Reconciliation after Wars in Yugoslav Contexts
Stop the War
My perception of reconciliation after war conflicts
Unfortunately, the peoples living in the countries of the former Yugoslavia felt what the war means on their skin as well as what all the terrible calvaries and consequences it entails. From the perspective of a 23-year-old girl, I cannot imagine what can turn upside down in human reason to kill a human being, to point a gun at him. And then I stop and imagine what
enormous proportions have a crime against one nation, a single population, and thus based on another religion, race, skin color or perhaps language.
I am maybe too young or immature in one hand to be able to philosophize more in detail about these heinous crimes in the territory of former Yugoslavia. Nevertheless, the only thing I know, although I could not directly
testify to all these inhumane acts, I know what the feeling is to experience traumas and struggle to overcome them for a long time.
A brief look at the story of my childhood
I will take a brief look at the story of my childhood. I was born and I live in Mostar, a beautiful warm city on the banks of the Neretva River, but unfortunately, it has also a sad destiny because there are still so many divided minds who are dividing it into "our" and "your"city. The city that did not have the opportunity to elect its Mayor, its government, and this is what hurts every normal citizen of that city. I have an indescribable feeling when I see how many tourists are flocking to Mostar to see the
pearl that adorns it, the Old Bridge that brought to the surface for those who love him. It did not emerge for those whom is essential what is your faith, what is your name and where are you from, but for those who are prepared to live in peace and tolerance with someone other than yourself.
But, that the same Old one was a victim of war destruction. I was born in Mostar on 16 May of the war year 1993. I was in my mother's stomach while
my parents were facing terrible pains. As if I could hear the shells from the stomach as they were fired, the screams and the tears of people fleeing to escape from death. When I was born, it was then when a difficult period of my childhood followed that was one lesson in my life that I should never give up.
I do not know if I would call it as a post-war syndrome or some other term, but I just know that in that period I was full of fear, panic and with some anxiety in me. Could you imagine the feeling that you agitate by a fly buzz close to your head thinking that the shell falls on your head, you are afraid to approach people and communicate with them, you are afraid to take some item in your hands, since God forbid a bomb may be in it. That situation happened to me after which I remember that bloody war. This fear was not
just internal, it was also manifested through my exterior movements, trembling, shaking hands as if you push someone from you.
Fortunately, my family's support and the faith that there is still good in people helped me get over that stage. Nevertheless, a man who felt most of all the terrible pains was my father. At that time, he was a fighter, and he defended this city with his soul and body. This painful struggle sometimes ended with spilling of blood, he was the victim of various tortures and beating up badly. He is today a war veteran with hearing impairment just because of the war, and lives in a country that unfortunately does not give anything to true fighters who defended the honor and integrity of the homeland with blood
Specifically, on the example of my experience, Mostar was the scene of war conflicts between Croats and Bosniaks, two different nations. However, I am thankful to my parents who have upbringed me and learned that I never hate anyone who is different from me, even if it was a member of the Croatian people. I am grateful to them for having taught me that one whole
nation should not be identified and brought into the same relationship with a single individual.
Even so, I had a chance to attend a high school where both Bosniak and Croat pupils were there at the same time. I have never felt some intolerance or tension because I have other faith, and today I have friends of other faiths with whom I hang around with pleasure. I often feel the nostalgia of people around me who are complaining about the old times while Yugoslavia
was still blooming, and then I hear the stories that it was a golden age, everyone was socializing, united, people were employed. Then I feel a bit of wistfulness for that age, even though I did not experience that time.
I think that in today's circumstances governing these areas, the key factor for any coexistence and tolerance is to change people's consciousness. I am shocked how individuals look at things too closely, how much nationalism lies in them and how they think in a provincial way.
So what the politicians do to contribute to the peace building ?
If we look at today's politicians who run our system, the situation is defeating. Does any of them work for the benefit of all peoples? Of course, not, that is the core of the problem. My attitude is that I would rather choose members of any ethnicity who would perform their work honorably in the interests of all people regardless of faith, then members of their nation and
faith who will only look at their own interests and work to the detriment of other peoples. Their goal is to "divide and rule". Until we change people's awareness,we cannot imagine that people will be reconciled in such conditions.
If I had to comment on the current issue of revision of the BiH lawsuit against Serbia for genocide, I could say anything to that. Namely, the undeniable fact is that genocide took place in Srebrenica, as determined by evidence and facts before judicial bodies, but we should be fair and treat every victim equally. Throes were suffered on all sides, many people have died fighting for the defense of their lives and their homeland, and the life of Bosniak and Croat and Serb is equal before God. Such a claim should be embedded in human brains to be ready to give a hand for reconciliation.
I am a lawyer by profession and what is particularly interesting to me is precisely this fight for justice. If there are responsible perpetrators of crimes among Bosniaks, then they should be responsible for this, if there are some Serbs among them, the same treatment is valid for them, and if they are among Croats let them be not privileged in that regard. Man is a man, regardless of nation or religion.
It does not make us who we are and what we are, but what we do and how we behave towards other people.
Moreover, the great mistake of today's society is primitivism and a conservative way of thinking. It is foolish to take a stand: "If nothing has happened to me or somebody belonging to me, I do not care about anyone else's suffering." It is not the personification of humanity, but of egoism. I am proud to be brought up in a family that is not poisoned by hatred or desire
for vengeance. I even have a case where my cousin is married to a man who is a Serb by nationality and so is nicely integrated into our family and we perfectly agree.
Therefore, with a little bit of will and motivation, and full enthusiasm, we can bring down all existing prejudices that undermine the development of our future. Is it absurd if we were united within a common state, in fact, we share the same language (with a difference in ekavian, ikavian or
jekavian dialect), to be divided and in hostile relationships? Why should we allow us to be separated by hatred, when can we and must take sides to combine love and richness of diversity? To be able to move forward to a more prosperous and better future, we just have to face the past, accept that there were the crimes on all sides, regardless of whether it was Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia or Macedonia.
And then, perhaps, the most difficult step is that people are generally prepared to accept the responsibility of their own people and
prosecute them before the courts. Just a few months ago, I read a on the Internet a fascinating article about the implementation of a project called "Peace building Training". The venue is foreseen in Macedonia, and all people of good will have the right to participate and who, by their engagement, want to contribute to building peace and coming from the countries of the former Yugoslavia. This is exactly what we need, more such projects and activities that will beaimed at encouraging critical consciousness among people, to learn to respect different from ourselves so that we can work together and function as a whole.
It is also very important to eradicate from society any form of war-based ruthless rhetoric with elements of nationalism, racism and fascism that encourage hatred and intolerance and suppress the discrimination of national or religious minorities.
The most pronounced violation of the rights of the peoples is in Bosnia and Herzegovina, especially those belonging to “others" as stated in the constitutional provisions. Whom they regard as "others" at all. Are they some aliens who do not absolutely have any rights or privileges and should throw them under their feet? The Sejdić-Finci ruling clearly argues the presence of
discrimination. It is time to say stop forever to humiliation, stop to oppression and inequality for all.
Let us unite and talk finally in a common language, in the language of truth and justice, to create both to us and to future generations a more free and prosperous future on the grounds of coexistence of different nations, peace and tolerance.
We can be united
© 2019 Azra Đulić