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I plan to attend the Srebrenica Genocide Commemoration on July 11. On this day every year, survivors of Srebrenica and families of the victims gather to remember the 8,372 men who were slaughtered by the advancing Bosnian Serb army on that date in 1995, under the command of General Ratko Mladic (currently on trial at The Hague for war crimes). That day, there will be a mass funeral for newly-discovered victims. I also plan on being present at the Srebrenica Peace March that precedes the commemoration. It’s a three-day trek that commemorates the route taken by Bosniak men 17 years ago in an effort to escape certain death at the hands of the Bosnian Serb army and reach safe territory.
While in Bosnia, I will do research and gather material for a book that I am writing on Bakira Hasecic and her organization, Women Victims of War, dedicated to women and men who survived wartime rape. I have written about Bakira in this space previously. I met her nearly a year ago when she came to Canada for the Nobel Women’s Initiative conference in Montebello, Quebec - Women Forging a New Security: Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict.
This trip is being funded by the Bosniak community of North America, as well as individuals and groups in Bosnia. I feel humble and am profoundly touched by this effort. It’s a testament to the fact that many people yearn for truth, justice, and lasting peace in Bosnia.
I’d like to acknowledge and thank the individuals, organizations and media outlets that have been at the forefront of this effort and have given me the financial and moral support necessary for this trip. These include, but are not limited to, the following: Bakira Hasecic and the Association Women Victims of War; Emir Ramic of Hamilton and the Institute for Research of Genocide Canada (IGC); Esad Krcic of New York and the web magazine Bosnjaci.net; Senahid Halilovic of New York; Ferid Sefer of Chicago and the web magazine Chicagoraja.net; Mirsad Smajic of Toronto; Dr. Smail Cekic, Director of the Institute for Research of Crimes Against Humanity and International Law of the Sarajevo University; and the Bosniak communities of North America, especially those of the Greater Toronto Area, New York and Chicago.
In addition to Sarajevo and Srebrenica, I will visit Bakira’s hometown in eastern Bosnia, Visegrad, and as many other places as time permits. I’ll have an opportunity to visit mass graves and sites where atrocities occurred, including concentration camps and rape camps (wherever access is permitted). I’ll be meeting people who’ve survived some of the worst horrors of the Bosnian war.
I’d like to use this opportunity to ask readers to donate to Women Victims of War; my aim is to raise $2,000. I have two specific ideas in mind: 1) one can choose to make a donation towards the general needs of this association (keeping in mind that their needs are many and they often struggle for survival); and 2) one can choose to donate towards their own book project - stories of women and men who survived mass and systematic wartime rape. This project will be done in collaboration with the Institute for Research of Crimes Against Humanity and International Law of the Sarajevo University.
Here is the information needed to donate to Women Victims of War (Udruzenje Zene Zrtve Rata), to be done directly at the bank: their account is with the VAKUFSKA BANKA D.D. SARAJEVO. Their bank account number is 1602000022048317 MB (N) 4200829760006 (all one number); their Donor Bank Account number is 5337-00-220483.
It’ll be a joy to update you all on the trip, and to share with you stories about my journey to Bosnia.