of Bosnia and The Advocacy Project present:
Weaving for Hope
rugs woven by refugee artists from Bosnia
November 19, 2003-January
Opening reception and video lecture
Friday, November 21, 6-8 pm
Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center
41 Second Street, Cambridge, MA 02141
here for directions.)
Gallery open: Monday-Friday,
10am - 6pm and during all CMAC events.
Free admission. Wheelchair accessible.
SREBRENICA WEAVERS BRING A MESSAGE OF HOPE TO BOSTON
Cambridge November 5, 2003:
Bosnian women who survived the notorious 1995 massacre at
Srebrenica, Bosnia, are using rugs to promote their message
of hard work, hope and reconciliation in the Boston area.
The elaborately-woven rugs,
which are known in Bosnian as kilims, will be exhibited at
the Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center between November 19
and January 1. The exhibition, Weaving for Hope, is being
jointly organized by two US non-profit organizations that
are working with groups in Eastern Bosnia -- Friends of Bosnia
(www.friendsofbosnia.org), based in Massachusetts, and the
Advocacy Project (www.advocacynet.org), in Washington DC.
The goal of the exhibition
is to promote the work of refugee weavers from Eastern Bosnia
who weave together at Bosfam, a Bosnian women’s organization
that supports women who were widowed or displaced during Bosnia’s
brutal three-year war (1992-1995).
Many of Bosfam’s
members lost sons, brothers or husbands in the massacre which
occurred after the town of Srebrenica fell to the Bosnian
Serb Army on July 11, 1995 after a three-year siege. During
the days that followed, women, old people and children were
bussed across the lines to the town of Tuzla. Over 7,000 men
and boys over the age of 15 were killed.
Srebrenica itself has been
largely shunned by the aid agencies in the years since, and
remains physically and spiritually desolate. According to
the United Nations, less than 1,500 Muslim refugees have returned
to the town, out of some 30,000 former Muslim inhabitants.
Meanwhile, in the Muslim part of Bosnia, many of the massacre
survivors remain in refugee shelters in Tuzla, traumatized
Bosfam is one of the very
few organizations that offers them a viable alternative. Over
the last ten years, Bosfam has trained hundreds of women to
weave kilims, sweaters, knitted wool socks and even fashionable
dresses. Many are made at looms in the Bosfam office.
Twenty kilims will be displayed
at the Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center. All were individually
woven, and bear the name of their weaver. As well as rich
in color, they also bear traditional Bosnian patterns that
have been handed down from mother to daughter. The largest
kilims, which measure one square metre, can take up to three
months to weave. Weaving provides the only source of income
for many Bosfam members.
As well as offering an
opportunity to work, the Bosfam center provides its members
a place to meet and console each other about their loss. In
the words of Beba Hadzic, the founder of Bosfam, many of the
Srebrenica survivors are in a state of permanent desperation
because they do not know the fate of their lost relatives.
There is little chance that their
uncertainty will end soon. After eight years, only 1,083 victims
from the massacre have been identified and buried, according
to a spokesperson from the International Commission on Missing
Persons, a body that was set up by the 1996 G-7 Summit at
the suggestion of former US President Bill Clinton.
Making matters worse, the International
Criminal Tribunal in The Hague has issued only 12 indictments
in connection with Srebrenica, and only 5 accused persons
are in custody. Some of the killers have even been spotted
in and around Srebrenica itself – further discouraging
the return of refugees, and deepening their sense of despair.
Given this, the psychological
support offered by Bosfam to its members is almost as important
as the tangible benefits if provides from weaving. In addition,
the organization seeks to promote ethnic reconciliation by
opening its doors – and its looms – to Serb and
Croat women who also suffered during the war.
Indeed, Bosfam’s overall
impact in Tuzla has been so great that Beba Hadzic plans to
open a similar Bosfam center in Srebrenica itself. This, she
hopes, will not only help the town’s devastated economy
but also attract back women refugees.
One of the goals of the Cambridge exhibition will be to raise
funds for the new Srebrenica center, and for Bosfam’s
weavers. The exhibition will also celebrate Bosfam’s
message of hard work and reconciliation.
Americans are receptive to the
message, to judge from an earlier exhibition of carpets that
was organized in Baltimore this summer by the Advocacy Project.
The exhibition drew hundreds of visitors and generated over
$4,000 for Bosfam.
* To read about the rebuilding
of Srebrenica visitwww.advocacynet.org/cpage_view/srebrenica_01aintro_18_85.html
* For further information: contact
Glenn Ruga, Friends of Bosnia, 978 461 0909: Kelly Kliebhan,
Advocacy Project, 202 468 6474