Volume 4, Number 1 -- February, 1997
"Letters from Sarajevo" performed to a sold-out audience at the Northampton Center for the Arts on June 28, 1996. Written and directed by Kim Mancuso from the Pilgrim Theatre Company of Newton, Mass., the play was adapted from a book of the same title by Anna Cataldi. As a UNICEF consultant, Cataldi made numerous trips to Sarajevo during the first years of the siege, carrying letters in and out of the city since the postal system was completely destroyed during the war. The letters she carried were from parents, spouses, lovers, and friends in Sarajevo to their children, spouses, lovers, and friends living in exile.
Both intimately personal and universally political, the play addresses living in a cosmopolitan European city under siege by ultranationalists intent on not only conquering the city but also slowly destroying all facets of civilization, including the essentials of food, water, electricity, and gas. What they couldn't destroy was the will and spirit of the Sarajevans, who, against overwhelming odds, managed to maintain life, dignity, and hope.
Accompanying the performance was an original score written by Katie Down using traditional Bosnian Muslim, Croatian, Serbian, and Sephardic Jewish melodies and folk songs.
The opening reception for the Sarajevo/Northampton series on June 16, 1996 featured two exhibits at the Northampton Center for the Arts-- Sarajevo '92, a series of 17 graphic works by professors at the Sarajevo Art Institute, and Zones of Separation, a documentary Art & Photo Exhibits by Glenn Ruga and Frank Ward with captions by Barbara Ayotte. The most moving moment of the series was during a music performance by Sarajevan composer Vuk Kulenovic performing two original scores, Byzantine Variants and Echoes of Ritual Dream, performed by cellist Cynthia Forbes, pianist John Zielinsky, and flutist Rene Crumsier.
Aida Musanovic, one of the artists
featured in the Sarajevo '92 exhibit, gave a gallery talk about living and creating
art under siege conditions in Sarajevo. Musanovic managed to escape the war in
November '92 when she left on a convoy for Amsterdam. She later traveled to New
York and is now in Chicago, where she is attending the Art Institute.
July 1996 marked the first anniversary of the massacre at Srebrenica when 8,000 Bosnian men and boys were slaughtered by Bosnian Serb forces. To commemorate the massacre and to demand the arrests of Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, both indicted by the International War Crimes Tribunal, FOB held a rally at the Unitarian Society in Northampton on July 13. Three Bosnian refugees from Srebrenica - Haykuna, Mehmed and Sakib (last names are withheld for privacy) spoke at the rally. They were here on a tour organized by American Muslim Friends of Bosnia. Each briefly spoke about their experiences during that week a year earlier when the Serb nationalists killed thousands of men and boys.
Also speaking at the rally were Congressman John Olver; Ed Herbert, from Bosnia Advocates from Metro West; Nabeela Khatak, from the Islamic Society of Western Mass.; and Barbara Ayotte, from Physicians for Human Rights. Reverend Peter Ives, from the First Churches in Northampton, led the gathering in prayer and reflection. While not able to attend, Senator Lieberman from Connecticut (sponsor of Senate Resolution 270 demanding the arrest of war criminals ) sent a statement of support.
The rally was cosponsored
by American Friends Service Committee, Bosnia Advocates of Metro West, Council
of Churches of Greater Springfield, Earth Action, Friends of Bosnia, First Churches
of Northampton, Islamic Society of Western Massachusetts, Congressman John Olver,
Physicians for Human Rights, Traprock Peace Center, and the Unitarian Society
FOB's photo documentary exhibit, Zones of Separation: The Struggle for a Multiethnic Bosnia, has begun its travels across the United States. The exhibit, consisting of 25 18" x 30" black-and-white photographs with accompanying text, opened in June at the Center for the Arts in Northampton, Mass., as part of the FOB Sarajevo/ Northampton festival. In November and December it was displayed simultaneously at the Rockefeller Library at Brown University in Providence, R.I. and at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Possible venues for 1997 include galleries in Chicago, Boston, Ottawa, and Washington, D.C. Portions of the exhibit will be displayed at Amherst College in Amherst, Mass., prior to FOB's March conference.
Zones of Separation is the product of FOB director Glenn Ruga's most recent trip to Bosnia, in March 1996. He was accompanied by Frank Ward, a photographer from Williamsburg, Mass., and Barbara Ayotte, a writer on the staff of the Boston-based Physicians for Human Rights. Ruga, Ward, and Ayotte photographed and interviewed dozens of Bosnian refugees living in collective centers in Hrasnica, Zenica, and Sarajevo; residents of Sarajevo's frontline suburbs Dobrinja and Grbavica; and residents of the divided city of Mostar in central Bosnia in an attempt to convey the magnitude of destruction brought upon this nation. As they rebuild their lives, these refugees, professionals, and government officials talk about their past experiences and their hopes for a unified, multiethnic Bosnia.
The exhibit includes historical background and a primer on the war. It does not focus on graphically disturbing images of war. Instead, it illustrates people struggling to make sense of what has happened to them and who are now working to re-create their lives amid such intense destruction.
Viewers of the exhibit will meet, among others: Nermina and her daughter Melissa, refugees from Rogatica currently living in a collective center in Hrasnica; Mirsad, a Muslim adviser to Parliament from Sarajevo who feels like he has no future in Bosnia because he is married to a Serb from Prijedor; Zlatan, a returning Grbavica resident who fled after being forced to work in a war brigade and whose daughter's life was threatened by Serb paramilitary forces; and Rahima, expelled from Foca at the beginning of the war and raped in Vitez by Croat HVO armed forces. Their stories depict deeply personal feelings of loss, fear, and hope for the future.
"Everyone we met in Bosnia has been profoundly transformed by the war and they are eager to have their voices heard. Our one message is to try and put a human face on the situation confronting the refugee population," said Ruga. "When we explained what we were trying to do as we entered people's homes, Bosnians welcomed us despite our tape recorders and cameras. They talked to us for hours, many times moving us to tears, and we just sat and listened. Hearing their stories was fulfilling for us and, more importantly, I think, for them. With this exhibit, we hope to educate the American public to the ongoing plight of these people, who could have easily been ourselves."
FOB would like to acknowledge Andras Riedlmayer, Boris Imaging, Doris Troy, and Andrea Burns for their assistance in the production of the exhibit. -Barbara Ayotte
If you would like to
exhibit Zones of Separation at your local gallery, please contact Glenn
Ruga at 413-586-6450 or [email protected] com for more information.
Healing the Wounds of War
FOB Teams Up with St. Elizabeth's Medical Center and
Physicians for Human Rights to Collect Medical Aid
Healing the Wounds of War, a medical aid drive FOB has organized with St. Elizabeth's Medical Center and Physicians for Human Rights, will provide urgently needed medical aid for the badly damaged medical care system in Bosnia. We are reaching out to the New England medical community to help with this effort.
During the worst periods of the siege of Sarajevo, when dozens of civilians were killed and wounded daily, the main source of medical care-the Kosevo Hospital-was also under assault. Many physicians and patients died as a result of direct attacks on the hospital itself. Almost all advanced life-support equipment was made inoperable. Surgery was performed with flashlights, running water was unavailable, heat was frequently nonexistent, and essential supplies of antibiotics, anesthetics, and surgical dressings were absent due to the complete blockade of the city and destruction of the hospital.
Much of the essentials--such as heat, water, and electricity--have since been restored with the help of international humanitarian aid organizations, but Kosevo Hospital has a long way to go before approaching its prewar level of care and services. It is also now severely overcrowded with war-injured civilians coming to Sarajevo to receive care unavailable in outlying towns and communities.
Only with the direct support of a large medical community, such as exists in the greater Boston area, can the sophisticated and up-to-date equipment be made available to the Kosevo Hospital.
How You Can Help
List of urgently needed medical supplies at Kosevo Hospital, Sarajevo
All equipment and supplies must be in working condition and all parts intact. Medicines must not have an expiration date sooner than September 1997. List prepared by: Enver Raljevic, MD, Chief, Kosevo Hospital, Sarajevo.
SHARE New England from Canton, Mass., has made a generous donation of warehouse space for the duration of the aid drive. For more information on making a donation, please contact our office at 413-586-6450.
We also need financial contributions
to pay for shipping and other associated expenses. Tax-deductible donations can
be made to Friends of Bosnia.
FOB is honored to announce three new board members as of September, 1996.
Alma Musanovic, originally from Sarajevo and co-founder of Friends of Bosnia, now lives in Montreal with her husband, Richard Johnson, a U.S. Foreign Service Officer and author of "Pin-stripe Approach to Genocide." Alma spent the first eight months of the war hiding from Serb-nationalist snipers and shelling while in the basement of her parents' home in Bascarsija, the old Turkish quarter of Sarajevo. She and her sister Aida left on a convoy in November 1992. Alma came directly to Mount Holyoke College (one semester late) for the Foreign Fellowship Program she had been awarded in April 1992. After one semester at Mount Holyoke, Alma went off to the Bosnian Mission in New York to work with Muhamed Sacirbey and then to Washington to work in the Bosnian embassy with Ambassador Sven Alkalaj.
Stephen Walker resigned from his position as a diplomat in the State Department in the summer of 1993 when it was clear to him that genocide was being committed in Bosnia and that the U.S. government was both ignoring blatant evidence and complicit through an illegal and immoral arms embargo on the Bosnian government. In December of 1993 Walker became the director of the American Committee to Save Bosnia. He is also the Associate Director of the Balkan Institute and the Action Council for Peace in the Balkans. Walker and his wife Marissa just had their second child, Justine, this past fall.
Gina Vanderloop is co-principal of
Martin/Vanderloop Associates, a consulting group specializing in development/fund-raising,
communications, and management for nonprofit organizations. She has worked in
the nonprofit sector for the past 10 years. Prior to starting her career in consulting,
Gina was director of development at Physicians for Human Rights in Boston. She
now works with various organizations in the New England and D.C. area to create
development programs. Some of her current clients include: The Albert Schweitzer
Fellowship, Elder Hostel, For the Love of Life Foundation, General Systems Corporation,
IPPNW, Mass League of Community Health Centers, Pittman Publishing, and Physicians
for Social Responsibility.
"The Hidden Genocide: Critical Perspectives on Rape in Bosnia" is the title of a two-part program on the Five-College campuses organized by Friends of Bosnia and the Five College Program in Peace and World Security Studies. The first event was a showing of Calling the Ghosts: A Story of Rape, War and Women, a new video by New York filmmakers Karmen Jelincic and Mandy Jacobson. More than 150 people attended the screening at Hampshire College and the panel discussion afterward with two Bosnian women featured in the film, Jadranka Cigelj and Nustreta Sivac. After two standing ovations, Ms. Cigelj and Ms. Sivac (with translation by Karmen Jelincic) answered questions about the work they are now doing with rape survivors and the International Criminal Tribunal. Both are survivors of the Omarska concentration camp in the northern Bosnian town of Prejidor. Ms. Cigelj, a lawyer by profession, is now the Executive Director of the Croatian Division of the International Society of Human Rights. Ms. Sivac, a former civil judge, is now on the board of directors of the Zena BiH, the Association of Women of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The second part of the "Hidden Genocide" series was a lecture/discussion on November 18 at Smith College by Beverly Allen, a scholar from Syracuse University and author of Rape Warfare: The Hidden Genocide in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia (University of Minnesota Press, 1996). Also speaking was Northampton poet Adrian Oktenberg, who read from her new book, The Bosnia Elegies (Paris Press, 1996).
Allen spoke about her personal experiences working with survivors of genocidal rape and the historical context of rape and war. She was instrumental in getting the International Criminal Tribunal to define rape as a war crime for the first time in history. In January, Allen left for Croatia to work as a policy adviser with the Croatian Journalists Association.
In the morning
after the fall of Srebrenica and Zepa
they found the body of the young woman
in the refugee camp hanging from a tree
It was high summer It seemed she had turned to leaves overnight
and how lightly she flew She was weightless now
She had become a spoil of war
They said she was raped at Srebrenica
raped by the Serbs at Srebrenica
on a floodlit bed Her rapes filmed
shown on television in Banja Luka
the voice-over said she was Serb
They said she felt herself spoiled by war
She had gone mad they said
They carried her body through the camp on a stretcher
From The Bosnia Elegies
by Adrian Oktenberg
(1997, Paris Press)
Five New Year's Resolutions for the White House
By Stephen Walker
With a new year comes the opportunity to begin anew. Many of us make New Year's resolutions that are intended to atone for past transgressions or to accomplish long-standing -- but thus far unfulfilled -- goals. Embarking on a second term with a new Secretary of State, perhaps it is time for President Clinton to make a list of his resolutions for the new year, and no aspect of his foreign policy could use such a list more than his Balkan policy. Here is my list of recommended New Year's resolutions for the president and his new Secretary of State.
1. Start living up
to your commitments and promises!
Credibility counts, and you don't have much after your first four years dealing with Bosnia. A lot of good rhetoric and lofty promises were followed by failure to act decisively and, all too often, actions that directly or indirectly contradicted your commitments and public goals. So your first resolution must be to actually do what you say you're going to do and back up your rhetoric with leadership and action. It means accepting personal responsibility as Commander in Chief and Head of State and then following through in a decisive manner.
2. Arm and train the Bosnians.
Perhaps your biggest mistake during your first administration was not lifting the illegal and immoral arms embargo on the Bosnians. Due to the Dayton Accords' fatal flaws and your failure, thus far, to enforce its most important provisions, more war seems likely to follow. The remainder of your resolutions will be intended to prevent a renewal of the war and build upon the fragile peace that exists today. But in case you fail, you must ensure that the genocide that you allowed to continue for the first 2 1/2 years of your administration -- marked by the slaughter and rape and forced expulsions of tens of thousands of innocent civilians -- does not resume. The best way to make sure of this is to uphold your commitment to the Bosnians at Dayton and to the Congress that the United States will lead an arm-and-train program to create a military balance on the ground. Your present arm-and-train program falls short of that worthy and vital goal.
the unifying elements in the Dayton Accords.
At some point you and the Bosnians will have to find a way to move beyond the Dayton Accords, because their provisions that reinforce the ethnic partition of the country not only reward the genocide and ethnic cleansing but also make it impossible to create the conditions for a just and sustainable peace. These steps are fairly obvious (to most) and can be accomplished through our NATO forces on the ground and the plethora of diplomatic and economic tools at your disposal: Create a secure environment for guaranteeing the safe return of all refugees to their homes; use that same secure environment to guarantee true freedom of movement for all Bosnians throughout their country; again taking advantage of the secure environment, you will create the conditions for free and fair municipal elections this year and for free and fair national elections in 1998; and, finally, get the war criminals out of power -- and out of Bosnia -- by arresting all indicted war criminals who remain at large. True progress on building peace and democracy in Bosnia cannot be made unless and until the politicians and generals responsible for directing, financing, and carrying out the genocide are put behind bars.
4. Work closely with
the Bosnians and others to address Dayton's fatal flaws.
We cannot continue to ignore the fact that the Dayton Accords are doomed to fail because they partition Bosnia while preserving only the appearance of unity. Therein lie the seeds of future conflict, which we can see developing every day. You must take steps to develop Bosnia's central government as a real, functioning government with the powers usually associated with a sovereign state. That includes controlling its international borders and customs and the defense of the country. It must also include national means of providing security for all citizens and enforcement of national laws and international commitments, including guarantees for human rights.
5. Promote democracy throughout the Balkans.
Your administration was seen as protecting a ruthless dictator against forces for democracy last November when Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic annulled elections that would have brought opposition politicians into power in several key cities, including Belgrade. The American flag was even burned by pro-democracy demonstrators because they saw you as Milosevic's ally and an opponent of freedom and democracy. Your staff has since then joined the chorus against Milosevic, but you should be leading the choir! You should be leading an international effort to support the pro-democracy forces in Serbia and further isolate and punish Milosevic for his crimes in Serbia and throughout the Balkans. Similarly, you should lead our European allies in pressuring the authoritarian Tudjman regime in Croatia to open up its media and undertake meaningful democratic reforms. A good first step would be seeing that the opposition mayor of Zagreb elected last year is allowed to assume office.
Five New Year's resolutions for building a sensible policy for peace and democracy in the Balkans. I know what you're thinking: Most people never keep their New Year's resolutions. That is probably as true for President Clinton (if not more so) as for any other American. But it's a start.
W. Walker is the Associate Director of the Balkan Institute and a member of the
Friends of Bosnia Board of Directors.