to reading The Key to My Neighbour's House yet. People I know who've read it were impressed by it. Neuffer wasn't just reporting other people's experiences, she had some pretty horrific direct experience. Apparently she herself saw a Bosniak woman executed in front of her while two UN peacekeepers stood and watched. Unfortunately East Ethnia's old link to her biography has disappeared (she was killed in a car crash reporting Iraq in ?2003). Thanks for reminding me to read her book.

Anonymous said...

Found the Elizabeth Neuffer biography at International Women's Media Foundation:

"Her coverage of the Balkan wars of the 1990's was vivid and intense. And when a tentative peace finally came to Bosnia, she risked her life to track down those responsible for genocide as they returned to civilian life. Her dispatches, sent to members of Congress by human rights groups, helped persuade the U.S. government to make the arrest and prosecution of war criminals a top priority."

Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy said...

Owen - thanks for that. I knew she had died in a crash in Iraq. But I really thought the Key to my Neighbours House was an excellent book and strongly recommend you (and anyone else interested in how countries can reach the point where people who were such close friends are then capable of turning on each other) read it. For those that don't know it, it consists of interviews from Bosnia and Rwanda and is a powerful but very readable book.