Time has definitely gone faster than I expected, I can’t believe I have been here already a month. Things have been moving much slower with Beba in the US. I hope the trip proves fruitful for both Beba and AP. I have been investigating leads for possible selling venues and possible funding grants, but coming up with a lot of dead ends. Funding for the Balkan areas is being further and further reduced as other, more recent areas also need humanitarian aide.
The 10th anniversary of the fall of Srebrenica has provided some additional media coverage for the country. Yesterday, the BBC came by the BOSFAM office to film some of the women weaving and talk to one of the women whose son is still missing and has not yet been identified. With the recent release of the execution video and the approaching anniversary, many of the women are very anxious and the emotions are very raw.
Most of the women did not want to talk to the BBC at all. I am sure many of them feel like they are on an emotional merry-go-round. Media interest has ebbed and flowed here over the years, and the women have told and retold their stories to reporter after reporter. They tell of their missing sons, husbands, and brothers. They relive the moment they were separated from them in Potocari or when they said good by as they men headed to the woods to try to make it to Tuzla. They tell of their hope for their loved ones to arrive in Tuzla, and how that hope has waned over the years and for many the hope has hardened into acceptance of their loss.
They tell their stories, at first with anticipation of changing things, of reuniting their families. But, after 10 years, they wonder why they even talk about it to these reporters, these strangers, any more. Thousands of men are still missing, thousands more identified and buried. The country is still divided in many areas. Refugees still live in collection centers and refugee villages, unable to return home. What has this emotional baring of their lives and losses to the cameras gotten them? Nothing.
When the BBC contacted us I first thought what a great opportunity this would be. The women could tell their stories, share with the world, and help prevent this from happening again. After talking to the women and seeing their reluctance I am more inclined to agree with them. The media interest just reopens wounds that are slowly healing. Why should they tear themselves apart again and again for the benefit of the Western public to gawk? Genocide is still happening, look to the Sudan, to Rwanda. From their perspective, opening their lives to these strangers with cameras just makes it more difficult for them to sleep at night. Nothing is gained, and any progress in healing is lost.
I think any media interest must focus on the healing of these women and the country, not the rehashing of the painful past. They should focus on the 40% unemployment rate in this country, the lack of school books for kids, and the strength and determination of these women to overcome these circumstances and continue living their lives, caring for their families. I think their individual stories are important and should not be lost, but making them retell them on camera for the public I am now against.
Posted By MacKenzie Frady Arbogust (Bosnia & Herzegovina)
Posted Jun 29th, 2005