The Healer: Holding People Accountable in Order to Move Forward

The “Movement of Mothers from the Enclaves of Srebrenica and Zepa” was established in 1998. In this government-independent Bosnian organization, headquartered in Sarajevo, more than 10,000 women are united together. They survived, severely traumatized, the collapse of the former UN Protection Zone in Srebrenica in Eastern Bosnia on July 11, 1995. Most of the mothers lost their male relatives: 10,701 Bosnians disappeared according to the movement since the entry of Serbian troops. Among those missing were 570 women and more than 1,000 infants and children. The majority of those that disappeared were, in all probability, killed in mass-executions immediately after Srebrenica’s capture from Serbian General Ratko Miladic’s task forces and are buried in mass graves. So far, the remains of about 5,300 men have been exhumed. A forensic team could identify just 53 of the dead.

The primary goal of the mothers’ movement under Chairwoman Munira Subasic and her Representative Kada Hotic, is the clarification of the fate of their relatives. They are collecting information about the missing and are passing it along to their relatives. They advocate that the survivors get sufficient aid because many of the women are completely on their own and many must care for their grandchildren, who are often still quite young. With their re-integration, the women have energetically provided the Movement with help. Many are now approaching their fourth relocation within the country: In 1992, they fled from neighboring villages in the city of Srebrenica. After the entry of Serbian troops, they were separated from their male relatives, deported and placed in a group shelter in a Bosnian-controlled part of the country. In 1996, many moved into abandoned houses of Serbian families on the border from Sarajevo, in which their owners now want to return home.

Against the resistance of the international community, as well as the Bosnian government, the Mothers persistantly organized new human rights actions time and again, to speed up the exhumation and identification of the missing process, to enforce the punishment of war criminals and to hasten the return of survivors to Srebrenica. They collectively remembered the collapse of Srebrenica with the Bosnian section of the Society for Threatened Peoples (Die Gesellschaft fuer bedrohte Voelker/GfbV) with silent protests on the 11th of every month in Sarajevo and other Bosnian cities under the eyes of the “Blue Helmets”. With the exception of an 87-year-old Muslim Bosnian, no one expelled has been allowed to return (against the peace treaty from Dayton) to Srebrenica.

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