It was a long time ago that I left my country Bosnia and Herzegovina. At the beginning of the war, before the bombings of Sarajevo started my mother insisted my father get her a gun, so that she can protect us should there be need for it while he was at work. Once the Serbs started bombarding the city, both my parents realized that a gun wont be enough to ensure our safety.

So my mother, 7 month old brother and 7 year old self left the country and like many, became refugees. While we escaped into the safety of Istanbul, most families stayed in the war. They either didn’t get the change to leave, or decided to stay hoping that it wont last long.

It was hard to understand and accept what was happening for people. Ex Yugoslavia was among the top five European powers, geographically located in the heart of Europe and a very advanced country in many ways. People were convinced that due to the complex mix of religious traditions in Bosnia, as well as the high education standard of its people, a war in Bosnia was not possible.

As proven countless times in history before, education is no barrier to inhumanity.

Genocide was committed against the Muslim population throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina in the most horrible and systematic ways. Hundreds of detention facilities and camps were set up throughout the country by Serbian and Croatian armed forces.

The Bosnian war was the worst atrocity in Europe since World War II.

The International community got involved very quickly. United Nations sent ‘peacekeeping’ troops into a country in which clearly there was no peace to keep.

A few cities in Bosnia were also proclaimed ‘UN safe zones’, which were anything but safe. One of those cities was Srebrenica; where starting on the 11th of July 1995 over 10.000 man and boys over the age of 12 were killed over the course of only a few days. Their bodies are still being discovered in mass graves today.

What happened seems like a nightmare many Bosnian people are still waiting for to end. The emotional scars of the war will never heal for some, and the struggle for survival continues for many although the war came to an end more then 15 years ago.

It is our duty to teach our children about the unfortunate history of our country; for those who don’t learn from the past tend to be the victims of its recurrence.

Irma D.