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Posts Tagged ‘Bosnian War’

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Europe – 14:06, 08 July 2013 Monday

Thousands begin “death march” to mark Srebrenica
Commemorators started backtracking the wooded route through Bosnia that massacre survivors took 18 years ago when they fled the single worst act of genocide in Europe since the Holocaust.

World Bulletin / News Desk
Thousands of participants in the annual “death march” in Bosnia began treading in reverse the steps of 3,500 people who escaped Srebrenica, where the invading Serbian troops killed 8,000 Muslim men in 1995 civil war.
Thousands of people from Turkey, Spain, US, Saudi Arabia, Croatia, Germany and Austria gathered in Nezuk town early on Monday morning and kicked off the “death march” along marches and with flags in their hands.
Despite the heat, participants continue with their three-day-long walk. The walk from the city of Tuzla in the north-eastern region to the eastern town of Srebrenica takes about 112 km.
Participants from all around the world state that their aim is to contribute to remember Srebrencia victims and not experiencing such pains again.
“I think about those painful days when I walk”
Attending the walk from Spain, Sonia Pares told Anadolu Agency that her brother was serving in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the war and then she decided to attend the traditional walks after the war. After her brother’s death, Sonia Pares decided to keep the memories of all victims alive.
Another walker, Emina Cavan from Sweden said she felt debted to attend the walk, despite her old age.
35 km of walk each day
The march will end on July 11 at the Srebrenice Genocide Memorial, known as Potocari Memorial Cemetery for the Victims of the 1995 Genocide, within the scope of the memorial events of the genocide.
Participants will walk about 35 kilometers each day for three days long in order to reach Potocari.
Walkers will rest overnight in the woods where survivors of the genocide who used the “death march” route to escape will share their experiences.
The massacre, recognized by two international courts as an act of genocide, took place on July 11, 1995 when the Serbian troops under the leadership of Ratko Mladic invaded Srebrenica and killed 8,000 men above the age of 14 in the city.
Mladic was extradited to The Hague in 2011 on charges of crimes against humanity and genocide. His trial formally began in May, 2012.

Taken from this link   http://www.worldbulletin.net/?aType=haber&ArticleID=112679

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Syria: Red Crescent Workers Under Attack | Human Rights Watch.

A merciless attack on humanitarian workers in Syria. Please read and react. Join and donate to Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Global Voices Online.  I will rarely ask you to follow much less donate to anyone or anything, but the world is in dire need of our humanitarian aid and our humanity. Read up on the Middle East, get involved and help those who can’t help themselves.

thank you very much for reading!

Dan

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Dateline Sarajevo 29/05-10 Beginning in the year of my birth and continuing throughout my youth, America was involved in what can best be described as a controversial war, perhaps the first truly “controversial” war in its history, Vietnam. The advent of television brought to moms and dads and the families back home the harsh reality of war right into their living rooms and dinner parties. Over the years, as the war dragged on and on, and the death toll continued to climb, the youth, pressed into compulsory service, began to question what they were dying for. This was the dilemma staring me directly in the face as I approached my 18th birthday. I was literally only one week away from being drafted into military service, or more likely forced into an illegal flight to either Canada or Sweden when the draft was finally stopped. America had lost the war, peace with honor was only a dream (or a lie depending on your perception) and the soldiers who did fight and survive came home to much less than a heroes welcome. Until today, this was as close as I had ever come to war. Now we move to Sarajevo, a beautiful, culturally diverse jewel in central Europe, and the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The city, formed as we know it by the Ottoman empire in 1450 but with origins dating as far back as the Neolithic Age, is flanked by the Dinaric Alps on both the North and South sides, and the Miljacka river which flows through it winding like a snake. The city lies in a deep valley, the Alps rising like beautiful lush green monoliths on either side. When you see it from the plane it’s wondrously beautiful. Lush greens accompanied by tile rooftops looking down on a tranquil oasis of cooperation and community. When you ask the residents about their city one of the first things they point out is the broad cultural diversity. Religious diversity is especially important to these people with adherents of Muslim, Catholic, Judaism and Orthodox faiths peacefully coexisting for centuries. The minarets rise up joyfully proclaiming the presence and devotion. On our first day here, after checking in, my wife, Inger and I left our hotel to begin to explore the city. We hear the chants wafting down in multiple directions, surrounding us and calling to all. The cab ride from the airport is very revealing. New buildings flank ancient ones as the city continues to grow. The diversity, that word pops up again and again, of the architecture is striking. For this observer, however, my eyes are drawn to something else, something moving, something echoing a painful past. Sarajevo is also a city torn apart and almost destroyed by a dreadful war. The damage to the buildings is still painfully visible, although you don’t see as many buildings lying in rubble as you would have 10 or 15 years ago, there remains still many buildings that reveal their scars from mortar fire or shrapnel from the mountains around them. You realize immediately that you can’t escape the war, not yet, not easily. After the breakup of the former Republic of Yugoslavia, Serbian forces, which had aligned themselves with the Yugoslav Peoples Army which was made up of members of the army of the former Republic and very well armed, had begun a build up to capture part of Bosnia and combine it into Serbia, including Sarajevo. They fortified positions in the mountains on both sides and waited. In Sarajevo at this time there were peace demonstrations, which were quite large, and it was during one such demonstration that the siege began. Serbian militants, guards of a Serbian politician, opened fire on a peace demonstration from the top of the Holiday Inn, killing 3 and wounding 50. Thus began one of Europe’s darkest times. The Serbian forces had total control of most of the mountains on either side of the city traffic in and out was impossible. The residents were helpless and easy targets for artillery, mortars, tanks, anti-aircraft guns, heavy machine-guns, multiple rocket launchers, rocket-launched aircraft bombs, and sniper rifles. The roads in and out were cut off and the airport was closed down. About 450,000 residents were helpless and cut off from the world. If they needed to shop food or go outside at all, they were a target for sniper fire from the hills. Their buildings, offices, hotels, churches, markets, homes, hospitals, schools were targets and most buildings were either damaged or destroyed. Electricity and water were cut off, for days or weeks on end, making even preparation of food or heating their house almost impossible. Most of the trees in the city were cut down for firewood. Parks, of which there were many here, were used for cemeteries, with fast services done at night so that the snipers didn’t see them and open fire. The main cemetery lies on a lovely hillside overlooking the Olympic Stadium, however it was in the Serb controlled hills. Access was, of course, impossible. Over the course of almost 4 years, the residents of Bosnia were subject to almost every abomination imaginable, ranging from ethnic cleansing to mass executions, rape and starvation. Residents in Sarajevo came very close to complete starvation, and their only chance for survival weighed in the balance on the success of UN airlifts from the Sarajevo airport that was opened in late June of 1992. On June 1, 1993, at least fifteen people were killed and 80 more were wounded as a result of a mortar attack during a soccer game. Red Cross trucks, which were given clearance to enter Sarajevo, were raided and destroyed, and maternity wards were hit killing mothers and newborns alike. On July 12, 1993, twelve people were killed while in line for water, and on February 5 of the following year mortar shells killed 68, and wounding 200 others in the Sarajevo market place. The ONLY way the city and its residents survived, quite literally was via a tunnel, some 800 meters long running from Bosnian controlled territory to the airport, which even though it was controlled by the UN was still under attack. The tunnel became known as the “tunnel of life” and indeed it was. The more I hear about life here during that time the more I admire the people for their bravery. They are strong people, who have been through something so horrible that I simply can not even begin to comprehend and yet they welcome strangers with a smile. Obviously I am deeply moved by what I have found here. I look out my window now, I see the minaret, hear the chanting, and see the lush green hills. About 2 minutes walk from here is a large cemetery filled with graves, directly outside my hotel window is a small cemetery sitting next to the mosque filled with graves, all of them from the war and I realize that land may have been a park or a garden or a place where children played. In this city almost all of the parks are now cemeteries filled with names of the 11,000 people who died, around 1,400 of them were children. One of the joys of life, for me is to run up into the hills, kick off my shoes and feel the grass on my feet, but here in the hills of Sarajevo that could be deadly as the hills are, to this day, filled with land mines and no one has any idea of how many. There is of course work going on to find them, but it’s painfully slow and dangerous. Obviously the citizens of Sarajevo and Bosnia and Herzegovina have a very painful legacy. The Serbs who once lived within the city are now living outside it in a separate area “Republika Srbska” with their own police force, schools a separate nation almost and there is little social or personal contact between them and the rest of the Sarajevans, as our tour guide said on Monday as we drove through a part of their territory “ There is no contact, it would be too dangerous, no social contact and if one were to get out of the car and attempt it that would be very tense”. The wonderful diversity is almost gone in the aftermath. There are 5,000 euro forces (EU peacekeeping forces) here still and our guide expressed the hope that they remain indefinitely. The Dayton Agreement, which while it brought an end to the violence, is weak and there have been no further negotiations to ease the situation or bring any attempt at unity. This is the city which I find myself so drawn to. Is it because of the war or despite it? Perhaps I’ll never know, but I do know that I am taken by it, by the warmth, my wife and I have experienced almost the beginning, the friendliness of the people we met, by the beauty of the city itself. It is with some sense of sadness, that I start to pack my suitcase and head to Mostar tomorrow, eager for another new city, but very sad to say goodbye to Sarajevo. So it won’t be goodbye, it can’t be. It will be vidimo se, see you!

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I wrote earlier about my youth. A time spent hiding from bullies and the search for a way out. This time, I want to write about more current events and what lead me to be so outspoken on Palestine and the “Arab Spring”. I’ve never much cared for those who for whatever reason feel the need to jump from one “cause of the moment” to the next, or one trendy diet to the next, or one relationship to the next. If I feel the need to get involved with something or someone, it’s because there is something there that touches me deeply, catches my imagination or simply that I find irresistible. In 1972, as I mentioned before, the McGovern campaign was about so much more than who would give us a break from Nixon. It was about the war, civil rights vs. big business, and a new fresh humane perspective vs. the same old ‘Old’. Of course it grabbed a hold of me, and even though Sen. McGovern is deceased, he and the possibilities that he represented still have a place in my heart. After the election in 72, I felt decimated, as many young liberals did. I tried to use those feelings to stir me on, got involved in issues on a state level, going back and forth to Salem, (the state capitol and seat of the legislature) many times to speak on this or that issue and even caught the attention of a few in the Democratic party who wondered if I was interested in running for office. I was flattered but politely declined. How could I explain to them that I was there on a mission for humanity and didn’t believe in their system anymore? I tried to continue the effort for about 3 years or so, but my heart simply wasn’t in it. Like so many before and after me, the belief, once so bright and alive had been beaten down. There were a few times and events that roused my passions but that didn’t last, Nelson Mandela finally being released from prison, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Orange revolution in the Ukraine even though it can be seen as less than successful, I was fascinated by the visions on my television screen and will never forget the hope it ignited. But there were also many other events, some new some old that made me feel beat down, Tiananmen Square and the continued repression in China, the occupation of Tibet, the continued dreadful treatment of women in hardcore fundamental Muslim countries, the occupation of Gaza by Israel and the building of the wall, and of course, the war in Bosnia and the butchery by people like Mladic. When I moved to Europe, my mind was opened by a new European view of the world and the place of the US in it. I finally was out of the grip of Fox News and all the disinformation, lies, and deceit and oppressive worldview of the United States of Homeland Security. It’s a view that I wasn’t exposed to in the US but I’m so glad to have found, now I want to share it with as many as possible here so that maybe if more and more start to figure out the truth, then slowly things can change. I’ve always thought the most powerful weapon against oppression is the truth. When Obama was elected president, I was thrilled. I thought finally we had a president who would listen, and that we could cast off the oppression of the Bush era. Homeland security was going to fall, Guantanamo would be closed down and we could build a bridge of peace between the west and the Arab world once we put Israel in it’s place and stop the inhumane treatment of the Palestinians. Sadly that hasn’t happened. In the flow of life we’re rarely aware of the currents and eddys that lead us from one spot to the next. From event to event, the details of who we are and what we believe in can easily get lost. It’s not often in one’s life that we get more than one chance to really see things in perspective, to consider with clarity how we got where we are, what changes led us here and to trace our own personal mental and emotional development. So many things clutter our view, that it’s usually impossible. I’ve been blessed with that chance on more than one occasion. Moving back to Portland in 1972, was one, and with it the election and discovery of my own voice. Moving to Stockholm was another in that it gave me a fresh perspective and I found, once again, the voice that I had lost. In the summer of 2010, my wife and I took a trip to Sarajevo. She had been active in Let Bosnia Live and the Sarajevo List, activist groups to raise awareness of the genocide in Bosnia during the war. She had never been there but had wanted to see it first hand since the war. I had never been there either and since I was in the States at the time of the war, I didn’t get enough information, (media in the US can be VERY ethnocentric) I remembered Sarajevo from the winter Olympics, and I was looking forward to the trip very much. I was also curious as to what my reaction would be, visiting my first war zone. In the taxi from the airport, we got to see the first signs of the horror. Buildings were still severely damaged, and it was a harrowing ride as I could almost hear the mortar shells exploding and feel the terror from the people as they tried to dodge them. I fell for that city and my heart ached as we toured the parks filled with graves, learned about the tunnel, which was the only means of escape and the only way for supplies and aid to arrive. I salute the bravery of the wonderful people of Sarajevo and Bosnia in general. Those feelings of deep respect stayed with me, and continue to stir in me. When I heard about the Arab Spring, I was still deeply under the influence of the trip and those feelings were given a new focus and renewed energy. I found twitter at the same time, and signed on almost immediately as a means of gathering information and learning but also as a means of showing my support. There are others who are much more informed as to why these events have started in the Middle East and Northern Africa than I am, and I’ll gladly leave it in their capable hands to explain. I am no expert on politics but I do have my own perspective, and I do have a strong fundamental belief in humanity and our rights to self-determination. To me it’s rather simple, human rights, no more and no less. I will take up that mantle with all that I can offer and will gladly add my name to the list to be counted. When my wife and I were in Sarajevo we took part in a demonstration supporting the first Gaza flotilla, and will do so again here at home. I look back on the changes and directions my life has taken and while I am sometimes saddened by the periods of political inactivity, I also realize that it took that time for me to arrive where I am now, where ever that is. I wrote a dream filled bucket list once, some of the items on it were to meet Nelson Mandela and tell him how much I admire him, walk into Tibet next to the Dali Lama as free men into a self governing country, and now I have to add other items, such as have a meal in Cairo with many of you and toast your freedom, see a new government in Libya, Syria, Yemen, Bahrain and the destruction of the wall in Gaza, and the end of the monetary oppression of the United States and Europe in the oil rich countries in the region. I have high hopes for all of you and for your struggles. I do believe we will find our way. Let me quote one of my favorite poets Kenneth Patchen from his poem “A letter to a policeman in Kansas City” “I’m not too starved to want food Not too homeless to want a home Not too dumb to answer questions come to think of it It’ll take a hell of a lot more than you’ve got to stop what’s going on deep inside us when it starts out when it starts wheels going worlds growing and any man can live on earth when we’re through with it:” YALA MENA!

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