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Bosnians know all too well what Syrians are going through

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Refugees are being hunted, arrested and forcibly returned to the regime they fled in increasing numbers. The "reasons" for their targeting are multiple, from formalities regarding their documents to accusations of extremism and criminality. There is little selectivity in their targeting.

Men, women and children are being deported, professors and labourers, former officials and activists, engineers and their underage sons and daughters. They are being reported by the security forces, officials and ordinary people, often on the basis of their accent or appearance.

Refugee camps are being infiltrated by provocateurs loyal to the regime and its local allies who compete in identifying those who should be deported to face almost certain detention, torture, disappearance, and death.

They are being forcibly returned at dawn, at midnight or the middle of the day, entire families or just men, taken from their crying wives and children. The government was not to be deterred in executing their "patriotic" mission by the cries of the families, by the warnings of the few civil society activists, or feeble protests of the international community.

As if in a frenzy, the public supported their deeds, vile dehumanization spreading through the public discourse shaped by the media. A sea of hate-mongering headlines reduced refugees to a problem that must be resolved for the sake of "our state and our wellbeing".

As they were handed over to the regime forces they would immediately be detained to be "cleared" by security. Most of the men aged 18 to 60 who were forcibly returned were never to be seen again. Orchestrated incitement and hate speech defeated international law and humanity.

While reading this introduction, you may be wondering why the nationality of the refugees has not been specified as Syrian, the country they are being forcibly returned from as Lebanon, or the regime they fled from as that of Bashar al-Assad. It is because the text is, in fact, an excerpt from the book A Fatal Freedom by renowned Montenegrin journalist Seki Radoncic which describes the mistreatment of Bosnian refugees in Montenegro in 1992.

In his book, Radoncic documented in detail........

© Al Jazeera