Hopeful to move forward, Bosnian millennials try to unearth war skeletons

04 May 2015 by Nidzara Ahmetasevic, Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina)

Bosnia’s wartime past is still an overly politicized topic. Twenty years on, the 1992-1995 conflict remains so controversial that most high-school history books mention it just briefly, if at all, to avoid tension. Only in the last few years has a space opened to hear different voices, including the many twenty- and thirty-somethings who have questions. The movement is unfolding on Facebook and other online forums and blogs. Documentaries and virtual and real-life get-togethers organized by grassroots movements unite likeminded youth who want to uncover the reality of the war.

Activists in Prijedor on White Armband Day 2014 hold a banner reading: "Because it concerns me" (Photo: Jer me se tice)
Image caption: 
Activists in Prijedor on White Armband Day 2014 hold a banner reading: "Because it concerns me" (Photo: Jer me se tice)

“We have to unearth the skeletons from the past in order to build the future. I do not want to carry the burden of somebody else’s crimes,” says Haris Jusufovic, a history teacher from Sarajevo who was 12 when the war started. Today, with a child of his own, he questions what happened to his Serbian neighbours during the 44-month Sarajevo siege. Several atrocities committed by Bosnian forces with a duty to protect all his city’s citizens are largely ignored in Sarajevo’s war narrative.

“Some people are afraid that if we talk about these crimes, the image of Sarajevo as victims of aggression will disappear,” Jusufovic tells IJT. He began learning more about the past violence through independent media, social networks and talking with friends. But last October, a protest of grassroots activists seeking insight into Sarajevo’s siege compelled him to write. On the Banja Luka-based web portal Buka, he published an open letter called ‘I want the truth about what happened to my Serb neighbours in Sarajevo’. It went viral in Bosnia and Serbia.

Sins of the father

Want to read more?

If you subscribe to a free membership, you can read this article and explore our full archive, dating back to 1997.

Subscribe now

Related articles

21 December 2011 by Thijs Bouwknegt

Being the ICC's Chief Prosecutor is a delicate and politically sensitivejob.ForLuisMorenoOcampo it has been "the best job in the world." Fatou Bensouda will be taking over his office in June. She inhe

07 December 2011 by Thijs Bouwknegt

December 7, 2011 Ivory Coast is the latest playgroundoftheInternationalCriminal Court. This week the courtroom in The Hague became its theatre of justice. Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo proudly p

07 December 2011 by Richard Walker

Four Congolese witnesses testifying at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, find themselves caught in a legal wrangle, which could at once set a legal precedent and make them the last

07 December 2011 by Lindy Janssen

Brazil is booming. The economy is expanding and the country is getting ready to host the Football World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016. But the Latin American giant has not even begun dealing wi

07 December 2011 by Radosa Milutinovic

The primary purpose of the retrial of Ramush Haradinaj, as proclaimed by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in its appeal judgement in July, should have been to hear testimonies of two "key" witnesses who proved unwilling to testify in the original trial in 2007. Almost four months into the retrial which started in mid-August, its stated aim has not yet been achieved.