Words from a Bosnian Survivor

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Thanks to the magazine Casablanca for allowing me to reproduce the following
These words are taken from a speech by a survivor of the Bosnian holocaust. She spoke to 3,000 people who had marched to Trafalgar Square on 6 August 1995 in the wake of the betrayal and massacre of the UN 'safe havens' in Srebrenica and Zepa. She added the postscript on 5 September:

All my life I have been a dedicated pacifist.

With all my strength I have been against militarism, against weapons and against the use of force. And most of the Bosnian people are the same.
That is why we have no weapons now.
We Bosnian people, devastated and confused by sudden fascist aggression, waited a long time for someone to rescue us. We trusted the promises of the United Nations and the European Union.
And under UN protection, fascists are killing us systematically day by day; under UN protection, concentration camps are held where people are kept and exterminated; under UN protection, a new holocaust is gathering strength in Europe.
The UN has fallen into negotiating with war criminals as Chamberlain tried to negotiate with Hitler. Words then were not enough. Military force was needed to stop Hitler, and all the others who share his ideology of purity of race, of Greater Germany or of Greater Serbia. An ideology that understands only force, that trains its followers to rape,to kill and to displace.
That can be stopped only by force. Unfortunately.
We have gathered thousands of signatures of support. I am proud to say that they come from people from all over the world, all political backgrounds, all religions and races.
I am proud to see you, Jews together with Muslims and Christians, here. I am proud because that is what we used to have in Bosnia - and still have, in the parts of our country that we still hold.
We are not only Muslims, as the UN often defines us. We are Bosnians all together.
There are a vast number of Serbs living in Bosnian-held territories, sharing the same life and the same fate under aggression. They are Serbs shot by Serb snipers, Serbs committed to democracy shot by Serbs following a fascist ideology. Serbs are present in the Bosnian government; one of the commanders of the Bosnian army is a Serb.
So don't believe in the UN's excuse for not acting.
This is not a religious war.
This is a war between fascism and democracy

Why do we stand day and night and in front of John Major's cabinet and official residence? Symbolically, to show John Major and his colleagues that we are being killed in the late night hours as well as in working hours. Our killers do not rest over the weekend, nor over holidays.
We can't see Mr Major. He looks down on us in the same way that a sniper looks down on the people of Sarajevo. Even though you are not that sniper, Mr Major, you are still killing us because you do nothing. We can't see you but you can see us; if you were interested in us, in any of us Bosnians, you would hear our individual, tragic stories.
Stories in which you have an important role.
If I had the opportunity to speak to you, I would tell you of my hopes.
After the experience with Serb fascism in Slovenia and Croatia, I had hoped that you would prevent the occupation of my own neighbourhood by the fascist Army.
But you did nothing.
After I woke one morning surrounded by armed fascists, who forbade us to leave our own home, I still had hope that you and your colleagues would free us from our imprisonment.
But you did nothing.
After my husband was dragged out of our home and massacred, together with his mother and his brother, I still had hope that you would prevent this happening to other families.
But you did nothing.
After I passed through torture, I still had hope that you would prevent this happening to other women.
But you did nothing.
After I was rescued by my Serbian friend, who risked his own life to help me, I still had hope that you would remove the need for democratic Serbs to risk their lives by helping others.
But you did nothing.
After the fascists expelled me from my house and I was forced into exile, even then, I still had hope that you would prevent other people from becoming refugees.
But you did nothing.
After my best friend in Sarajevo was shot by a sniper, I still had hope that you would prevent other friends from being killed.
But you did nothing.
Although you knew everything,
you did nothing.

I believed for three and a half years in the all-powerful world organisations, and in you. It took a long time for my hope in you to die.
Now, after the fall of Srebrenica and Zepa, tens of thousands of men have been slaughtered, thousands of women have been brutally raped, entire populations have been expelled from their homelands.
After all of this has happened under your and the UN's protection, I have no hope in you any more.
I don't believe in your empty words of support. I don't believe in your endless conferences, while we are dying, and in your futile and stage-managed air strikes.

Even though not in you, I still have hope.

I have hope in our supporters throughout the world.
I would like you to see all the people in front of me and to know that we, together, recognise your empty promises. We know you are not willing to help the Bosnian people. Probably because we don't have any oil.
But never mind, Mr. Major. I haven't lost my hope in our heroic men and women, who are willing to fight to halt fascism in the name of humanity.
We demand the basic human right to defend ourselves.
Make it a little bit fair, if war can ever be fair. Provide us with weapons, so that we have more than our bodies to use against tanks and heavy artillery.
Remember that, if we are to be killed, we would prefer to die with dignity defending ourselves than to die slowly, in miserable conditions, under your so-called `Protection'.

But enough of Death; we are alive.
We have our brave hearts. We don't need support from the UN any more. We need support from the people at this meeting, and everywhere.
I know that you people here will pray for us.
I know that the Catholics amongst you will put a candle in your church for my mother-in-law, and for all Catholics killed by the fascists.
I know that the Muslims amongst you will pray Al Fatiha for my uncle, and for all other Muslims killed by fascists.
I know that the Jews amongst you will pray Kaddish for my friend, and for all Jews killed by fascists.
I know that the Orthodox amongst you will pray for my Serb neighbour, killed on Serbian-held territory because he refused to be a fascist, and for all democratic Serbs killed by fascist snipers and mortars.
I know that all of you will pray in your own way for my husband and his brother, because they respected all religions but were not religious.
Pray.
But praying is not enough. We need to be free.
Charity is not enough.
It only serves to prolong our suffering.
Once we can defend ourselves, we can feed ourselves.
So help us to be free.
Come and join us on our picket. Write to your MP. Gain signatures for the petitions. Raise money for aid convoys. Explain to the people around you about our struggle.
Force the decision makers to lift the arms embargo and allow us to defend ourselves.
We can all do a lot. Act, and act quickly, before it's too late

Postscript

UN and Nato, thank you for your air strikes, three and a half years late. Finally you have shown that you can act quickly if you want to. But do you really think we can be happy with just the removal of heavy weapons from a 20-kilometre exclusion zone around Sarajevo? Do you really think we can't see that you are still allowing us to be killed by snipers or by light artillery? For us there is no difference: being killed by snipers, by the miserable conditions under siege, or by heavy artillery. But it seems that the way we are killed is very important to you. If we are killed by snipers, one by one - even if the number of deaths rises to 37 per day - it does not look so spectacular as 37 people killed in one place by one mortar. You are not pushed by publicity to act then, are you? I am afraid that the air raids may be a way that you can keep your 'credibility', and the fascists can continue their killing with changed tools. In February the UN announced an exclusion zone around Sarajevo and we had hope. But the snipers and deaths went on. Yesterday I asked my sister about the six people reported killed. She said, 'that's normal for Sarajevo; but normally you don't get to hear about it'. Without raising the siege of Sarajevo and without providing us with real freedom, your actions are meant only to save what remains of the UN's and Nato's face. Remember that we don't need your theatre of credibility. We need the end of our suffering. If you can't do that for us, we can provide it ourselves. Give us a chance to fight to be free. Nato has chosen to act just now, when the Bosnian army is getting stronger. Bosnia is being asked to agree to an unfair division. Why are the armed Serb fascists to be given 49% of the country, when Serbs were only 30% of the people, even before the war? If Bosnia gets 51%, where is my home? If I go back there, should I be bombed?

The following groups are offering direct support and help to Bosnia:
Alliance to Defend Bosnia-Herzegovina Founded in 1993 by journalists and scholars as pressure group to raise arms embargo and keep Bosnia an undivided multi- ethnic republic. Now broadening its membership (20/5 concesssions). Its Bosnia Report includes unique information plus advice on countering 'Media Myth of the Month'. Ongoing educational meetings with experts and eye-witnesses on first Monday each month, 7-9pm, University of Westminster. ADBH: 12 Flitcroft Street London WC2H 8DJ Tel/Fax: 0171 240 7992. Bosnia Solidarity Campaign. Runs permanent 24-hour picket opposite Downing Street. Weekly Bosnia Picket News (20p) gives accessible historical background and answers to common questions. This umbrella organisation set up after the fall of Srebrenica by four groups (Alliance to Defend Bosnia-Herzegovina, Workers' Aid to Bosnia, Muslim Solidarity Committee and Jewish Socialist Group) invites others to join. Sarajevo Charter New broad-based organisation to mobilise public opinion, first started by Jewish people appalled by ethnic cleansing. Does not take a position on specific measures (the arms embargo, the UN or NATO) but refuses neutrality between perpetrators and victims of genocide. Future actions will focus on locating missing people inside occupied Bosnia, and on giving the media spotlight to peace groups rather than warlords. There will be a benefit concert in the autumn. 0181 349 4525; see right for full details. WarChild Imaginative charity set up by two film-makers which as well as convoying medicine, food and clothing has started a bakery, a diabetic programme, and now a music and therapy centre in the devastated city of Mostar. 7/12 Greenland Street, London NW1 OND. Tel 0171 916 9276/Fax 9280. Women in Black London - in solidarity with the anti-war actions of Women in Black Begrade - hold silent vigils for the victims of ethnic cleansing, collect money for Medica (see below) and are organising an open discussion in London. 161a Seymour Place London W1H 5TP; information 0171 267 8198/482 5670. Women's Aid to Former Yugoslavia support Medica, an international team of 50 women doctors and therapists working with survivors and their children in Zenica (central Bosnia), where refugees from Zepa are now arriving. 20 Westwood Road Southampton SO17 IDN. Workers' Aid to Bosnia Trade union and student based campaign which has sent 10 convoys of aid to Tuzla, the multi-ethnic mining and industrial city. WAB also backbone of the 24-hour picket. A video and workpack made this summer with children from Tuzla's schools, 'Message from Tuzla' is available for teachers and community groups: 6 from Mark Barham, 0151 727 790. WAB information: 35 Hilton Road Leeds LS8 4HA 0161 226 0404. Additional organisations: Balkan War Report Magazine with detailed analysis and proposals from independent journalists inside former Yugoslavia.(10 issues a year, 30). Edited by Soros-funded Institute of War and Peace Reporting, which also supplies training and guest placements for opposition journalists, research assistance for international media, and forums for discussion. Forthcoming conference on the threatened republic of Macedonia. 33 Islington High Street, London N1 9LH. Tel: 0171 713 7130, Fax: 7140, E-mail: warreport@gn.apc.org European Dialogue UK branch of the Helsinki Citizens' Assembly (offices Prague, Geneva, the Hague). Originally network of END peace groups, now promoting democracy from below. Opposes lifting arms embargo, argues for extended UN mandate and negotiations with civilian groups rather than warlords. Postcard campaign asking Major to protect all inhabitants of remaining safe havens (not just UN personnel). Holding peace conference 19 October in Tuzla; London meeting with Tuzla speakers on 12 September.Information: ED, Wickham House, 10 Cleveland Way, London E1 4TR. Tel: 0171 790 2424. Kosova Information Centre The war in Yugoslavia really began when Milosevic's regime took over the autonomous province of Kosovo, dissolved its parliament, closed its schools, hospitals and newspapers, and threw tens of thousands of people out of their work and homes. The Kosovar Alabanians - 90% of the population - have maintained an unbroken non-violent resistance under mass arrests, torture, forced conscription, and now the attempt to settle 20,000 desperate Krajina refugees. Kosova Briefing gives beautifully presented backgound; Kosova Communication gives latest reports. 132 Buckingham Palace Road London SW1W 9SA. Tel 0171 730 1050; Fax 8973; e-mail kik-uk@kosova.demon.co.uk SACRA - Sarajevo Cosmopolitan Recovery Association. Group of Bosnian writers in British exile, whose anthology Bosnia Outside Itself will be published by Janus with an introduction by Tom Stoppard and pictures by David Bowie. SACRA are members of the Bosnian democratic opposition, and criticise all three parties in the conflict. SACRA also publish UK edition of 99, the Sarajevo journal of free thought. SACRA is linked to European Dialogue /Helsinki Citizens' Assembly; 99 is distributed by Institute of War and Peace Reporting.
Events: Bosnia Forum: 9 September 1995, Westminster Central Hall London SW1, 10.30- 5.30. Rally and music event for Bosnia: 24 September, Trafalgar Square 2pm-6pm.

This poster is published by Casablanca magazine: Tel 0171 608 3784, Fax 0171 608 3865. Design by Doug Anarino. Original photograph by Caroline Austin.

2nd pic caption
The Sarajevo Charter New voluntary association of people and organisations concerned for the plight of all who are subject to or threatened by ethnic cleansing: 'The International Court of Justice has now charged a number of participants in the conflict with crimes against humanity which include the destruction of the Muslim population of Bosnia Herzegovina, its citizens, their culture and their religion. The Charter has been brought into existence to provide a voice for ordinary men and women who wish to register their protest against the mass murder of civilians; the destruction of civilian life; and the extensive violation of human rights involving execution, rape and torture. There can be no neutrality in the face of events of this kind... 'The Charter will allow people to use the media to 'fight back' against the outrages they have seen, to record their indignation and to make a gesture of support for all who have suffered. Our first step is an open letter published in the national press and supported on publication by many thousands of people all over Britain. The principal signatories include eminent political and religious leaders, but signatures are invited from all men and women of conscience.' For a copy of the Charter and the signature sheet to support it, contact the Sarajevo Charter c/o Sternberg Centre, 80 East End Road London N3 2SY. Tel: 0181 349 4731, Fax 0181 343 0901.