An earlier start again and being higher in Srebrenica, we woke to a frozen morning. It was very cold.
The Potočari Memorial Centre
We made our way back to The Potočari Memorial Centre. We spent some time exploring the exhibition there. It tells the whole story with photos and the video footage used in the trials. We were shown around by Hasan Hasanovic who gave us first hand information at each stage. Fascinating insights and details that could only come from someone with direct knowledge. Situated within the original UN base it makes use of key rooms that were used and includes some of the graffiti that the dutch soldiers created.
Mothers of Srebrenica
Near the cemetery is a small, road side shop that is run by The Mothers of Srebrenica. This shop is a vital source of income to these women survivors. We met one of The Mothers who spoke about the struggles to come to terms with the events. The women make small crocheted flower brooches that act as a reminder. The flowers have eleven petals that represent Srebrenica Memorial Day, 11 July. They have white petals for innocence and a green centre for hope. I made a point of buying one of these beautiful flowers as well as the book Hasan Hasanovic has written about his experience of Srebrenica and how he survived.
We crossed the road to the cemetery and had a short while to look round before jumping back on the minibus to Tuzla. During our journeys between towns and cities, what is painfully apparent are the huge amounts of abandoned derelict buildings and homes. These houses were left by families fleeing and are a poignant constant reminder. These sad desolate shells are seen throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina.
International Commission on Missing Persons, Tuzla
On arrival in Tuzla we were taken to The International Commission on Missing Persons. Here we had a chance to see the work that continues to be done, to identify the remains of people found within mass graves. We were shown into the mortuary where the unidentified human remains are held. Partial remains are also held here whilst family members wait for the rest before burial. We met a forensic anthropologist who kindly took the time to explain the processes involved in identifying each individual. She showed us the partial remains of an individual who was in the process of being examined.
The work is under huge pressure financially. Money is running out and yet many families still don’t know what happened to their loved ones. Based on the number of individuals known to be missing and the number of individuals who have been identified, it is assumed that there is at least 1 maybe 2 mass graves still to be discovered. There had been hope that cadaver dogs could be used to try to find any remaining mass grave sites, but there is no funding available. This is simply devastating to the Tuzla unit who have spent many years working to identify individuals, but more so for those families still desperate to know the truth.
Our return home
After out visit we had a quick last lunch stop before making our way to the Airport for our return home.
My experience of the visit has been profound and emotional. The trip will have a lasting impression on me and will continue to fuel the ideas that surround my work. I came away with new ideas to develop further as well as a desire to return to research in more depth. Ideally I would love to visit the memorial center again and spend some more time there, including time to make use of the research stations and ask Hasan further questions. I would also love to visit the ICMP centre again in Tuzla and see the book of clothing used as an aid to identification. My intention is to take this research into my masters course for the next two years.