Laila Zulkaphil

Laila Zulkaphil (Bosnian Women’s Group – BOSFAM): Laila’s family is from Kazakhstan. She was born and raised in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia and speaks English, Russian, Kazakh, Mongolian, and Bulgarian. In 2005, Laila entered the American University in Bulgaria (AUBG) on a full Soros Scholarship. She graduated in 2009 with a BA and honors. At the time of her fellowship, Laila was pursuing a Master’s degree in Conflict Resolution with a concentration in Human Rights at Georgetown University. Prior to her deployment, Laila interned at The Advocacy Project’s DC office. After her fellowship, Laila wrote: “I have been greatly inspired by the amazing women of Bosfam. Despite all the pain and hardship they have been through, they are able to stay strong, cheerful, and optimistic. They never give up; they never lose hope. As a result of this fellowship, I will avoid favoring a certain group based on ethnic or religious identity."

Hope for lasting memory

14 Jul

The women of Bosfam, most of whom lost their relatives in the Srebrenica massacre, have finished weaving 15 Memorial Quilts before the 15th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre. The quilts altogether commemorate about 300 victims and are intended to keep the memory of the massacre alive, raise awareness of the tragedy of Srebrenica, and serve as an advocacy tool for justice. The 14th Memorial Quilt commemorates 20 child victims under the age of 16 and is woven in white symbolizing the children’s innocence, while the 15th Memorial Quilt commemorates 20 women who were killed because they decided to stay with their husbands and other male relatives.

Srebrenica Memorial Quilts displayed at the 15th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre

“The relatives of the victims are concerned that their loved ones will soon be forgotten because they are dead. By writing the victims’ names on carpets, we make sure that the world does not forget them,” says Munira Beba Hadžić, the director of Bosfam. “These Memorial Quilts are our hope for lasting memory.”

The Srebrenica Memorial Quilts were displayed on July 11th just across the street from the Memorial Center, outside the building where the bodies of the 775 victims were kept before they were transported for burial. A number of victims commemorated by Bosfam’s quilts were buried at the ceremony on Sunday. Among them were Rudolf Hren (Memorial Quilt 9), a Catholic victim whom I mentioned in my previous blog, and the family of Hatidže Mehmedović (Memorial Quilt 11), the president of the association “Mothers of Srebrenica.” One son of Hatidže Mehmedović was buried without his head, while the other son was buried without arms and legs.

Hatidže Mehmedović (courtesy of the Srebrenica Genocide Blog)

Also buried on Sunday was the family of Hasan Nuhanović (Memorial Quilt 1), who worked as an interpreter for the Dutchbat during the war. Many people know Hasan Nuhanović by his book Under the UN Flag: The International Community and the Srebrenica Genocide. When Mladić’s army separated the men and women of Srebrenica who sought refuge at the Dutchbat headquarters in Potočari, Hasan asked Dutchbat for protection of his family. However, his request was refused and his family was ordered to leave the base. Hasan’s father, Ibro Nuhanović, was identified and buried four years ago. He was found in one of the 13 mass graves at Kamenica. This year, his mother and brother were identified and buried. The mother, Nasiha Nuhanović, was exhumed from under the garbage at the creek at Jarovlje. All his life, Hasan has regretted that he hadn’t done enough to save his family. He regrets that he hadn’t put a gun to the Dutchbat general’s head and said, “No, my family will stay here.”

We cannot do anything to alter the horrific fate of the Nuhanović family, and we cannot do much to alleviate the pain and suffering of Hasan Nuhanović. But what we can do is to make sure that the world knows their story and that a similar fate will not fall upon anyone else. I am glad that Bosfam is doing this, and I am glad to be part of that effort.

Posted By Laila Zulkaphil

Posted Jul 14th, 2010

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