In July 2015, on the occasion of the celebration of the XX anniversary of the Srebrenica Genocide, I took part in Mars Mira, an annual peace walk in Bosnia and Herzegovina organized in memory of the victims of the 1995 massacre. A 3-days walk of 110 km that retraces the same path made by thousands of Muslims escaping from Srebrenica on 11th July 1995.
The first march was held in 2005 to mark the tenth anniversary of the genocide. Since then, the march has become an annual and international event which sees a growing number of participants (in 2014 over 5000 people participated in it) coming from all over the world. It always starts on 8th July from Nezuk, a small town located in eastern Bosnia, culminating in the participants' arrival to Potočari, where the Srebrenica Genocide Memorial-Cemetery is located.
The armed forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina ensured the preparation and safety of base camps, as well as the transport of a backpack for each participant. Many tanks of drinking water were placed over the entire length of the path. All the way , teams of doctors and paramedics have followed the column paying first aid to the dozens of people who have needed. It has been a very strong and intense experience, both from a physical and psychological point of view, made by interesting meetings and cultural exchanges.
It has been a very strong and intense experience, both from a physical and psychological point of view, made by interesting meetings and cultural exchanges.
Srebrenica - 20 years later
Srebrenica is a town located in eastern in eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina that became famous as the scene of a massacre also known as the Srebrenica genocide. On the 11 July 1995, during the bosnian war, Serbian forces killed, more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys and about 20,000 civilians were forced to flee the area. Historians say it was the worst episode of mass murder in Europe since World War II. The massacre in Srebrenica began in Potocari, where some 25,000 Bosniak refugees had desperately gathered awaiting evacuation.
In October 2000 the land in Potočari turned into a memorial and cemetery set up to honour the victims of the 1995 of the genocide. The site was officially opened by former US president Bill Clinton on 20 September 2003, in that year there were 600 sets of remains interred.
Every year since, as more mass graves have been exhumed and remains identified, further burials have followed and 6,200 people have now been interred. Bodies are still being recovered from mass grave sites and every year, families gather at the cemetery on 11 July to bury what remains of their loved ones.