|© Ziyah Gafic|
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the start of the conflict in Bosnia that eventually became the worst genocide Europe since World War II. While journalists who covered the conflict and historians are now reexamining the bloody conflict and its lessons, the events of 20 years ago are not yet relegated to history. “How could they be, when there hasn’t been catharsis or absolution?” says Ziyah Gafic, a Bosnian photographer.
Gafic, who was 12 years old when Serbs attacked Bosnia in a grab for power in the former Soviet satellite, has been working with the International Commission on Missing Persons to photograph the eyeglasses, snapshots, keys and other personal belongings of victims of ethnic cleansing. The items have been collected from mass graves and are being used as tools to identify some of the 30,000 missing Bosnians. Gafic’s goal is not only to help reunite these objects with the victims’ families, but to document and remember the genocide.
“We so desperately hoped lessons learned in Bosnia will help prevent or solve faster other conflicts, but how foolish was that?” Gafic says. “Just looking at Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan, Chechnya, Libya, makes ‘never again’ quite a cynical statement.”
Related Article: Ziyah Gafic: A Forensic Documentary of Genocide