GYC Village

blog posts from GYC's participants, alumni, & staff

My Country Still At War

ammarBy Ammar Zeljković

My parents never told me about the war, but still I knew that it had happened. The people with whom I grew up, their parents talked about it. Some relatives, elder acquaintances in our neighborhood, and a lot of people on the TV – they all talked about this thing called war. Listening to what they had to say I, a Bosniak, learned one thing: Serbs are monsters who kill and torture people for fun. I hadn’t even met one Serb but I hated them and ‘knew’ that they couldn’t be trusted. A preschool boy, 5 or 6 years old, who hated a whole nation, and every member of my generation of Bosniaks was just like me.

This is how the first seed of nationalism is planted. Everyone in this country had to pass through this process; even today, children of Bosnia still experience this. Later on, we realised that most of the stories we heard in our childhood were exaggerated, especially the part where the Serbs are represented as monsters. This made me think, are they really like that, and if they are, are they all like that? Over time, myself, and a few others, have lost our hatred, but there are those who still hate just the same, or even more. We are in our early twenties now, and a big part of my generation is ready to take the weapons in their hands and repeat what happened in the first half of the 90s here.

But these people are not the only reason why this country is at war. Actually, they are not a real threat to this country. They are full of hate but they remain in groups with people like them, and without a real threat to the group they will not act. There have been incidents, yes, but there are people like us who believe that living in a heterogeneous society is a blessing. We participate and even organise events to overcome this hatred and fight nationalism, but we are not in the spotlight. One example is CIM (Center for Peacebuilding). They are a NGO located in Sanski Most. They have been active for more than a decade now, and the work they did in this short time shaped the life in this town. Their work has been noticed by various organizations, government related and NGO’s, but only get the credit they deserve by foreign ones. If the media in BIH would focus more on them and other similar competent NGO’s and their projects they would have a stronger impact on the whole country. Now the media keep the spotlight for nationalistic incidents, which only strengthens the nationalism in this country.

July 16 014

Ammar, right, joins his fellow GYC Delegates in listening to Miki Jacevic, the GYC Bosnia Program Director, who was speaking during a site visit to the Bosniak Institute, which, despite its name, was founded to preserve the shared culture of the region, by a couple who left during the Tito era because of persecution.

Those who are really hostile to other ethnicities and religion won’t do anything on their own. They won’t take guns and start shooting without someone who will lead them. They are just lost in their darkness, and a good leader could help them out. A good leader should guide them out of it, they should teach us how to live together, and build a better future for us, the ones who live in Bosnia in Herzegovina. They should, but that doesn’t mean they do. In truth it is the opposite of that, nationalism is used as a tool for collecting votes, the fear of a new war outbreak is used to secure power. Those at the top will not allow us to move on.

After you have gone through this, you will know why I say that this country is still at war today, twenty years after the Dayton Agreement was signed. We fight, Bosniaks, Serbs, Croats and all other people who live here, against nationalism, corruption and those who are spreading it. There are no bullets in the air, but Bosnia and Herzegovina is still a country at war.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Ammar Zeljković is an English Language student at the University of Sarajevo. He finished the gymnasium in Sanski Most where he grew up. During that time he has been an active volunteer at CIM where he got interested in human right issues, transitional justice, peacebuilding, reconciliation  and conflict resolution. By participating in GYC’s Conflict Resolution Delegation to Bosnia his aim was to learn more about political barriers that prevent Bosnia and Herzegovina from further developing, on the economical and social levels.

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