Visegrad – In defense of the truth

Memorial tombstone at Straziste

This article appeared 21/01/2014 on the website of the civil society coalition Prvi Mart. The background is the continued harassment of Bosniak returnees in eastern Bosnia by the authorities in the entity of Republika Srpska. During the last four months the returnees and various associations’ representing the returnees as well as victims of war and survivors have been fighting an uphill battle in the town of Visegrad, the site of some of the most horrific war crimes during the Bosnian war.By Prvi Mart

The coalition of civil society organizations Prvi Mart “First March” wishes to express our full support for the President of the Association “Visegrad 92” and “Woman – Victims of War”, Hedja Kasapovic and Bakira Hasecic, in their heroic efforts to protect the memory of the victims of war crimes in Visegrad. These efforts include an everyday struggle with the local authorities in Visegrad Municipality who have yet again announced the removal of the word “Genocide” from the Memorial tombstone at the Straziste cemetery. The removal is scheduled for 23 January (Thursday) at 8 pm.

Some three thousand people were killed in Visegrad during the war, and the crimes were confirmed by amongst others the International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia as well as courts in Bosnia and Herzegovina ( See: Milan and Sredoje Lukic Verdict ) While Visegrad is being destroyed by the construction of Andricgrad, presenting a pseudo-historic look on the history of the region. In a attempt to wipe out any trace of the Bosniak community that once lived in Visegrad, memorial are being erected to wartime Russian volunteers while the local authorities frown upon the word “genocide” on the memorial tombstone at Straziste cemetery.

Before the war 63% of the town´s population was Bosniak. Today their figure is minimal, and they are being marginalized by the community. Out of 21 councilors in the local municipality only two are Bosniak. Suljo Fejzic and Bilal Memisevic. To this day Visegrad remains one of the towns in Bosnia and Herzegovina that serve as a symbol of suffering from the Second World War up to the Bosnian war 92-95. While the Bikavac and Pionirska Live Pyres serve as perhaps the most telling examples of the inhumanity and monstrosity that followed with the plan to exterminate non-Serbs along the Drina Valley.

We would like to take this opportunity to announce that Prvi Mart will be sending it´s activists to Visegrad on the 23d of January at 7:30 pm in front of the cemetery at Straziste. We call on all media outlets, activists from various NGO´s as well representatives of various institutions to stand together with us in defense of the truth. Those who on a daily basis struggle against the fascist tactics of the local SDS deserve our support.

For further reading I strongly recommend:

Bikavac Live Pyre 

Pioniriska Street Live Pyre

Visegrad : Municipality set to destroy Pionirska Street House

Open Letter to Ambassador Samantha Power Regarding the Demolition of the House on Pionirska Street

This is an update on this post:

Early this morning, 23/01/2014 around 7pm police units dressed in riot gear blocked all roads leading to the cemetery. According to Anadolu Agency (AA) nobody was allowed to come near the cemetery, not even the journalists that had assembled at the spot in order to report from the event. The removal of the word “genocide” was carried out by a local municipal company and representatives of the from the municipality including municipal building inspector Liljana Cikovic. The removal was initially scheduled for 8pm, however the police, workers and ms Cikovic had arrived on the scene an hour earlier and carried out the removal. by the time representatives of various Victims Associations and members of the local Islamic Community had arrived at the cemetery in order to protest the removal of the word genocide the work had already been done.

After the word genocide had been removed from the tombstone a bosniak woman took out her lipstick and wrote the word on the same spot from which it had been previously removed.

Photo: Anadolu Agency
Photo: Anadolu Agency

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