COMMEMORATION OF THE SREBRENICA MASSACRE - GENOCIDE AND AFTERMATH ART EXHIBIT AND PRESENTATION AT THE UNITED NATIONS
Supported by a grant from Open Society Institute
In Prosecutor v. Krstic, a landmark ruling that put to rest any doubts about the legal character of the massacre, the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia unanimously ruled that it was an act of genocide. As the Chamber’s judgment states:
"By seeking to eliminate a part of the Bosnian Muslims, the Bosnian Serb forces committed genocide. They targeted for extinction the 40,000 Bosnian Muslims living in Srebrenica, a group which was emblematic of the Bosnian Muslims in general.…The Appeals Chamber states unequivocally that the law condemns, in appropriate terms, the deep and lasting injury inflicted, and calls the massacre at Srebrenica by its proper name: genocide. Those responsible will bear this stigma, and it will serve as a warning to those who may in future contemplate the commission of such a heinous act."
Srebrenica in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the world's first United Nations “Safe Area,” was the site of the worst case of massacre in Europe since World War II. In July 1995, the Bosnian Serb army staged a brutal takeover of the small town and its surrounding region. Over a period of five days, the Bosnian Serb soldiers separated Muslim (Bosniak) families and systematically murdered more than 7,800 men and boys in fields, schools, and warehouses. The massacre was carried out after the commander of the United Nations Protection Force, General Bertrand Janvier, handed the town over to the Serbian army General Ratko Mladic.On the eve of the tenth anniversary (July 2005) of the Srebrenica genocide, the Bosnian-Herzegovinian community in the United States faced an obligation to deliver a commemorative event that would once again put Srebrenica genocide on the front pages and in public discourse.The Academy of Bosnia and Herzegovina (ABH), a not-for-profit organization based in New York, held an event that commemorated the massacre of Bosniak men and boys, which occurred from July 12 through July 18, 1995 in and near the UN declared "Safe Area" of Srebrenica. During the week of the commemorative event, an estimated 30,000 visitors reflected on the exhibit in the lobby of the United Nations building in New York, and dozens of news outlets around the world carried the story of Srebrenica remembered.
Srebrenica Commemorative Event
The July 11, 2005 commemoration held at the United Nations headquarters in New York generated a dramatic moment reflecting on the 1995 events, created a lasting record as a reminder to all Bosnians and the international community of nations, sensitized the general public to the crimes of genocide, and at the same time helped present artists from Bosnia-Herzegovina and several other countries, paying special attention to younger, emerging artists.The events were open to public and free. Representatives of the United Nations and its Member States, civil society, media and the general public attended and reacted to the events.Beyond commemoration and awareness-raising, the Srebrenica commemoration events sent a reminder to the international community in attendance about unfulfilled individual accountability for the crimes committed. The ultimate message was a call for international solidarity in the face of future genocides, and for the international community to have the will to act appropriately in time to guard against human rights abuses that precede genocide.
Art Exhibit Commemorating 10 years since the Srebrenica Massacre
The art exhibit, which opened on July 11, featured a selection of some of the best photographs and multimedia works available on this theme and was on display until July 31, 2005.The art exhibit and multimedia presentation were opened at the south end of the UN entrance pavilion on July 11, 2005. The exhibit showcased a selection of art works with the theme commemorating the 10 years since the Srebrenica massacre. It included works influenced by the historical events in Srebrenica, its aftermath and the coming future. It commented on the massacre and the phenomena of human experience faced with genocide. Works included photographs and digital images of other artwork, such as painting and sculpture, as well as video material looped on a TV screen.Photographs that were selected portrayed, in their documentary and artistic capacity, events and consequences of those events, while unveiling and demystifying the subject matter, bringing the viewer closer to those who were affected by the Srebrenica genocide. The subject matter stunned but also moved the viewers to a new emotional understanding of the tragedy; it provided historical information and at the same time remembered the victims and their families with dignity. This exhibition has contributed to what is hoped will be an artistic process that will preserve the collective memory of events that took place in Srebrenica and will develop recognizable visual iconography of those events, much like Picasso’s Guernica did for the Holocaust.Works were received through an art contest and included artists from Bosnia and Herzegovina and United States but also artists from other countries such as Norway and Ireland.
Participating artists (in alphabethical order):
Aida Sehovic (USA, Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Almin Zrno (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Dzeko Hodzic (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Dzemila Rekanovic (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Enes Sivac (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Esma Spaho (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Kemal Hromic (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Lara Nettelfield (USA)
Lisa Kahane (USA)
Maria Fuglevaag Warsinski (Norway)
Michelle Rodgers (Ireland)
Muhamed Ceif (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Raib Salihefendic (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Samir Biscevic (USA, Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Samra Mujezinovic (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Sara Terry (USA)
Sarah Wagner (USA)
Tarik Samarah (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Toso Mitesevski (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
"Što te Nema?" (Why are you not here?) Art Installation
In "Što te Nema?" (Why are you not here?), young Bosnian-American artist Aida Šehovic built on the traditional Bosnian ritual of gathering for coffee to perform an art installation, influenced by the Srebrenica events, in the same space as the exhibition in the UN lobby over five days, opening on July 11, 2005.On July 11th, 2004, Ms. Šehovic set up the first version of the art installation in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. 1,327 small porcelain coffee cups were set up for this installation in front of a mosque, corresponding to the number of the first identified and re-buried victims from Srebrenica.Ms. Šehovic extended the reach of the "Why are you not here?" installation with a subsequent July 11th, 2005 installation as the number of coffee cups grew (to 1,705) as more bodies were discovered, identified, and laid to rest. She set up the updated version of this installation in the UN building as part of the Academy's Commemoration of the Srebrenica massacre. She spread the cups on a bed of soil depicting a map of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The cups were concentrated at the eastern edge of the map in the geographic area of Srebrenica. Most of the cups were filled with coffee. Cups representing victims under age 18, who were too young for the coffee tradition at the time of their death, were empty and held sugar cubes only. Tape recorders ran tape loops of Ms. Šehovic reciting the names and birthdates of the dead.All of the cups used in this installation were collected from Bosnian families living in the United States and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Most were collected by members of the NGO "Women of Srebrenica Association" from residents of Srebrenica and neighboring areas.
Film and Speaker Presentations
Extending the messages of the exhibit and art installation, on July 11 in the UN library auditorium, Srebrenica survivor Sejdefa Ðozic moved the audience to tears as she recounted the story of leaving her hometown; while the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Roy Gutman, who reported extensively from Bosnia and Herzegovina during the war, called for serious lessons to be learned for the future. A documentary film by Maria F. Warsinski, containing clandestine archival footage, was screened at the auditorium, presenting a visual indictment of the perpetrators of the Srebrenica genocide. The auditorium presentation was intended to put the events of Srebrenica in more of a historical and political context for the audience unfamiliar with the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Srebrenica as one of the monumental events in that conflict.
The Academy of Bosnia-Herzegovina, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to empowering a new generation of Bosnians and Herzegovinians living in the United States and diaspora, commemorated the genocide of Srebrenica which stunned the world in 1995 in the heart of Europe, raised the awareness about it, and sent a message for the implementation of justice. The Academy also sought to connect this commemorative event to other memorial events taking place in the Bosnian diaspora and around the world.As the United Nations Security Council presses the war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia to conclude its work, the men most wanted for their role in Srebrenica's genocide -- Bosnian Serb General Ratko Mladic and former Bosnian Serb political leader Radovan Karadzic -- remain at liberty, even though they were both indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia, specifically on charges relating to Srebrenica, for genocide, crimes against humanity and other grave crimes of international concern.
For more information please contact progam staff:
Nebojsa Seric Shoba
"Why Are You not Here?" Art installation team: