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Ivica Djikic, the author of the novel ‘Beara’, told BIRN in an interview that he decided to write the book to try to determine the motives of people like Ljubisa Beara who “ordered and committed the genocide” of Bosniaks from Srebrenica in July 1995.
“There is literally nothing fictional, imagined or made-up in this book… The book is a search for answers, because, to me, the answer does not seem one-dimensional and simple,” Djikic explained.
“What I know is that Beara chose evil. Many elements influenced his decision, like his fascination with [Bosnian Serb military leader] Ratko Mladic and a feeling of responsibility towards him, as well as a demonstration of nationalist ideas and hatred,” he said.
Beara, the former chief of security of at the Bosnian Serb Army’s Main Headquarters of the, Ljubisa, died in prison in Berlin in February this year while serving a life sentence handed down by the Hague Tribunal.
When asked why he decided to make Beara, of all the people who took part in the Srebrenica crimes, the central character of his novel, Djikic said he wanted to investigate the motives of “the key technologist of genocide”.
“Writing the novel was distressful, hard, sad and upsetting. My emotions ranged from anger to compassion,” said Bosnia and Herzegovina-born Djikic, who worked for the famous Croatian satirical journal Feral Tribune in the 1990s and is now the editor-in-chief of the Novosti weekly newspaper in Zagreb, and has written two other novels.
“I can understand that many find it unacceptable when we speak about the perpetrators of Srebrenica genocide as humans, not exclusively as monsters, and tell stories about their family circumstances, weaknesses and virtues. I understand such an attitude, but the truth is that Beara and all the other participants in Srebrenica genocide were humans, not one-dimensional monsters,” he explained.
Djikic said that his ‘Beara’ novel is unique because it focuses more on the criminals and the ways in which they committed their crimes instead of the victims or the international community and its failings which enabled the Srebrenica genocide to happen.
“In my opinion and according to my understanding of the world and life, Srebrenica is the most important topic of our time, particularly for us who live here,” Djikic said.
“Whatever the social and political context may be, genocide against Bosniaks will loom over this area forever as a warning about what common people are capable of doing when suitable political, ideological and social circumstances are created,” he added.
He said he has been working on his book for nearly a decade, and found most of his research materials in the Hague Tribunal archives.
He found the rest of the documents he drew upon in books, newspaper articles and through conversations with people who knew Beara before the war.
Beara himself and members of his family in Belgrade did not want to speak to Djikic.
The author said he had never assumed the role of Beara’s judge, but that writing the book was his own way of facing the genocide.
While researching the Srebrenica massacres, Djikic felt particularly devastated when he realized that “there was no resistance to the intention to kill all the captured Bosniaks” among Bosnian Serb forces and that almost nobody refused to participate in the killings themselves.
He described the denial of genocide as “wrong and infantile”
“The facts will not disappear if you cover your eyes so you cannot see them. The political and intellectual elites should have learnt by now that denial or relativisation of genocide and crimes mean creating long-term misery, primarily for their own people, and continuing a life filled with hatred,” he said.