The Suppression of Cultural Memory and Identity in Bosnia and Herzegovina
This chapter identifies an orchestrated effort in “Republika Srpska”—an entity within Bosnia and Herzegovina that was recognized by the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement − that is designed to prevent survivors of the genocide from erecting memorials to the victims in such locations as Višegrad, Prijedor, and Foča. While memorials for victims have been prohibited, and survivors have been prevented from using the term “genocide,” memorials to the perpetrators have been installed in the center of Višegrad, and near the Trnopolje concentration camp in Prijedor Municipality. In the hills above Sarajevo, in a location from which the city’s residents were attacked during the siege, a plaque honoring indicted war criminal Ratko Mladić has been installed. Accordingly, this chapter considers the extent to which the discriminatory practices regarding memorials in Republika Srpska constitute a violation of human rights. Further, the chapter argues that, following Raphael Lemkin’s definition of genocide, the prohibitive policies in Republika Srpska with respect to memorials and commemorative practices constitute nothing less than a continuation of the genocide, a second phase of the genocide designed to ensure the permanent erasure of a world that was destroyed. These human rights violations and the continuation of the genocide are a troubling testament to the failure of the international community in Bosnia, and to the problematic legacy of the Dayton Peace Agreement.
KeywordsApartheid Cultural memory Human rights Prohibited memorials Raphael Lemkin, Dayton Peace Agreement
My thanks to Eric Cavallero, Smail Čekić, Hariz Halilovich, Refik Hodžić, Hikmet Karčić, Peter Lippman, Sheila Magnotti, Kemal Pervanić, Satko Mujagić, Emir Ramić, Velma Sarić, Sanja Seferović-Drnovšek, Markéta Slavková, and finally, Bakira Hasečić , for their help with my research and with the preparation of this essay. An earlier version of the essay appeared in Etnické komunity—Balkánské cesty, ed. Dana Bittnerová and Mirjam Moravcová (Prague: FHS UK, 2015).
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