Podrške plemenitih

My statement of support for Emir Ramic and the Institute for Research of Genocide Canada (IGC) following threats received recently

I have been a member of the Institute for Research of Genocide Canada (IGC) since 2010, beginning shortly after I first wrote about the Bosnian War and Genocide in my old column in the Hudson Gazette. I am one of the Institute’s original members. It was Professor Emir Ramic, Chairman of the IGC, who invited me to become a member of IGC’s international team of experts (I am currently a managing board member).

My involvement with the IGC has been an integral part of my Bosnian path – namely, my desire to learn more about Bosnia, her people, and the war that ravaged this nation in the 1990’s. Since publishing my Christmas in Sarajevo piece in December, 2009, I have continued to seek out opportunities to meet and interview Bosnian survivors of concentration camps, rape houses, as well as those who survived the Srebrenica Genocide.

In 2012, I travelled to Bosnia and participated in the Srebrenica Peace March, a three-day trek through heavily mountainous and forested terrain that commemorates, in reverse, the path taken by Bosniak men to escape death at the hands of Bosnian Serb forces, led by indicted war criminal Ratko Mladic, in July of 1995. Following the Peace March, I attended the communal burial of 520 Bosniak men and boys on July 11 at Srebrenica-Potocari.

While in Bosnia, I reconnected with Bakira Hasecic, President of the Sarajevo-based association Women Victims of War, dedicated to providing support to the women, men, and children who survived wartime rape. I had the opportunity to meet the Mothers of Srebrenica as well, along with many other significant individuals. I visited concentration camps and rape houses during my trip.

Throughout my Bosnian journey – the actual physical voyage, as well as my personal, spiritual sojourn – Emir Ramic and the IGC (and all of its amazing members) have been there for me. From the beginning of our acquaintance, they have provided me with invaluable information and guidance. But more importantly, they have bestowed upon me their trust and confidence. Without these, I would not have been able to accomplish everything that I have achieved over the past eight years.

My column-writing days ended four years ago. But my Bosnian journey continues to this day. I am currently writing a book about my experience.

This experience has changed my life forever. I feel that my own fate and well-being is inextricably bound with that of Bosnia-Herzegovina and her people. And because of everything that I have learned, I am all too well-aware that this nation remains fragile and vulnerable to this day.

In recent months, I was dismayed to learn of threats that Emir Ramic as well as the IGC itself, have received. These include threats made by radical Serbian chetniks (a phenomenon that Professor Ramic has become accustomed to since the foundation of the IGC).

However, I was especially disheartened to learn that some of these threats have come from radical Croatian ustasha (fascist) individuals.

This followed a statement made by the IGC criticizing the Croatian Football Federation’s decision to have the ultranationalist singer Thompson perform some songs during the Croatian team’s homecoming celebrations following their silver-medal win at the World Cup in soccer in July of this past year.

As a Canadian of Croatian background (my parents come from Kali, a small island fishing village near the Croatian coastal city of Zadar), I was thrilled to see Croatia win the silver medal in World Cup soccer. But the threats received by Emir Ramic  and the IGC in connection to this event have left me feeling bereft. My joy has turned into mourning. My feelings of pride have turned into feelings of shame.

At this point in time, I wish to reiterate my support for Emir Ramic, his family, as well as the IGC. My hope is that we can all continue our work, which is so crucial in helping to bring about lasting peace, justice and stability in Bosnia and the Balkans. 

Suzana Vukic
Member of the Governing Board of IGC