Two survivors of ethnic cleansing and genocide in the former Yugoslavia will share their stories at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) on Saturday, July 11 to mark 20 years since the massacre at Srebrenica, where 8,100 Bosniak Muslim men and boys were killed. The Bosnia and Herzegovina Association of Manitoba has partnered with the CMHR to organize the event.
For Fadil Kulasic of Toronto, the screams of tortured and dying prisoners in his concentration camp will never be erased from his mind. He has worked for over a decade to help break the silence that accompanies mass atrocity, and speak out against denial and minimization.
"You have to talk about it because otherwise the hatred just kills you inside," he said. "You have to talk about it and recognize it for what it was. That's when forgiveness can happen. Denial hurts the victims and it hurts everyone."
"After all this time, I still hear the voices and cries of people on that day," said Kerim Bajramovic of Boston, who survived the Srebrenica massacre. "They were separating all boys and men aged 12–60. We were told they were being taken for questioning, and immediately we all knew what 'questioning' meant." Bajramovic, who has family in Winnipeg, will talk about the impact on survivors and their families today.
What: Event to mark 20th anniversary of Srebrenica
When: Saturday, July 11, 2015, 2 to 4 p.m.
Where: MTS Classrooms, CMHR (85 Israel Asper Way)
*Media can arrange advance interviews and/or tours of the Museum's exhibit on Srebrenica by contacting Louise Waldman (contact info below).*
The CMHR's exhibit on Srebrenica, in the gallery called "Breaking the Silence," contains photos and artifacts documenting efforts of Bosniak Canadians to persuade Canada's Parliament to recognize the genocide, which was done in 2010 through a unanimous motion. The exhibit also contains survivor videos, news coverage and accounts of the build-up, violation, ensuing distortion and denial, and efforts to break the silence.
In addition to the survivors, the CMHR's Dr. Jeremy Maron will reflect on the importance of talking and learning about violations like Srebrenica, not to re-ignite old tensions, but to help build a culture where the human rights of all people are equally respected. The presentations will be followed by a poetry reading. A special program suitable for children of all ages will be available during the event. Parents are encouraged to pre-register by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Bosnian civil war was one of the worst conflicts to erupt after the breakup of Yugoslavia. All sides in this war committed human rights abuses. The most well-known of these abuses occurred in Srebrenica in 1995, when Bosnian Serb forces killed more than 8,000 unarmed Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) men and boys. The Bosniaks thought they would be safe because Srebrenica was in a United Nations protected zone. But the United Nations did not prevent the town's capture or the genocide that followed.
In 2001, the International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague found the Srebrenica massacre to be an act of genocide. Canadian Louise Arbour, acting as chief prosecutor for the Tribunal, eventually secured an indictment against former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milošević for war crimes and crimes against humanity.