Monday, December 15, 2008

Journalist Peter Lippman--Travel Journal to Bosnia-Herzegovina Part III

[The third of Lippman's journal entries of his visit to Bosnia; again, my deepest gratitude to him for allowing me to pass these along. His committment to reporting on Bosnia continues to impress,

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PL Bosnia-Herzegovina journal #3: Srebrenica

In my last journal I mentioned what Hasan Nuhanovic said about the latest chapter in his lawsuit against the Dutch government. He voiced some opinions on the general state of Bosnia:

"Bosnia is no longer what it was, and it won't be. There are three ethnicities, and they are no longer mixed. My hope is that we will go into the EU. Maybe when do, there will be economic integration. But the politicians are working against this.

"Dodik is just the spokesman for the Serb elite, which finally accomplished its project. Serbia exists, de facto, on the other side of Kozija Cuprija [the eastern outskirts of Sarajevo]."

On the issue of refugee return to Srebrenica, Hasan said, "People from the cities think that they should stay where they are, while we (people displaced from villages) should all return. Why should I return, without support? They think we should be good "pacenici," victims, sufferers.

IMPRESSIONS OF SREBRENICA

In mid-September I went to Srebrenica. My first impression was one of surprise, primarily because a few buildings have been repaired, and the look of the town is the better for it. For years Srebrenica's appearance did not change whatsoever; the only repaired building was the municipal building, and the trashed, empty Robna Kuca (department store) stood like a great sore in the middle of town, on the square next to the town park. Posters from the most recent political campaign (often promoting the worst war criminals) always remained stuck on the boarded-up windows, shredding in the weather.

Now the department store is open, clean, shiny, and cheerful, employing a number of local residents, both Serbs and Bosniaks. Now you don't have to travel to Bratunac to buy a needle. It's remarkable how much difference this one building makes in the town's atmosphere.

There are a few more businesses and storefronts open as well, some housing non-governmental organizations. And in the Dom Kulture (cultural center, with a theater), the museum and library have been refurbished, as well as the offices of some of the NGOs. There's even a well-functioning Internet center. Meanwhile, the building itself is still a bit tacky, with a dreary entrance and shrapnel holes on the outside. And in the rest of the town, the undercurrent of poverty and sadness has not quite been overcome.

But it is apparent that the struggle to survive goes on. This is the revelation of my entire visit to Srebrenica. For thousands of Srebrenicans from Tuzla to St. Louis, what Hasan says is true. There's no argument against making a better life far away. However, somewhere between four and six thousand people have returned to Srebrenica town and many villages, and they are struggling to stay. Many of them probably had no other choice but to return. They accept that Srebrenica will not ever be like it was before the war, when people competed to have the most lovely balcony, and loved their home town more than anywhere else. But they, the returnees, are doing what I think is the most natural thing, to keep on living. The rest of their lives will be a struggle, at best. But the optimistic outlook is that in a generation or two (barring another disaster), life will be "normal" again in Srebrenica municipality.

Before the war, Srebrenica was an attractive place to visit; people came from all over Yugoslavia and Europe because of the mineral springs that are located above the town. Residents became wealthy by renting private rooms and hosting visitors. Now the springs are devastated, but they will be repaired, sooner or later. That will help Srebrenica to revive. In preparation for this, a returnee named Abdulah has created a motel, Misirlija, with 40 beds. And there are about a dozen kafanas and restaurants now, all in the center of town.

A huge new domed Islamic center is being built in the center as well, across from the Dom Kulture. My landlord Esad said that "they're only building mosques and churches, the idiots" -- but then went on to tell me that there's a noodle factory, financed by Italy, and Cimos, financed by Slovenia, is making car parts. Soon there will be a factory for wheelchairs. There will also be a winery based on local fruit, and another company, financed by Swedes, is buying local fruit and exporting it. This all sounds like production, but compared to what was here before the war, it is just a start.

Esad also told me that the Russians have bought the mines. I mentioned that I heard something about their corrupt management. He laughed and said, "What can the Russians do that's honest?!" There are around 500 workers in the mines now, mostly Serbs. They earn around 1,000 KM, which is a good income. Esad says that all company earnings go through Banja Luka (capital of the RS), and companies don't even pay taxes here.

I visited my old friends Munevera and Salih, who have a farm in Potocari. Munevera was working in the barn, and I found Salih up in the house, with a three-day beard, dirty work clothes, and calloused hands. He cleaned up, and we sat and had coffee and dinner.

I met Munevera and Salih around 2002, soon after they returned to Srebrenica. They had opened a kafana, and then Munevera started a non-governmental organization. Neither thrived. Then they received a donation of some cows, fixed up a house on their property, and built a barn. They have been busy with the cows ever since. They now have nine cows, four calves, and two cats, Cicko and Bela. Another improvement that makes life pleasant for them is that there are more new neighbors, returnees. Before, life in their valley was rather lonesome.

We talked about the US electoral campaign. Munevera and Salih were for Hillary, because they loved Bill Clinton. Salih said that "Clinton saved us during the war, with the air-drops. If it weren't for that, we would have starved in a week. Clinton saved Srebrenica." I found that last remark ironic, but didn't say anything about it. Other survivors have said to me that Clinton should have a weight on his conscience for having let Srebrenica fall.

Munevera and Salih have not been paid in the last four months for their milk, which they sell to a company in Tuzla. When I asked why, Salih said, "The state is falling apart. There is no money." I asked, "Will the company finally pay you?" Salih said, "Oh, they'll pay us, but not before our eyes fall out."

When various inter-governmental and non-governmental agencies began to help Srebrenica recover, most resources were directed towards the villages. This policy was based on the idea that people could live from agricultural work. This has had mixed results. Before the war there many people lived in the villages -- probably around 30,000 in over 200 villages. But they depended primarily on factory jobs for their incomes. Srebrenica had significant industry, which is no more. So it's a new thing -- or perhaps, a return to the pre-World War II times -- to be living from farming.

In any case, there has been more return to the villages than to the town. The return includes a respectable number of young people, unlike in some other return settings. There are around 600 students in the high school.

Salih told me that there are young people who have returned to Srebrenica. I asked him, "So that means that the city will revive?" He said, "It can, but it takes time."

Later, I asked a friend who is a retired employee for the municipality of Srebrenica to evaluate the situation there. He said that he was unhappy about the fact that the villages are moving ahead, and the town itself is being left behind, lagging in development. He was unhappy about the fact that the roofs of the apartment buildings have been leaking for years; that there was money donated for their repair, but that it "disappeared," and that water was leaking into the buildings, all the way to the ground floor.

I went to visit the memorial cemetery, where the identified remains of massacre victims exhumed from mass graves in a wide radius around Srebrenica -- all the way up to Zvornik -- have been reburied. As of the most recent (July 2008) reburial, on the 13th anniversary of the massacre, there are now over 3,500 remains interred in the cemetery.

There is a little tourist kiosk across the street where people buy flowers for the cemetery, cigarette lighters with "Srebrenica Memorial Center" printed on them, chewing gum, scarves, and books. Most of the books are religious in nature.

I walked around in the Memorial Center, as I have done many times before. There are a couple of patches of new graves since I was last there. Otherwise, the place is the same: big, beautiful, and tragic. There's one huge stone monument with the names of places of origin of some of the victims of the genocide. A number of victims is inscribed into the stone: "8372 - and that is not the final count," it reads. To date, over 5,000 remains have been identified by DNA testing. The reason not all these remains have been reburied is because in many cases, only a small part of a body has been identified, and the authorities choose to wait to notify the surviving family until there is more to rebury. It happens this way because most of the remains are from "secondary mass graves." This is the term for the locations where the Serb authorities moved the massacre victims' bodies, some time after the event, from "primary graves." In the process, many of the remains were mixed up or split up, making the identification task much more difficult.

ALBINA -- VASA PRAVA

I talked with Albina, who works with the local branch of the legal assistance organization, Vasa Prava ("Your Rights"). This nationwide organization, supported by the UNHCR and other agencies, helps returnees find their way home, and resolve resettlement problems once they get there. Albina said, "We help displaced persons and other people in difficult circumstances. Pensioners, veterans. There is hardly anyone who isn't at least a potential client. Everyone here is a returnee." This refers to the fact that first all the Serbs left Srebrenica, when it was an enclave during the war. Then at the end, all the Bosniaks were driven out.

Health coverage has been a problem for returnees from the start. Albina says, "When people return, they have to change their identity card. Then they can sign up for health insurance. But the Dom Zdravlje [Health Center] doesn't fulfill people's needs. Service in Tuzla is much better, so people don't change their ID. There is the same problem in the whole region. Zvornik is not much better.

"Secondly, there is mistrust. There has been no Bosniak caregiver in the Dom Zdravlje. Now maybe there is one. No one wanted to come to be served by a Serb."

"Also, if one is the owner of more than five dunums of land, he is considered able to support himself, and has to pay for health insurance. But that is not realistic. There is still only around 10% employment here."

Albina went on to list some of the new companies that had been founded in Srebrenica, mostly branches of firms doing business elsewhere. She mentioned a winery: "It is employing around 20 people, and it is a cooperative. They are buying fruit and berries, so that helps support some people." There was development of cattle raising, but then there was an epidemic of brucellosis, and that stopped a lot of people from doing that work.

I have been hearing for some years about people who returned to Srebrenica, and who then gave up and left. I asked Albina whether there was a situation of "reverse return." She said, "If it were possible, there would be. But most of the returnees are people who have nowhere else to go. There are many others who have a house in the Federation and one here, and they come here occasionally, in the summer, to raise a garden and visit friends and relatives, and then they go back.

"However," Albina said, "The story of return is over." To a large degree, this is true throughout Bosnia-Herzegovina. Whoever could return, or had no other option, has returned. Others chose to leave the country, or never returned from abroad, and have resolved their residency status elsewhere. And many displaced persons preferred to remain in parts of Bosnia where they were not a newly-created "minority." This applies to Croats and Serbs, as well as to Bosniaks. This is the basis of Hasan's indisputable statement, that "Bosnia is no longer what it was, and it won't be."

Those who have returned struggle on. Some leave; Serbs who were displaced to Srebrenica from other parts of Bosnia were the first to go. For a time, there were many repaired houses in Srebrenica town that stood empty, but Albina said that there are not as many as before. And returnees have re-established their roots in around sixty villages. Albina said, "Not only elderly people have returned to the villages or Srebrenica; there are also plenty of young people. At first there were older returnees; now there are younger people coming because they can work here. Life is returning to Srebrenica.

"But the real Srebrenicans won't return. They have made a new life elsewhere. People loved this city. It was pretty; now they don't love it anymore."

In spite of this conflicting and somewhat confusing information, Albina concluded hopefully, "Now it is the beginning of a turnaround."

ELECTIONS IN SREBRENICA

The SDP (Social-Democrat Party) club, a storefront where you can get something to drink and play cards with your party colleagues, is on the road to my room at Esad's. I stopped there to visit Hakija Meholjic, local leader of the party. He was Srebrenica's police chief during the war, and I know him from the early days of return to Srebrenica, when he was a leader of that movement as well.

When Hakija entered the club, he said to me, "How are things in America?" I answered, "We're sinking down." (This was right around the time that the big news about the financial crisis broke." Hakija replied, "Mashallah." (roughly: "Praise be!")

Hakija was running for mayor of Srebrenica, and his colleague Suljo was running for municipal council. The tone of the SDP discourse in Srebrenica is almost desperate, somewhat in contrast to what I have heard from some of the more hopeful people. Both Hakija and Suljo insisted that development was not proceeding at an acceptable pace. Suljo predicted that the upcoming elections were going to be very fateful for Srebrenica, and that it would be a "disaster" if the SDA candidate, Osman Suljic, won.

I had a long conversation with Suljo, who was trained as an electrical engineer. After the war, he and his family lived in Tuzla for seven years, in one room in a refugee center. He spoke of how many families are still split up, with many men killed (including his father), and many women left on their own.

Suljo asked, rhetorically: "What is an election? You can vote, or you can choose. Very few people choose, which requires thinking." We compared the elections there and in the US, and found many similarities.

I asked Suljo what he thought Bosnia's position was intended to be in relation to the EU. He answered, "One, a dump for radioactive waste. Two, a source of cheap labor. Three, a market for foreign goods." He explained, "No one is producing anything here. The natural resources and public companies are being sold off to foreign companies for the highest bid. People in the government are thinking only about their own profit, not about the good of the people. We have the most rigid kind of capitalism here. Here, people are only thinking now about 'what I can get,' as opposed to doing something for the benefit of everyone. This is a big contrast with the period after WWII, when people were united, and worked together to rebuild the country in a very short time.

"I'm 49," he continued, "I can't leave, can't go anywhere. So, what can I do to leave this country a better place for the young people? They didn't create this mess, and aren't responsible for it. We are leaving them a divided country, based on bribes and corruption, with a devastated economy that doesn't produce anything.

"I wish I could say something optimistic, but I can't. I was optimistic in 1995, 1996, after the war, when it was normal for everything to be so devastated. Then, I hoped that things would be able to be improved. But it hasn't, and now it's 2008, and I can't be optimistic.

"It is hard for anything to be run from this municipality. Everything goes through the ministries in Banja Luka. There is an over-centralized RS, and a very decentralized Federation. They sold the bauxite mines (around Srebrenica) to the Ukrainians, and the other mines to the Russians. But there is not any new exploration and development, so there is no economic improvement here."

Later, I talked with a driver I had engaged, a local man named Ismet, about the current electoral campaign. Ismet thought that Osman Suljic of the SDA was "the best for the position, that he is honest and capable." Of Hakija, he said, "He was a policeman, and people don't love the policemen so much. Hakija has some wartime commanders behind him, but that doesn't really make people enthusiastic. Hakija's police tenure and, for that matter, the legacy of his party, the SDP, remind us of the communist times, and that's not very popular with the Bosniaks."

Naser Oric is one of the people who supported Hakija's candidacy. Oric was the top commander defending Srebrenica during the war. I asked Ismet why Oric was removed from Srebrenica before the fall of the city. Ismet said that this was done because "they [an unspecified group] made an agreement on ethnic division of the country, and Srebrenica was to go to the Serbs."

DIJANA

I visited with my friend Dijana, who works for a local NGO. Her organization promotes civic consciousness, inter-ethnic reconciliation, and environmental awareness, among other things. Dijana is a Bosnian Serb and was displaced to the Srebrenica area from another town during the war.

We talked about the changes people have gone through in the way they consider their identity. Before the war, it was common, though not universal, to consider oneself a Yugoslav, or a Bosnian. Often the identification as a Serb, Croat, or Muslim came second. Then with the breakup of the country, people were forced to adopt an ethnic designation tied to the religion of their ancestors.

Now, referring to this adoption or reinforcement of ethnic identity, Dijana says, "I don't think at all that that [being a Serb] is now my primary identification. For me there are some more important things, such as, for example, that I am a mother; that is more essential, how my children will grow up in this country, and then everything else is after that. I have that identity, which is more important to me.

"There is no flag, state, or ideal worth it to me to send my children into war, a bloody war, where our children would be killed. It was really senseless, all of this that happened. If it were to happen again it would be that much more senseless in the end, when we realize that it was all useless."

I asked Dijana whether she thought that among the people in Bosnia, on different sides, there was any relief from the nationalism that had destroyed the country. She responded that there was still fear and manipulation, but that it was much less tense than immediately after the war.

She added, "People are behaving differently, in general, and they are working together, more than after the war. They are communicating, getting together. It is different in some communities that are ethnically cleansed, such as some municipalities in the Federation, and some in the Republika Srpska, but it's better in other municipalities that are multi-ethnic, such as Srebrenica.

"I think that Srebrenica has many positive examples of coexistence; there really are many positive things, which maybe aren't interesting to the media, because they are positive. Some truly good results are being achieved by the efforts of well-intentioned people, regardless of whether they are in the local government, or in NGOs, or international organizations.

Dijana pointed out that tensions always increased in the electoral campaign periods. I wondered whether this syndrome of manipulation and incitement was transparent to the ordinary voter. She answered that people are still tending to vote along ethnic lines, and that in any case, there was not much of a choice among the candidates. But she did point out improving cooperation on the local level among politicians of different ethnicities, which is in huge contrast to the situation eight or ten years ago.

Regarding improvements around the municipality, Dijana said, "It is obvious, no one can say that there haven't been some improvements. It's really the first time that you see some results...more people are employed."

SUCESKA, A RETURN VILLAGE

In the summer of 2000, I went to Suceska with Hakija Meholjic and Zulfo Salihovic, the leaders of the first coordinated return effort to any village in Srebrenica municipality. Suceska sits high up in the hills, more than 45 minutes away from the town along an ancient, decrepit road. At that time, families were still clearing rubble from their bombed-out homes, and some were starting to rebuild, with help from international agencies. A Serb-owned company was rebuilding the local administrative office, with help from some workers from Serbia. I made friends with Ahmet, whose house was being rebuilt. I remember sitting with him and some other men during a break. They had cooled some beer from Tuzla in a nearby spring and were discussing whether it was a sin to drink beer.

At that time, the returnees were all living in a little tent settlement in the center of town. As the first returnees, they were under threat from the hard-line Serb authorities still running the municipality, and they were generally living in poor and insecure circumstances. At lunch they discussed their troubles, and Hakija, dipping a chunk of raw onion into some salt, exhorted the men to carry on with their rebuilding. They were the first of a wave of returnees, and their efforts have paid off.

I hadn't been to the village in years, so I hired Ismet to take me up there. The road to the highlands, and the villages along the way, are much changed from the way they were after the war. A good stretch of the road was paved last year. There are around three kilometers that still have the old cobblestones from the Austro-Hungarian period, and this is supposed to be refurbished later this year.

The route is beautiful in any case; the road climbs quickly up into steep and tightly-spaced hills where there are magnificent distant views. All is green. A couple of hamlets dot the roadside, but mostly it is woods.

When we arrived at Suceska. Ismet told me that in the broader vicinity of the village, there are at least 250 families.

Electricity came to Suceska in 2002, thanks to a million-dollar donation from USAID. Now, most of the houses of the village have been rebuilt. Some have gardens and bright flower patches. As I strolled the main road, a woman worked in a corn field where the tent settlement used to be. Two women chatted over a fence. A man walked down the street following a flock of several dozen geese. Suceska is a high place, but no longer lonesome.

We visited the mosque, which also has been rebuilt. Across the road is a tidy clinic. Ahmet's house sits on that road, boarded up. He now lives in the United States.

I chatted with Mujo, the "mayor" of Suceska. He was working on his rebuilt house, which is now being stuccoed. He told me that he is studying law at the new university extension in Srebrenica. When I told him I was writing about Srebrenica, he told me that he had written some poems about the war and would share them with me if I am interested.

On the way back down to Srebrenica, Ismet and I chatted. He was an "ordinary soldier, an infantryman" in Srebrenica during the war. In July of 1995, he went out from the enclave with the column of men who were fleeing upon the fall of the city. He arrived in safe territory, near Tuzla, seven days, "one of the first fifty who arrived." He also took his fifteen-year-old brother with him. Ismet said that if it weren't for the US, the war would still be going on today.

Speaking of the refugee return movement, Ismet said, "I could have stayed in the Federation, and gotten work there. But I love the mountains and the rivers, and it is peaceful here." I asked him where the war criminals from this area were hiding. He told me that they had fled to Serbia, where they have "some kind of protection."

Ismet said that the atmosphere is good in this area, where there is "democracy." I asked him what that meant, and he said that he feels that people here have freedom of expression, the right to worship according to their choice, and they participate in multiple-party elections.

I asked if there were a danger of mines in the area. Ismet told me that there could be mines in some of the fields, because people were laying them after the war, between 1995 and 2002, to prevent people from returning.

Before the war, there were around 2,700 people in Suceska and vicinity. Ismet estimates that around a fourth of that number have returned to the area.

We talked about the ever-present issue of the mysteriously disappearing donations for the development of Srebrenica. Ismet mentioned around 350 million KM ($250 million) that has been donated, much of which has disappeared. Ismet says that much of these funds was allocated to Serb companies, and spent in places where more Serbs live. That Dodik channeled a lot of money to non-local companies, including companies he owns or controls in his home town of Laktasi.

CVIJETIN

Back in town, I spoke with Cvijetin Maksimovic, who works for the municipality as head of the Department of Social Services. He spoke optimistically about the development of the municipality, saying that electrical power, water, and roads will have been connected to all return settlements by the end of this year. "There is no more obstruction or fear, except of some land mines." Schools are up and running, or on the verge of being repaired. There is also an extension of the Sarajevo University law school in Srebrenica, where around 50 or 60 students have now enrolled.

Cvijetin asserted that the problems with water are being addressed. There is much leakage, and the sources of water sometimes freeze. The water is "ok to drink." My landlords were still somewhat distrustful of the water quality, however.

Cvijetin said, "No one knows where the donations for the water repair went to." Albina, of Vasa Prava, had told me, "No one will say what happened to the donations, because then someone will have to answer for the embezzlement."

Confirming what other people have told me, Cvijetin notes, "Compared to the city, much more money was invested in the villages. So the city looks bad." But he continues more optimistically, "A hotel is going to be built over beyond the municipal building. The Sarajevo tobacco factory is donating for this. And we are going to get ten million KM from the Bosnian Council of Ministers to fix more housing."

Someone from Banja Luka bought the spa. Problems of ownership and investment have to be straightened out, and then it can be developed. The government of the RS may donate some resources.

Cvijetin listed a half-dozen new industrial investments in the municipality. I asked him if he felt optimistic about Srebrenica's future. He said, "If I were running for mayor, I would tell people that we have forests, mines, lead, zinc, and bauxite, and an industrial zone in Potocari." But he recognized a problem with the mines, where "the owners are taking out the maximum, and not investing in any development. It is bad, but it is better to do something, than to leave the mines idle."

Cvijetin estimated that there are now around 11,000 people living in Srebrenica, half of them Serb, and half Bosniak. Asked about whether people are leaving the city, Cvijetin said," There is not a trend of leaving. Srebrenica is not an attractive place to live, but it is an attractive place to work. We need to fix the city, to pretty it up."

Cvijetin pretties up the truth a little bit, but this is part of his job, and there need to be people who think positively about Srebrenica's future. Along these lines, Cvijetin concluded, "People are complaining. They don't remember that six thousand housing units were destroyed here during the war. Before, Srebrenica was the eighth most-developed municipality in Bosnia. Citizens must change their way of thinking. In the old system, they received everything they needed. There must be cooperation between citizens and the municipality. Citizens are seeking the impossible. There is much that has to be planned; we are starting over."

In this vein, I am aware that there has always been some tension between those who want to help rebuild Srebrenica, and those who have other priorities. In the early period after the war, there were those who wanted to return and others who wanted only to create a monument to the victims of the monument. There were even Bosniaks who opposed return. Ultimately, the goals of truth and justice, on one hand, and return and recovery, on the other, are not conflicting, but mutually supporting. But it took many years for the survivors to understand this.

After some years, return was happening, and people who returned to the city opposed those who were returning to the villages, saying the latter was an "outing." Then there were those who helped develop events and community life in the city, and those who opposed it, saying that celebrations in Srebrenica were disrespectful to the memory of the victims. They have a point, but life has to go on. Fortunately, there are activists in the city who understand this.

Now it is clear that there are those who complain, and those who are struggling to make things work. The latter are people in the villages, some people in the government, and some people in the NGOs. Then there are the dissatisfied in the town, who are unhappy with the slow pace of improvement. This is justified, but they don't seem to have anything constructive to offer. There are people who are like this throughout Bosnia-Herzegovina. It often seems like they are in the majority, but they are not; they merely have the loudest voice.

SREBRENICA YOUTH GROUP

On my way out of town I stopped and met a young man, Sasha, who is an activist in a youth group called Savjet Mladih ("Counsel of Youth"). This ethnically-mixed organization of young people has several active members, and many more who participate in events. The group has organized four annual festivals, and is putting on a drama festival this month. Savjet Mladih now operates in the shell of the old movie theater building next to the city park. It is encouraging, after seeing this building stand empty and windowless for many years, to see new life there.

I wanted Sasha to help me interpret the many positive and negative things I'd heard in Srebrenica. I asked him for his evaluation of the situation; was he optimistic? He said, "Really, we who are here are all optimistic in some way, because we have to be, in order to be here. But when you look at what has been done, maybe about five percent of what is needed has been done."

I commented that the appearance of the new department store seemed to be an encouraging sign, symbolically. Sasha said, "It's a question, whether the store is a good thing. It could put the smaller places out of business. And why has the spa not been reopened, after 13 years? And the riches of the mines are going to the Russians and the Ukrainians, for ridiculously small amounts of money."

For the Savjet Mladih's web site, see www.ocsrebrenica.com.

*

Something became clarified for me as a result of what I saw in Srebrenica. I left town appreciating the people who were doing something concrete to make life return. Those people have found a way to accept that Srebrenica is what it is, what happened happened, and that they have to struggle and move forward. As Hasan and many other people say, Srebrenica will never be the same. But there are people who know that they have to do something positive, and some kind of recovery will take place. I put my faith in those who are taking responsibility for making Srebrenica (and the rest of Bosnia) a normal place against all the odds. They are taking the first steps.

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Next -- Bosnia-Herzegovina journal #4: A visit to Bratunac

3 comments:

Daniel said...

Kirk, I just discovered an eye-witness book about events in Srebrenica. They were members of Doctors Without Borders.

Hey, can you take a look do you have a copy of the following book in your library:

Book Title: War Hospital: A True Story Of Surgery And Survival‎

Author: Sheri Lee Fink

Owen said...

Peter has a tremendous knack for describing the complexities of real life without losing sight of what matters.

Kirk Johnson said...

Daniel, I have to admit that I have a copy of that book, I just haven't got around to reading it yet. There's never enough time to read all the books I want to! Maybe you will motivate me to get around to it.

Owen, I could not agree with you more--Peter is able to keep his eyes wide open without forgetting what he knows.