MEMORIES OF A BETTER FUTURE IN THE AFTERMATH OF THE SREBRENICA GENOCIDE
|Photograph of a young Bosniak child located with Srebrenica massacre Body 36, Orahovac 2 mass grave. Around 500 Bosniak children perished in the Srebrenica massacre. Photo courtesy: International Criminal Court (ICTY).|
By: Hariz Halilovic
'The 8,372 victims at Srebrenica, 10,000 in Sarajevo and tens of thousands across Bosnia did not die in a natural disaster. They were all victims of politics still very much alive in Serbia and even more so in Republika Srpska', writes a Bosnian Australian academic born in Srebrenica
Possibly the only way to explain who you are is to remember who you were, to take a mental journey into your very intimate past, to the place you left many years ago but you know you will always belong to – though you may never actually return, knowing as you do that the place and the people who made the place won’t be there.
The reflexive sentence above came into existence in 2007, at a ‘writing boot camp’ run by historian Ron Adams, who asked me to describe in one sentence how I saw the relationship between place, memory and identity, a topic of my long-term research and personal interests. Since then I have often returned to this sentence, and have made attempts to return to the actual ‘place I left many years ago’, which has proven to be a much more difficult task than re-reading my written thoughts. In other circumstances, and in some other pasts, I might have long ‘forgotten’ and given up on the place where I happen to have been born as, over the years – since the age of fourteen, when I left my hometown for the first time – I’ve been on the move, literally crossing the planet and developing fond attachments to many different places along the way. None of the new places, however, has been able to outgrow the importance of ‘Silvertown’, as the word Srebrenica would translate into English, or ‘Argentaria’ as this ancient settlement was called during Roman times. Spread across the first page of my Australian passport, S-R-E-B-R-E-N-I-C-A almost reads like my name and, like my name, it travels with me wherever I go.
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