Searching for Nezir in the Bosnian Graves

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“I can’t believe it, he’s not ashamed!” She cries out angrily Sifa sulji (Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, 1971) upon leaving the office of the current mayor of Srebrenica, Mladen Grujicic, the first mayor of Serbian origin after the Bosnian war and also the first to deny the category of “genocide” to the events that occurred in July 1995 in this small town close to Serbia but within the borders of Bosnia and Herzegovina. More than 8,000 people died, all of them members of the Muslim community, in events that the International Court of Justice described precisely as “genocide” in 2001.

The woman just spoke for almost an hour with Grujicic after a long time waiting for this appointment to be able to tell her that she is also a victim of that genocide since her two brothers, Muamer (1980) and Nezir (1973), and his father, Applicant (1943), were assassinated during the “ethnic cleansing” that the Bosnian Serb army of Ratko Mladic executed in cold blood from July 8 to 15, 1995, 25 years ago. Just what he denies and places as “crimes that are committed in a war” within the framework of a conflict that caused 100,000 deaths and a million and a half displaced.

Sifa Sulji, based in Sant Celoni, is still tied to a past that has not yet been overcome

Sifa Suljic is in Bosnia in the context of the filming of the documentary ‘The Last Tape from Bòsnia’, which will premiere on the program ‘Sense Ficció’ (TV-3) on December 1 and who stars in, and the film crew, directed by the journalist Albert Solé, has opened the door for this Catalan-Bosnian woman to explain “her version of events” to the mayor Grujicic in the same office of the head of Srebrenica, where about 7,500 people now live, 45% half Bosnians (Muslims) and 55% Serbs (of Orthodox religion), the two communities in conflict.

Catastrophe, yes; genocide, no

“If you want, we can call it ‘catastrophe’, but not ‘genocide’,” concedes the leader, known for having written praiseworthy texts towards Radovan Karadzic, President and promoter of the Republika Srpska – one of the two entities into which the country is divided – and with Ratko Mladic, former Bosnian Serb army chief.

In his public position, the current mayor – while waiting for the vote by mail to be known, he would revalidate the mayor’s office in last Sunday’s elections under a candidacy called Together for Srebrenica – insists on denying the idea of ​​genocide to any journalist, which represents a new vision of how to deal with the narrative about the conflict.

An endless story

Sifa Suljic She is still tied to a past that she has not yet managed to overcome: she was able to bury her father in 2015 – although they could only find three of his bones – and her little brother, Muamer, also –in 2006, in this case the entire skeleton was recovered–; but from the older brother, Nezir, there is no way to locate his remains five decades after the end of the war.

It is one of the thousand disappeared people that it has not been possible to locate and the remains of which are supposed to be or among the bags still to be opened that await their turn at the Tuzla People Identification Center or in some common grave still to discover.

Of the 2,500 Bosnians who arrived in Catalonia during the conflict, 400 remain in this community

The bodies that are identified during the course are buried together every July 11 at the Potocari cemetery, right in front of where was the headquarters of the Dutch battalion that theoretically protected the citizens of Srebrenica from the attacks of the Bosnian Serb Army, but that finally handed them over to the troops of Ratko Mladic. If there had been a match between the DNA of a body and that of the relatives of Nezir, they would have called her by now and haven’t, but nonetheless Praise He takes advantage of his visit to Bosnia to visit the headquarters of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) and try to gather some new information on the whereabouts of his brother. In vain.

The last bus

The story of Sifa Suljić it is overwhelming. She managed to leave Sarajevo, where she had moved in June 1991 with her husband from their native Susnjari, next to Srebrenica, on April 27, 1992, on the last bus in which she was able to do so. His daughter Azra She was seriously ill with whooping cough, so it was clear to her that, in the absence of medication, if she couldn’t get her out of the Bosnian capital, the little girl would not survive.

A video that is a treasure

‘The Last Tape from Bosnia’, the documentary directed by Albert Solé starring Sifa Suljic, owes its title to a home video, recorded on April 9, 1995 in the Susnjari family home, where her brothers and father, along with her mother and two sisters –who did survive–, explain who are in good health. “I hope all this ends soon and we can see each other again,” says his father at the end of it. It is a video on VHS that a volunteer recorded and that his mother transferred hidden in a bag of flour so that his daughter could see her brothers and father in life.

The bus took her, after passing through Belgrade – where the plot to invade eastern Bosnia had been hatched from April 1992, starting the war – to Macedonia, one of the six republics of the former Yugoslavia.

After eight months, a plane took her from there to the Basque Country – Vitoria-Gasteiz had offered to host refugees for a year. Later, by a carambola – a reception proposal from “a mother with a girl” from Vallès Oriental – he took her to Catalonia, where she arrived in November 1993. And where she has established her residence for 27 years, specifically in Sant Celoni .

It was already in Catalan lands that he became aware of the nature of the massacre, of the genocide itself, when his mother, who had arrived in Tuzla – an area controlled during the war by the multi-ethnic government of Sarajevo – by bus, revealed: ” Know that they have not returned. ” This was the way she communicated to her daughter that her two brothers and her father were missing and, most likely, dead.

With no place to return

At first I thought that the stay in Catalonia would be short, but time went by and between the roots of his children in their new land and the difficulties to return to Bosnia – where, if his old house was no longer more than a group? of stones in the middle of a forest? – They made him stay in this town of Valleys, where he is currently fully integrated. Like the 400 Bosnians who remained of the 2,500 who arrived in Catalonia during the conflict.

Some men They told him that if he went to Vienna they would hand over his brothers alive. They took the agreed money and did not return

In the early stages of your stay in Catalonia, Sifa Suljic He was also the victim of a hoax. Some men contacted her by phone: if she went to Vienna, they told her, they would hand over her brothers alive. He could not know if it was true, so he tried his luck: the presumed knowledge of the brother’s whereabouts went to the first appointment, took the agreed money – 10,000 German marks at the time, 800,000 Spanish pesetas – and never returned.

In front of the tomb of his father and the brother found – the one of the older brother is missing, who has the space prepared -, Sifa sulji gets used to the idea that he will still have to wait to find his brother’s remains Nezir and close, at least for the moment, this circle. Although she knows this story will haunt her as long as she lives.

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