Farewell to Bosnia

It has been a remarkable trip, on more levels than I can possibly recount. 

At this point, as I pack and prepare to leave, here are a few more photos…these of Sarajevo:

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More details on presentations and interactions once I’m home and re-open the notebook!

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Mostar

I was all ready to write a metaphor piece about the relationship between the perception of the temporal nature of human life  vs. permanance in our collective culture: art, literature, and, in the case of Mostar especially, architecture.  In looking for a video to provide context, I found one that makes the point better than I could write it.  Give it some time.  It’s ten minutes long, but justified. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QS-nGvv63wE

…and so it is all the more poignant to walk the bridge as it is now. 

There are plenty of clips illustrating the re-opening of the bridge (and all the divers who earn their living courting tourists seeking a thrill-by-proxy).  The re-construction team dredged the river for remains, salvaged and incorporated what they could, and based their construction plans on the original plans, still archived, apparently, in Turkey, including the iron and lead  “staples” at the seams between blocks.  The promise of “bridging the divide” has yet to be fulfilled, but the area is vibrant.  Tourists funnel over the span and shop in the stalls on either side.  Walking across “Stari Most”, one naively hopes, weaves one more support into its fiber. 

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Super Heroes response

This from my friend in response to the original e-mail about the “Green Lantern” preview….

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Questions on a day off

I sent this originally to a friend in an e-mail, closing with the thought that it wouldn’t be appropriate for the blog….woke up this morning here in Banja Luka realizing that perhaps this is exactly what I should be posting:

I’m in such an effected state of mind that the preview for the Green Lantern made me cry this evening. 
 
I’ve been taking a break from genocide study here.  
But it’s just weird.  This city was taken over quickly at the start of the war and used as command central in country for the Serbs (responsible for more than 80% of the atrocities in the war, according to the UN), so the residents seem pretty oblivious.  Currently, Banja Luka is the capital city for the Republic of Srpska as established in the Dayton agreement.
 It is similar to many other vibrant European cities emerging from Communist governance: a mix of ugly, boxy, concrete buildings and elegant pre-WWII architecture. 
 
 
After the week in Srebrenica, it was nice for most of the day.  But later, I needed to review some research, and realizing I’d seen sections of it before, re-watched the documentary from BBC called “A Cry from the Grave” this afternoon. It featured people we met and places we walked only days ago; I’d kind of remembered that, but it caught me by surprise a bit.  Then I saw the window for my hotel room in Srebrenica in several shots taken during the genocide, including one in flames.  Nothing compared to what survivors went through, of course, but kind of unsettling to see the place you were sleeping as it had been in 1995. 
 
So I go to see Harry Potter, figuring escapism has its purpose…and the Green Lantern preview starts.  And all I can think of is how that sort of fiction must affect a kid who truly knows what it means to be absolutely helpless.  We met several young men this week who survived, but witnessed unspeakable horror at a young age.  They’re in their early-mid 20’s and each coping differently…one made a lovely short film that’s making the rounds at some film festivals (Ado, linked right) But the point is, that kind of comic-book-super-heroism that is such a positive in the development of so many kids must either be so trivial as to be offensive, or re-emphasize their sense of powerlessness.  (well, I don’t presume to know what they’d think.  Perhaps it’s just funny.)
 
There are no buddies to debrief with this time (except the driver from the tour company, who survived the siege in Sarajevo…so, that’s not really debriefing, that’s more fodder for my thoughts and more to write about later).
 
 

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Evidence of Genocide in South Kordofan

Those of you who know me would, I think, agree with the axiom that I may be passionate, but not an alarmist.  So with that in mind, this is important….

Evidence of Genocide in South Kordofan

In surfing for current articles about the events in Srebrenica, I found Eric Reeves’ article on what’s going on right now in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan.  I had some awareness before I left the US….but the evidence has been building in the interim.  It would be horrifying to think that while I study the events of 16 years ago, a comparable event is taking place.  I have no other request than that you read the article and respond as your own conscience guides you.  Until I have some other action to take or recommend, advocating for an informed public is the best I can do. 

I apologize (sincerely) if I’m monopolizing your Facebook newsfeed….but it really is that important.

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From Banja Luka

I said good-bye to Srebrenica this morning. As was the case last year in Rwanda, there’s just too much to cover for a single blog entry.  I took plenty notes, though, and promise to fill in the gaps soon.  In the meantime, here are photos:

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and a description of the new web links:

Hasan Nuhanivic:  We spent an afternoon with Hasan Nuhanovic, who just won an historic, precedent-setting civil case against the Dutch government on July 6.  An article from Time magazine updates the story

Mapping Genocide:  I missed this presentation, and have only had a chance to review the site quickly, but fellow students enthusiastically recommend it.

A You-Tube link to “A Cry from the Grave”, a BBC Documentary on Srebrenica.  An abridged version runs at the memorial site in Potacari.  (I tried to link this directly from BBC, but the link has expired). 

Association Bosnian Family:  My friend Semsa, a Srebrenica survivor and all around great guy, shared this site.  It was started by Bosnian families, and you can purchase, micro-finance-style, woven goods including everything from rugs to sweaters (not sure how the shipping and so forth work…will test it out shortly).

Ado Hasanovic’s site:  Ado is a young Srebrenician film maker.  His first professional film, a short called “The Angel of Srebrenica”, is making the rounds to wide acclaim.  We screened it last week; it’s wonderful.

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power

Well, I’ve litereally blown it the first day in….my power converter, that is!  Had it on the wrong wattage, and it blew.  Running on batteries now.  Will try to post photos again (it blew just as they were loading…sorry, Felicia!)  Will continue taking notes, and hope to find a US adaptor replacement ASAP!

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