In Memory Of Srebrenica
AMONG the Muslim refugees in Srebrenica was Hasan Nuhanovic, who is now a friend of mine. He was with his younger brother Muhamed and their parents. He believed that the Dutch troops of the UN, for whom he had been working, would protect his family.
As some 23,000 Muslim refugees camped outside the Dutch compound, the Serbs began to round up all the boys and men. Serb TV footage shows this happening. The camera turns to a Dutch army doctor, Colonel Kremer, who is asked what's going on. Not looking directly into the camera, he replies: 'You know what is going on. You know.'
Hasan's family managed to get inside the Dutch compound. Because Hasan had worked for the Dutch his name was placed on a list of those who would be allowed to stay on. UN Military Observers told him that his family would have to leave.
Slowly the last group of Muslims was ordered off the compound. Hasan was told that his father could stay. But his father would not leave his younger son and wife, who told Hasan to stay in the compound as they left - to make sure at least one member of the family survived.
Dazed, shocked and crying, Hasan walked back into the compound, opened a door - and found the families of other UN personnel sheltering there. They had disobeyed Dutch orders and gambled on staying put. Overcome with guilt about his own family and unable to come to terms with being separated from them, Hasan contemplated suicide. He has not seen his family since.
Those boys and men who tried to escape and survived the 'Marathon of Death' as they fled Srebrenica described being ambushed and bombed all the way. In this hellish scenario the column fragmented. Many simply could not remember where their families broke up, who was alive and who had been killed. The killing went on for days. It reached such a pitch that many simply lost their minds and committed suicide.
Among the survivors:
Every mother, every daughter, every wife has a similar story to tell. I can tell you of each family that lost its menfolk. In some cases three generations were wiped out. Entire families erased off the face of the earth. No record of them. Simply 'disappeared'.
The survivors lived on, unable to move forward, denied even the right to grieve. It was not just that the boys and men were slaughtered in cold blood. Their final moments were so terrifying, they were alone - and they were handed over to the Serbs by the UN.
The women's entire world collapsed around them. The killing did not stop with their menfolk. It carried on in the hearts and souls of these women and their children. Classed as 'internal refugees', they lived for years in appalling refugee camps in Tuzla and Sarajevo. Denied housing, food, medical help or justice, many of them committed suicide.
Some are taking legal action against both the UN and the Dutch Government.
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