Remembering Srebrenica: The Women of Bosnia. we need to tell the stories “The women of Bosnia were defiant, courageous, and brave during the war because

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<p>Whole School Assembly for Srebrenica</p> <p>Remembering Srebrenica:The Women of Bosnia</p> <p>Before this is shown please note that this presentation includes material that is of a sensitive nature. Some slides refer to sexual violence and rape. 1The women of Bosnia were defiant, courageous, and brave during the war because they kept their children alive. They were holding on to the future by holding their childrens handsSo we the children of these courageous women- have to open our hearts and souls, and we need to tell the storiesit is the least I can do for my mother, my sisters and the women of Bosnia and Herzegovina- Elmina Kulasic</p> <p>Bosnia and Herzegovina</p> <p>3The break- up of Yugoslavia and civil warFrom 1945 through to the death of Yugoslav Dictator Josip Broz Tito, the Balkans enjoyed a period of relative stability and ethnic tolerance. In the 1980s, the decline of communism and a rise in nationalism undermined the unity of the Yugoslav state. The six republics of former Yugoslavia disintegrated into civil war in 1991.</p> <p>Within Bosnia-Herzegovina, opinion was largely split between three dominant groups: Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) wanted a centralised independent Bosnia; Bosnian Serb nationalists wanted to join a Greater Serbia; while many Bosnian Croat nationalists identified with an independent Croatian state.Fighting broke out within Bosnia and civilians on all sides suffered atrocities. In particular, Serb nationalist forces waged a co-ordinated campaign of ethnic cleansing intended to create a Greater Serbian territory. Through this process Bosniaks and Croats were driven out of many parts of the country. By 1993 the town of Srebrenica in eastern Bosnia was one of several besieged by Bosnian Serb forces.The Experiences of Women in War and GenocideLike in so many stories of war and killing from around the world, the voices of women are not heard</p> <p>During the Bosnian war, 10,368 women of all ethnicities and faiths lost their lives</p> <p>Bosnian women experienced the war in greatly varied ways according to ethnicity, faith, class, age, and importantly location. Rural villages and city centres experienced violence unevenly</p> <p>Women in particular were subjected to extreme and widespread sexual violence</p> <p>Women who survived the genocide, are left to pick up the pieces, bury their dead, and struggle for justice</p> <p> Women living through war</p> <p> Tom Stoddart, Reportage by Getty ImagesWomen During the Siege of Sarajevo</p> <p>Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia Herzegovina, suffered a 4 year long siege, the longest siege of a capital city in the history of modern warfare. During these years, 10,000 people were killed, and 60,000 injured. A hallmark of the siege was the targeting of civilians by snipers. 1,500 out of those killed were children. Yet women carried on with daily tasks and sustained their families amidst frequent power outages, food shortages and protracted insecurity. Like in all conflicts, the women suffer the most. On average the women of Sarajevo lost 20 kilos. They were running around everywhere, trying to find sustenance for their children, husbands, and parents- putting the needs of their loved ones before their own. They congregated at water pumps and in groups to look for food. It was astounding to watch. Their bravery was unprecedentedIt is one of the things about the conflict; alongside the horror, chaos, and needless killing, you are privileged to see amazing acts of humanity, love, and respect. </p> <p>- Tom Stoddart, British photojournalist </p> <p>I didnt carry any weapons but I did fight: with my defiance, my dignity, and my refusal to run </p> <p>Meliha Varesanovic, pictured below during the siege of Sarajevo. Photograph by Tom Stoddart/Getty Images women, different experiencesIt is sometimes dichotomised that men and masculinity are the propagators of war, and women are natural peacemakers, which ignores certain facts:Biljana Plavi who was a former president of the Republika Srpska was the highest ranked politician to be convicted of war crimes. She also propagated the Bosnian Muslims were genetically defected, and supported ethnic cleansingAlthough it was not common, some women also took up arms and fought, such as the Bluebird Brigade of the Bosnian Government ArmyYet overwhelmingly the women in Bosnia describe pre-war friendships as loving and peaceful between women of all faiths and ethnicities, whether they be Croat, Bosnian, Serb, Catholic, Muslim or Orthodox</p> <p>Morten Hvaal /Felix FeaturesRape as Weapon of War</p> <p>In numerous wars, including Bosnia, womens bodies become the front line:Sexual violence is used to destroy lives, tear apart communities and achieve military objectives, in just the same way that tanks and bullets are William Hague, 2013</p> <p>Photo by Kate HoltPhotojournalist Kate Holt is shown xrays of a womans womb which was horrifically scarred due to injuries sustained through multiple brutal rapes. 10Sexual violence as ethnic cleansingSexual violence and impregnation through rape was not carried out simply to destroy the lives of individual women, but has the affect of breaking apart family relationships, destroying the social fabric and community identity. Sexual violence was used systematically as way to erase an ethnic or religious group identity</p> <p>Rape in Bosnia was not a by-product of war, rather it was a central feature of an ideology of ethnic cleansing that was central to the conflict. Although 20,000 women reported rape, the figure of women who experienced sexual violence is estimated at 50,000 </p> <p>Acts of sexual violence were perpetrated by all sides of the war, and also within communities. The elderly and the children were not spared. Many men were also victims of rape and sexual violence. This is even more of a societal taboo, and there are no figures on male victims of sexual violence</p> <p>This is Hasija, who survived a rape camp where she was detained for a month and a half by Serb forces. Like for many other Bosnian women, Hasijas story is one of unimaginable hardship, and she continues to suffer the trauma of her past experiences on a daily basis. Whilst the women are forced to live with the scars, those who raped her have never been convicted of their crimes. Photograph: Velija HasanbegoviThe Struggle for JusticeIn 2002, 3 Bosnian Serb army officers were found guilty of rape charges of such a nature that rape was declared to constitute a Crime Against Humanity.Yet although sexual violence was a well-known and systemic feature of the war, only 7 soldiers have faced trial over rape charges. Just 1 pleaded guilty. The international community failed the people of Bosnia, standing by whilst the genocide ripped through the country. The scars cannot heal until there is justice for the victims and the survivors of the genocide </p> <p>For too long the world has tolerated these crimes, and left survivors to struggle in the shadows. Our goal is to bring forward the voices of the survivors of these crimes and to ask the world to stand with them and against impunity Angelina Jolie, UNHCR Special Envoy The Srebrenica Genocide</p> <p>On the 11th of July, Srebrenica fell to Bosnian Serb forces. Over the following week, 8,372 Bosniak (Muslim Bosnian) men and boys were killed in what became the bloodiest event in Europe since the Second World War Credit: APPicking up the piecesLike in many other post-conflict societies, survivors of war and genocide in Bosnia face multiple and compounding challenges: Many bodies of family members and loved ones in Srebrenica have yet to be recovered, making the mourning process protracted and particularly painful. So far 91 mass gravesites have been uncovered in Srebrenica alone.Women sometimes face a continuum of violence brutalisation as a consequence of war, like in many other countries, has lead to high levels of domestic violence Poverty and high levels of unemployment as resulting from post-war economic instability and wealth inequality, and corruptionMany Bosnians face mental illness, notably Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) occurring after witnessing or experiencing violence</p> <p>Photograph: Jasmin Agovi</p> <p>The Women and the Mothers of SrebrenicaOut of necessity women carve our opportunities even in the darkest times. These women are not simply passive victims, but must be recognised for their extraordinary courage and fortitude. The women of Srebrenica have mobilised and worked together in numerous different ways: </p> <p>They courageously testified about repeated rape and sexual violence at the International Criminal Tribunal of former Yugolsalvia (ICTY) </p> <p>The women launched a case under the name of the Mothers of Srebrenica in Dutch court, holding the Dutch peacekeeping forces responsible for abandoning Srebrenica and thus allowing the genocide to happen</p> <p>On the 11th of each month the Women of Srebrenica continue to hold silent protests, holding posters of genocide victims whose bodies are still missing</p> <p>They also have been resourceful. One example is the story of Munira Hazdic who was previously a school principal in Srebrenica. She became a refugee, fleeing to Tuzla during the war and used her initiative and weaving skills to help herself and other internally displaced women earn a modest income, whilst helping to preserve Bosnian cultural heritage. The Bosfam Association, as it is called, is comprised of women who are widows and mothers of the genocide victims. In addition to providing a source of income for the women, creating beautiful crafts play an important role in healing the mind and body, relaxing, and re-centring. Simply gathering on a daily basis to weave and knit provides the women a significant emotional and psychological solidarity. </p> <p>The Mothers took a memorial quilt to the Hague with them to lobby at the trial ofRadovan Karadi, who was the leader of the Bosnian Serbs forces</p> <p>These large quilts are made up of individual panels, each of which commemorates a person killed or went missing during the Srebrenica massacre of July 1995. The reason behind this focus on individuals is to bring identity to the victims and to counteract the phenomenon of reducing massacre victims to mere numbers.Life After GenocideI buried them in 2008 at the Potocari Memorial Centre. I finally returned to my village in 2009, and now live on my own in the house that we all once lived in happily together. There is certainly life after such suffering, but theres never any joy. - Saliha Osmanovi, who lost her husband and son in the genocide </p> <p>The mothers and the women of Srebrenica and Bosnia share their stories and raise their voices to ensure that genocide is never repeated. After 20 years since the genocide, what can we do in our communities to honour their testimonies? </p> <p>As an organisation Remembering Srebrenica is dedicated to raising awareness and learning lessons from the genocide committed at Srebrenica in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1995. Part-funded by the Department for Communities and Local Government, we promote:-The EU-mandated Srebrenica Memorial Day on 11th July.</p> <p>-'Lessons from Srebrenica' visits to Bosnia and Herzegovina to learn from the genocide and its lasting impact on the survivors, victims' families, and society more broadly.</p> <p>-Public awareness with the aim of promoting good community relations and rejecting hatred and its causes.</p> <p>Our project seeks to honour the victims of the 1995 genocide. Its aim is to teach current and future generations about the consequences of hatred and intolerance. </p> <p>We ask that all those who are supportive of our cause, make a public pledge through the organisation to do something here in the UK to promote tolerance and help to create a safer, better and stronger society for all.</p> <p>If you would like to make you own pledge please contact us at</p>