Kako srušiti začarane zidove?

Danas je, čini se, puno lakše, uslijed globalnih političkih, ekonomskih i socijalnih mehanizama, napustiti Bosnu i Hercegovinu nego promijeniti nešto u zemlji. Ukoliko je vjerovati bosanskohercegovačkim i regionalnim društvenim medijima, online portalima, novinama i magazinima, zemlje zapadnog Balkana je napustilo na desetine hiljada njihovih stanovnika, i to samo u nekoliko zadnjih godina. Nećemo se ovom prilikom baviti brojkama jer bi vjerovatno, zbog svakodnevnih migracija, svejedno bile neprecizne, ali evidentno je da su pojedini gradovi i opštine Bosanske Krajine, Semberije, Posavine, istočnih predjela države BiH ostali bez velikog broja mladih i obrazovanih ljudi.

Iako veliki dio radno sposobnog stanovništva odlazi i iz svih susjednih zemalja, kao i država istočne Evrope, vlasti svih administrativnih nivoa države Bosne i Hercegovine trebali bi se ozbiljno pozabaviti trenutnim migracijskim trendovima, koji će potresati zemlju zasigurno izvjesno vrijeme. Međutim, umjesto ozbiljnog pristupa rješavanju ovog i mnogih drugih aktuelnih problema, vladajuće bh. političke strukture ne čine ništa po tom pitanju. Jasno je da ne čine ništa jer su nesposobne baviti se gorućim socioekonomskim izazovima koji imaju direktan utjecaj na stanovništvo na cijeloj teritoriji Bosne i Hercegovine. A aktuelne vlasti nisu sposobne baviti se problemima koje se istinski trebaju da se tiču svih građana u državi jer nisu ni došle na vlast da bi rješavali pitanja te vrste. U državama koje normalno funkcionišu, npr. jedan moler ne traži niti rješava pitanja kojima se obično bave jedan kondukter ili arhitekta. Jasno je više svim vrapcima na balkanskim granama da mnoge političke partije u zemlji ili nisu sposobne ili ne žele rješavati društvene i ekonomske probleme, niti mogu povesti velikim koracima Bosnu i Hercegovinu u prosperitetniju budućnost. Vladajuće strukture uglavnom iskorištavaju rigidan i gotovo nepromjenjiv politički sistem da bi se što bolje učvrstile u začaranom bh. labirintu koji i dalje nema izlaza, a čiji se unutrašnji zidovi s vremena na vrijeme lagano protresu. Bh. građani moraju shvatiti da se upravo ti unutrašnji zidovi moraju ne pomaći nego u potpunosti srušiti da bi pronašli izlaz iz ovog zamračenog tunela iz kojeg nema izlaza već više od dvije decenije. A kako to uraditi kada imamo Daytonski sporazum koji mnogi smatraju da je ukucan u kamen dublje od Mojsijevog Dekaloga na planini Sinaj, i kao takav je malter i cigla od kojeg su ti zidovi i izgrađeni?!

U BiH nema ili vrlo imalo ima individualnog, kritičkog razuđivanja i političkog razmišljanja.  Dok u zapadnom svijetu imamo vjekovnu fragmentaciju javnog mnjenja, na Balkanu i u Bosni i Hercegovini još uvijek imamo torovsku raspodjelu, odnosno etnički podijeljene diskurse, koje definiraju i predstavljaju društvu ustaljene teze i dogme uglavnom vodećih političkih struktura značajnijih i utjecajnijih stranaka. A dozvoljavamo da nam drugi serviraju njihove političke interese i dnevne redove jer to mi, bh. građani i glasači, dopuštamo. Zašto to radimo konsekventno i uzastopno već tri decenije? Zato što smo, generalno gledajući, nedovoljno obrazovani, pasivni, politički i društveno neosvješćeni, te zato ne razumijemo niti se možemo snaći kao pojedinci ili grupe u društvu koje bi trebalo da funkcionišu po demokratskim pravilima, zakonima i načelima. Nažalost, navikli smo da drugi za nas donose odluke i zato i dalje živimo mentalno i fizički u autoritativnom i etnokratskom društvu (a ovo manje-više važi i za susjedne zemlje) u kojim vladaju pojedinci pomoću masovne manipulacije i medijske propagande, što skoro uvijek vodi do uopštenog i uproštenog zaplašivanja naroda, a sve u cilju opstajanja i preživljavanja tih istih političkih struktura na vlasti. Vlast se na političkom tronu Bosne i Hercegovine, ma ko to do sada bio u posljednjih trideset godina, zasniva na manipuliranju, dezinformiranju, laganju i zastrašivanju cjelokupnog društva u Bosni i Hercegovini. Ogromna energija je prosto zatvorena i iskorištena u negativnom smislu, od čega nemaju koristi ni stanovništvo niti brojne zdravstvene, kulturne i obrazovne institucije. Umjesto da gradimo puteve, muzeje i škole, skoro tri decenije mi živimo – životarimo – u nekakvom grču, strahu od susjedâ, a u biti, od samih nas. Političke strukture, bilo da se radi o domaćim ili inozemnim, skučile su nas na jedan mali mentalni prostor iz kojeg ne možemo izaći dokle god ne kažemo da je dosta i da je vrijeme da samostalno odlučujemo o našoj sudbini. A priznajmo, to smo sami, kao bh. društvo, dopustili da nam rade šta žele i kako žele. Malo gdje tako efikasno djeluje stara rimska vojno-politička strategija „podijeli pa vladaj“ kao na ovom prostoru Evrope. Balkanski poluotok je zato uvijek bio plodno tlo za potencijalne ratove i političke konflikte između ostalog i zato što često slovimo kao konzervativno, patrijarhalno, te politički i ekonomski nerazvijeno podneblje.

Kao primjer bosanske i balkanske konzervativnosti, možemo koristiti ogromno protivljenje, pa i agresivnost, velikog dijela stanovništva naspram članova LGBT zajednice. Svaki pokušaj stajanja u odbranu homoseksualaca ili transseksualaca biva popljuvan, napadnut (i to uvijek na ličnoj bazi (ad hominem verbalizacija poput: „mora da si i sam peder kada ih podržavaš“ je standard). U Bosni i Hercegovini netrpeljivost prema manjinama, a posebno prema članovima LGBT-a, čak podstiču i zvanične bosanskohercegovačke institucije. Nedavno je Policijska Akademija Bosne i Hercegovine pitala članove na svojoj Facebook stranici „da li policija treba da obezbjeđuje ili da privodi LGBT“. Samo pitanje po sebi bi u svakoj imalo progresivnoj ili demokratskoj državi bilo skandalozno, neprihvatljivo i obasuto kritikama kako od državnih institucija tako i od velikog dijela stanovništva. Nažalost, pod komentarima iste ankete moglo se pročitati komentari kao što su „Sram vas bilo sve koji podržavate pederluk. Ovdje nije riječ o njihovim pravima nego o promoviranju pederluka, kako bi to lakše došlo do našeg budućeg naraštaja“ i „Poprskati žohare insekticidom iz aviona“. Srećom, bilo je tu dosta drugačijih komentara, kako od domaćeg stanovništva, tako i od dijaspore i stranih korisnika, koji su u velikom broju osudili skandalozno pitanje postavljeno od strane administratora Facebook stranice Policijske Akademije BiH.

Ovaj primjer, ali i mnogobrojni drugi, pokazuju da je bosanskohercegovačko društvo, u kojem se homoseksualnost smatra bolesnim, upravo jedno konzervativno podneblje zato što smo regresivno društvo u kojem vladaju patrijarhalne, staromodne i nazadne vrijednosti. Mi smo društvo u kojem su ratni zločinci, generali i političari najveće pop zvijezde i svakodnevno se uzdižu i proslavljaju u medijima, programima i na manifestacijama svih vrsta, čak i onim koje nisu političkog karaktera! Kultura, ekonomija, umjetnost, školstvo, zdravstvo – sve je marginalizirano i podređeno suštoj samovolji, egoizmu i egotizmu političkih elita. Dozvoljavamo kao društvo, gotovo sadomazohistički i sodomistički, sve ove godine da vladajuće političke struje, domaće i strane, manipuliraju našim osjećanjima i doživljajima. Dajemo im mandat da nas sve, kroz svoje odabrane torove, za tren oka stave u njihovu službu, pritom dajući im neograničene ovlasti da osiromašuju ovu zemlju i njeno stanovništvo, i da nesmetano pune svoje i bliske sebi džepove kroz izvrsno izrađenu mrežu korupcije i nepotizma.

Interesantno je da se gotovo svi nacionalisti i šovinisti, bilo da se radi o srpskim, hrvatskim ili bošnjačkim, slažu barem u jednoj stvari, a to je mržnja i netrpeljivost prema lezbejkama, homoseksualcima i transseksualnim osobama. To je zato što su takvi ljudi zadojeni negativnim, nazadnim ultrakonzervativnim, a počesto i profašističkim vrijednostima. Ta tri nacionalizma su, etnokonzervativna u svojoj suštini, našli neku vrstu komplimentarnog koncenzusa, kako to navodi američki filozof John Rawls. Naime, kao sasvim različite grupacije s različitim agendama i ciljevima, identifikovale su zajedničkog protivnika. Eto, barem se slažu u jednoj stvari, a to je mržnja prema „onim tamo što su skroz drugačiji od nas normalnih“. A koliko smo normalni kao društvo, pokazuje političko-društveni pejzaž gotovo svih prostora nekadašnje Jugoslavije zadnjih tridesetak godina.

Da su gotovo sva društva, iznjedrena nakon smrti druge Jugoslavije, još uvijek duboko usidrena u konzervativno-patrijarhalnu ustajalu baru, govori i činjenica da se vrlo rijetko govori o spolnoj i rodnoj ravnopravnosti, položaju žene u društvu i sl. Javni i medijski prostori zapadnog Balkana su gotovo potpuno očišćeni od diskursa o seksualnim napastvovanjima i silovanjima, kao što je to #MeToo pokret u zapadnom svijetu u velikoj mjeri reaktivirao prije nekoliko godina, ali nažalost počesto i zloupotrijebio. Kod nas na Balkanu se društvene mreže, od Facebooka do Twittera, uglavnom koriste za političko i međunacionalno prepucavanje i često nedostaje humanističkog i intelektualnog kapaciteta da se ukaže na probleme u društvu, koje se tiču pojedinca u bh. društvu. Medijski prostor zapadnog Balkana rezervisan je isključivo za teme kolektivnog karaktera, tj. one teme koje se prvenstveno usredotočuju na nacionalnu ili, još češće, etničku grupaciju. Tu skoro da nema mjesta za individualne tematike i probleme koje muče pojedince. Osim što medijskim pejzažem u Bosni i Hercegovini caruju vječito negativne i (samo)destruktivne političke teme i vijesti, u tim istim vijestima često nalazimo jedne te iste aktere, političare, koje bh. društvu serviraju reprizne vijesti, odavno istrošene, u kojima se ništa bitno nije promijenilo par decenija. Naslovi i članci u dnevnim novinama ili na online portalima imaju rijetku sposobnost da nas vrate u prošlost jer se u tim člancima u nedogled vrte teme poput „federalizacije“, „treći entitet“, „ukidanje OHR-a“, „negiranje genocida“, „oni traže rat“ i sl. A to su pažljivo probrani diskursni izrazi, koji imaju za cilj ili konsolidirati ili zaplašiti sopstveni etnički tor, ovisno o tome da li se radi o stranačkim izborima ili nekim drugim bitnim političkim događajima u zemlji. Skoro da je patetično i apsurdno postaviti pitanje koliko su građani Bosne i Hercegovine potrošili i protračili vremena samo na čitanje i slušanje domaćih političkih vijesti koje ne vode nikuda osim u krug?! Ponekad mi padne na pamet sjajni i kontemplirajući film A Ghost Story iz 2017. u kojem gledatelji tokom cijelog filma prate duha (i to onog sa plahtom preko glave), svjedoka vremena koje neumoljivo prolazi i gazi sve pred sobom, dok supruga tog istog duha žali što on više nije među živima. I dok duh posmatra i doživljava vrijeme ovog našeg svijeta, svjedok je kako u tom vremenu materijalne stvari bivaju stvarane i postepeno razgrađivane. Taj isti duh nijemo posmatra kako ljudi i stvari nestaju u zvjezdanoj prašini kosmosa, a on je bez glasa jer ne može utjecati na događaje u materijalističkom svijetu. On se ne čuje i vjerovatno tu entropiju i konstantno raspadanje materijalnog svijeta doživljava s ogromnom bolju zbog nemogućnosti da nešto promijeni. E vidite, gledati i čitati političke vijesti iz Bosne i Hercegovine posljednjih nekoliko decenija mene podsjeća i stavlja u ulogu tog nijemog duha koji doživljava i proživljava tu našu ponavljajuću agoniju u mjestu s ponavljajućom bolju. Vjerujem da nisam jedini koji doživljava dugovječnost i apsurdnost aktuelnog politikanstva u Bosni i Hercegovini na ovaj način. Duh u filmu barem doživljava raspad sistema linijarno, dok je naše doživljavanje političke situacije u Bosni i Hercegovini i regiji ciklusnog karaktera, tj. sve se vrti u krug. Vrijeme teče, životi prolaze, a političke vijesti na Balkanu su manje-više istog sadržaja. Krizno stanje je permanentno kao i samo vrijeme. I ne, ne spada gore pomenuti film u žanr horora, za razliku od depresivne slike političko-društvenog stanja u Bosni i Hercegovini i susjedstvu. A to stanje na zapadnom Balkanu više podsjeća na one dugovječne američke sapunice kao što su Dani našeg života (Days of Our Lives, 1965-), The Young and the Restless (1973-). Međutim, za razliku od njih, balkanske sapunice ne daju mogućnost proste zabave i relaksirajućeg gledanja.  

Scena iz filma A Ghost Story (Lowery, 2017)

Da bi građani u BiH mogli doprinijeti nekakvih promjenama na bolje, oni prvo moraju postati građani, a ne kao dosadašnja, duboko razdijeljena, torovska masa koja se uglavnom iskorištava kada je potrebno dobiti njene glasove prilikom stranačkih izbora. Drugim riječima, ono što je nama svima u Bosni i Hercegovini prijeko potrebno je samostalna, individualna svijest prilikom čijeg djelovanja bi napravili tranziciju iz pasivnih objekata, podijeljenih i isprepadanih (jedni od drugih) etničkih torova, u subjekte koji bi zaista koristili svoje slobode i mogućnosti utjecaja kroz samostalno razmišljanje, rezonovanje i donošenja vlastitih odluka, npr. prilikom izbora na bilo kojim nivoima vlasti, referendumima itd. Da bi se to desilo, potrebno je ne samo da dođe do potpune reforme uređenja države Bosne i Hercegovine, nego i do reforme mentalnog sklopa svih dijelova bosanskohercegovačkog društva. To će nesumnjivo biti dug i mukotrpan proces jer zahtjeva političke i socijalne promjene, višu političku i društvenu svijest pojedinaca, grupacija i organizacija, koje mogu, a ne moraju, doći kroz bolju edukaciju i obrazovanost društva. Put prosvjetljenja ima mnogo prečica i sporednih sokaka, pa je tako put do sveukupnih promjena u Bosni i Hercegovini i regiji moguć na mnoge načine. Ali jedno je sigurno – za to je potrebna politička i socijalna emancipacija pojedinca, kao osnovnog faktora bosanskohercegovačkog društva. Bez osvješćenja i otrežnjenja od etnokonzervativnog mentalnog otrova, teško je ikako utjecati na rušenje opasnog, davno dotrajalog začaranog zida koji je davno opasao Bosnu i Hercegovinu, ali i njeno susjedstvo, pa i šire. A do tada će mnogi, koji mogu i žele, odlaziti s ovih prostora jer ljudi vape za društvom koje im može pružiti bolje, kvalitetnije i sigurnije uslove življenja.    

Članak objavljen na tacno.net 24. maja 2019.

Izvori

BiH, Policijska Akademija. 2019. Facebook. [Na mreži] 1. april 2019. https://www.facebook.com/policijskakademija/posts/2210221829070364?__xts__[0]=68.ARDa0sflKyOfiqSsC1eqQpdFdWII5UK07VUL2_Gn5fxcGFTJiLgsSlWdJWxEoNDmJ3s2nS-ga2oXoHcKLJGsD_cX83SIo78AQS6sMTAG-XWRP9pQt9f–4DE7VKSd78nW3IdTriLPKHMytqiiM0cxrnfFKXrM0lwZWsPc85Djf5qd3.

Eriksen, Jens-Martin. 2011. Fra skorpionernes verden. s.l. : Gyldendal, 2011.

Satellite image of Bosanski Šamac

I have just put these satellite images together to get the perspective of the flood devastation in my hometown Bosanski Šamac and the rest of the region. Click image for larger view.

Bosanski Šamac, before and after the flood.
Bosanski Šamac, before and after the flood.

Here is a little animation of the same images. Click image for larger view.

Bosanski Šamac, before and after the flood.
Bosanski Šamac, before and after the flood.

Floods in the Balkans

I will keep this post short. Last week an extraordinary floods hit the western Balkans, especially Bosnia and Serbia.

In just three days three months’ worth of rain has fallen on Bosnia, which is the worst floods since rainfall measurements began 120 years ago. The chaotic situation affected more than a quarter of Bosnia’s 4 million people. The destruction of  cities, towns and villages is easily comparable to the country’s 1992-95 war.

Topcic polje near Zenica, 120 kms north of Sarajevo, Bosnia, on May 15, 2014. (AP Photo/Amel Emric)
Topcic polje near Zenica, 120 kms north of Sarajevo, Bosnia, on May 15, 2014. (AP Photo/Amel Emric)

At least 40 people have died in western Balkans and tens of thousands of others have fled their homes. Tens of thousands of dead livestock pose serious health risk to the people in the region.

Bosnian worker prepares to take away dead cows from a farm near the Bosnian town of Bosanski Samac along river Sava, 200 kms north of Bosnian capital of Sarajevo on May 20. A new calamity emerged Tuesday in the flood-hit Balkans even as emergency workers battled overflowing rivers and evacuated thousands tons of drowned livestock were posing a health hazard. With the rainfall stopping and temperatures rising, the withdrawing floodwaters revealed a harrowing sight: thousands of dead cows, pigs, sheep, dogs and other animals that were left behind after their panicked owners fled rapidly advancing torrents.(Amel Emric/Associated Press)
Bosnian worker prepares to take away dead cows from a farm near the Bosnian town of Bosanski Samac along river Sava, 200 kms north of Bosnian capital of Sarajevo on May 20. A new calamity emerged Tuesday in the flood-hit Balkans even as emergency workers battled overflowing rivers and evacuated thousands tons of drowned livestock were posing a health hazard. With the rainfall stopping and temperatures rising, the withdrawing floodwaters revealed a harrowing sight: thousands of dead cows, pigs, sheep, dogs and other animals that were left behind after their panicked owners fled rapidly advancing torrents.(Amel Emric/Associated Press)

On top of everything, there is an additional hazard: leftover land mines. Floods have disturbed known mine fields and erased many of markers that had been placed to warn people away.

Bosnian soldiers repair mine warning signs in fields near the banks of a river that flooded near the town of Visoko, 30 km north of Sarajevo, on Tuesday May 20, 2014. The flooding has unearthed landmines left over from Bosnia's 1992-95 war and washed away the signs that marked them. (AP Photo/Sulejman Omerbasic)
Bosnian soldiers repair mine warning signs in fields near the banks of a river that flooded near the town of Visoko, 30 km north of Sarajevo, on Tuesday May 20, 2014. The flooding has unearthed landmines left over from Bosnia’s 1992-95 war and washed away the signs that marked them. (AP Photo/Sulejman Omerbasic)

My hometown Bosanski Šamac (Šamac) is in the middle of the flooding catastrophe. It is placed at the shores of the largest rivers in Bosnia: Sava and Bosna. The town’s streets look more like Venice, and water has reached roofs of many houses.

Town of Bosanski Samac, the northern Bosnia.
Town of Bosanski Samac, the northern Bosnia.

Thousands of people were hastily evacuated to neighboring towns, including members of my family.

A Slovenian army helicopter team rescues a small baby on May 17 in the village of Tisina, near Bosanski Samac, northern Bosnia-Herzegovina. The rest of the baby's family was evacuated later on, the rescue team said. (Rok Einhauer/Slovenian Army via Associated Press) #
A Slovenian army helicopter team rescues a small baby on May 17 in the village of Tisina, near Bosanski Samac, northern Bosnia-Herzegovina. The rest of the baby’s family was evacuated later on, the rescue team said. (Rok Einhauer/Slovenian Army via Associated Press) #

People in the region need especially water, hygienic articles, food, cleaning equipment and everything else needed to ease the suffering of people in the region.

Bosnian people evacuated from their flooded homes take shelter at a sports center in the northern Bosnian town of Odzak on May 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Amel Emric)
Bosnian people evacuated from their flooded homes take shelter at a sports center in the northern Bosnian town of Odzak on May 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Amel Emric)

Just to put into perspective the range of the flooding in the Balkans, take a look at this map.

The flooding in Bosnia, Serbia and Croatia
The flooding in Bosnia, Serbia and Croatia

If you will you can help Bosnia’s population by donating this project (click on the banner bellow or go to the website: Help Bosnia and Herzegovina). I know people behind it, I vouch for their credibility and I know that every cent donated will get into right hands. Thank you.

 

See more pictures from the Balkans: The Atlantic,  Boston.com.

In the Land of Nonexistent Objectivity and Empathy

Most people know Angelina Jolie as an attractive actress who has built a career on a number of action films in which she often appears with the biggest Hollywood stars. However, parallel with that work she has been a good will ambassador for UNHCR. For more than ten years now she has travelled the world with the organization trying to help benighted refugees, hoping to draw attention of the world media to some of these causes. One of the countries she has taken an interest in is Bosnia-Herzegovina, which went through a horrific war and brutal crimes between 1992 and 1995.

Jolie, moved by the tragic fate of women in the Bosnian war, decided to direct the movie In the Land of Blood and Honey which presents rather well the brutality of war, as well as the particular cruelty of Serbian strategy during that war, but focusing mainly on the subject of the “Bosnian woman”, i.e. the 20,000-50,000 [1] mainly Bosniak women who were raped during the war. This mass rape of women was used by the Serbian side as one of the instruments of implementation of terror against the non-Serb population. The Human Rights Quarterly report [2] argues that “the desire for the Serbs to degrade the Bosnian Muslim woman, to humiliate and fertilize her with the ‘little Chetniks” is of paramount importance. “This issue, among others, was earlier recognized and dealt with by the Bosnian director Jasmila Žbanić in her film Grbavica which won the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival 2006.

This is by no means a review of Jolie’s directorial debut, so this column will not contain a detailed analysis of the plot, nor will it assess the quality of the dialogue or the acting. But it is necessary to briefly describe the subject of the film. It is about a relationship between a Serb police officer Danijel and Ajla, a Bosniak painter, a relationship abruptly interrupted by the beginning of the war in Bosnia. Ajla is arrested by Serb soldiers and ends up at the camp where Danijel places her under his protection in order to prevent her from getting raped by other soldiers. He was in love with Ajla before the war, and during the war continues to have warm feelings towards her, but at the same time he is able to take advantage of her unequal position since she is in a way his private property. Meanwhile, Daniel’s father is a senior officer and a hardline Serbian nationalist and obviously cannot see anything good in the fact that Danijel is in love with a Muslim and is determined to end the relationship.

No film about the war in Bosnia has raised such a rumpus as Jolie’s directorial debut. At the very outset, the project encountered dispute and obstacles. The authorities of Sarajevo, under pressure from the Srebrenica women’s association and other organizations, refused to give a filming license because they thought that the reported (at this early stage, also misreported) premise of the film (raped Bosnian woman falls in love with her rapist) offends all Bosnian women who were abused during the war. Thus the producers were forced to switch to shooting the film in central Bosnia, and Hungary.

Much more furious reactions came after the premiere of the film and particularly from much of the Serbian media and many Internet forums, which almost unanimously characterized the movie as one-sided, anti-Serbian, a project aiming to denigrate the Serbian people and once again show the stereotypical Serbs as the “bad guys” in an American film. Serbian criticism of the film culminated when thousands of people, clearly orchestrated and recruited on Facebook, and various forums and web sites, went on the pre-eminent movie database IMDB.com giving the film lowest marks, plunging it’s average rating to 4.1 (out of 10), as of 6 April 2012. Many negative comments left on the website were written by disgruntled Serbian visitors, most of whom had not seen the film.

It should be noted that at the Sarajevo premiere 5000 moviegoers attended, while in Belgrade, there were only 12 (three of whom left the hall before the end), and that the Bosnian Serb dominated entity Republika Srpska completely boycotted and refused to screen the film. The Bosnian and Serbian media cannot look at this movie objectively because they cannot look Bosnian war objectively. In the media, and the societies at large, there is an obvious lack of maturity in the thinking about the war and its atrocities. It is clear that there is still no willingness from any party to truly confront all the crimes that were committed in its name, and objectively look at all the crimes that were committed during the 1990s. The main culprit for this is still a pronounced nationalism that keeps most citizens of Bosnia-Herzegovina in its deadly embrace. For me, it’s sad when you see thousands of people unable to face the past and recognize unequivocally the historical facts.
Of course, every crime is a crime that should and must be prosecuted, but it is unacceptable to demand that every conflict is relativized until it bears no semblance to actual events, nor to demand that every work of art, newspaper article or a documentary film seek to uncritically present the other side of the conflict, because referring to one victim only in relation to another victim, diminishes both. Imagine if the Germans objected that in, say, Spielberg Schindler’s List (a film about the Nazi atrocities against Jews during World War II) does not show the murder of German civilians and numerous rapes of German women by Russian soldiers (all true, and horrible). Of course, there is nothing wrong about mentioning these as a historical fact, but when it requires a counterbalancing of any crime, then you are deliberately trying to relativize and thus minimize the individual losses. Every war has attackers and defenders, victims and executioners, ‘bad guys’ and ‘good guys’; even though it is also true these can appear on both sides. There were Serbian acts of heroism and humanity in that war, as there were Bosniaks who committed war crimes. These things happened. But this does not explain, nor excuse, nor diminish the brute facts of the beginning and the evolution of that war. Serbian forces largely carried out the brutal plan of their political leadership (mainly Slobodan Milošević and Radovan Karadžić), including the Hague-recognized genocide against Bosniaks in eastern Bosnia, ethnic cleansing in areas inhabited by Bosnian Croats and Bosniaks, and the systematic destruction of cultural and religious monuments, buildings and institutions that did not wear the prefix “Serbian”.
But, to return to Jolie’s film. Is it some kind of masterpiece that will be remembered for its brilliant screenplay, extraordinary photography, or acting? Probably not. But Angelina wanted to make a film that would throw light on all the raped women of the unfortunate war in Bosnia through the story of one woman. This is why this film cannot be seen and evaluated only as a work of art, but should be viewed in the light of the weigh of history and the message it carries.

In the Land of Blood and Honey has given, if not a great contribution to film art, then certainly a contribution to our collective memory of the past. We should all remember the evil that happened during the Balkan wars in order to prevent them from happening again. Tragic is the level of discussion every time you raise the issue of war crimes in Bosnia. And if we take the film In the Land of Blood and Honey, it is obvious that very few of the articles and texts which were written attacking it were an attempt to understand what it was like to be a woman (of any ethnicity) in various camps during the war. They usually simply expressed grievances caused by the film to whatever side the writer represented. It is precisely this devastating image that shows the way the war is always perceived only in the light of “our” victims. Rarely is there a bit of objectivity or desire to understand the suffering on the other side.

The masses should sooner identify with all the unfortunate victims and all the raped woman than to side with war criminals just because these may belong to their people. This should be done not only for moral and humanitarian reasons (though humanity comes before nationality surely), but for the future of its people, so that something similar would not happen again, because only truth, repentance and forgiveness can lead to a true reconciliation, which would eventually bring real peace to Bosnia and Herzegovina and the rest of Southeast Europe.

 

[1] “Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in Conflict: A Framework for Prevention and Response”. United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. 2008.

[2] Weitsman P.A. (2008). “The Politics of Identity and Sexual Violence: A Review of Bosnia and Rwanda”. Human Rights Quarterly 30: 561–578.

The Journey Never Ends, part II

Several days ago the UNHCR published my column “The Journey Never Ends, part 1“. Here’s the second part.

THE JOURNEY NEVER ENDS, PART II
From time to time I get asked what I knew about Denmark before coming here. Since I was always very interested in geography I knew that Copenhagen was the nation’s capital and I knew that the peninsula of Jutland links Denmark to the rest of Europe. I knew that the country produced and exported a lot of meat and dairy products and that it did not have many natural resources.

So, what is my story in Denmark? In 1994 I started at Skive Gymnasium. I think it was here I first began to learn about the Danish language, society and culture. Later I started working and I learned even more about Danish values and society. In 2003 I graduated from Nordic Multimedia Academy as a multimedia designer, and since then I have worked as a graphic designer in various companies.

Unlike the natives I do not have a particularly good relationship with Danish food. I think it was in 1998 I got acquainted with Danish roasted potatoes. I was at the company’s Christmas party and I saw these delicious brown potatoes. I ignored almost all the other food and filled my plate with the potatoes. When I tasted it all my senses got a shock and I almost literally ended up on the floor, and it was not because of the beer or the schnapps! It was because I just could not dream potatoes could (or should) be sugary, sweet!

Another Danish food I could not eat for a really long time is rye bread. It was hard, dry and did not taste very good. It may well be that the bread is healthier than ciabatta style bread, but I always felt it tasted like wood. However, one thing I think Danes excel at is pastry, fruit tarts, and marzipan: Othello cake, apple cake (everything with apples) and berry tarts.

Although I now have lived in Denmark for 18 years I have still not got used to the Danish weather. We Danish Bosnians say that “even dogs do not bark in Denmark”, but if something is untamed in this country then it must be the weather. I still have a hard time getting used to rain, wind and sunshine all on the same day. The first two I could easily do without but in a way there is a certain charm (do I really mean this?) about the changing and unpredictable weather.

In Denmark I have lived in refugee centres, in a so-called satellite (a house attached to an asylum centre), a townhouse, a house and a number of flats. I think the process of establishing myself in a new country went rather well. It was not easy, I was a stranger and unfamiliar with the surroundings, but quietly my family and I found our place. It was not always easy to get in contact with the natives. This is especially true in the western Jutland where locals are often very reserved towards people they do not know. My experience is that they open up after they have known you some time. In the beginning I had a hard time understanding their reservation towards foreigners, but I got used to it and eventually I realized that’s a part of their way of life.

Today I have my own family; a wife and two beautiful daughters. I tell them stories about my home country and teach them about Bosnian cultural values, but I also raise them so that they tomorrow can be good and valuable members of the Danish society. I am very proud of my family and I know as long I have them with me everything is going to be fine – that is why I will always fight for democracy and individual freedom in Denmark so that my daughters do not experience what I was forced to in those dark, final years of the twentieth century.