Image: Satiric poster by an unknown author of the planned opera to be produce in a joint cooperation between La Fenice theatre and Emir Kusturica, under the support of Milorad Dodik and Republika Srpska.
Association Cuprija, the “Stop genocide denial” movement and several other non-governmental organizations have started a campaign against the decision of La Fenice theatre to jointly produce an opera entitled “The Bridge over the River Drina” based on the novel by Ivo Andric.
The email address of La Fenice director is: firstname.lastname@example.org
The protest letter is below:
Dear Mr. Cristiano Chiarot,
I am writing to you to express my deep regret that an institution like La Fenice has decided to work with Emir Kusturica and Milorad Dodik on staging „The Bridge over the River Drina“ opera in “Andricgrad”. Taking into consideration Dodik’s and Kusturica’s genocide denial and the blatant discrimination on non-Serbs in Republika Srpska, and the fact that “Andricgrad” has been built on the land forcefully taken from a Bosniak family from Visegrad, I strongly object to La Fenice staging this work in in “Andricgrad”, as it has been announced by Kusturica.
It is highly problematic that with the announced joint project with Kusturica, La Fenice would be directly supporting continued repression of Bosniaks in Visegrad.
I remind you that Visegrad used to be a town with 65% Bosniak population. After the campaign of ethnic cleansing by the Bosnian Serb and Serbian forces, this population has been reduced to 400 Bosniaks, mostly elderly.
The vast majority of them were expelled from Visegrad by Yugoslav Peoples’ Army and Republika Srpska Army, 3,000 were murdered, many Bosniak women and girls raped, women and children burnt alive in houses. These crimes have been well documented by the International War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague.
Currently 600 Bosniaks are registered as missing in Visegrad municipality, buried in mass graves known to the municipal authorities who are refusing to reveal their whereabouts.
Not only is there no attempt by Visegrad and Republika Srpska authorities to acknowledge the crimes and compensate the victims’ families, but they have recently issued an order to remove a monument built for Visegrad’s genocide victims at Straziste cemetery. As you can see, while La Fenice is planning operas with the Dodik’s blessing, Bosniaks in Visegrad are denied the basic right to commemorate their victims.
Furthermore, “Andricgrad” has been built on the land which belongs to Hadžić family from Visegrad, who had it confiscated illegally from them by the municipality as part of the ethnic cleansing of non-Serbs. Hadžić family members, who today live in the UK, Switzerland, Austrija, Australija, New Zealand and Sarajevo, will claim their property back in an international lawsuit and initiate legal action against Republika Srpska authorities and Kusturica. It is difficult to believe that such a renown institution of culture like La Fenice would allow itself to be an accomplice in an illegal enterprise that “Andricgrad” clearly is.
While I have no objection to the promotion of culture La Fenice champions, I strongly disagree Visegrad is a place where such events should take place until it deals with the legacy of extermination of its non-Serb population. For this reason, I ask you to refrain from from this morally objectionable project and in doing so demonstrate the due respects to genocide victims at Straziste cemetery.