[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Monday, 11 July, 2005, 12:52 GMT 13:52 UK
Shattered lives in massacre town
By Jon Manel
BBC Radio 4 Today programme

Fadila Efendic shows me her house - there's a balcony to look out over the stream and colourful window boxes.

Fadila Efendic at her son's grave
Fadila cannot forgive the people who killed her husband and son

In the garden, there are roses and a cherry tree and a cat soaking up the sun on a wooden bench by the tomato plants. You can see lush green mountains in the distance.

But everywhere you look beyond this pretty house, there are empty homes, with smashed-up roofs or broken windows.

This is Srebrenica, the town which gave its name to the worst single atrocity in Europe since World War II.

Fadila lost her son, Feizo, in the massacre here 10 years ago. She tells me the mornings are the hardest. She still wants to go and wake him up, but his room is empty.

She says it's easier during the day, because she can imagine he's at school.

He was just 19 when she last saw him. She cannot even be sure whether he made it past his 20th birthday. Her husband was killed too.

"I will never be able to forgive the criminals: those who ordered or carried out the killings. I know my religion demands forgiveness, but I can't forgive. It would be easier to leave the religion."


During Bosnia's bitter and bloody war, Srebrenica was declared a United Nations protected safe haven. But in July 1995, Serb troops entered the town and over the following days, thousands of Muslim men and boys were killed.

I will never love the Serbs, and I don't wish them well
Sija Mustafic
"The mind of Srebrenica was destroyed. The intellectuals were killed: 200 teachers, engineers, doctors. It can't recover without people," says Fadila.

"I don't have a future. I only have a past. But I still think the town has a future, maybe in 70 years... The mine, the factory, the woods and tourism. We still have all of that. But it needs to be repaired."

There is only one mosque in Srebrenica now. Before the war, there were five. There were also around 27,000 Muslims living in the town and its many outlying areas. Now they number just 4,000, among them 73-year-old Sija Mustafic, who lost her husband and one of her sons.

One by one, she points to the empty houses around hers, where other Muslims once lived.

She tells me life is normal here again, and she has a normal relationship with her Serb neighbours. But that's "normal" in Srebrenica terms. She says Serbs can never be her friends.

"I will never love the Serbs, and I don't wish them well, because of my child and this catastrophe. But you have to live together," she says.

"Serb friends of my son come and ask after him, and they start crying and say: 'Mother, forgive us!' - they call me mother - and they leave crying. But it's all in vain."

Graves being dug at a memorial centre for victims of the Srebrenica massacre
Srebrenica victims are being buried at the memorial on 11 July
Bitterness and resentment remain on both sides.

Goran Rakic, a Bosnian Serb, takes me to see a memorial to his people at a cemetery in the mountains. He believes the number of Muslims who were killed in July 1995 has been exaggerated. He says the Serbs who died here during the war are the forgotten victims.

"They simply attacked the village and killed them all. The attackers were our neighbours, our contemporaries, from Srebrenica and Potocari. My father and brother were killed and my uncle, all on the same day."

He thinks the world has a slanted picture of what happened in and around Srebrenica, and that the suffering of the Serbs goes unnoticed.

Moving on

Late in the evening, in a bar in Srebrenica, I hear from another Serb, a seventeen year old girl who sees no future for her town.

Let's go to the future, to better times
Izet Suljanovic
"Some offer a hand of reconciliation. I can't do that. I can't even think about that," she says.

"I don't want any communication with them. I don't want to hate anyone. But I can't stand them."

That's not to say Muslims and Serbs can't live side by side as friends here.

Milos Milovanovic and Izet Suljanovic greet each other in a cafe. Milos heads the local Serb War Veterans' Association, while Izet's father and brother were killed by Serbs in the massacre.

Yet they say they are friends.

"I lost my father and brother here in 1995. But, as they say, 'C'est la vie.' Life goes on. My neighbours on both sides are Serbs. I have no problem with them. On the contrary, we are very good friends," says Izet.

"The future is important, to go forward, not to waste time to emphasise things which were in the past. Let's go to the future, to better times. The past, of course, shouldn't be forgotten; but we don't need to emphasise it."

Listen to Jon Manel's report on how Srebrenica is recovering


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific