Memorializing the Missing of Bosnia and Herzegovina on International Human Rights Day

Members of the Forum on Joint Memorialization of Missing Persons hold silhouettes of missing persons Photo: Velija Hasanbegovic, Radio Sarajevo

Resolving missing persons cases in Bosnia and Herzegovina – even after two decades – is a central and indispensable element in establishing a just and sustainable society, participants at an International Human Rights Day demonstration on behalf of the Missing said.

The Forum on Joint Memorialization of Missing Persons, which brings together representatives of Family Associations and other activists from across Bosnia and Herzegovina, organized a “silhouette of missing persons” event in Sarajevo on 10 December.

“It’s important that families of the missing mark International Human Rights Day, because we have experienced the disappearance of loved ones and we have become their voice. We have to fight for their right to a dignified burial, for their identity,” said Adis Hukanovic, a representative of the Forum. “By making this peaceful walk on International Human Rights Day we want to express our dissatisfaction with the general situation when it comes to finding and identifying missing persons in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We also want the authorities to address our request that they begin implementing the Law on Missing Persons fully and that they accelerate the process of searching for the missing.”

“This event, brings together people from different communities and different parts of the country, different age groups and genders,” said the Head of ICMP’s Western Balkans Program, Matthew Holliday, who also participated in the event. “It shows that the issue of missing persons doesn’t just affect immediate family members and it certainly doesn’t just affect one community. It affects the whole country and it affects all citizens. It is essential that memorialization takes place with this in mind. This is a joint response to a tremendous evil.”

Participants gathered at the city center before noon and walked to the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina and then back to the city center carrying silhouettes of missing persons. The silhouettes were designed by Forum members to communicate a sense of what it is like to live with the permanent absence of a loved one.