Friday, February 25, 2011

Srebrenica Bosnia it's hard to ignore the sadness that hangs in the air

If your planning a trip to eastern Bosnia to see the memorial center potocari were the victims of the Srebrenica genocide are buried (those that have been identified) then you will probably make the short journey to the town of Srebrenica. There is not much to see in Srebrenica and the whole area is sad and depressing.
Srebrenica was the scene of the worst suffering in the war in Bosnia. In 1992 the Serbs ethnically cleansed the town and pushed its inhabitants into the surrounding villages and mountains. The Bosnians led by charismatic leader Naser Oric (one time bodyguard of Serbian despot Slobodan Milosevic architect of the collapse of Yugoslavia and the rise of Serbian nationalism and the wars that followed) the Bosnian forces retook the town in summer of 1992. The town was built for about 10,000 inhabitants, because of the Serbian pogrom of mass murder and ethnic cleansing the population in Srebrenica swelled to 60,000. People were starving to death, sleeping outside and generally put under immense physical and physcological pressure to leave the enclave.
A series of raids by hungry villagers and Oric on neighboring Serbian villages (well stocked with food and supplies) was used as the excuse to eventually overrun the enclave in 1995. The Serbian authorities had set up a program of mass execution not seen in Europe since WWII. No men or boys from the age of 14-70 were allowed to live. A column of men totalling about 8,000 attempted to breakout of the enclave and make it to free government territory, less than half survived the journey. Mass killings ensued and lasted for over 6 months as stragglers surviving in the Forrest were picked up and killed as well. The victims were dumped in mass graves, then dug up and reburied to make identification impossible, a situation never seen before in the history of man.
Srebrenica was a resort town known for it's natural springs and healing powers of it's mineral rich water. Today it is just the shell of a town, a sad and depressing little place. Serbs were settled here after the war and many still stay in refugee settlements inside the city, resentful of the situation they find themselves in. Very few jobs exist in the town and it is a difficult place to live.
The drive thru Eastern Bosnia and the villages that were destroyed and its inhabitants wiped out, add a  element of sadness and darkness to the whole trip...The fact that it is often foggy and eery in this part of Bosnia only adds to the general creepiness of the whole experience. If you make the journey it will be an experience you won't forget. The whole situation of what happened and what the town is like now really leaves one feeling with a deep sense of sadness, emptiness and shame.

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