Author Archives: justiceinaction2012

About justiceinaction2012

A film about six young women who journeyed to Bosnia, walking the paths where war and genocide took place to find out what justice really means to those who most want it.


 Credit to the ICTY for the information below.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia is an ad hoc court which was established by the United Nations in May 1993 in response to mass atrocities that were taking place in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The UN Security Council were driven to act after reports of horrific crimes against civilians in the former Yugoslav region.

The ICTY was the first war crimes court created by the UN and the first international war crimes tribunal since the Nuremberg and Tokyo tribunals. Since its establishment, the Tribunal has changed the landscape of international humanitarian law and provided victims an opportunity to voice the horrors they witnessed and experienced.

Situated in The Hague, Netherlands, the key aim of the ICTY is to try those individuals most responsible for crimes such as murder, torture, rape, enslavement etc. The Tribunal laid the foundations for what is now the accepted norm for conflict resolution – particularly the practice that leaders suspected of crimes will face justice. By doing this the ICTY aims to deliver justice to thousands of victims as well as preventing future crimes.

The ICTY has charged over 160 persons. The maximum sentence it can impose is life imprisonment. Those indicted include prime ministers, heads of state, army chiefs-of-staff and other high-level political and military leaders involved in the Yugoslav conflicts. Its indictments address crimes committed from 1991 to 2001 against members of various ethnic groups in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

The Tribunal aims to complete all trials by the end of 2012 and all appeals by 2015. The trial of Radavon Karadzic is an exception and is expected to in end in 2014, as well as the recently arrested Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadzic.


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Bosnia and Herzegovina

 Credit to the Balkan Development Organisation and the BBC for the information below.

The former Yugoslavia consisted of six republics and two autonomous regions. Today Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia, and Macedonia are independent nations. Serbia and Montenegro comprise the rump Yugoslavia.

During World War II, armed groups claiming allegiance to various ethnic factions fought both against each other and against the Nazi occupiers. By 1945, almost 1 million Yugoslavs had lost their lives, most of them at the hands of other Yugoslavs. The Communist-led Partisans fought against both groups and were victorious (with Allied support) at the war’s end. The Partisan leader, Josip Broz (Tito), ruled the country as a one-party socialist state.

Despite using repressive tactics and centralized control, Tito understood the importance of apportioning power evenly among the Yugoslav ethnicities. Under Communist rule, it was a serious crime to openly express ethnic aspirations of any kind. From World War I until the end of the Cold War, Bosnia was part of the newly created country of Yugoslavia.

Following Tito’s death and the subsequent collapse of communism in the 1980’s, the population sought solutions to provide economic and political stability in a post  Cold War world. Unfortunately, the solution promoted by Serb and Croat extremists in this time of crisis was ethnic nationalism. Serbia’s Communist Party leader, Slobodan Milosevic, began pandering to Serb nationalism, and quickly became the unchallenged ruler of Serbia and became primarily focused on the protection of his control over the nation.

His first campaign of repression against the ethnic Albanian Kosovars, made him a hero in the eyes of Serb nationalists throughout the former Yugoslavia. Milosevic had created an enemy through racism and quickly found a target towards which the Serbian populous could channel their anger towards.

Milosevic’s attempts to seize control of the federal government and his repressive tactics in Kosovo drove the newly elected non-Communist governments of Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia to seek independence. The Yugoslav National Army (JNA) –with a predominantly Serb officers’ corps –responded with brutal attacks supported by Serb nationalist militias in Croatia and Bosnia.

In March 1992, Bosnia’s Muslims and Croats, fearing the drive for a Greater Serbia, called for a referendum for Bosnian independence. Fierce propaganda from Serbia, depicting Muslims as extremist fundamentalists, caused many Bosnian Serbs to support Milosevic’s plan for ethnic cleansing as a means of creating Greater Serbia. Since the Bosnian Serbs did not inhabit a single specific territory in Bosnia and lived alongside Muslim and Croat neighbors, the stage was set for war throughout the country. Milosevic had succeeded in turning one group against another in a bid to consolidate his own power. Bosnian Serbs having bought into ‘purist’ propaganda stood poised to reclaim the land from Bosnian Muslims.

On April 6, 1992, the Bosnian Serbs began their siege of Sarajevo. Muslim, Croat, and Serb residents opposed to a Greater Serbia were cut off from food, utilities, and communication. Food was scarce and the average weight loss per person was more than 30 pounds. More than 12,000 residents were killed, 1,500 of them children.

Throughout the war, many Bosnians wanted to preserve a multiethnic state. But Serb and Croat nationalists sought to carve out Bosnian land to be annexed to the future Greater Serbia and Greater Croatia. More than 200,000 Bosnians out of a population of 4.4 million were killed. Some 200,000 were injured, 50,000 of them children. Millions of people were deported or forced to flee their homes.  The systematic ‘ethnic cleansing’ began to create a ‘pure’ greater Serbia. The army drove out all other ethnic groups by terrorizing and forcibly displacing non-Serbs through direct shelling and sniper attacks. Entire villages were destroyed. Thousands were expelled from their homes, held in detention camps, raped, tortured, deported, or summarily executed. Sixty percent of all houses in Bosnia, half of the schools, and a third of the hospitals were damaged or destroyed. Power plants, roads, water systems, bridges, and railways were ruined.

Throughout these horrors, the international community failed to respond and stood silently whilst genocide occurred.

Facts and Figures

Credit to the ‘Bosnia and Herzegovina – the Bradt Travel Guide’ by Tim Clancy for the excerpt below.

Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) is the heart-shaped country in the middle of the former Yugoslavia. It is bordered by Croatia to the north and west and by Serbia and Montenegro to the south and east. It is here that civilisation met, clashed and now unite East with West.

NAME The name Bosnia dates back to Roman times. There are several theories as to where the name comes from but it is a common belied that Bosna, from ‘bosana’, meaning water (Bosnia’s most plentiful resource), was named after the last Duke of Hum, Herceg Stjepan, who was the last ruler from the Bosnian aristocratic Kosaĉa family before the Ottomans invaded. Herzergovina literally means “of the Duke’s” or “belonging to the Duke”. Bosnia and Herzegovina is often shortened to BiH due to its rather long name.

AREA The territory of BiH covers 51,129km2, which is approximately the size of West Virginia. It has a small opening on the Adriatic Sea at the town of Neum. Its international waters mainly fall under Croatian territory.

LOCATION Bosnia and Herzegovina is not only the heart of the former Yugoslavia, but the heart of the Dinaric Alps as well. This southern extension of the Swiss Alps stretches deep into the Balkans and characterises much of BiH as well as its neighbours Croatia and Montenegro. It shares a 932km border with Croatia, a 312km border with Serbia and a 215km border with Montenegro. From BiH’s northern borders Slovenia and Hungary  are only a few hours’ drive away and its southernmost point is a mere ten-minute drive from Dubrovnik, Croatia, on the southern Adriatic coast. Bosnia is the central and northern region of the country and Herzegovina comprises the entire southern region.

POPULATION Today the total population of Bosnia and Herzegovina is estimated at around 4.6 million, although accurate statistics are difficult to come by as no census has been carried out since before the war. There is a large diaspora scattered throughout Europe, North America and Australia, as well as in neighbouring Croatia and Serbia and Montenegro.

CITIES The capital city and the administrative, cultural, economic and academic centre of the country is Sarajevo, with an estimated population of 440,000. The wider region, including predominantly Serbian East Sarajevo brings the population closer to its pre-war one of 600,000. A slow trickle of people are still returning to the city of their birth.

Baja Luka is the cultural, political and administrative centre of the Serb entity of BiH, Republika Srpska (RS). The city did once boast a rich multi-ethnic tradition but many of the non-Serbs have left or were driven out during the war. Banja Luka’s population is 200,000.

Tuzla and Zenica are industrial towns representing two of the larger population centres. Tuzla’s inhabitants number 170,000 and Zenica’s 120,000. Mostar is the heart of Herzegovina and has always had one of the most ethnically mixed population in the country. Unfortunately the 100,000 plus residents of Mostar are still marred by an invisible dividing line – albeit a psychological one. The east bank and a small part of the west near the old town are largely Bosniak, and the west bank has mainly a Croatian population. Bosniak is the term used for the Bosnian Muslims. Their nationality is often referred to as Muslim, which is correct.

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Finding Justice

In September 2011, a team of six young women from Mulberry School embarked upon a journey to explore the turbulent history of Bosnia, and the genocide that occurred there during the period of 1992-1995. It was the worst genocide in the history of Europe since World War Two. Thousands and thousands of people were killed during this period, most of whom were Muslims. We filmed interviews with survivors of the siege of Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and  of the genocide in Srebrenica, where over 8000 Muslim men and boys were murdered in a matter of three days. We aimed to find out what justice means to the survivors.

We continued our quest and travelled to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia at the Hague to witness the trial of the man accused of masterminding these crimes – the war time leader of the Bosnian Serbs, Dr Radovan Karadzic. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) is a United Nations court of law dealing with war crimes that took place during the conflict in Bosnia in the 1990’s. This was a journey of self-discovery, where we learnt the meaning of justice, both personally and what it means to the survivors as well as those in the justice system.

Having gone to Bosnia and meeting the survivors of the war we realized that they are victims of a war that began the year some of us were born and it was only a matter of chance that we were born in England, whilst the war occurred in Bosnia, yet other people our age died everyday as a result of the war. It was a mind-numbing experience, to think that only by the virtue of one’s birthplace did one avoid war during the early 1990s.

At a time when the youth, especially young Asian Muslim women are perceived to be uninterested in the world, we wanted to break the mould and show the world that young people have a role in positive world change. However we came away from this experience with a deeper sense of personal responsibility for the stories that we heard – to ensure that the voices of the survivors are heard widely so that genocide never happens again. The survivors of this war all had one thing in common – justice to them meant their story being heard by the world so that history does not repeat itself. This film aims to demonstrate that through the power of storytelling we can make a change and work towards spreading peace and justice across the world.

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Sarajevo Day 1 – Aishah Siddiqah

Our first day in Sarajevo  as we had landed the night before in total darkness enjoying each other’s company, unaware of what’s to come. Having not seen the stunning beauty of Sarajevo the night before, the morning I awoke and set my eyes upon the breathtaking scenes of green hills and busy streets, I was truly amazed and instantly in love with the place. The view from my hotel room did not show me a city still bruised from the horror of the war and the siege that took place only twenty years ago. Yet, as you walk down the roads, and past buildings still standing, you witness the physical destruction and you come to the realisation that this beautiful city had suffered a terrible fate.

A local guide and historian, Fedžad Forto, took us through the city and told us that many people call Sarajevo ‘the European Jerusalem’ due to its multi ethnic and multi religious nature. We saw mosques, synagogues and churches side by side within a few hundred metres. Such togetherness and peacefulness in Sarajevo led us to question why something as horrific as the war took place. We soon entered a busy market in downtown Sarajevo. He stopped us to show a monument in memory of 26 innocent civilians. The so-called ‘Bakery Massacre’ is believed to be one of the first massacres in Sarajevo killing innocent Catholics, Muslims and Orthodox Christians who were simply queuing for bread. This first display and monument we came across, listing the names of the victims, emphasised just how horrific and inhumane the war was. This was the first physical evidence we saw of the war and there were many more to come.

The physical destruction is obvious in parts of the city not yet reconstructed, but the mental anguish and emotional scars left in the resilient Bosnian people is less overt. However, it’s soon realised whoever you may come across, whether it be the driver or that shop owner, each had their own story of the war to tell and each had their own view of justice. Hasan Nuhanovic was the first survivor we interviewed. He was 18 years old when the war broke out. He had lost his family when General Mladic and his Bosnian Serb army took over the UN declared ‘safe haven’. The Dutch stood by as thousands of men were separated from the women – Hasan’s parents and brother were amongst them and were murdered by the Serb forces. 8000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were murdered. Hasan has won a nine year case against the Dutch Government for ordering his family members out of the ‘safe haven’ and to their death. Although he believes the man who ordered the death of his mother works in the same building as he does, he continues to strive for justice and commends the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia for its work.  Hasan’s resilience and continuous campaigning for the truth and for justice inspires me. It teaches us to never give up and to strive for what we believe in.

The first day in Sarajevo had left me inspired and wanting to learn more of the war and the stories of the victims and survivors. Hearing personal experiences such as Hasan’s made the war that took place 20 years ago, before I was even born, seem more real and even more important to learn from.

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Sarajevo Day 1 – Fatima Begum

On arriving in Bosnia, I was full of apprehension. I had read all the articles and researched the history dating back to the 13thcentury. I felt prepared to an extent and readied myself for an emotionally and physically demanding trip. On the first day I woke up to the sun shinning and clear blue skies. The entire city is built on hills and it was difficult to comprehend that less than 20 years ago a war had devastated the country. Our first day included us meeting with a renowned Bosnian historian -Fedžad Forto. Fedžad took us through the city of Sarajevo, and as we walked he explained that Sarajevo is considered to be the ‘European Jerusalem.’  Seeing the beautiful Mosques, standing next to Orthodox Churches, neighbouring Catholic Churches, it dawned on me that this beauty was once the cause of division and war in Bosnia.

As we walked, and I took in the wonder of Sarajevo, Fedžad stopped in the middle of the market and explained that it was here the siege of Sarajevo began. He pointed to a spot on the ground, which was marred by scars of shelling and bullets and explained that it was on this very spot that innocent civilians had been gunned down as they stepped out to buy bread. Upon hearing this, my heart stopped! The beauty of this city that I was basking in suddenly became a dark place, as I imagined all those who had lost their lives in the very spot on which I was standing. Immediately a wave of sadness passed through me and it struck me that the events that occurred in 1992 are very much in the recent past. On the wall, stenciled on were at least a hundred names of all the innocent people who lost their lives that day, a constant reminder to all Bosnians, us, the world and now me, of the remnants of war and the consequences of the lack of inaction by the international community. In a way I felt, perhaps not responsible, but guilty that, as a fellow Muslim, a fellow human being I could not help save their lives. At this point a moment of realisation passed through me, and I vowed that while I could not have saved those who had lost their lives during the war, I could live in a way that would honour them. I decided there and then that I would listen intently and pass on the story of all Bosnians, of their struggle and ensure that they would not be forgotten. This was the justice I had to offer the people of Bosnia.

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Sarajevo Day 2 – Afifa Gill

Our second day in Sarajevo began with a trip to a youth centre in Zetra. Here we were scheduled to interview a group of survivors that were teenagers during the war years, to get a different perspective in our search for the meaning of justice. The interviews were set against a backdrop of vibrant graffiti, though the years since the war had caused some fading. Although many depictions were difficult to interpret, there seemed to be a common theme of the attack on innocence. There were many disturbing images of fierce monsters and unusual, sinister creatures; dark images that could only be fashioned in dark times.

One of the survivors we met here was a journalist, he was a teenager when the war broke out and joined the army at the age of 16. An age at which for most of us our biggest concern is GCSE results. He described how he felt like a 45 year old man trapped in the body of 17 year old, facing ordeals that few grown men even experience. It reminded me again how much we take for granted. As well as provision, shelter and safety, we rarely appreciate our mental and emotional peace in comparison to victims of war. For many of us, recalling carefree childhood memories is a source of comfort and joy, while there is a generation of Bosnians that will only remember pain and danger.

Of all the survivors we met that morning, a woman named Sabina left the greatest impression on me. I never imagined we would meet someone who would have positive memories from the war. There was a look of longing in her eyes as she described the unity and humanity that the war brought about; a sense of unity that she has never experienced since. Her words were haunting; ‘now we have three countries in one country, and everybody hates each other’. Twenty years after the war, I felt a strong desire for unity and humanity still resounds in Bosnia.

The idiom ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ is a common one, but for me speaking to these survivors made that statement ring true unlike never before. On greeting them, they all seemed like ordinary people with average lives, so effortlessly concealing the scars left by their past. It was only when they began relating their recollections of the war that it became obvious just how extraordinary their lives are. This applied to everyone we met over the next few days in Sarajevo – everyone had a story.

From the youth centre we headed towards the tunnel which was a means for people to escape during the Siege of Sarajevo. On the way we stopped to see a block of flats that had not been repaired during the post-war developments and still had visible signs of shelling. Seeing such serious damage to domestic quarters was a reminder that it was civilians, defenceless civilians that were targeted. Even more shocking was that people still live in these flats, constantly surrounded by reminders of a horrifying past.

On arriving at the tunnel, we could see just how difficult escaping from Sarajevo must have been, and how much endurance people had to have. Even in broad daylight the tunnel is small, dark and frightening. We spoke to Lejla who travelled through the tunnel herself to escape from Sarajevo. Undoubtedly it takes great courage to leave your home behind and travel in difficult conditions to unknown territory, but she told us that when going through the tunnel, people didn’t think about bravery; they just knew that had to survive.

Being in a place where unthinkable crimes, and unimaginable heartache took place, there are moments when you feel useless; how is making this documentary even going to help? But after the interviews at the youth centre that day, I felt confident that we can, and we will make a difference.  Even just storytelling, letting others know what happened in Bosnia, its fulfilling one of the wishes of the survivors that has been denied for too long – to be heard.

Sabina’s words regarding this project encapsulate what many of us hope will be achieved:

‘I hope that people will see how we suffered, and how the war is hard and how they change the people… people are damaged. They’re sad, hurt. Everyone must come here, meet people, talk with them and then they will see what the change is and how the war changed us. It’s too deep and I think no one can forget. They can push that inside but they never forget’.

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Sarajevo Day 2 – Suraiya Chowdhury

We visited Dzenana on our second day in Bosnia. She had been shot when crossing the road on a day that had been declared to be a cease fire. However, the bullet had gone through her stomach and had hit her seven year old son Nermin. Dzenana survived the shooting but her son didn’t. She showed us pictures of Nermin and told us what he was like as a child – he was sweet, intelligent and kind. He would probably have had a brilliant future but I guess no one will ever know. Interviewing her made me realise how wrong I was regarding my notions of justice. It is a struggle for Dzenana to get through everyday – a bullet that didn’t kill her, ended the life of her son. I asked myself how can any person, let alone a mother live with that pain? I realised that my definition of justice, that it meant an eye for an eye, didn’t really ring true. Those who survived the war, lost so much and a death sentence could never bring any of it back. I realised what was most important for those people was that their story be told to the world so that something like this could be prevented in the future. Dzenana also testified at the ICTY and when asked if testifying provided her with some closure or any sense of justice, she replied that nothing would ever bring Nermin back so there was no justice or closure for her…ever. However what was so honourable and most inspiring was the fact that despite this, she still believed in the justice system. She was ready to testify whenever called to do so. This made me realise, that justice is much more complicated than a text book definition. Although it is not always served in the way that it should be, it is still there. More importantly justice means different things to different people. Justice to Dzenana meant her story be told, that this genocide never be forgotten.

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Sarajevo Day 3 – Farihah Begum

On day three of the ‘Justice in Action’ project, the entire group travelled to Srebrenica – where the infamous massacre of 8000 men and boys occurred. You couldn’t help but take notice of the shelled buildings that emphasised the hardship of the citizens – a visual reminder so that the city and its survivors are never forgotten.

With us on our journey was a man named Muhammad, a survivor from Srebrenica. On the way we stopped at a tunnel on Asphalt Road which was a particularly significant part of his survival story; on arrival at this site he knew that his safety was ensured. We stopped the coach at the tunnel and stepped out to ask him some questions about what it felt like when he first arrived here almost 20 years ago. Even we could feel the relief and joy through his words as he explained that he was welcomed at this site by Bosnian soldiers on the frontline cheering him on, and a man waiting to register his name as a survivor.

Afifa, Aishah and I had the opportunity to ask further questions about Muhammad’s story and his view of justice in the Srebrenica memorial room. This was the room in the Dutch base camp where thousands of Bosnians had sought refuge from the Serbs, but were let down. The spacious, grey room displayed some very poignant photographs as well as very disturbing ones. There was a section that had pictures of some of the victims and what (objects) were left at the time they were found. We all went around browsing the pictures, and one in particular completely shocked me. There was one photograph that had documented a conversation between the Serbs regarding the disposal of dead corpses. Even though these people were no longer alive, the Serbs in particular treated them worse than animals – and that is an understatement. It absolutely horrifies me to think that even after killing them in the most brutal way possible, the dead did not even ‘rest in peace’ as they received no respect, no compassion and no proper burial. Despite what happened here, it was amazing to hear Muhammad express his strong belief in justice, and hope for the future. He said that to him, justice “is a dream I would like to live… this is why I came back from the States to live in Srebrenica, to rebuild my community”.

We then walked through a forest area in which Muhammad continued the riveting story of his journey from Srebrenica. At only 20, he chose to leave Srebrenica on foot towards Zepa– and survived. His active role in seeking justice is inspiring and motivates me to be more involved; he has projects to educate young people; the leaders of tomorrow, about what happened in Bosnia so they can ensure these atrocities can never occur again. It was clear to us all that this entire city still has a lot to heal from and that the genocide will never be forgotten no matter how many buildings are repaired or rebuilt; Srebrenica will not be forgotten.

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Sarajevo Day 3 – Samrah Rashid

On day 3 of our trip to Bosnia we visited the city of Srebrenica where thousands lost their lives. We started filming in Srebrenica by filming Mohammed, one of the survivors next to the tunnel that he came through when he escaped. Then we went on to film at the cemetery. Filming in the cemetery, really put into perspective the whole situation for me, seeing all the headstones and reading some of the descriptions really made it hit home how young were some of those who were killed. The sheer number of the dead was mind blowing and to think there were mass burial sites still being discovered. Just thinking about that made me think how they used to move the dead from one burial site to another to avoid the sites being found which usually led to the bodies being separated and this therefore made it a much longer process for the families to receive the bodies to finally lay them to rest.

On the drive to Srebrenica we drove through the Sarajevo, we were used to seeing the shelled streets and the building with remnants of the assault on the city by the snipers, but driving through the countryside and seeing the open land and thinking that people ran across the land to escape while being attacked by the snipers and soldiers and it may have been raining or snowing but they still tried to do everything that they could to escape.

When we were filming Mohammed’s story it was unreal to imagine the fear that he must have felt as he tried to escape. It was beyond my imagination. He also spoke of his family and while we were at the cemetery we saw the names of people that had died and there were names of whole families that had died.

It just made me think of all the families that had been torn apart due to the senseless violence that had been carried out against a group of people for no justifiable reason. It also made me think of the question that we came to Bosnia with, ‘Can justice be served to the people of Bosnia?’ and then and there it felt as if justice could never be fully served to those people as justice will not bring back their loved ones, but it could provide them with some closure to that part of their lives and that would help them to try and move forward, and for them that would be a huge milestone in trying to overcome this horrific event.

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Sarajevo Day 4 – Aishah Siddiqah

It was our last day in a marvelous city; rich with an amazing mix of culture, a harsh history and resilient people. I was incredibly sad to leave but the people I interviewed on that day, and the last 3 days, left me feeling motivated and eager to get their stories heard.

We interviewed two strong survivors of the concentration camps. The first survivor we interviewed was Murat Tahirovic who is now the President of the Association of Camp Prisoners of Bosnia and Herzegovina. During the war Murat was a member of the Bosnian Army and was seriously wounded. He was found by the Serb Army in Croatia and then sent to a concentration camp. He was one amongst six Muslims in the camp who were particular targets. He told us of the torture they faced, not just from the soldiers but also from civilians. Thankfully, Murat and his five Muslim companions did survive. With the help of the International Red Cross, the six prisoners were exchanged for six Serb soldiers. Although Murat does not believe that justice can ever be served, he continues to help other camp survivors. He truly is a symbol of hope for many in his community. Murat displayed the utmost courage and determination to survive – to see his daughter again. With his serious wounds and horrific treatment in the camps, he shows us just how far resilience, determination, and love for one’s family can take you.

Another survivor of the concentration camps we interviewed was Maria who is a Bosnian Croat. She was ordered to the concentration camps to be punished because her son had joined the Bosnian Muslim Army. He had fought for his country and died in 1992. Maria’s pain and loss is still clear in her words, her eyes, and her tears. She also described to us the constant torture she and others in her camp faced every day. With no access to food and sanitation, unless the soldiers felt like providing, they were left to fend for themselves in a tiny room holding 26 men and herself. Justice for Maria and countless others is a complex topic. Although she strives for justice, she told us nothing can ever replace her loss or heal her wounds. Maria taught us to be ‘sensitive to everybody’s tragedy. No matter what kind of tragedy it is. No matter who you lost or what bad things happened to you.’

We had also interviewed someone we had become very close to during our stay, Zinaida Ilaria, our fixer. Talking with Zinaida and hanging around, we could never have guessed she had also been through a lot during the war but this is what surprised us the most in Sarajevo- nearly everyone you came across had their own story and view of justice. Zinaida was 15 when the war started and she revealed how her father was sent to a concentration camp, and how her brother had been beaten up many times in the Serb controlled Banja Luka. To have to go through such horror at the tender age of 15 is sure to leave many scars and painful memories of one’s childhood. Zinaida explained to us her multi-layered view of justice. For her, the justice process must involve- trying and convicting war criminals; recognition of the crimes committed; and reconciliation. She is another person who came out of the war a stronger and better individual with the determination to ensure justice is fulfilled.

I am always talking of Bosnian people’s resilience, and I will continue to do so since it is exactly that which has inspired me. Their stories, their kindness and openness, their culture and beautiful country has left me motivated and instilled a thirst to find out more and ensure they are never forgotten. Before we had left, we drank from the fountain of a Mosque where it is believed if one drinks from it, you will most certainly return. I drank eagerly.

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