Babin Potok near Visegrad: Rapes without Perpetrators
Image: Mladen Markovic aka “Pjesnik”
Written by: Albina Sorguc
“He took me into the house and stripped me naked. He started hitting me. I cried and he grabbed my head and hit it against the wall. He took me into the room upstairs and then raped me”, said one woman from Babin potok near Visegrad, about what happened to her in June 1992.
Then 30 years old, she had also to sexually satisfy in different ways one soldier who came to her village. She said that she did not know him from before.
She kept silent for years regarding what she has survived, just like the other women in Babin potok, who were raped then. The two fathers say that their daughters never told them what they had experienced even though they told it to their mothers and other sisters.
“My daughters are in Austria. They come here once a year and stay for one day, but they are afraid to spend the night here”, says one of two locals who have returned to Babin potok after the war.
In addition to rape, residents of this Visegrad’s village were beaten, harassed, forcibly taken away and killed. The exact number of those killed or raped is still unknown. The remains of one old woman were found, and the others who remain unaccounted are still not found yet.
No one is sentenced for what happened in Babin potok. The District Prosecutor’s Office in East Sarajevo is conducting the investigation against Mladen Markovic, on suspicion that he raped two women in this village, while in the Prosecution of Bosnia and Herzegovina does not want to confirm whether they conduct the investigation at all; they only say that they work on several cases related to Visegrad.
Harassment of Women and Children
Babin potok is a village near Visegrad. According to the census from 1991, the population of this village was 166, mostly of Bosniak nationality. In June 1992, the Serb army attacked the village. Most of the men fled into the woods while the women stayed in the houses.
Fadil Husovic said that he managed to hide in wheat near the house. The soldiers entered his house, beat his wife and took away their daughter who was then 18 years old.
“They stripped naked my wife. They asked for the money. They fired two bullets into the old house. I was watching how it burns down, what could I do. They took away my daughter”, recalls Husovic, pointing out that he did not know for four months whether his daughter is alive.
Through the woods, together with a few locals, he managed to come to Medjedja, a village 13 kilometers away from Visegrad, and under control of Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina. A few days later, he went to Gorazde, where he got the message from one relative from Germany that his daughter was taken to Uzice, Serbia. A few days later, his daughter came to her sister in Austria, where she still lives. He found out from others that his daughter was raped.
Five years after the war, Husovic returned to his native village and started to live there again. As he says, his daughters came for one day once a year, because they are afraid to spend the night there.
Then 30 years old woman is also afraid to return and live in Babin potok because, as she says, everything reminds her of what she has survived.
“He did everything and I was crying … I had to do everything what he told me. He did not allow me to get dressed, I was naked all the time”, says our interlocutor, and explains how he forced her to sexually satisfy him in different ways.
Rape and sexual abuse have been happening mostly in the house of Mehmed Omerovic, who was beaten by Serb soldiers. They tied his hands with wire and took him to Visegrad, and he disappeared without a trace since.
As our interlocutor say, her neighbor is held more than two hours in the same room with her, but that she cannot talk about it. Our interlocutor also says that it took her long time to say that she was raped, even though after 20 years, she never told about it to some persons.
“I never said anything to my children; I cannot say it to them… They are girls. But, they see that book in my wallet, though I hid it for a long time”, says this woman, explaining that in that book it can be seen who is “woman, victim of war”.
It’s hard to tell
This woman did not say that she was raped for a long time because she was afraid of reaction of her husband.
“Even women between themselves hardly speak about what they survived … It’s hard to tell that even to women, you feel ashamed … It’s not easy. I suffered a long time because of my husband. In the end, I somehow said it to my mother in law, and then to my husband”, explains our interlocutor.
In the village of Babin Potok, several villagers were killed or taken to an unknown direction. Some of them are Zineta Poljo, Ajka Mujezinovic, Ajna Hodzic, Nadiha Mujezinovic, Mehmed Omerovic, Hamed Oprasic, Hamed Kustura, Semsa Poljo, Dervis Mujezinovic, Iza Medjuseljac and Reso Kos.
“The great shame and guilt is on the government because it does not prosecute these criminals, brought them to justice and sentence them”, says Husovic.
According to available data, the District Prosecutor’s Office in East Sarajevo conducts an investigation against Mladen Markovic for war crimes against civilian population committed in Babin potok.
Abid Medjuseljac is another villager who, along with Husovic, returned to his home village in which his mother is killed and his daughter raped.
“I returned in 2002. I live here. I wanted to return to the place where I was born, to my farm. I am here, no one is happier than me, although there was everything here during the war. Horror …”, Medjuseljac said, adding that he survived the attack of the Serb army because he fled through the woods along with his two minor sons.
Medjuseljac says that after the attack, the soldiers burned the houses and killing women who were inside.
“They killed Zurijeta down there, seven or eight months old child remained after her. Ajna Hodzic was also killed. My mother stayed here when we left … We were searching and searching, but nothing. There were no exhumations”, says Medjuseljac, pointing out to the place where he saw his mother for the last time.
Medjusejlac now lives alone in the house. He says that his children come occasionally and visit him.
“I’ve always longed for this area. I said that if I manage to return to my place, I would kiss every plum”, says Medjuseljac.
Now, that they have returned to their homeland, Husovic and Medjuseljac say that it is a shame that nobody is held responsible for what have happened in their village.
“We are left on our own”, concludes the only two inhabitants of the village of Babin potok.
Copyright BIRN 2012