Archive for straziste

Killing Bosnia’s Ghosts: Fighting to Remember the Balkan War Genocide

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on April 26, 2014 by visegrad92

On  the day that Bosnian Serb authorities finally went to remove the word “genocide” from the memorial plaque commemorating the mass killing of Muslims in Visegrad in 1992, Bakira Hasecic woke up early, along with a few other women.

She had stayed overnight in the house she still owns in the eastern Bosnian town, although she now lives in Sarajevo. The morning was brisk but not particularly cold, a rarity in those January days.

Their intention was to stop what they saw as desecration of the memorial. They were too late.

When she arrived at the Straziste Muslim cemetery, 150 police in riot gear were lined up along the road, some shaking off the crisp mountain air, others laughing at her.

Visibly distressed and with her legs shaking, Bakira hurried to cover the gravestones bearing the names of Serb war criminals Milan and Sredoje Lukic and T-shirts printed with the names of those who died.

A local woman discreetly wrote “genocide” back on the memorial in lipstick. The inscription, once chiselled into the stone, had been removed by a workman with an angle grinder.

The Stražište memorial

The Stražište memorial in VisegradIBT

“They are bothered by the word ‘genocide’. They cannot face the truth,” Bakira, a survivor of the Balkan war who was raped multiple times by Serb paramilitaries led by Milan Lukic, told IBTimes UK.

After 20 years, a bitter struggle over collective memory still haunts this sleepy town in Republica Srpska, the ethnically cleansed enclave carved out in the 1992-95 conflict.

What Bosnian Serbs did to Muslims in 1992 they are still doing today, minimising and concealing those crimes.
Bilal Memisevic

In August 1992, while the capital Sarajevo was under siege, Visegrad, strategically located on the majestic River Drina between Bosnia and Serbia, was taken over by Serb forces and purged of its majority Muslim population in a campaign of terror carried out by Lukic and his cousin Sredoje.

Muslim men were rounded up and murdered. Hundreds of women were detained and mass-raped at the spa, the infamous Vilina Vlas. Women, children and elderly people were locked in houses and burnt to death.

A widespread culture of denial in Visegrad is now being encouraged by Serb nationalists who want separatism from Bosnia.

“What Bosnian Serbs did to Muslims in 1992 they are still doing today, minimising and concealing those crimes,” says Bilal Memisevic, president of the local Muslim community.


Barimo is a hamlet nestled in the folds of the hills, at 15-minute car ride from Visegrad, along the emerald waters of the Drina.

Only 78 Bosnian Muslims lived there before the war, in modest houses overlooking green meadows and plum orchards on the riverbanks. In the early hours of August 1992, Serb forces entered the village for a killing spree. Twenty-six people – mostly women and children – were massacred.

Barimo memorial

Memorial in Barimo for those who were killed in 1992IBT

Resident Suljo Fejzic was sheltering with his family in a village above Barimo. He sneaked into the village that morning, finding his way among the bushes and the mountain pines.

“When we entered the village all the houses were burning. Everything was burning,” he recounts.

“At the bank of the river they executed 12 people and put the bodies in a pile, at the place where the stream joins the river Drina. Later when we got back to the village, we came across people who had been killed trying to escape, we found people who had been shot in the head while lying on the ground”.

The river

The oldest victim was Hanka Halilovich, who was born in 1900, and the youngest was 12-year-old Fadila Bajric. As late as 2004, Fejzic and other villagers kept finding bodies in half-burnt houses, the victims executed with their faces in the dirt.

“But the largest mass grave is the river,” he tells IBTimes UK, pointing to where a silent stream meets the Drina.

Bodies of lifeless Muslims were floating on the Drina like ants. My house was near the bank of Drina, which was filled with blood.
Bakira Hasecic

The river and the grand 16th-century bridge built on 11 arches that decorates Visegrad were made famous by the 1945 masterpiece by Nobel prize-winning writer Ivo Andric in The Bridge on the Drina. The novel captures the construction of the Mehmed Paša Sokolović Bridge and the uneasy relationship between the cultures of Christian Europe and the Islamic Ottoman Empire, a relationship that still exists albeit in a different form.

A Unesco World Heritage Site, the bridge became during the war the nightmarish bloodsoaked centre of the town, a place where Bosnian Muslim men, women and children were slaughtered by Bosnian Serb paramilitary forces and thrown into the river. Lukic troops used to grab any piece of glass they could find and slit the throat of innocent civilians. One victim was found with a screwdriver in their neck.

River Drina and the Bridge

The Bridge on the Drina river in VisegradIBT

“Bodies of lifeless Muslims were floating on the Drina like ants. My house was near the bank of Drina, which was filled with blood,” says Bakira Hasecic.

This immense, underwater graveyard is the perfect metaphor for Visegrad, where the past is “unforgiven, unforgotten, unresolved” as correspondent Alec Russell put it.

Before the war, 63% of the town’s 25,000 people were Bosnian Muslims. Despite the Dayton peace agreement calling for the Bosnian Muslims to be able to return to their homes, only around 5% have come back.

“Only a few have returned to the town itself. Most have gone back to the surrounding villages where they can be with other returnees, earning a living from livestock and agriculture,” says Jasna Causevic, of the German group Society for Threatened Peoples.

Sometimes, though, the past emerges in full force from the swamps of history.

When in 2010 the water levels of the reservoir behind the Bajna Bast hydroeletric dam – called Lake Perucac – further downstream were lowered the remains of more than 160 civilian victims from Visegrad were found in a 50km-stretch of lake bed.

forensic expert from the International Commission On Missing Persons uncovers human remains near the eastern Bosnian town of Visegrad

Forensic expert from the International Commission On Missing Persons uncovers human remains near the eastern Bosnian town of VisegradAFP/Getty Images

At least 3,000 Muslims were massacred in the eastern Bosnian town. But to many Serbs the 1992 attack was a preventive strike whose aim was to avoid a repetition of past slavery under the Ottomans.

Muslims used to prosper under the Ottoman Empire but the Serbs were serfs, uneducated and exploited for manual labour.

President Slobodan Milosevic’s idea of a “Greater Serbia” appealed to many of his local countrymen and laid the foundation for the massacre that followed.

At the start of the 1992 war, short-term actions of resistance by Bosniaks provided the perfect excuse for an alternative Serbian narrative of the war. A small group of Bosniaks took control of the Bajna Basta dam on Lake Perucac and threatened to open it, threatening massive flooding downstream and sabotaging the electricity supply to parts of Serbia.

Adem Omeragic house

The battle for memory and the power to write history are entangled in the bare bricks of another key building of the town. On Pionirska Street, the Serb administration wants to demolish Adem Omeragic’s house, where one of the worst atrocities of the war was committed by Milan Lukic.

Such was its ferocity that it was singled out by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

At least 59 Muslim women, children and elderly people were locked in the house and burned alive after they had been rounded up, raped, sexually abused and robbed. Some witnesses put the death toll higher.

“Some of them who survived sexual abuse were killed in one of the rooms in the basement. There were the remains of more than 70 of them, 49 women alone and about 20 children after the burning and devastation,” says Bakira Hasecic.

With her Association of Women Victims of War, Hasecic rebuilt the house in two weeks and says she has been given permission by the owner to turn it into a memorial.

Adem Omeragic house in Pionirska Street

Adem Omeragic house in Pionirska StreetIBT

“We reconstructed the house from the same material, exactly the way it used to be before, identical to how it was before it was burned with people inside,” she says.

“However, I encountered resistance in the municipality of Visegrad. What I had to suffer on those days when we started rebuilding the house in some moments was more difficult than 1992. Every day, for about 12 days when we began to work behind the house, some 15 to 20 police officers would come in, obstruct us, and put pressure on us.”

Serbs are not allowed to make any kind of memorial in Sarajevo, where I lived for some 18 years
Slavisa Miskovic

The municipality claims that according to the town’s planning map, a road was due to be built through the place where the house stood. The mayor of Visegrad, Slavisa Miskovic, confirms that  “manipulacija”, political manipulation, is playing a part.

“No one denies that a crime happened there, but what is happening now is to do with the building of the road. I didn’t come up with this proposal, these proposals were inherited from the previous administration,” the mayor says.

Bakira Hasecic

Bakira HasecicIBT

In the gentle wrinkles of her face, Bakira still shows the psychological scars of sexual violence and abuse.In 1992, she was forced to watch as a group of Serbs that included her next-door neighbour raped her 18-year-old daughter.

The girl’s head was cracked with a rifle butt but she managed to survive. Her sister, however, was raped and killed by Lukic troops in the infamous rape camps of Vilina Vlas spa. Bakira herself was raped countless times in her home and at the local police station.

“I was a happy woman, I worked in the municipality, 90% of my friends were Serbs and they killed everything that was beautiful in me,” she says.

Erasing the past

The Serb Democratic Party (SDS), which has run Visegrad municipality since October 2012, denies that there has been any “disturbance” against Muslim returnees in the town and seizes on legal jargon to erase memories of the 1992 genocide.

Slavisa Miskovic, the mayor, is an outspoken and animated man who at first sight bears no resemblance to the perpetrators of the war. He talks of respect for all victims of war, regardless of nationality and ethnic origin, and cautiously admits that not enough has been done for Bosniak returnees in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

But when he turns to the disputed Stražište memorial commemorating the Bosniak genocide, the alternative reality of the war re-emerges in full force.

Slavisa Miskovic, mayor of Visegrad

Slavisa Miskovic, mayor of VisegradIBT

He says the “genocide” inscription was removed from the memorial because there was no planning permission granted and because the word itself was dangerously emotive and had no legal basis.

“Serbs are not allowed to make any kind of memorial in Sarajevo, where I lived for some 18 years,” he says.

“Regarding the disputed monument on Stražište there are no arguments or legal basis for the use of such a word [genocide] and it causes destabilisation in the municipality of Visegrad,” Miskovic adds.

Those responsible for the massacres, Milan and Sredoje Lukic, are serving respectively a life sentence in Estonia and 27 years in Norway. But the mayor argues that there have been no convictions at the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia at The Hague for genocide.

Statue of Nobel prize winner Ivo Andrić dominates Andricgrad main square

Nobel prize winner Ivo AndrićIBT

He says the activists demanding recognition of what happened to the Muslim community in those dark days are manipulating that community. His administration, he maintains, is adhering to all legal procedures and prefers to look to the future.

He proudly displays an architectural plan of the controversial Andricgrad theme park, a “town within a town” dedicated to literature that will be inaugurated in June with the aim of providing jobs to Bosniaks and Serbs alike and boost tourism.

This geometric reverie, a sort of half-deserted pastiche of Bosnia’s histories and architectural styles, has been conceived and will be built by two-time Cannes Film Festival winner Emir Kusturica, a Serbian. It is being raised on the site of a former sports centre that was used as a detention camp during the 1992-95 war.

The thing that prevents peace from being stabilised is those who seek to be revisionist towards history.
Paddy Ashdown

Bosnian Serbs are willing to accept that atrocities were committed during the war but use explanations, excuses and diversions. The crimes, they say, were purely the actions of a psychopath such as Milan Lukic.

Recognising that genocide took place in Republika Sprska – that ethnically cleansed enclave hacked off from Bosnia, which is pushing for annexation with Serbia – would mean acknowledging that their state existed as a result of mass murder.

Paddy Ashdown served as international community’s high representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina from 2002 to 2006 and was highly praised for his proactive efforts to bring Bosnian Serb war criminals to justice and strengthen the central state institutions.

Paddy Ashdown

Paddy Ashdown, international community’s high representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina 2002-06IBT

He is highly critical of the secessionist policies of Republika Srpska and maintains that there was a positive verdict on the genocide charges.

In an interview with IBTimes UK, he says: “I know that the thing that prevents peace from being stabilised is those who seek to be revisionist towards history, to pretend that Srebrenica never happened. If you cannot come to terms with your past, you cannot build your future.”

Visegrad may prove to be the exception.

Venice La Fenice Theatre to co-produce “The Bridge over the River Drina” opera

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on March 27, 2013 by visegrad92


Image: Superintendent of La Fenice Theatre Cristiano Chiarot, Emir Kusturica and Milorad Dodik.

On 26 March 2013,  the director of the La Fenice – Verdiana Theatre of Venice, Christian Chiarotto, signed a letter of intent for co-producing “The Bridge on the Drina River” opera in cooperation with Emir Kusturica. The opera is due to be played on 28 June 2014 in the newly built Andricgrad in Visegrad. 28 June marks St. Vitus Day in Serb Orthodox tradition marking the anniversary of the Kosovo battle in 1389.


This act by the La Fenice Theatre is problematic for several reasons:


  1. Cooperating with Emir Kusturica and Andricgrad under the blessing of RS President Milorad Dodik. Both figures are genocide deniers and have a record of criminal records.
  2. Andricgrad was built by Emir Kusturica and Republika Srpska partially on Bosniak land without the knowledge and approval of its rightful owners.
  3. The Visegrad Municipality has been terrorizing Bosniak returnees and denying Visegrad Bosniaks the right to build memorials for theirs victims. The latest case has been the Visegrad Municipality order to remove the genocide memorial at Straziste cemetery commemorating the victims of 1941-45 and 1992-95.
  4. Serb authorities in Visegrad have still not released the locations of mass graves where the estimated 600 missing Bosniaks from Visegrad are believed to be buried.
  5. All the mosques and other Islamic heritage in Visegrad were destroyed by Serb authorities. This heritage has been partially reconstructed by the Islamic Community without any help from the Serb authorities in Visegrad.
  6. Italian troops in World War Two have left a negative image of Italy and Italians among the Bosniak population due to their cooperation with the Serb fascist Chetnik forces. The Italian troops acted identically as to the Dutch UN in Srebrenica – in October 1943, the Italian troops surrendered the Visegrad enclave to the Chetniks and watched passively as thousands were massacred and the rest tried to flee over Mt. Sjemec towards Sarajevo.


Working with Kusturica and Dodik will bring more damage to La Fenice Theatre and Italy and any good. Instead it would be a good idea if representatives of the La Fenice Theatre along with the Visegrad Municipality representatives would visit Straziste cemetery and pay respect to the genocide victims buried there.



Visegrad Municipality plans to demolish genocide victim memorial

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 28, 2013 by visegrad92


On 21.02.2013., the Visegrad Municipality brought a decision to demolish the memorial for genocide victims in Straziste cemetery. This decision was brought in accordance with the decision of the Republika Srpska Ministry of Spatial Planning, Civil Enginnering and Ecology on 13.02.2013. brought a decision in which it turned down an appeal by the Islamic Community of Visegrad to the 2012 Visegrad Municipality decision to demolish the first monument for victims of
Visegrad genocide 1941-45 and 1992-95 located in Straziste cemetery in Visegrad.

The Straziste cemetery is vakuf land – property of the Islamic Community. According to BH State law, religious communities have autonomy over their property. Tearing down this monument is direct interference in the autonomy of the Islamic Community.


University of Graz honors Visegrad victims

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on October 12, 2012 by visegrad92

The Institute for Slavic Studies, University of Graz posted on their website a press release and photo of the memorial at Straziste cemetery in Visegrad. In the press release, the Institute explains how the Institute director before the start of the symposium, laid flowers at the memorial on Straziste cemetery and how she  was forbidden to speak at the symposium.

We welcome the actions taken by the Institute and especially thank Prof. Dr. Renate Hasen-Kokorus for courage and defiance shown in Visegrad. 

Andric symposium concluded in Visegrad

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on October 6, 2012 by visegrad92

From 4-6 Octonber 2012, a symposium titled “The Bridge over the river Drina” was held in the Culture hall in Visegrad. It was co-organized by the Institue for Slavic Studies, University of Graz and the Municipality of Visegrad. The offical website recommended Vilina Vlas(war-time rape motel for Bosniak women) as a hotel to stay for the guests. Eventhough it was firstly decided that Vilina Vlas should be the main hotel and sponsor of the symposium, after media pressure,  this was changed.

Protest letters to the Institute were ignored. Victim families and activists asked  representatives of the University to pay respect to Visegrad victims at Straziste cemetery. Letters written to Prof. Renate Kokorus and Prof. Branko Tosovic were ignored.

Prof. Kokorus  the day before the symposium, wrote to Mrs. Bakira Hasecic, president of “Women-victims of war”, clarifying certain issues about the symposium and informed her that she will visit Straziste cemetery and pay respects to Visegrad victims. At 8 o’clock on 4 October, Mrs. Kokorus layed flowers on the martyr monument on Straziste cemetery.

Prof. Branko Tosovic, who heads the Ivo Andric project at the Institute for Slavic studies at University of Graz, refused to pay respect to Visegrad genocide victims and ignored every single email sent to him.

Image: Prof. Branko Tosovic, refused to pay respect to Visegrad genocide victims. A disgrace to Institute for Slavic studies, University of Graz.

Višegradski Bošnjaci izbjegavaju kopanje šehida u mjestu zločina

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on March 19, 2012 by visegrad92

Pise: Avdo Huseinovic

Vojska Republike Srpske, pojačana dobrovoljcima iz Srbije i Rusije, malo gdje je koristila takve metode ubijanja i mučenja Bošnjaka kao u Višegradu od 1992. do 1995. godine. Masovna klanja, nabijanja na bajonet beba na Mostu Mehmed-paše Sokolovića, paljenja 150 civila, među kojima i tek rođenih bezimenih beba, masovna silovanja, ubijanja pa bacanja tijela u Drinu, prisiljavanja majki da otkupljuju svoju malodobnu djecu…

Sudbina Užica

Sve je to dio velikosrpskog genocidnog projekta u kojem je ubijeno oko 2.000 Bošnjaka ovog bisera na Drini, o čemu svjedoče i presude ratnim zločincima Milanu i Sredoju Lukiću, Željku Leleku, Mitru Vasiljeviću, Momiru Saviću, Bobanu Šimšiću, Nenadu Tanaskoviću…

Mnogi se danas plaše da Višegradu prijeti sudbina Užica, grada koji je imao 34 džamije i iz kojeg su zauvijek u drugoj polovini 19. stoljeća protjerani muslimani. Danas ništa u Užicu ne podsjeća da je to prije 150 godina bio grad s muslimanskim stanovništvem. Džamija nema, mezarja su odavno preorana, vakufska imovina oteta, gruntovne knjige uništene, a sjećanja izblijedjela. Od svega, na muslimane Užica, ponegdje u Bosni, samo podsjeća prezime Užičanin.

Hoće li se učestalom praksom da se ukop višegradskih žrtava ubijenih od 1992. do 1995. obavlja na mezarjima u Federaciji BiH Višegrađani odreći svoje babovine, tradicije, stoljetnih domova i tako u bližoj budućnosti ponoviti tragičnu sudbinu užičkih muslimana?

Udruženje građana “Ćuprija” je nosilac izgradnje budućeg Memorijalnog kompleksa Šehidsko mezarje Stražište, a projekt je već urađen i u narednim mjesecima ove godine započet će izgradnja ovog kompleksa. Plan je da se izgradi memorijalni centar kakav dolikuje šehidima, a posebnu težinu daje mu sama lokacija. Bit će to šehidsko mezarje u sklopu postojećeg mezarja, koje je najbliže Srbiji u gornjem Podrinju, a nalazi se pored samog magistralnog puta Užice – Višegrad.

Vidoje Andrić i Milan Lukić na otetom “passatu” ubijene porodice Zukić

Također, dio projekta sačinjava i izgradnja turbeta, na kojem će biti ispisana imena svih Višegrađana stradalih tokom agresije na BiH. Kako saznajemo, najveću prepreku kopanju višegradskih žrtava u mezarju Stražište stvaraju Višegrađani koji trenutno žive van Bosne i Hercegovine, a koji trebaju odlučiti o lokaciji ukopa svojih najbližih. Njihovo objašnjenje uglavnom glasi: “Neću da kopam svoje najbliže na četničkoj zemlji”.

Četnička pjesma

Posljednje subote ovog maja predviđeno je da u Stražištu budu obavljeni dženaza i ukop ekshumiranih višegradskih žrtava iz Perućca. Od 162 ekshumirane osobe, do sada je 30 porodica odlučilo da članove svojih porodica ukopa u Višegradu. Ostali su još neodlučni. Oko 40 NN tijela nije još identificirano, jer srodnici još nisu dali krv.

Prva ukopana žrtva u mezarju Stražište je Behija Zukić, žena koja je bila prva žrtva monstruma Milana Lukića. Ona i njen muž Džemail vratili su se iz Njemačke godinu prije agresije tek kupljenim “passatom” boje truhle višnje. U Višegradu su otvorili prodavnice i važili za jednu od imućnijih porodica. Zločinci Milan Lukić i Vidoje Andrić 19. maja 1992. ubili su Behiju, a Džemaila i sina Faruka odveli, dok su se kćerke uspjele spasiti. Posmrtni ostaci Džemaila i Faruka pronađeni su na lokalitetu Kurtalići i pokopani su prošle godine na Stražištu.

Oteti “passat” porodice Zukić kasnije će postati vozilo smrti kojim će po Višegradu divljati i u njega kupiti svoje žrtve monstrum Milan Lukić.

Rahmetli Behija je nabrzinu, zajedno s bračnim parom Sabitom i Sehijom Smajić, ukopana u Stražištu nekoliko dana nakon što je ubijena, a na dženazi se okupilo mnogo višegradskih Bošnjaka. Zbog četničkih bandi koje su tih dana započinjale svoj višegradski krvavi ples Behijin mezar je zbog brzine iskopa rake ostao iskrivljen. Dok je trajala Behijina dženaza, Lukić je u njenom otetom “passatu” zastao pored Stražišta, puštajući s kasetofona četničku pjesmu: “Muslimani crni mravi, došli su vam crni dani, nema Tita da vas brani”.

Pred kraj dženaze, na izlazu iz mezarja, pojavio se “tamić” iz kojeg su izašli četnici i počeli hapsiti ljude. Veliki dio njih uspio je pobjeći uzbrdo u šumu. Bio je to prvi javni lov na višegradske Bošnjake.

Među dosadašnjih 70, najmlađa bošnjačka žrtva ukopana u Stražištu je devetomjesečna beba Amela Ahmetspahić, koja je ubijena zajedno s majkom Medihom.

Behija i Džemail Zukić: Žrtve Milana Lukića 

– Kroz historiju, višegradski Bošnjaci su mnogo puta ubijani i bacani u Drinu. Prvi put smo sada, tokom pretrage Perućca, uspjeli pronaći njihove kosti. Do sada, nikada i nigdje nisu bile označene žrtve četničkih pokolja nad Bošnjacima Višegrada. Memorijalni centar Stražište bit će prvi spomenik u historiji koji će svjedočiti o stalnim, ponavljanim, četničkim genocidima. Ukop višegradskih žrtava u Stražištu prvenstveno je važan zbog historijskih razloga jer, ako u budućnosti u Višegradu ne bude grobova žrtava, to će, prije svega, koristiti velikosrpskoj propagandi – riječi su Hikmeta Karčića, aktiviste Udruženja “Ćuprija”.

Groblja su važna kao i staništa živih, jer nišani su nijemi svjedoci ubijenih Bošnjaka, a ako nema nišana i mezarja na mjestima zločina, onda će vrlo lako svoj prostor dobiti tvrdnja zločinaca – da zločina, ustvari, nije ni bilo.

To je naša babovina

Eso Hrustić je bez dvojbe odlučio svog oca Bešira ukopati u Višegradu.

– To što neki moji sugrađani govore da je to srpska zemlja i da zbog toga neće da svoje kopaju u Memorijalnom centru Stražište je neshvatljivo. To ne može nikada biti srpska zemlja, to je naša babovina. Mjesto rođenja. Roditelje ne biramo, to je Božije određenje. Moj rahmetli babo se rodio, živio i zločinačkom rukom ubijen u Dobrunu, i zato je moja životna želja da bude ukopan u Stražištu. Moja životna želja, od koje nikada neću odustati, jeste i da se vratimo u naš Višegrad. Ne mogu neke stvari da razumijem, izgleda da smo mi narod koji ništa ne zna o sebi, narod koji se izgubio. Ne možemo se tako olako odreći svog imetka. Gdje god u svijetu da živjeli, mi ćemo uvijek biti Bošnjaci iz Višegrada – kaže Hrustić.

Izvor: Dnevni Avaz, 18.03.2012.

Straziste Cemetery

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on January 10, 2012 by visegrad92

Image: Straziste cemetery(Photo credits: Velija Hasanbegovic)

The Straziste cemetery is located in Visegrad on the left side of the main road towards Dobrun and Uzice.  It is the central Muslim cemetery in Visegrad. Judging by the old Ottoman tombstones, it can be said that Straziste is one of the oldest in Visegrad. It is a large cemetery – the perimeter is one kilometer long.  This cemetery is of great importance for Bosniaks for one more reason – the martyrs  of Visegrad are buried there.

Not all of the martyrs are buried in Straziste – some families decided not to bury there loved ones in Visegrad. Mainly because Visegrad is a Serb town today  and they do not wish to return to Visegrad anymore. Another reason is that in the years after the war, the Visegrad victim organization did not have a strong opinion on this matter nor did it understand the importance of burying the martyrs of Visegrad in Visegrad. As a result most of the victims were buried in Sarajevo, some in Gorazde and a few even in Visoko.

Today the opinion of some has changed and there are ideas that Straziste cemetery should be transformed into a memorial center for the genocide victims.

Building a memorial center for the victims would bring dignity back to them and satisfaction for the family members. Our hope is that Straziste would become the Potocari of Visegrad.

Image: Straziste cemetery (Photo credits: Berina Pekmezovic)

Safet(Jusuf) Smajlovic

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on May 12, 2011 by visegrad92

Safet (Jusuf) Smajlovic

(1.7.1955. – 27.6. 1992)

Safet lived in Lasci near Visegradska banja. He worked as a mechanic in Garce, Visegrad.  He was last seen at the old railway station in Visegrad on 27.06.1992. with his family – his mother  Hajrija (Halima) Smajlović, his sons Senad (Safeta) Smajlović and  Kemal (Safeta) Smajlović and his wife Nesiba (Nesiba) Smajlović. The are all missing ever since.

* Safet’s body was retrieved from the Drina and buried in Slap. He was identified by DNA analysis and will be buried in Visegrad this year.

Ismeta Kurspahic survived!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on February 7, 2011 by visegrad92

Image: Ismeta Kurspahic

Ismeta Kurspahic (1960) was one of the members of the Kurspahic family  who was burned alive in Pionirska street massacre on 14.06.1992. This was a fact established by the Trial Chamber in the first instance judgment in the Milan and Sredoje Lukic case. However, last year DNA analysis proved that Ismeta was exhumed from a mass grave in Straziste cemetery in 2009.  Lukic’s defence quickly reacted to this new fact:

In the January 24 motion, Milan Lukic’s lawyers allege that Ismeta Kurspahic, who was found to have died in a house burning on Visegrad’s Pionirska Street, did not in fact “die in the manner and the place as alleged in the indictment, and as stated in the trial judgement”.

They state that the defence team received information from the Bosnian authorities – the details of which remain confidential – that show that Kurspahic “was alive after the date of the alleged Pionirska incident”. In addition, they say that her body was not discovered with other victims of the incident, and was located some distance from Pionirska Street.

“…[This] is strong evidence that in fact she did not perish in the manner concluded by the judgement, and thus the conclusions of guilt and sentence as to Pionirska are thus [a] discernible error,” the lawyers state.

This information was not available during the trial, which took place during 2008 and the first part of 2009, because Kurspahic’s remains were not exhumed until late 2009 and not identified until December 2010, the motion states.

Numerous witnesses named Kurspahic as one of the victims of the fire, but the Lukic defence claims that if this new evidence had been available during the proceedings, the judges would have found that those witnesses “were not witnesses of truth” as regards this incident.

Source: IWPR

Lukic’s defense was right about one thing: Ismeta Kursphaic was alive after 14.06.1992.

New evidence discovered by VGM shows that Ismeta was injured and treated at the Visegrad Health Center on 18.06.1992:

Image: Protocol of patients from the Visegrad Health Center dating 18.06.1992. Ismeta Kurspahic is noted under number 5473.

Under diagnosis the patient Ismeta Kurspahic was given the following medicine:

– Novalgetol ampula
– Jugocilin 2ml
– Gentamicin 120 mg
– Ultracorten ampula
She was given a lot of painkillers in large dozes. In the last column it is written that Ismeta was given injections and bandaged. Also it should be noted that a splint was found in the mass grave in Straziste were Ismeta was buried.
Image: The victim’s remains and a splint found at the Straziste cemetery.
Image: The mass grave in Straziste cemetery were Fadil Uzicanin, Aziz Hreljic and Ismeta Kurspahic were found.

Fadil Uzicanin-Aziz Hreljic

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on December 19, 2010 by visegrad92

Image: Fadil Uzicanin, born 12.09.1955 in Visegrad.

Fadil Uzicanin was a Bosnain Army soldier who was missing in action during a battle in Holijaci on 30.04.1993.  His remains were exhumed  in October 2009 from Straziste cemetery in Visegrad. VGM wrote about the exhumation of 3 bodies in 2009. Fadil was 38 years old when he disappeared. How Fadil managed to end up from Holijaci(a settlement near Visegrad) to Straziste cemetery is still unknown. It is suspected that Fadil was injured in battle and caught by the Bosnain Serb Army.

Image: Aziz Hreljic

Aziz Hreljic born on 15.03.1940 in Visegrad, was 52 years old when he was abducted from his house in Visegrad on 22.06.1992.

There was also a third woman identified. We will write about her as soon as we get more information.


+ Exhumation at mass grave in Straziste

Straziste mass grave – Part 2