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In the Bosnian town of Višegrad, the local authorities are trying hard to whitewash genocidal crimes through tourism.

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17.10.2020

I was born in the 1980s to a Bosniak family in Višegrad, an ethnically diverse town in eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina. A couple of years later, my hometown turned into one of the worst places on earth to be born a Muslim.

It was a hot day in June 1992. The disappearances and the mass killings of Bosniak civilians at Višegrad’s famous 16th-century Mehmed Paša Sokolović’s bridge, which can be seen from almost every window in town, had intensified. Death and fear were all around me. I was just six years old.

We were sitting at home, my mother holding me in her arms, trying to comfort me. I clearly remember telling her: “I wish they’d kill me first.” Death, however scary it may be to a child, sounded better than watching my mom being killed in front of my eyes.

At the beginning of July, we fled to Goražde, a nearby town which was under the control of Bosnian forces, but many of our neighbours, friends and acquaintances stayed behind and faced genocidal violence.

Today, more than 25 years after the Dayton Accords officially recognised the ethnically cleansed Serb-majority entity Republika Srpska, where Višegrad is now located, the stories of the horrific suffering of its Muslim residents still haunt me.

So it was with anguish and a survivor’s guilt that I opened British journalist Christina Lamb’s recent book Our Bodies, Their Battlefield. It details the use of rape as a weapon of war across the world, including in Bosnia during the war. Lamb’s account of what happened in my hometown reawakened the trauma of the war.

Knowing the extent to which the current authorities in Republika Srpska are going to in order to erase these crimes made reading her book that much more painful.

Death and rape in Višegrad

In 1993, as details of the horrific crimes committed in Bosnia started to surface, the UN Security Council voted to establish the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) to prosecute war criminals. The crimes committed in Višegrad particularly stood out.

“These courts have heard many accounts but even the most seasoned judges and prosecutors pause at the mention of crimes perpetrated in Višegrad […] Crimes which reached an unprecedented peak of capricious cruelty not seen anywhere else,” one of the judges quoted in Lamb’s book........

© Al Jazeera


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