PHOTO: A forensic expert works in a mass grave containing the remains of genocide victims of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre near the village of Kamenica July 10, 2009.
Forensic experts are excavating remains of the Srebrenica genocide victims from Kamenica mass grave near Zvornik. The lifeless bodies of children, teenage boys, men, and the elderly Bosniaks are being carefully removed from the grave and send for DNA identification. Personal objects found in the grave indicate that victims are Bosnian Muslims from Srebrenica.Following the peace agreement in Dayton, Serb authorities had moved bodies in secondary mass graves in an attempt to hide the atrocities perpetrated against the citizens of Srebrenica.
Serbs from heavily militarized villages around Srebrenica had terrorized Srebrenica population and constantly attacked neighbouring Bosnian Muslim villages from 1992-1995.
In July 1995 the Bosnian Serb army staged a brutal takeover of Srebrenica and its surrounding area, where they proceeded to perpetrate genocide. Bosnian Serb soldiers separated Bosniak families, forcibly expelled 25,000-30,000 people, summarily executed at least 8,372 boys, men, and elderly, and dumped them into mass graves.
A forensic expert holds an old 100 German marks banknote found with remains of massacre victims of the 1995 Srebrenica genocide in a mass grave near the village of Kamenica July 10, 2009.
Forensic experts of the International Commission for Missing Persons (ICMP) inspect the remains of Srebrenica genocide victims at a mass grave site in a remote mountain area in the village of Kamenica, near the eastern Bosnian town of Zvornik, 75 kilometers (46 miles) north east of Sarajevo, Bosnia, Thursday, July 9, 2009.
Forensic experts of the International Commission for Missing Persons (ICMP) inspect the remains of Srebrenica massacre victims at a mass grave site in a remote mountain area in the village of Kamenica, near the eastern Bosnian town of Zvornik, 75 kilometers (46 miles) north east of Sarajevo, Bosnia, Thursday, July 9, 2009.
Remains of all bodies were excavated from mass graves in eastern Bosnia and identified by teams of local and international forensic experts. The burial ceremony was held on July 11 in Srebrenica on the 14th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide.
[click photos for higher resolution]
PHOTO: Amor Masovic, director of the Missing Persons Institute of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Promot catalogue of the exhibition “Mass Graves in Bosnia-Herzegovina” (published by the Museum of City of Sarajevo) is also available in .PDF format on CNAB’s web site.
The victims have been exhumed from primary and secondary mass graves, natural pits as much as 80 metres deep, mines, and multiple, single and other graves in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Republic of Croatia, and the Republic of Serbia.
A great majority of the victims have been exhumed from more than 400 mass graves, in which the mortal remains of between 5 and 1,153 people were found.
Of the 8,372 persons missing during the occupation of Srebrenica as a UN safe area in July 1995, the mortal remains of about 6,000 victims of genocide have been found, in most cases incomplete.
The quest for the missing, truth, justice and closure for the souls of the deceased and the survivors continues.
Member of the Board of Directors
Missing Persons Institute of Bosnia and Herzegovina
in the Museum of Sarajevo?
In essence, though, the real reasons for our decision to hold this exhibition are quite different. They were prompted by the moral need to tell the truth, in both our human and our professional capacity. Much has been said about what the truth can do, but one thing is certain: however painful it may be, only the truth can help.
Those who witnessed these events, the people who have for years now been working unstintingly and determinedly to discover and investigate mass graves, the camera, as one of the tools of their trade, and the photographs taken as they worked, are all indisputable facts, constituting nothing less than a document – the truth.
As an institution reconstructing history through facts and exhibits, the museum uses photographs as both documents and exhibits. The photographs taken as part of the work of the Missing Persons Institute of BiH as they identified and exhumed mass graves were not intended to be works of art or to end up as exhibits in an exhibition, but were taken in order to document and testify to the work itself as it progressed and to what was found in the course of investigation.
It was these very photographs that were our inspiration for the exhibition, since they speak for themselves. Any commentary, ours or others’, would be superfluous. Judge for yourself!
The Museum of Sarajevo is holding the exhibition of Mass Graves in Bosnia and Herzegovina and its accompanying catalogue to mark 11 July, Remembrance Day, commemorating the genocide in Srebrenica.
Our intention is not that the exhibition in our Museum should be the last, but rather that it will travel around the whole of Bosnia and Herzegovina and beyond. Let us hope that we shall succeed in this.
We should like to thank the sponsors who helped to make this exhibition a reality.
Our particular thanks go to Amor Mašović, Muhamed Mujkić and the entire team from the Missing Persons Institute of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Director, Museum of Sarajevo
But I should like to thank the organizer, the Museum of Sarajevo, for encouraging me once more to launch and appear and, just briefly, to open the window a crack to allow out a sliver of the truth that, even now, slices like a sword through every attempt to forget.
As I visited our killing fields over the years, I realized that my Bosnia has so many wounds, wounds that may be almost impossible to heal.
All this time I have been trying to banish the ambiguities in the question: “what is reality, really?” The one beyond the line of the world that I see what I emerge from a grave pit, or the one down there, in the dark, alone with the remains of the souls that have abandoned both realities, this one down there and the one up there?
I am always in two minds, attempting to tell this reality that there is another, another we can speak of, another we must accept and call by its real name, resolve, and free of all simplifications, speculations and guesswork.
Bosnia is full of pain, this Bosnia of ours is barely breathing, and that’s how it is.
My Bosnia is heart and soul to me – and I have to tell you that both of them hurt.
Missing Persons Institute of BiH
(author of the photographs used for the exhibition and the catalogue)
“To accept and understand the Truth, one needs an interlocutor who wants to see, accept and understand it,” Muhamed Mujkić of the Missing Persons Institute of BiH once said as we held one of our long conversations on the subject of genocide and mass graves. After working so long to assemble and present evidence of the Truth, he has had a variety of experiences. But the Truth is plain to see: there was genocide.
Men, women, children, new-born babies and old people were treacherously murdered, and their bones lie scattered around this misfortunate country of Bosnia and Herzegovina, sometimes in several places (primary, secondary or even tertiary graves). Their mortal remains, exhumed from deep pits, ditches, caves, bulldozed into the holes into which they were thrown, or found in the dense forests, landfill sites, warehouses and camps where they were herded together, tell the Truth. One can try to hide or camouflage the truth with skilful propaganda and manipulation, turning it into something different and alien, one can attempt to sweep it under the carpet and forget it, but it always returns to haunt us.
“We were led to one grave by the killer whose victims were haunting him and calling out to him in his dreams,” one of the team members, Samir Šabanija, told us.
As we prepared this catalogue and the exhibition we spent hours poring over the photographs, trying to understand them, even in part; to enter into the minds of those human beings just before they were murdered, their feelings, their terror, their trembling, their disbelief as they realized what was going to happen to them, their longing for their loved ones, their concern for them.
We have also tried to understand those whom they left behind, who have lost their loved ones. We can only guess at the pain that lances their souls and revives, again and again, the fire in their hearts; only they can know it.
We have no idea how their executioners and killers feel; what is in their hearts and souls.
More than 15 years have elapsed since this Truth first existed. It has been laid bare, it holds no more secrets; it is as we are, each one of us, before God. It is up to us to show it as it is, and to do so again and again, revealing it to everyone, if need be without cease until the Day of Judgment. If we stop, it will happen again.
Our thanks to the good, brave people (Amor, Muhamed, Samir, Sadik and the rest of their team) of the Missing Persons Institute of BiH for their persistence and their efforts, for their refusal to let the task drain their energy. Thank you in this world and the next.
Hamdija Dizdar, Aida Sulejmanagić, Moamer Šehović, Elvis Kondžić
Curators of the Museum of Sarajevo-authors of the exhibition
PHOTO: Bosnian Muslim girl pays her final respect to 43 DNA identified victims of the Zvornik massacre. From 1992-1995, Serbs around Srebrenica committed horrendous crimes against the Bosniak population of Podrinje. Just in nearby Zvornik, Serbs had killed 1,573 Bosniaks in 1992. DO NOT FORGET.
CREDITS: All funeral photos courtesy of “Cupo.” We thank him for tirelessly documenting war crimes. He is an inspiration to all of us.
On June 1st 2009, Bosniaks paid their final respects to 43 civilian victims from Zvornik. More than 5000 people attended the funeral. So far, 617 victims have already been DNA identified and laid to rest in Gornja Kalesija cemetery. In 1992, Serbs massacred 1,573 Bosniaks in Zvornik.
Bosnian Muslim woman, Šeća Delić, said goodbyes to her two sons – Zijad and Sead.
“We have seen with our hearts and felt with our souls what they had done to us. Sead was only 17 years old. He was attending a school. I begged the Serbs to let him go. They knew he was only a student. Our Serb neighbours from nearby villages came and took my sons. They told me: ‘Go home. Nothing will happen to your sons.’ They also took my husband, my father in law, 19 members of our family. They killed them all,” said Šeća.
The list of latest DNA identified victims from Cikotska Rijeka mass grave include: (1.) Hurić (Murat) Alija, born 1926. (2.) Hurić (Halil) Suljo, born 1912. (3.) Hurić (Husein) Senahid born 1977. or Hurić (Husein) Senad born 1976. (4.) Huric (Husein) Senada born 1979. (5.) Hurić (Huso) Husein, born 1949. (6.) Hurić (Salko) Fata, born 1923.
PHOTO 1-left: Bosnian Muslim woman who lost her relatives, walks away after visiting a Srebrenica genocide mass grave in an attempt to identify remains, in the village of Mrsici near the eastern Bosnian town of Vlasenica , 60 kms northeast of Sarajevo, Bosnia, Tuesday, May 26, 2009. It is expected that dozens of bodies will be found, and identified by the DNA method.
“So far we have found the remains of nine people, but we expect to find remains of at least 20 people,” she told AFP. Exhumation was expected to continue for several days.
Victims from Srebrenica are in most cases found in secondary graves, where remains had been moved from initial burial sites in an attempt by Serbs to cover up the crimes.
PHOTO 3-center: A group of Bosnian Muslim survivors of the 1995 Srebrenica genocide visit a newly discovered mass grave in the village of Mrsici near the eastern Bosnian town of Vlasenica, 60 kms northeast of Sarajevo, Tuesday, May 26, 2009.
PHOTO: Dr. Thomas Parsons – director of forensic research for
the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP).
According to SENSE Tribunal, the data on Srebrenica victims were already presented before the Trial Chamber in December 2007 by Dean Manning, head of the Srebrenica investigation team. In the meantime, new exhumations and identifications have been performed and the information has not been updated.
According to the report drafted by Dusan Janac, 5,358 victims have been exhumed from the Srebrenica mass graves; the remains of 648 persons have been found on the scattered along the route used by refugees to head towards Tuzla through woods and mountains.
The total number of victims currently stands at 6,006; this figure is not final as exhumations of newly discovered mass graves continue. Some mass graves have yet to be exhumed.
PHOTO: Dusan Janac – forensic investigator.
The mass graves were discovered on Thursday and Friday on Mount Romanija in Sokolac municipality and near Sekovici, east of Tuzla.
The first mass grave, near the village of Becari in Sokolac municipality, contains the bodies of Bosnian Muslims from surrounding villages, killed at the beginning of the 1992-1995 war.
The mass grave near the village of Bisina in Sekovici municipality, east of Tuzla, is in fact a natural cave that is more than 30 metres deep. It is filled with the remains of Bosnian Muslims from Srebrenica killed in the summer of 1995.
The 1995 Srebrenica genocide resulted in ethnic cleansing of 25,000-30,000 people, including summary killings of at least 8,372 Bosniaks – men, boys, and children.
Photo Caption: A forensic expert searches for remains of Bosnian Muslims in a mass grave in Zeleni Jadar, near Srebrenica September 25, 2007. Almost twelve years after the war ended in Bosnia, experts have discovered another mass grave with remains of victims of the 1995 massacre of over 8,000 Bosniak men and boys by the Bosnian Serb forces in Srebrenica. Reuters/Damir Sagolj. (Photo republished for fair use only)
On September 22 2007, the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) said it discovered a mass grave of bodies of 44 Bosniaks who were killed during Srebrenica’s massacre in 1995.
And just as recently as October 4th 2007, the remains of more than 120 Bosniak civilian victims of the Srebrenica massacre have been exhumed from a mass grave in eastern Bosnia located outside the village of Zeleni Jadar, about 15 kilometres (10 miles) south of Srebrenica. This mass grave is thought to contain the remains of at least another 50 people, bringing total number of victims in only two locations to over 200.
ICMP said that the victims were shot to death and they included children who were between 7 and 11 years old.This graveyard is one of many others in Srebrenica and leaders of Bosnian Serb forces did their best to hide their crimes.
Some personal documents had also been uncovered from the burial site, which was discovered in September. The remains were crushed and compressed, proving they had been re-buried with bulldozers.
Most of the victims’ remains were buried in a large mass grave before being moved by Serbs in an attempt to cover up the crime. Thousands have been uncovered from about 60 mass graves around the eastern town.
Bosnian Serb forces killed about 8,000 Bosniak men and boys in the Srebrenica genocide – the single worst atrocity in Europe since World War II.
The main culprits for the crime – wartime Bosnian Serb political leader Radovan Karadzic and his army chief Ratko Mladic – remain at large.
The Srebrenica massacre has been recognized by the UN war crimes tribunal and the International Court of Justice to have constituted genocide.
In July 11 of 1995, Bosnian Serb forces with logistical help of Serbia, attacked Srebrenica enclave who received assurances from nearby UN forces that they will not be attacked on the basis of a Security-Council resolution that put the region under international protection.
Based in Sarajevo, ICMP was founded in 1996 to address the issue of persons missing as a result of conflicts relevant to Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia from during 1991-1995. It also handles relevant issues in Macedonia and Kosovo.