Open Letter to the Victims of the Sarajevo Seige and Sarajevo Mayor Semiha Borovac
I realize that I haven’t lived through the Sarejevo seige or the war in Bosnia, for that matter, but I somehow felt compelled to say something on the matter of the planned Trebevic Hill Cross Memorial for the dead Serbian soldiers. The thing that compelled me to write this was that we’ve always been a tolerant society. Even after the war was over I’ve seen so many of you trying to bring your heart back to where it was before all of this evil was thrown upon you.
Let me go a little further in this explanation and tell you a little story about how I first came accross the term cetnik. I was about 6 years old and a 12 year old girl comes up to me and tells me she is Croatian. Upon hearing me inform her that I was Yugolsavian, she grabbed both of my arms and started shaking me violently asking me if I was a little cetnik. I didn’t even know what that meant and I can’t remember what I even said to her all I can remember is the fear that I felt from this violent shaking and this look in her face .. and of course my sobbing. It would be later that evening that I could muster up enough courage to ask my parents what a cetnik is. I remember being so scared to say the word because I didn’t even know what it meant and for all I knew I could have been repeating a swear word. My mom would tell me that a cetnik was a really bad person, cetniks had killed and mutilated many of her family during WWII. Never once did my mother say that a cetnik was a Serb. I would not learn that what constituted a cetnik was a nationalist Serb until I spent one year in Bosnia and learned it in my History class. In all the time that I had spent in what was the former Yugoslavia including that one year, I had never heard anyone refer to Serbs as cetniks. Eventually, after WWII, the past was the past and we continued. Maybe it was easier to do then because we had Partizani and WWII was more complex but we did move on.
Here we are though in 2007, a country still divided and other events in the Balkans rocking the boat in Bosnia. Surely, yes, I do believe that this memorial is an attempt to instigate but we needn’t view it as that. We forgot not once the injustices that fell upon us but many times and I can understand the need to never again forget but wouldn’t this memorial do just that? Wouldn’t that memorial be a constant reminder to us of just what happened to our people? There should be something on that spot marking from where the deadliest attacks upon our people were comming from and I’m sure that since the Serbs hold that spot as their line of control that we will never be able to put up a landmark.
I was in Sarajevo two years ago and as our friend pointed out spots where rockets had landed he’d also turn and point out the spots from where they came from. You and I know that when that memorial is viewed from the city, that when that memorial is pointed out, the reference that will be made to it is “that is the spot from where some of the deadliest attacks were cast upon our city.” I sincerely hope that this memorial does not go up because as I stated before the memorial will not serve the purpose of honoring the dead it will serve as a landmark of aggression and ethnic cleansing and to place a cross on that spot is neither a service to God or man but if the Serbs choose to honor their dead in this way then let them. There are crosses and memorials throughout Bosnia that have gone up without any one of us saying a word because it isn’t a big deal and while this may be an instigation on their part we shouldn’t allow them the satisfaction of causing a rile out of us.