How do I blog about genocide? That’s the question that’s been on my mind since I returned from the Srebrenica genocide commemoration that was held on July 11th. How can I possibly describe what it’s like to see casket after casket after casket after casket after casket after casket after casket after casket being carried by family members? How could I do justice to the experience of holding the wrinkled hand of a Bosnian woman who lost both of her children during the war. I am afraid that anything I write will come off as trite, but the truth is, there is nothing trite about Srebrenica. Grief and sorrow still envelop the place, yet the love that I experienced at Srebrenica will stay with me just as much as the pain that I felt.
We have been asking all of the network members we interview what they see as the relevance of Women In Black now that the war is over. Across the board, everyone has said that they feel that WIB’s work is of particular (some say even greater) importance now. Being at Srebrenica with WIB really illustrated this for me. Fourteen years after the genocide was committed, and WIB is still the only bus that travels to the commemoration from Serbia. We had the opportunity to meet United States Congressman Turner from Dayton, Ohio and his wife, Laurie, at the commemoration, and she told us that there was an audible collective gasp when WIB walked into the memorial grounds. Their presence and solidarity with the victims’ families is so precious. It proves that not all individuals allow their country’s nationalist and hateful rhetoric to define them- some resist and allow their humanity to prevail.
I saw this the day before the commemoration as well as WIB held their annual Srebrenica vigil in Belgrade. Members of Obraz, an extremely nationalist group that counts Mladic as a hero, surrounded the vigil site. The police served as a barricade between the vigil and the Obraz members, yet their profane shouts were audible throughout the vigil. They said unimaginable things such as “we will rape you with your roses”, “black whores”, and “go back to Bosnia”. Never have I been confronted with such hate so directly. I simply could not process it. My mind stopped working. Obraz was hate and the WIB members were love. Never before had I seen a contrast so clearly. One of the WIB activists told me that she was unaffected by the cries of Obraz because she was there to focus on the commemoration of the victims of the genocide. She knew one victim personally, so she focused all her energy and thoughts on commemorating that individual, overpowering the hateful cries of Obraz. That is love. That is Women In Black.
I hope the pictures and videos below will give you a better sense of WIB’s dedication to commemorating the Srebrenica genocide.
Posted By Donna Harati
Posted Jul 13th, 2009