Serbia and Montenegro: Violence in Belgrade

Women in Black
A personal report back on the vigil of Women in Black in the main square of Belgrade on the anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre.
Many attended the vigil of Women in Black in the main square of Belgrade.
There were many armed police (the question being what is going on here that we needed that much protection for a peaceful vigil????) the police were in riot gear.

We gathered in black in a circle with signs that read "Srebrenica Never Again" We all held one white rose. We stood in silence. We kept our eyes open - always prepared for anything. And then it came.

A group of young facists threw tear gas bombs at us. We stood strong, we coughed, we cried, but we stood strong. Some men were arrested. Then they threw eggs at us. Horrible. Men stood in gangs waiting for us to leave. But here I am - okay.

The next morning at 4am, we boarded the buses to Srebrenica. The air was tense. One activist said, "well there are lots of possibilities, they could plant a bomb on the bus, or they could attack the bus... many things, we'll see" So that's what we did. They only harrassed me a bit at the border between Serbia and Bosnia.

9 hours later we reached the long line of cars and buses heading into Potocari where the memorial was. The buses could not move, so we got out and walked with thousands of people for over an hour until we reached the memorial.

This is what I wrote yesterday:

Upon arrival, the crowd engulfed us like flames. When we reached a clearing, I looked up to see the thousands of coffins - holding the remains of those who have been found - being passed from one mans hands to another. Little green deathbeds with bones poking at the edges in some. The mood is beyond somber - morbid would be more precise. As the men dig the graves in the rain-wet earth, the women weep in each others arms for their dead loved ones. Coffins held up by arms stretch as far as I can see - some couple thousand remains found among the 8,109 that are assumed to have been killed. Muslim prayers are pumped through the air by loud speakers - thousands of remains pass before my eyes.

We sit outside facing the memorial center that is till being built. The center with its hollowed out windows screams of death. Gray skies cover this beautiful land called Bosnia. We are here wittnesing evidence of a genocide and I can't help but think of the hollocaust. People from all over the world stretch as far as the eye can see. An old woman, with a headscarf, sits rocking with her hands over her face. Memories of the vigil last night in Belgrade where men threw tear gas at us, shouting the same slogans that the Serbs used when they killed the men and boys at Srebrenica. The coffins just keep coming. Army helicopters circle overhead. Another mass grave was found yesterday.

The issue here is that there are nationalists from Serbia and Bosnia. Nationalist Serbs believe that Srebrenica was not a mistake - they shout 'Slobo' in the streets - short for Slobodan Milosovic - now on trial for mass war crimes during his reign over Serbia. Bosnian Nationalists want to use Srebrenica as a soapbox for their agenda. Many people losing sight of what has happened - more violence, in my opinion is inevitable.

This was one of the most tragic things I have ever witnessed. I am still in shock and not one tear has fallen from my eyes - we have been under too much pressure these past few days.

I really can't write more - can't think about it until I leave.