Know extent of Serb atrocities
Letters to the Editor, August 21, 2012
I read with interest the Aug. 19 article “16 years after war, Bosnian mines claim new generation” (Mideast and Europe editions) because I recently spent a week in Bosnia-Herzegovina and visited Sarajevo, Mostar and Srebrenica. Each city had a story to tell encompassing Bosnia’s complex three-year war with Serbia (1992-1995).
Travelers are advised not to venture out into abandoned buildings, forests and fields because of land mines that served as the only defense against the Serbian forces. I will never forget the ubiquitous signs in the forests bearing white skulls that warn people of unexploded land mines in Bosnia-Herzegovina even though villagers earn their meager living selling wood but risk their lives on a daily basis out of necessity.
However, what was most compelling in Bosnia-Herzegovina was the massacre of 8,000 Muslim boys and men in Srebrenica in 1995 by Serb soldiers in just two days. I visited the cemetery, the open-air mosque and battery factory occupied by the Dutch United Nations peacekeepers in Srebrenica who witnessed the separation of men and women but were unable to intervene. Two English-speaking guides lived to share this horrific experience firsthand.
Genocidal rape camps in the vicinity of Srebrenica were used as weapons by the Serbs when Muslim girls and women were violently impregnated before and during the massacre of boys and men. These damaged babies who were conceived by rape are now coming of age and recognized as Serbs because of their unknown fathers’ nationality. Can you imagine what their lives must be like?
When both guides were questioned about this atrocity, they refused to acknowledge this as genocide because rape is a taboo topic in Bosnia. The site of the cemetery, mosque and museum in Srebrenica only commemorates the 8,000 Muslim boys and men who were victims of genocide without consideration given to the traumatized girls and women who were raped as part of the war effort.
Bosnia-Herzegovina expects to clear the unexploded land mines by 2019 so people can safely venture into the forests for enjoyment or earn a living selling wood. Hopefully, by 2019, people from all countries of the former Yugoslavia and throughout the world will acknowledge that the massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica in 1995 is only one-third of this tragic story — and that the remaining two-thirds is the violent rape of women who were forced to give birth to Serbian babies, which resulted in the most abominable crimes against humanity since World War II.