Today on the 11th of July, it has been exactly 20 years since the genocide in Srebrenica took place. It’s difficult to describe the thoughts that pop into my head when thinking about all the victims that fell within a countable number of hours. More than 8000 Muslim Bosnians, of whom mostly military aged men and boys. More than 8000 families that were left with terror and astonishment the moment they heard or saw the massacre happen. More than 8000 people that will never be able to wipe away the tears of their fellow family members they unwillingly left behind. And 1000 bodies that still haven’t been found.
Usually, 20 years feels like forever, but when we talk about a huge happening like this; it seems like it was just yesterday. The damage and hurt that have been done, can still be felt today. Especially by the families of the souls that passed away. There are families of whom fathers died during this genocide. In the Balkan area, fathers are and were the biggest providers of food on the table. Sons that had survived the genocide usually grew up too soon, feeling the responsibility of giving their family the slightest bit of stability.
Boxes full of pictures of the beloved ones who were killed merciless are often only brought up on a few occasions during the year. The pain and the rage that comes along with missing them, demands the best of people. Questions like “Will I ever find his remains?”, “Why him?” and “What if we had left?” become inevitable on days like the 11th of July. A day that reminds us of how big the distance between people, peace and mercy often is. A day that shows us that the well-being of citizens is not always a priority. A day on which we should remember that even in the late twentieth century, we are far removed from a worldwide acceptable civilization.
The Srebrenica massacre is Europe’s first genocide since World War 2. Yet when you ask people about it, a big percentage won’t remember the basic facts of this happening. Hell, many won’t even know it ever took place. People will though, above many genocides, remember catastrophes like 9/11 and the Boston marathon bombing. Which are, of course, tragic too.
Time stood still for a moment in 1995. But there was no time to stand still for too long, 20 000 people fled to Potocari, a village that was five kilometers away from Srebrenica. The Yugoslav wars, including the Bosnian war, caused many young parents to flee to countries all over the world. I still wonder where they found the courage to pack their stuff, kiss other family members goodbye for a long time and leave behind the towns they loved and were familiar with since the first time they opened their eyes. All this to be able to grant their already born children an environment where they can wake up to the sound of roosters crowing instead of the sound of bombs and soldiers of the enemies passing by the doors.
How can it be that massacres like this still happen in the world? From 1995 to 2015, yet this world still lacks empathy, love of one’s neighbor and the right to be treated as a human no matter what religion or skin color you have.
We mourn every soul that was treated unjustly.