Bosnians mark 20 years since war began
War-scarred nation remembers thousands of victims of conflict marked by near-four-year siege of Sarajevo.
Thousands of red chairs are standing empty along Sarajevo's main avenue as Bosnia and Herzegovina commemorates the 20th anniversary since the start of the country's war.
People gathered down the main thoroughfare, Marshal Tito Avenue, to attend the remembrance ceremony on Friday*where*a choir accompanied by a small classical orchestra performed an arrangement of 14 songs, most of them composed during the city's bloody siege.
"Why are you not here?" they sang to the 11,541 empty seats, one for each civilian killed in the city during a near-four-year siege by Bosnian Serb forces which became a symbol of the 1992-1995 conflict.
People placed white roses on some of the chairs, while on the smaller seats symbolising the hundreds of children killed sat teddy bears, toys and school books.
The ceremonies take*place exactly two decades after Bosnian Serb snipers opened fire on thousands of protesters, inflicting the first casualties of the war and triggering a conflict that tore apart the newly independent former Yugoslav republic along ethnic lines.
"The amount of empty chairs shows the horror that we lived through," Hazima Hadzovic, a resident of the city, told the AFP news agency.
"I just feel the need to come and honour the victims. I lost so many friends I cannot even remember all of their names now," the 56-year-old said.
Longest city seige
Earlier, Sarajevo residents stopped what they were doing and observed an hour of silence from 2:00pm local time (1200 GMT) to mark the start of the conflict.
Many in Sarajevo live daily with the memories of the longest city siege in modern history. For 44 months Belgrade-backed Bosnian Serbs shelled the town from the hills above and snipers shot pedestrians at random.
"I mostly recall the near continuous bombardment, the snipers, the dead,"*Fuad Novalija, 64, a craftsman in Sarajevo's old town, told AFP.
"The shells fell when we least expected them. People were killed as they queued for water or bread."
About 100,000 people were killed during the war, and half the population of* 4.4 million fled their homes.
While many of the city's most symbolic buildings have been restored in the years since the end of the war, Sarajevo still bears the traces of shells and bullets.
Al Jazeera's Peter Sharp, reporting from Sarajevo, said: "The city displays the scars of the long siege with pride. These are a reminder not just of the suffering here but also the resilience of it's people and their determination to survive."
The worst single atrocity during the war was at Srebrenica in the summer of 1995 when Bosnian Serb forces led by General Ratko Mladic over-ran a UN safe haven, killing about 8,000 Muslim men and boys.
Bosnian Serb political and military leaders like Radovan Karadzic and Mladic are now both facing trial for genocide before a UN war crimes court at The*Hague.
Modern Bosnia is still divided along ethnic lines between a*Muslim-Croat Federation and the Bosnian Serbs' Republika Srpska.
Bosnia's two semi-autonomous statelets have their own political institutions, loosely connected through an almost powerless central government.
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07-Apr-2012 01:55 AM
- Join Date
- Apr 2003
07-Apr-2012 02:12 AM
I remember my parents taking us to a Bosnian refugee camp somewhere in Melbourne in the 90s to visit the families who were forced to flee their homeland. We gave them some gifts and there was an immediate bond between us. I was only a child then but I still remember it; we still have the photos we took with the families.
I ask Allah (swt) to protect the Muslims all around the globe, ameen.
07-Apr-2012 09:40 AM
May Allah unite all the Muslims around the world, Ameen.Religion is all about moral character; therefore, whoever beats you in character beats you in religion."
O people who take pleasure in a life that will vanish, falling in love with a faded shadow is sheer stupidity!
- Ibn Qaiyim rahimuhAllaah
07-Apr-2012 11:18 AM
SubhanAllah, how the war has changed our brothers and sisters. Before the war you can tell their was a difference between serbs anad bosnians, it was the image of islam. But now, subhanAllah, our women dont dress properly and neither do our men. So so so sad.
One sister was telling me the war was to force the muslims to assimilate (by merging serbia and bosnia into one country), so that the muslims can forget their deen...but it looks like now some, not all have...
The Following User Says Thank You to Saffiya For This Useful Post:
07-Apr-2012 11:28 AM
ya Allah grant the shuhada' of Bosnia, Jannah, for they were killed for saying La Ilaha Illa Antaبعبارة مختصرة جبهتنا منصورة
07-Apr-2012 01:06 PM
Serbs continue genocide by preventing Bosnian poor damaged families access to welfare:
Bosnian Muslim villages dying out
Refugee return to Muslim villages where vicious ethnic 'cleansing' occurred in the Bosnian Serb area of Zvornik was once hailed as a post-war success story but, twenty years on, life is petering out.
Many of the returnees have left again for lack of work and use their rebuilt houses as holiday homes, leaving only the elderly to sit out their old age on their native land.
Amir Kapidzic was one of the thousands of Muslims who returned to the area, which was the scene of brutal ethnic cleansing at the start of Bosnia's 1992-95 war, 20 years ago this week.
In 2002, he followed his grandparents back to his native village of Divic, which is now part of Bosnian Serbs' Republika Srpska, but he does not believe his three children will stay and his prognosis for the village is grim.
"In ten years there will be nobody left, the elderly will die and the young will leave. We will come to Divic only for the holidays," the 31-year-old said.
In the early months of the war, Serb paramilitaries chased the Muslims -- who made up 60 percent of the population -- from the Zvornik area. Over 1,800 people were killed and entire Muslim villages were razed to the ground.
In Divic, the militias came in June 1992 and bussed the women and children to Muslim-controlled areas. The men where taken to detention camps where around one hundred of them were killed. Among the dead was Kapidzic's father.
The pull of the homeland was strong when Kapidzic returned as a young man but relations with the majority Serbs surrounding his community remain strained.
"I grew up in Divic and returning here after the war was a given for me. But nothing will ever be like it was before after what the Serbs did to us," he said.
During the war, the area's abandoned Muslim villages in the area were inhabited by Bosnian Serbs who fled Sarajevo and its surroundings. In Divic, they tore down the old mosque and built an Orthodox church.
When Muslims started to return, the Serbs moved out. The church was taken down and reconstructed in a neighbouring village and a new mosque was erected.
The gleaming white minaret dwarfs Divic's scattering of houses, an increasing number of which are empty most of the year.
Husejn Tuscic was one of a dozen elderly residents gathered in the imposing new mosque for afternoon prayers. Like many here he has no desire to interact with Serbs.
"I have no contact whatsoever with Serbs. It is not worth the trouble," said the 60-year-old, who is still haunted by the year he spent in a Serb detention camp.
But what is killing the village this time is unemployment.
Kapidzic is one of the few inhabitants who has a job -- in a small workshop manufacturing aluminium frames -- but he said several of his friends had already left Divic to seek employment in the Muslim Croat Federation or abroad.
The village's young imam Mehmed Tuhcic said he hoped when the mosque was rebuilt in 2011 it would draw new returnees.
"In the two years since I have been here only one new family returned," he sighed.
In 2007 over 30,000 Muslims out of the pre-war population of 48,100 had returned to Zvornik municipality but in the last five years 13,500 of those returnees have left again, according to Mirhunisa Zukic, who heads a refugee organisation.
"People come back, but find themselves unemployed, and for administrative reasons have no access to social security or healthcare in Republika Srpska," Zukic said.
During the war, some 2.2 million people fled their homes. Now a little over a million of them have returned, according to the Bosnian ministry for refugees. Around 117,000 people are still registered as internally displaced.
"Ethnic cleansing has been very successful," Zukic said.
http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/1...ages-dying-outSingapore: oppresses Muslims, bans athaan, bans hijab in schools, prevents building of madrassahs or muslim schools, puts limit on the percentage of Muslims allowed in each apartment building, and bans Muslims from joining Singapore's elite military forces. Singapore; Israel's best buddy!