Thursday, July 26, 2012

Once in Žepa

 The Serb army had just finished up their most recent killing spree in Srebrenica, as thousands - men, women, children, families and elders were fleeing for their lives from one village to another hoping to spare themselves the same fate. In a small village outside the UN 'protected safe haven', some villagers took the road that led into the town of Žepa only to be repelled by the oncoming column of Serb soldiers there too. At the entrance to Žepa, in obvious danger they then fled to the hills and into the forest to take refuge. Caught a short time after, the women and children were  put on buses and dropped off at the front lines. The survivors found their way to refugee camps in Bosnian held territory at Zenica. The men and older boys were taken prisoner and brought to concentration camps in Serbia. July 25th, 1995.

In Denver twelve months later visiting one of the refugee ghetto's on Beeler Street I bore witness to stories of horror and pain whispered in long sentences between terse puffs of cigarettes in broken English and halting Bosnian. I vowed then never to forget. In remembrance of my friends, the Ramic family along with thousands of people, like my parents and dearest grandparents who repatriated to countries not their own and lived to bear witness and eventually reemerge victorious, if broken hearted. Creators of new life.  Conquerors over death and destruction. Refugees. Survivors. 

Never forget.

"As in Srebrenica, Serb nationalist leaders offered to expel Muslim women and children from Zepa, but detain the men as "prisoners."Serb forces have blocked all attempts for aid workers to visit theSrebrenica men supposedly taken prisoner. 
  Serbs overran Zepa a few days after an emergency international conference called after Srebrenica was seized. The conference issued a warning to Serb nationalists that they faced serious consequencesif they attacked the third "protected zone" of Gorazde. However, no mention was made of Zepa; the international community decided to write off the town -- and its 16,000 inhabitants -- as lost,despite a UN Security Council vote pledging to protect it. Gorazde is the sole remaining Bosnian enclave between the Serbianborder and Sarajevo."

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