Our next presenter, Dr. David Pettigrew of Southern Connecticut State University, brought a film on the genocide at Srebrenica, produced by his son. For most of the graduate students in the room, it was information they’d already studied, however as an introductory piece it is effective. Dr. Pettigrew is unclear as to when the film will be released. He has spent considerable time on scholarly research in Bosnia, and a link to his homepage is posted right.
Hatidza Mehnejovic is president of the organization “Mothers of Srebrenica”. Guiding a group into the exhibit space, she paused and spent a few moments talking with the few of us on break near the entry way. Investigator Farmer and his translator, who already know Hatidza, began conversing with her. She had information to share regarding an ongoing investigation. She then proceeded to share an event that happened the week before: Two American friends, one of them Jewish, had come to visit. The women arrived weeping, shocked at a display of disrespect they had witnessed. Several cars filled with Serbs arrived at the gates of the memorial at Potocari, honking horns and waving signs and flags. Hatidza heard the commotion, but brushed it off as a typical post-wedding celebration. No, her friends told her in tears, they were protesting the arrest of Radko Mladic. They had seen the signs the protesters waved and heard the shouting first hand. This was the first of many instances illustrating the continuing struggle. The embers of conflict still glow in Potocari.
Hatidza is very much like Emmanuel at Murambi in Rwanda. She lost her entire family in two days. She stays in Potocari to remain near them and bear witness to the devastation. When she learned I am an educator, she commented, “In the US, you study genocide and try to understand. Here, no. People don’t want to know.” Investigator Farmer’s translator, a survivor himself, said that until he started to work in the prosecutor’s office, even he didn’t understand the extent of the massacres across the former Yugoslavia. The depth and complexity of these mass atrocities and their context create a barrier to understanding even for those who lived through it. Is it any wonder, then, that teachers in the US have difficulty transposing this content for their students?