Bosfam has been very quiet since the commemoration of the Srebrenica massacre. The women who had a painful experience of burying their relatives on July 11 are taking some time off from work to relax and re-center, while many others decided to stay at home to fast during the month of Ramadan. One of the very few women who have been coming to Bosfam regularly during this quiet period is Rasema Germic. She is the youngest one among the Bosfam women and a very talented and dedicated weaver.
Rasema is from Bratunac, a small town in eastern Bosnia. She got married shortly before the war and moved to live in a nearby town called Milići. When her town was ethnically cleansed in 1993, she fled to the UN-protected “safe area” in Srebrenica with her husband and two-year-old son. After seeking refuge in Srebrenica for 11 days, Rasema arrived in Tuzla with her son on a humanitarian aid truck. It was the first vehicle to transport refugees from Srebrenica to Tuzla. Since men were not allowed to get on the aid truck, Rasema’s husband remained in Srebrenica. She did not see Mustafa until after six months.
Upon arriving in Tuzla, Rasema stayed in a school building in a nearby village called Banovići. Her father-in-law, who was living and working in Germany at the time, came to Bosnia to take Rasema and her son to Germany. Rasema was stopped in Kladanj on her way to Germany and was not allowed to travel further as she did not possess the necessary paperwork; she had not been able to take all the documents with her when she was expelled from her home. Therefore, she returned to Tuzla, obtained the necessary documents, and made another attempt to leave the country. Once again, the attempt was unsuccessful because all the roads had been blocked by Serb forces.
Meanwhile, Rasema’s husband, Mustafa was trying to escape from Srebrenica. He stayed in Srebrenica for about three months following Rasema’s departure and was able to exchange letters with her through the Red Cross relief workers. Then he fled Srebrenica with a group of approximately 90 men. They traveled at least 110 kilometers (68 miles) between Srebrenica and Tuzla on foot. This extremely dangerous journey took three months, and only 30 out of the 90 men managed to survive. While some men died from hunger, sickness, and exhaustion, most were killed by attacking Serb troops. Mustafa says that a common trap used by Serb troops was to cover themselves up and dress like Muslim women and when the refugee men approached for help, the troops immediately shot them.
Finally, Rasema and Mustafa were reunited in Tuzla and have been living there since then. Mustafa got a job at the police station and Rasema has been working at Bosfam. They now have two children – a 19-year-old boy and a 16-year-old girl. The loss of many relatives, friends, and neighbors in the Srebrenica genocide of July 1995 exacerbated Rasema and Mustafa’s pain and suffering. Nevertheless, they are working hard to rebuild their lives and are trying to stay optimistic.
Posted By Laila Zulkaphil
Posted Aug 28th, 2010