Bosnians Call for Prijedor War Victims Memorial on ‘White Ribbon Day’

31. May 2023.16:57
Thirty-one years after a wartime campaign of persecution against non-Serbs began in Bosnia’s Prijedor area, survivors and their families commemorated the victims and urged the authorities to finally allow a memorial to be built.

This post is also available in: Bosnian

Flowers were laid in Prijedor in tribute. Photo: BIRN BiH

Bosnians gathered in central Prijedor on Wednesday for the annual ‘White Ribbon Day’ commemoration of the victims of wartime crimes against non-Serbs in the area, where some 3,000 people died including 102 children in a campaign of persecution that started in 1992.

Survivors, their families and supporters tied white ribbons to fences and laid flowers in tribute, as well as calling on the Serb-led Prijedor authorities to finally allow the building of a memorial to the victims in the city.

Senija Besic, a survivor of detention camps set up in the area by Bosnian Serb forces, was commemorating her 15-year-old son Kemal, who was one of the victims.

“For me, 1992 has never passed and cannot pass. Unfortunately, they still don’t let us erect a monument to our murdered, innocent children,” Besic told BIRN.

She said that the remains of her son were eventually found in two different mass graves.

“I hoped every day that my child would come back. So I searched, asked around. I always waited for him to come back, I hoped like crazy,” she said.

“My wish is, and I am begging them, if they want to and they have the humanity, to allow us to build that monument,” she added.

White Ribbon Day is named after a decree issued on May 31, 1992 by the Serb-led authorities in the municipality of Prijedor, ordering the non-Serb population of the area to wear white ribbons around their arms and mark their apartments and houses with white sheets.

The day before the commemoration, the city authorities held an event in central Prijedor marking 81 years since the wartime liberation from Nazi occupation and 31 years since the “defence of the city” in the Bosnian war.

Representatives of the Republika Srpska entity government, police and military attended, alongside Bosnian Serb war veterans.

Enes Hodžić

This post is also available in: Bosnian