The Slovenia Times

Series of Events to Mark 20th Anniversary of Srebrenica Genocide


The project, dubbed 8,372 live memories, will see a series of events throughout the country over the next five months under the honorary sponsorship of Slovenian President Borut Pahor.

Pahor received the two genocide survivors, Almasa Salihović and Hasan Hasanović, and representatives of two NGOs organising the memorial project, today, announcing he planned to attend the commemoration marking the 20th anniversary of the genocide at the Potočari memorial park in Bosnia and Herzegovina on 11 July.

Expressing support for the project, Pahor said it was "our duty to remind one another and ourselves time and again where the slightest of intolerance can lead to".

His office quoted him as adding that it was in common interest to preserve memory of "this symbol of horror" in Europe's recent history, as a reminder that "tragedies are closer than we can imagine".

Pahor also expressed his "deepest respect" for Almasa Salihović and Hasan Hasanović, for their courage to speak about the horrors of war and preserve memory of them so they should never happen again.

Srebrenica, declared a safe area by the UN to provide refuge for Bosniaks from other parts of the country, was seized by the Bosnian Serbs, who separated Bosniak men and boys from their families and killed them.

They buried their bodies in mass graves and later relocated some of them, so that many of the victims have not been found and decently buried to this day. More than 2,000 have not yet been identified.

Azemina Ahmed Begovič of an NGO bringing together some 200 women, mothers and sisters of the victims of the massacre presented Pahor with a white crocheted flower as a symbol of the Srebrenica genocide.

After the reception hosted by Pahor at the Presidential Palace, the two survivors spoke about their experiences at an event at Plaza Hotel that was attended by several ambassadors and the head of the Muslim community in Slovenia.

Hasan Hasanović, who was 21 years old at the time of the genocide and lost two brothers in the war, said Slovenia was the first country to commemorate the genocide outside July, when the massacre happened.

Telling his story for the first time in public, Hasanović, who was a soldier at the time, recounted how he carried his wounded brother for 20 kilometres after they were both wounded in a mine explosion.

He said his brother's body was the only to have been carried to the liberated territory out of Srebrenica and is now buried in the Potočari memorial park like the remains of his other brother.

Almasa Salihović, who was only eight at the time of the massacre, told about how her family was separated from her 17-year-old brother, whom she never saw again after the rest were brought to safety.

Meanwhile, Azemina Ahmed Begovič of NGO Gračaniško Keranje, whose members crochet white flowers that are symbol of the Srebrenica massacre, said they do it to alleviate their sorrow for the loss of the loved ones.

The flowers are carried as broaches and are also seen as a symbol of peace, love and desire that such events should never happen again, Ahmed Begovič said.

A member of the association has crocheted the biggest flower yet, which will be travelling through Slovenia until October, encouraging people to write down messages to the survivors in Bosnia in a book.

The flower opened its trail at the National and University Library (NUK) in Ljubljana, where it will stay until 20 March, before travelling to Maribor and other places, Ela Porić from NGO Averroes said.

The NGO will also stage several round-table debates, an excursion to Srebrenica and an exhibition, as well as arts and literary competition at Slovenian schools.

The project will culminate in a moment of silence observed in late June in Ljubljana, with the city adorned with 8,372 white flowers symbolising the Srebrenica victims.


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