Memorial - Srebrenica

What should societies remember about the past? And which monuments need to topple to make way for a fairer future? Every week KULTURAUSTAUSCH talks about these questions to experts and authors from around the world. Today: Ćamil Duraković, the former mayor of Srebrenica.

“In July 1995, when the massacre of Srebrenica took place, I was sixteen years old. That experience haunts me even today, 25 years later. I was one of the people who escaped through the woods, to Tuzla. I survived by chance, many of my relatives did not. As a refugee, I went to the United Stated in 1996, where I lived for almost ten years. After graduating from university, I went back to Srebrenica in 2005. I thought I could be useful for my country and the city, in the process of recovering from war and Bosnia and Herzegovina's path towards EU and NATO. I'm glad that I returned because here, I feel at home, emotionally. 

Recently, a new monument was presented here in Srebrenica. The current mayor Mladen Grujicic calls it a monument of peace. That's problematic as the political decision to build this monument was taken by only one ethnic group here, the Serbs. There was no consensus among all of the groups who live in Srebrenica and I think it was more important to create some kind of peaceful ambience.

Yet, in this place, where there was a genocide committed against the Bosniaks, where the Serbian mayor officially denies that genocide, it's absurd to build a monument of peace without the acceptance of court decisions which made it clear that, yes, what happened here 25 years ago was a crime, a genocide. Committed by the Serbs. It seems like Serbs want to revise history, to relativize the genocide which is a systemic and constant approach on the national level here. 

Again, international courts have decided that what happened in Srebrenica, in July of 1995, was a genocide. As a democratic society that relies on objective rulings of the courts, we actually should respect and accept such decisions for what they are. Unfortunately, official Serb politics and institutions are in denial since 25 years. 

Monuments can be helpful if they are built in purpose of, at best, remembering historical truths. Not lies. The new monument here in Srebrenica, in my opinion, just deepens the revisionist tendencies here, it indoctrinates the coming generations. That's dangerous“.