In a deeply moving interview with Aegis CEO Dr James Smith for Episode 4 of the Aegis Trust’s ‘Peace at Risk in Bosnia’ podcast (podcast.championhumanity.com) – released today on the eve of commemorations marking 27 years since the genocide at Srebrenica, with extracts in the video above – survivor Hasan Hasanović uses his own experience to explain why the Srebrenica Genocide Memorial Centre, and the work of peace education in Bosnia, are so important.
“I tell young people, I lost the half of my family, and I don’t hate anybody,” says Hasanović, now Head of Oral History at the Memorial. “And why them, who were not even born then, would have any negative feelings towards somebody who is from a different ethnicity, just because media or politicians are telling them to do so?”, he asks. “This is why the purpose of education, and the memorial, is beyond crucial.”
In the first three episodes of the podcast, released as a series in December, Aegis looked at the roots, context and potential solutions for the current crisis in Bosnia, where secessionist moves by Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik threaten a return to violence almost three decades after the Dayton Peace Accords ended war and genocide in the country.
In this episode, with Russia’s war on Ukraine looming in the background, Dr Emir Suljagić, genocide survivor and the director of the Srebrenica genocide Memorial Centre, brings us up to speed on recent Dodik’s efforts.
We also get perspective from political scientist Jasmin Mujanović on the influence of Moscow and its proxies in the region, and hear from British MP Fleur Anderson, Member of Parliament for Putney and the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for the Prevention of Genocide and Crimes against Humanity, which is administered by the Aegis Trust.
Finally, we hear from Velma Šarić and Tatjana Milovanović from the Sarajevo-based peacebuilding NGO the Post Conflict Research Center – noting whatever happens in the short term, the work they’re doing with young people is essential to the longterm prospects for peace and stability in the region.
The episode begins, however, with Hasan Hasanović. Asked by Dr Smith what one message he would wish to bring to the World from the Srebrenica Genocide Memorial Centre, he responded:
“That message would be, if you have any doubts, listen to individual stories; focus on that individual as a human being, and try to understand that individual. Individual stories really can change the world and help people to have more sympathy and understanding towards human beings, no matter which part of the world they live, in which religion they are, which color of skin they are.”
An extended video version of Dr Smith’s podcast interview with Hasan Hasanović is available to view here: https://youtu.be/pwmcHl5AHsE