What a new post?! Yes and I’m moving…

To celebrate getting back into the blogging spirit, I created a new blog Sarajevo Seyahatname (yes, I really do love the word Seyahatname…).

So, how exactly is Sarajevo Seyahatname different from this blog?

1. Sarajevo Seyahatname is focused on Bosnia. I am keeping The Daily Seyahatname running for whenever I want to post on other topics.

2. After a (frighteningly) long internal debate, I decided that Sarajevo Seyahatname would feature both original articles and link articles. Originally, I had wanted to include only original articles, but I felt that if I was to do that, I would quickly run out of ideas for posts. Furthermore, there are a lot of interesting and informative articles on BiH that I think would only add to the blog.

3. More posts. Okay, that is not exactly a hard threshold to cross. ;) I can’t gaurentee anything, but since I’m not limiting myself by only posting articles based on my own research, I should have more posts. Let’s just say that I already have more articles on Sarajevo Seyahatname that I have in this blog in the past year.

For everyone and anyone who has ever read The Daily Seyahatname, thank you so much. As I said before, I plan to keep this blog active for whenever I want to post about an issue unrelated to Bosnia.

If you have a subscription to this blog, please subscribe to Sarajevo Seyahatname.

HVALA :) -Shaina



(ediited to include correct link to site ;) )


The silver lining to Mladic’s years on the run

I’m not going to argue that Mladic’s avoiding prosecution for 15 years was a good thing.  First and foremost his victims had to endure a decade and a half of an agonizing wait, wondering if Mladic would even see the inside of a courtroom. Second, Mladic is not a young man, or even a middle-aged one. Considering the age of the accused, health issues and the slow and laborious process of a tribunal and you get the very real scenario of a “Milosevic Part Deux” in which the accused dies before the trial can even conclude. Finally, in most cases the longer the gap between the crime and the trial the more chances there is of evidence being lost or destroyed and witnesses dying or moving away without a trace.

But in the Mladic case this third  point might be turned on its head. One could argue that while Mladic being a free man for 15 years is not a good thing, his years as a fugitive from justice were also years where additional evidence was amassed against him, including DNA evidence offering absolutely irrefutable proof of the mass killings of unarmed civilians and POWs around Srebrenica in 1995. As an article in the New York Times stated:

“Serge Brammertz, the lead prosecutor for the tribunal, said this week that Mr. Mladic “has come late, but not too late.” If anything, tribunal lawyers say, after the long wait it may be easier for the prosecution to prove its case now than if had arrived a decade earlier.
The war that broke up Yugoslavia in the 1990s involved other regions besides Bosnia, but what became known as “ethnic cleansing” campaigns in Bosnia and especially the massacre at Srebrenica became the war’s overriding nightmares. Much evidence has been amassed and tested in trials involving events which Mr. Mladic ordered or for which he was responsible as commander. Two of his right-hand men have received life sentences – the maximum the tribunal can impose – for their role in the Srebrenica massacre. Two more received life sentences for their role in the 44-month siege of Sarajevo, in which about 10,000 people died. Other underlings of the general have also been tried and given a range of prison sentences.”

Beyond the record  amassed by previous cases, which will certainly be used as evidence in Mladic’s trial, there is also matter of Mladic’s diary. The diary, revealed in February 2010 does not contain any silver bullets per-se, but it does include numerous incredibly damning quotes from Mladic.

Chief amongst them:

Saturday, Jan. 29, 1994:  Mladic explained at a meeting with army personnel in Vlasenica: “You have to thrash the Muslims for long enough that the whole world sees that it does not pay to fight against Serbs. The most important point is Sarajevo; that is the brain of their state. With the blockade of Sarajevo, we have established our state. We must not now make any martial statements; we must speak of peace. Only in that way can we save Serbia from a blockade. Our interest is the founding of a pan-Serbian state. Perhaps Europe will not allow us this right away; it does not want a Greater Serbia.”

Saturday, April 23, 1994:  At a meeting with his high command, Mladic noted: “The Turks (as Mladic called the Bosnian Muslims) have no organized military force in the enclaves of Gorazde, Zepa and Srebrenica. We should neutralize them in the near future, if necessary with military force.”

Bosnian choir takes on war and hostility with Muslim hymns

This story was too good not to post it:

The terror of the Bosnian war is still alive on the streets of Bosnia and Herzegovina, filled with poignant images of bullet holes on the facades of buildings and other structures laid completely to waste. The Sultan Mehmed Fatih Ensemble, whose repertoire consists of Muslim hymns, called ilahis, stands amidst and against this past hatred and atrocity with its members of Croatian, Serb and Bosnian origin. The members are all students at the Ilidza School of Music and each of them stands as a testimony to what tolerance, love, dialogue and brotherhood can achieve.

They breathe in the peace the Ottomans brought to Balkan soil, singing ilahis from a united heart, “La ilaha ilAllah” (“There is no deity except God,” a part of the Muslim proclamation of faith called the Shahadah, or being a witness). They don’t care if they are criticized by those who find it hard to understand how a person of Orthodox or Catholic faith can praise the name of Allah and the Prophet Muhammad.

Read full article

From Sunday Zanam

“Surviving Bosnia’s Killing Fields”

From the AP: By Aida Cerkez

SREBRENICA, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — The hardest part was the ants. They crawled over his arms and legs, over his face and into his mouth, hour by hour as he pretended to be dead in a pile of corpses slowly turning stiff.

Mevludin Oric lay for nine hours in one of the Srebrenica killing fields where Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic’s troops executed 8,000 Muslim men and boys in July 1995. He escaped in the dead of night, after the soldiers had satisfied themselves that everyone in the sea of bodies was dead.

On Thursday, Oric returned for the first time to the execution ground — a pretty V-shaped meadow surrounded by a forest — with Associated Press journalists to share his feelings about the capture of the man who orchestrated Europe’s worst carnage since World War II.

He brought his eldest daughter, 17-year-old Merima. He wanted her to know what happened here — he wants everyone to know, vowing to testify against Mladic at the U.N. war crimes tribunal in the Hague, Netherlands.

“I can’t wait to look into the eyes of that animal,” said the lanky 42-year-old, his eyes lighting up after a morning spent on the verge of tears.

Serbia extradited Mladic to the Netherlands on Tuesday to face genocide charges; he was arrested last week in a village north of Belgrade after 16 years on the run.

Oric, a Bosnian Muslim soldier captured by Serbs as he fled through the woods, is one of four men known to have survived the Srebrenica massacre. All endured the unspeakable ordeal of playing dead while Serb troops patrolled the blood-soaked field, finishing off anybody who showed signs of life with a pistol shot to the head

copyright: Associated Press

Full Article

Remembering Nezir Omerovic

He once said, “Fire on Velesici and Pofalici. There aren’t many Serbs there. Don’t let them sleep. Make them lose their minds.” Yet, far from being a “defender of the Bosnian Serbs,” as his supporters are calling him today,  when push came to shove he showed no qualms about having the military leaders under his command shoot, snipe and shell at “his people” if the trade off was the destruction of Sarajevo; a city’s whose very existence stood in defiance of the chauvinism and narrow minded bigotry of Mladic’s nationalism.

By all accounts he was, and is, deeply affected by the premature death of his daughter Ana in 1994. Yet, one year later, he had no qualms about sending thousands of other peoples’ sons to their deaths at Srebrenica. Before he arrived in the Hague, he paid a visit to his daughter’s grave; yet this July, sixteen years after the genocide in Srebrenica, there will still be families who will not have a grave to visit, their relatives remains lying in mass graves across eastern Bosnia.

He was a General  who during the war, more often than not, was treated as a respected and legitimate figure by members of the international community and peacekeeping mission. Yet, today he is indicted on just about every war crime in the books, including taking UN troops hostage.

Mladic will get his day in court, he will have an opportunity to cross examine the witnesses and put his own witnesses on the stand. So I think it would be fitting to end this post with a remembrance of someone who cannot speak for himself, Nezir Omerovic. I originally posted this excerpt from Emir Suljagic’s “Postcards from the Grave” for the 15th anniversary of Srebrenica, but I think it is appropriate today.

His name is Nezir Omerovic. Nobody knows exactly how he ended up in the film, [Neretva-a Yugolsav era movie-Shaina] but among his neighbours from Zaluzje near Bratunac who have survived, several different stories circulation. According to the least realistic one, he had been spotted and chosen by Yul Brynner as he stood in a formation of JNA soldiers from among whom extras were being selected. It is true that Nezir was doing his military service in Jajce at that time, but he only came close to the Hollywood star later one, during the filming. One of his best friends even claims that the little leather bag which the engineer officer Vlado-the role played by Yul Brynner-carried throughout the whole film actually belonged to Nezir. A second, more credible, version is told by his mother, but that story contains large gaps. She remembers that Nezir came back home from the army in the summer of 1963, during the summer harvest. But three months later he was summoned for the filming. Old Mujaga, his grandfather, was angry that his only male descendant was going to do some silly acting he refused to say goodbye to him. He simply turned his head as his grandson headed towards the door. But soon after that he told Nezir’s wife to write to tell him to come back. Nezir was his rich grandfather’s only heir, and the latter owned one of the biggest farms along the Drina. He got married very young, when he was still a child of fifteen, at the wish of his grandfather who thereby thought to keep him bount to the land. When he returned home from te set, he continued his life where he had left it off, nostalgic about his brief moment of fame and tormented that he never gone a step further. allegedly he had indeed been offered a part in some film. When he got drunk, he would ask his neighbours and friends, who as in every small place half-mockingly called him ‘actor’.’ He was reminded of that time by photographs (which later got burnt) with the smiling faces of the then stars of the Yugolsav cinema: Ljubisa Samardzic, Velimir Bata Zivojinovic, Pavle Vujisic, Milena Dravic.

On the night of 12 July 1995, a group of people had just started its journey from Srebrenica to Tuzla. During a break, Nezir left two of his sons and went down a hill to a nearby stream to fetch some water. He never came back. … The rest of his family (his mother, sister and wife) came every day to the Red Cross office in Tuzla to look through the names of the survivors, for Nezir and his sons Muharem and Nazir. That is where they heard from other women-who were equally desperately looking for any sign and clinging to the tiniest shred of hope-that Nezir had last been seen alive in Kravica, among thousands of captives sitting in the scorching heat with their hands above their heads.

… We shall never find out what Nezir dreamed about the night before e died,or what his thoughts were in his last moments. We knew that his celluloid deat had to be filmed three or four times, since each time a knife was put to is throat he would laugh. And we know that both times he died as as extra,without taking any active part in the two huge massacres, separated by more than half a century, whose only common factor was Nezir himself.

excerpt from Postcards from the grave by Emir Suljagic, translated by Lejla Haveric, copyright: The Bosnian Institute (London)


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