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THE PODIUM
Autor: Suzana Vukić
Objavljeno: 21. May 2013. 11:05:39
By Suzana VUKIC: Since my first Bosnian story, I’ve had many unique experiences. I travelled to Toronto to meet members of Canada’s Bosniak community – for commemorations of the Srebrenica Genocide, as well as the opportunity to learn more about the atrocities that took place in Bosnia from 1992 to 1995. I got to know people who have survived the Bosnian war – including those who have survived concentration camps and rape houses, and the Srebrenica Genocide. I travelled to Bosnia last summer to participate in the Srebrenica Peace March and the mass burial for 520 people on July 11.
Months ago, I was asked to do something I had never done before: give a lecture on the Bosnian war and genocide. Professor Emir Ramic of the Institute for Research of Genocide Canada asked me, as a member of the Institute’s International Team of Experts, if I could represent the Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) community of Canada in giving this lecture.

And so on March 28, I headed to Toronto to deliver my lecture entitled The Bosnian War and Genocide: A Personal Journey and Perspective. This was an event hosted by the organization Canadians for Genocide Education, in honour of the eleventh annual genocide memorial week, and held at the University of Toronto.

I was honoured to receive this request. And before even giving an affirmative answer, I wondered to myself, what is it that I can give to the audience? I realized that: a) I’m not of Bosnian ancestry – my parents come from Croatia; and b) I was born in Canada and spent the entire period of the Bosnian war here, observing those horrors from the comfort and safety of my home in Montreal (as I would later end up telling my audience). There are many people here in Canada who survived the Bosnian war, and who have the courage and strength to tell the world their story. So what was it that I could possibly offer?

In an instant of soul-searching, I came up with an answer. I would talk about my own journey in learning and writing about the Bosnian war. In the end, that was what I presented to those who came to the auditorium that evening to listen to me. Links to my lecture and photographs of the event can be found here: instituteforgenocide.org. At one point in the near future, a video recording of my lecture, along with a PowerPoint presentation that I used with it, will be available online.



My journey began over three years ago, when I first decided to write about this subject. I wrote a piece – Christmas in Sarajevo – which I submitted to the Hudson Gazette’s Christmas contest. It ended up winning first prize for the writing category. From that moment on, a series of events and experiences – great and small – have led me on a journey that brought me to Bosnia last summer … and still continues to this day.

In preparing my lecture, I referred back to my columns on Bosnia. To my surprise, I found that I had a wealth of material – something that I never quite realized until it was time to go back and sift through all of the work that I’ve done.

After my first story, I discovered my need to keep writing about Bosnia and all of the hardships endured by her people. There is so much information about the war and its aftermath that the world has yet to know or understand. I felt it was my duty continue discussing it.

Since my first Bosnian story, I’ve had many unique experiences. I travelled to Toronto to meet members of Canada’s Bosniak community – for commemorations of the Srebrenica Genocide, as well as the opportunity to learn more about the atrocities that took place in Bosnia from 1992 to 1995. I got to know people who have survived the Bosnian war – including those who have survived concentration camps and rape houses, and the Srebrenica Genocide. I travelled to Bosnia last summer to participate in the Srebrenica Peace March and the mass burial for 520 people on July 11. I also had the opportunity to become reacquainted with Bakira Hasecic, survivor of wartime rape and President of the association Women Victims of War, and to become better acquainted with women and men who survived mass and systematic wartime rape.

I also spoke of a nation and society that is still struggling to come to grips with the difficult reality of its wartime past, and some of the obstacles being faced: genocide denial, the impunity of war criminals, unemployment, and rampant corruption. My hope is that Bosnians can find a way to overcome all of these challenges, and work towards a prosperous future.



My lecture was well-received by the audience. I was greeted with heartfelt and emotional gratitude. Along with offers of support came an interesting suggestion: turning my lecture material into a book.

With that, I held onto the hope that as I learn and grow, this particular journey will continue into the future. (gazettevaudreuilsoulanges.com)



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