Monday, November 03, 2008

Srebrenica Memorial Quilt Update

Advocacy Project Brings Srebrenica Memorial Quilt to Bosnian Diaspora

Brief update on the Memorial quilt project between AP and Bosfam.


Anonymous said...

Srebrenica Memorial Quilt is a very important project. However, I must say that I am very disapointed with the lack of participation in this project by the members of our diaspora. Personally, I expected bigger number of Bosniaks in the USA and Canada to jump in and help the project.

It seems to me that the Bosniak mentality from 1990s has little changed. Even today, Bosniaks are out of touch with reality - whether they want to admit it or not.

There is a notion in Bosnia that "others" should fight all battles for them. This type of primitive mentality had "partially" contributed to the Srebrenica genocide, because people actually thought that Dutchbat troops would defend them. I mean, helloooo. My people need to get in touch with reality.

One relative of Srebrenica genocide victims recently contacted me asking do I have any information about her missing relatives. Some of them weren't even included in the list of Srebrenica genocide victims. I asked her would she be interested in donating $40 to the Srebrenica Memorial Quilt Project. She replied to my email, but failed to answer the question. She totally ignored my question, so I sent her another email, and she never responded again.

What a shame.

Kirk Johnson said...

I have to admit, Daniel, the amount of money raised so far is discouraging. I wonder if AP should have emphasized the parallels between this project and the famous AIDS quilt of two decades ago. That was a very successful PR move that drew a lot of attention.

Anonymous said...

Kirk, I am so dissapointed over lack of participation of Bosniaks in the Srebrenica Memorial Quilt that I am considering completely abandoning my activism for Srebrenica.

Why should I waste my time to fight for them, when they don't want to fight for themselves?

Anonymous said...

Dan, it doesn't matter what Bosniaks do or don't do. Your Srebrenica work is important to us all.

Anonymous said...


I'm truelly disappointed - how could you say this
"This type of primitive mentality had "partially" contributed to the Srebrenica genocide, because people actually thought that Dutchbat troops would defend them. I mean, helloooo. My people need to get in touch with reality."
Why shouldn't they have believed it?

And fyi - Bosnian Americans that came here way before the war worked their asses off to collect money for humanitarian relief, organizing protests, informing the public etc.

You know, I was born here in the US - there were about 2,500 Bosniaks in the Chicago area before the war - today 15,000 men pray eid prayer every eid. It's not that simple for refugees to adjust to a displacement and then have to adjust to a new society but they have come a long way and done some great things .. sure there needs to be an effort in better organization and networking but those things do not just happen on their own. I can't tell you how many Bosnians I have met with who have no idea about some of the accomplishments that have been made .. some of the programs that are out there for them and the events that are taking place. Quite honestly .. I'm finding out about many things after the fact and who knows how many things I haven't heard about. There are also many challenges that we face here in America and realities of things that we need here - like drug counselling, suicide prevention, detecting mental illness, counselling in gerneral, abuse .. it is all very overwhelming and where do you start - what do you focus on etc.

Your Srebrenica work is extremely important and you really have done a lot and EVERYONE is in awe of it and appreciates your dedication. Don't be discouraged by this.

Anyway - my email is on my blog if you want to work on putting together a database of Bosnians and list serve or something - email me.

Also - does anyone know if this quilt is comming to Chicago or going to St. Louis - to the more populated Bosnian communities?

Anonymous said...

I know Owen. But these "types" of Bosniaks are embarrasing me in front of people that actually care about Srebrenica. You and Kirk have done more for Bosnia than most Bosniaks will ever attempt to do.

When I am confronted by the "I don't care" mentality, I get pissed off. I have invested thousands of hours of my own time, and most Bosniaks don't even want to invest 1 second of their time to help the cause of Srebrenica.

My Blog will turn 3 years old on December 10th, and I can tell you in advance, it's been a success.

I was contacted by many interesting people and organizations, including BBC, students doing essays, people who worked on DNA-identification of bones, relatives of the victims, etc. I never expected a blog to generate such a great interest.

That is exactly why activism is important. And that is exactly why I get 'displeased' with Bosniaks who still waste their lives with "I don't care" mentality....

Anonymous said...

Samaha, contact The Advocacy Project - Alison Sluiter should hopefully be able to put you in the picture about plans for the Quilt.


Anonymous said...

daniel, your work is important not just for what happened in Srebrenica, Bosnia and the former Yugoslavia, but to all of us, including those who don't even know where Bosnia is. Many people tend to feel cynical about the world and people like who devote yourselves to a cause without expecting anything in exchange are a source of hope that not everybody is like that.

historically, important changes for the best were the result of efforts of a small minority, the fight against slavery and its abolition, the fight against racism, ecquality between men and women, all of that was the result of half a dozen stubborn people who were stubborn enough to eventually persuade their fellow citizens that they were right.

there is a whole environment that induces apathy and selfishness, we shouldn't be surprised that such a project is not as successful as it could potentially be. people prefer not to think about what happened in Bosnia. This is a pattern that repeats itself after the end of every war. People get tired of remembering, but we know why it is important to keep this issue on the agenda, not only for the sake of memory, but because there are a lot of issues that were not solved and may affect the future in a very negative way.

diasporas, no matter what nationality, tend to create their own idealized country and to get detached from reality, especially in a case where that reality is painful and contradicts the idealized country that people would like to remember.

also what you mention about """There is a notion in Bosnia that "others" should fight all battles for them. """

is not an exclusive trait of Bosniaks, it's common to many small and poor peoples, a culture of hopelessness and dependence that relieves people of any responsibility for their own destiny: it's always someone else's fault and eventually someone will come and rescue us.

that environment of hopelessness also feed a kind of insidious fatalism. If you read Elie Wiesel book Night, you can see that, how he describes how Jews in his community refused to see the signs of what was being prepared.

so, it is to fight that kind of mentality that we are here working for this cause, not only for the sake of past victims, but also to raise awareness that may one day avoid new genocides.

each individual that stops by your blog and takes the time to read it with an open mind and good faith is a small victory because we don't know if that person may one day be in a position where he-she can make a difference.

why have I been influenced by you and other people like you and not by fashionable genocide deniers and cynical relativists?

so, please don't let these moments of disappointment get into you. you know you are doing the right thing even.

Kirk Johnson said...

Daniel, don't you dare even consider giving up your work. You inspire all of us, and the last thing the people you're complaining about deserve is another excuse to give up.

Sarah has a very good point about small countries producing a feeling of powerlessness.

I would also note that the Communist Party of Bosnia was especially strong and hardline during the Titoist period. Decentralized socialism also tended to produce local strongmen like Fikret Abdic; Bosnians unfortunately have a long tradition of following authoritarian leaders.

At any rate, take heart--WE care, and I know that for every person who comments on your blog there are many who read it and are moved by it. Keep up the good fight.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Owen - done.

Kirk, forgive me, I initially came on to the comments section to comment about your wonderfull blog but then became distracted. It was really nice comming across your blog and I appreciate the effort that you put into it.

Anonymous said...

Samaha said: "I'm truelly disappointed - how could you say this 'This type of primitive mentality had 'partially' contributed..."

It's true, but that doesn't justify genocide, if that's what you wanted to imply. UN is also partially responsible for the Srebrenica genocide whether they want to admit it or not. We know that Serbia's complicity in this genocide is undeniable, but they got away with murder by concealing important evidence. ICJ played their card, even though torture in concentration camps around Prijedor met the definition of genocide. Remember, genocide is extremely hard to prove and Serbia had plenty of time to destroy/conceal key evidence. The ultimate responsibility for the Srebrenica genocide rests with the Serb Army and RS institutions.

And yes, it was "primitive" to believe that the United Nations would defend Srebrenica, when UN had "zero" credibility with the Bosnian people, especially in Sarajevo and Bihac pocket. They also tried to disarm Gorazde in conjunction with Sarajevo authorities, but people there said "no thanks," and Gorazde survived.

Samaha said: "Bosnian Americans that came here way before the war worked their asses off to collect money for humanitarian relief, organizing protests, informing the public etc."

That's not enough. Most of people you are referring to simply run away from Bosnia and enjoyed nice life in the United States while I was suffering every second with my mother in Bosnia. Why haven't they stayed and defended Bosnia? How many protests have you held? One protest a week? One a month? One a year? Come on, don't give me that and don't try to equalize your life in Chichago with our suffering in Bosnia. When I was "ethnically cleansed" from my city, me and my mom went back to another Bosnian city and my mom joined the Army an worked in the kitchen, and that's how she contributed to the defence of our people.

Even today, Bosniak-American community does NOT have any major English-speaking news media portals around. Look at Serbianna, look at NewKosovaReport, etc, they all seem to be "way" ahead of us. Bosniak-American community was disorganized in the 1990s, and it's disorganized even today. Take a look at the Congress of North American Bosniaks - they split in two opposing factions. You think that's going to bring any good to our community?

Samaha said: "today 15,000 men pray eid prayer every eid."

We don't need prayers. We need something concrete to be done. For example, I just finished building a website for the Congress of North American Bosniaks. What have you guys done lately?

Conclussion: Samaha, hope you take my criticism as something positive. After all, it's well meaning. You suggested I can contact you, quote: "my email is on my blog..." I will do that and I will tell you exactly what has to be done for our next project, and hopefully you can get somebody to get involved. Our community needs a wake up call. I am so embarrased by the lack of Bosniak community's participation in the Srebrenica Memorial Quilt... I am very pissed off. It's a shame.

PS: We need to organize better and bring some measurable (concrete) results to defend and preserve the memory of genocide. No more talk. It's time to be pro-active. If one person can make a difference, imagine what a team of well organized and pro-active people could do?

Anonymous said...

Dan, you don't always have the most inspiring way of rallying the troops. But Samaha, be reassured, the general may have a harsh tongue but he doesn't go easy on himself either.

Srebrenica Genocide said...

Dear Sarah, you are absolutely correct. But it still bothers me that people can be so irresponsible... I mean, Srebrenica Memorial Quilt lists so called "Bosnian Media Group" as one of the sponsors. If you go to a website of this 'organization' you will see that they are nothing but a joke. They are in the United States and they don't even publish articles in English. So what kind of "change" do they expect to accomplish? How many people have they managed to convince to donate $40? Five? Six? Maybe 7? Ten? Fifteen? Come on, it's a joke. They are out of touch with reality. If you want to make a change, then write in English language so US Senators, politicians, humanitarians, and media can read your story.

Dear Kirk, thank you so much for your support. You have no idea how popular your blog is. This is a trully academic resource with first-class book reviews and analysis. I sometimes posted controversial comments to your posts, but they were always well meaning.

Thank you, both of you, and of course, I haven't forgotten you Owen. I will be posting a very interesting article soon. I think you will like it.

Anonymous said...

Dan, young man from Srebrenica doing exactly what you're complaining people in your diaspora don't do - credit where credit's due:

Anonymous said...

Kirk - very nice blog. I initially came to the comments section to tell you that but got distracted. Sorry for being rude in my first comment and not saying anything.

Owen - done.

Daniel - I still don't think that you can say that it was a primitive mentality that led to the trust of the UN. Inexperienced, ill-prepared .. maybe but who is ever prepared for starvation, atrocities, war?

You said: "That's not enough. Most of people you are referring to simply run away from Bosnia and enjoyed nice life in the United States while I was suffering every second with my mother in Bosnia. Why haven't they stayed and defended Bosnia?"

No - I am not referring to refugees. The people I am referring to are people like me and those whose roots have been established here since the late 19th century. Dzematul Hajrije was established here in 1906 by Bosnians and is the first established Muslim organization in Illinois as well as one of the very first nationwide.

I usually spend a good amount of time when people ask me where I am from due to the unusualness of my name and so let me do this once more: I am Bosnian-American. My parents are from Bosnia and came here in the mid 60's and I was born here in 1969 and lived in the Chicago area for most of my life save one year that I attended 8th grade in Vlasenica in 1984 the year of the Olympics in Sarajevo and the many summers that I spent there before I married. I am not a refugee and have never not seen the war.

Do you know why I spend so much time describing where I am from? Because I KNOW that I can not equate myself with you and the Bosnians who have lived through the war and I would never want to mislead someone. There's also a lot of guilt involved in being here safe while my family and friends .. god knows.

I believe that even Hasan Nuhanovic knows a couple of people who went from safety in Chicago who had also grown up with me and left to translate for the UN. Many of us simply couldn't sit by and watch .. I would have been the first to run over there but I was pregnant. So instead, I became a board member of the Bosnian National Society of America and the producer of our Sunday morning radio news program.

I sat by fax machines waiting for SDA reports, I browsed the internet several hours a day and it wasn't as simple searching out news stories back then as it is now, I spent most of my day in this state while I was pregnant. I had nightmares and migraines and in the end my placenta fell apart from all of the stress and my unborn baby had gone into duress - (fyi - she's 16 1/2 now and healthy). STILL - NO none of that makes me even close to being able to relate or be equal with what you have gone through but please do not sit here and pass judgement on those that sat here in safety or discount our dedication.

As for the protests, they were very often at first and there was a huge one in Washington D.C but I think we eventually realized that we had to put our energies into different efforts.

The Bosnian-American community that existed here before the war was actually pretty well organized before the influx of refugees. As you know Bosnians adapt well to whatever society they are in .. we were becomming very involved in politics before the war and we were able to organize functions with ease but that's not so difficult to do with a population of 2,500. During the influx of refugees is when we became overwhelmed .. we simply did not have the resources to accomodate all of their needs. Quite a few of the refugees had stepped up though and worked for organizations that were bringing refugees over. We're still feeling the side effects of the boom in our population.

As for the Bosnian American community, you're right we don't have any major English-speaking news media portals around but we've also had fewer Bosnians in America than Serbs have had and that does make a huge difference because you need well established individuals who have the finances for such projects. Evidence enough is that Serb organizations in the United States were able to hire PR firms during the war. Also, that Serbia exists as a whole without complications within it's government allows Serbia itself to invest in foreign Serbian entities or pro-Serbian entities. Try getting funding from the Bosnian government - we know that would be impossible because of the way the government is made up.

"What have you guys done lately?"

I guess I should look into just how much the Islamic Cultural Center in Northbrook was involved in the creation of the Congress. I think it was actually someone that I grew up with here in the US that I had to get in touch with after the Seatle shooting to see what we could do about condemning the act. Like I said Daniel - there are so many needs in our community and those that can help are really spreading themselves thin. Personally, after my children started school I became estranged from being involved in Bosnian community needs and focused on the specific needs of my children .. serving on various school boards, addressing Islamophobia, criticising extremism because these are the issues that affect my childrens lives right now .. like you said - don't expect others to fight your battles.

I'm sure your criticism is well meaning .. that's the Bosnian way afterall .. being open and honest. Unfortunately it is also why we end up splitting in opposing factions. But no worries Daniel, I really do understand where you are comming from, afterall it wasn't that long ago that I was saying much of the same thing 'why is everyone expecting everything from a few of us' but I stepped back and then saw that not everyone was like that and that others were really making a difference.

Daniel said: "We need to organize better and bring some measurable (concrete) results to defend and preserve the memory of genocide. No more talk. It's time to be pro-active. If one person can make a difference, imagine what a team of well organized and pro-active people could do?"

I'm there. Let's get in touch and see what can be done.

Anonymous said...

Owen - hah - don't worry Daniel's style is quite familiar I still do see Bosnians regularly. I'm sure Daniel will be fine after reading my comment as well. This is just he way things get done with Bosnians :-)