Looking back at the ghosts of Srebrenica

07 July 2015 by Cintia Taylor and IJT

Five years ago, reporter Cintia Taylor visited Srebrenica for the official commemoration of the 11 July massacre. Her report of a divided town where Bosnian Serbs and Bosnian Muslims regard each other with suspicion remains relevant today. The original story [IJT-110] has been edited for IJT’s special issue acknowledging Srebrenica’s 20th anniversary.

A woman takes pause amidst graves in Srebrenica (Photo: Flickr/mikel_oibar)
Image caption: 
A woman takes pause amidst graves in Srebrenica (Photo: Flickr/mikel_oibar)

There is a constant background noise in Srebrenica of water running and birds singing. The atmosphere seems relaxed and calm – appropriate for a former spa destination. Now and then a car will drive by, a dog will bark, the church bells will chime and the speakers of the recently rebuilt mosque will sound the call to prayer.

The town consists of two main streets with a handful of shops and cafés. On top of the hill there is still the old Domavia hotel, where tourists stayed during their thermal treatments. Its yellow paint is fading, pieces of the outside walls have fallen off. There are no doors or windows. The ghost hotel is just one of the many examples of abandoned and shattered old houses across town. 

But Alma’s home isn’t one of them. She returned to Srebrenica in 2005 after fleeing to Germany during the war.

Grass on their graves

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