7. July 2008.

Victims of Srebrenica massacre take a final trip

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Visoko, Central Bosnia-Herzegovina – An old brown shoe in a casket together with a piece of a dark blue cloth that was probably a jacket or a sweater, next to a little pile of human bones – ribs, thigh bones, broken skull, and some dust, all of which was once a man. Like in a bizarre game, Adnan Sahinovic tries to solve a puzzle of human bones, putting them as best as he can to try to form a skeleton before he wraps it in a white plastic bag and closes it in a wooden casket. For more than two years Adnan, a worker at the Cemetery Management Company in the central Bosnian town of Visoko, has been preparing the bones of people killed in the July 11, 1995 massacre in the eastern Bosnian town of Srebrenica during the 1992-95 war in Bosnia- Herzegovina. Up to 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men (Bosniaks) were massacred after Bosnian Serb troops captured the former eastern Bosnian Muslim enclave of Srebrenica. In an attempt to hide their crime, Bosnian Serb troops then buried bodies in numerous mass graves in eastern Bosnia, often moving them from one grave to another. Nearly 13 years after the massacre some 3,000 victims have been identified and properly buried. All of the identified victims passed through the company in Visoko, where they were prepared for their final trip – burial at the Memorial Centre Potocari, near Srebrenica. “Time helps you to get used to this job,” said Adnan carefully placing bones in a casket on a metal table, in a storage filled with caskets wrapped in green textile in line with Islamic tradition. Placing the bones in a casket, he explains how you can guess the fate of the victim – if the bones are dark than the victim was buried deep in a mass grave. White bones show that the victim was killed and left on the surface. The most difficult for Adnan, he said, was when he found pieces of victims’ tissue while doing his job. When he is not at work, Adnan tries not to think about his job and fate of those whose bones he places in a casket almost every day. Although it is a difficult job, he said he can even find some satisfaction in what he does for living. “I feel some satisfaction when I know that these victims and their families will finally find some peace,” said Adnan. “A handful of small bones or the dust of human remains is enough for a person to be identified and properly buried,” said Adnan’s supervisor, technical manager of the company Kenan Karavdic. The Cemetery Management Company in Visoko, which has been dealing with the preparation of Srebrenica victims for burial in the last five years – since the Potocari Memorial Centre has been open – is finishing preparations for burial of some 310 victims at the commemoration of the 13th anniversary of the massacre. “Our job is to prepare everything – to dig graves in Potocari, to make caskets, prepare the remains of the victims, put them in caskets, transport them and finally bury in Potocari,” said Karavdic. Before the mortal remains of Srebrenica victims arrive in Visoko, they pass highly sophisticated DNA analysis to identify the victims, so that a small plastic plate with a name could be placed on the top of the casket as well as on the tombstone. Tens of thousands of people are expected to come on Friday, July 11, 2008 to Potocari to attend the commemoration. Many of them would be there to say a final goodbye to their loved ones whose remains would be buried after years of search. At the same time, the remains of an unknown number of victims exhumed from more than 60 mass graves discovered in the Srebrenica area during the last decade, and currently packed in more than 5,000 bags, are still awaiting identification and proper burial. http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/217239,victims-of-srebrenica-massacre-take-a-final-trip–feature.html

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