Aftermath of War
Since the creation of mankind, regardless of our color, religion, race, nationality, or gender, we have sought peace. It is our greatest desire in life and even after death. Without peace, other means in life play an insignificant role like money, education, etc. War, on the other hand, is the exact opposite of what we all seek, unnatural to the human soul, leaving witnesses and victims with many deep and severe scars.
Everyone clearly remembers the shameful era between 1992-1995 when the tragic Bosnian War took place. Despite the Europeans identifying themselves as defenders of human rights, peace makers, and advanced noblemen, they stood by in silence as the war unfolded right in the middle of Europe.
About a few years ago, AKWA met Irma who was passionate about extending a helping hand to heal the wounds of the survivors of this particular war and, further more, making the voices of the victims heard on a larger scale. With this intention, she told us about Jasmina’s story in order for it to be shared with our readers. Let us listen to Irma and what she has to say so that we may open our eyes to the reality of the terrible aftermath of war. It is our duty to help dress the wounds of our Muslim brothers and sisters, help them heal both physically and mentally in any which way we can and guide them to find inner peace once again.
Sister Jasmina from Bosnia
Sister Jasmina was only 19 years old when the war in Bosnia started. She was a young mother to a baby girl and a toddler boy. In 1992, her life changed into a nightmare, one that would leave many scars on Jasmina who somehow survived all that was inflicted upon her.
In April of 1992, her life took an unimaginable turn;
Serbian soldiers took over Jasmina’s hometown Bijeljina and started to kill and torture Muslims in their campaign of ethnic cleansing. The war crushed all boundaries of humanity, and, like many others, Jasmina and her family became victims of unimaginable atrocities.
“After being beaten up first, all of the men were taken away. My mother also disappeared. I never found out what happened to them” Jasmina said.
Together with her children, sister in law and mother in law, Jasmina was taken hostage in her own home for one whole year. The first to assault Jasmina was her neighbor.
“My sister in law and I were raped every day in front of the children. We were also taken to the front lines for other soldiers to torture us” Jasmina continued.
There were 10 other women who were also being brutalized. “Not everyone survived,” Jasmina recalled. “There seemed to be no end to the brutalities. Once they threatened to kill my baby girl and my little boy, I fainted.”
The horrors of being a hostage to the Serbian soldiers came to an end when an old Serb friend of her parents bought Jasmina and her children in order to free them. They were able to escape to the Bosnian side.
Jasmina was in a shocking physical and emotional state by that point. She was safe, but scarred. “I felt very ashamed and wanted to die. I didn’t have the strength or the will to live.”
Jasmina reunited with her husband again who had escaped a Serbian concentration camp himself.
“It was a very difficult moment for me as I was not sure if he wanted me back after everything I went through.”
He didn’t ask Jasmina anything and said that he also went through terrible things himself.
“It’s still hard for me to look him in the eyes” she said.
Following the war, Jasmina was told to return to her mother-in-law’s house in Bijeljina, but she was certain that she would never go back to the place where she had lost 39 members of her family and where her abuse had begun. Today, she lives in a modestly furnished apartment in a tower block in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The family’s financial situation is in dire straits. A good friend took out a loan and paid off the apartment for her. Now, every month she is paying the loan to the friend back. Her family is left with not enough money to eat; every day they go to a kitchen in the city center that provides food for those who cannot afford to buy it themselves.
She receives monthly disability payments which is all the income the family has. Every month, she pays most of her income back to her friend. That leaves the family with barely enough to pay for water and electricity. According to the government, she is 100% disabled due to the tortures of the war and therefore cannot work. So is her husband, due to his stay in the concentration camp. Her children have a 20% disability status also because of the traumas they themselves experienced.
First, I read about Jasmina’s story in a Bosnian article which deeply touched me. During our recent family visit in Sarajevo, Jasmina agreed to meet with me. I was very moved by this woman. Her daughter, who I also met, was only a baby when the war started. Today, she is a bright young woman, shy and very soft spoken. There is a scar on her hand from one of the Serbian soldiers h olding it on a hot cooking plate when she was still a baby because she had cried. The other scars, we cannot see. We cannot understand.
If we look at the mass of people needing help, we feel helpless and overwhelmed. However, if we can help even one person, one family, change one life for the better and let them know that they are not alone, then for them, we have changed the world.
“The believer’s shade on the Day of Resurrection will be his charity.” Prophet Muhammad – Al- Tirmidhi, Hadith 604
“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.”
― John Bunyan