17 May 2005: An exhibition of dramatic photographs by Bosnian photographer Samir Sinanovic depicting the exhumation, identification and burial of thousands of war crimes victims in northern Bosnia launched a week-long course about war crimes and genocide for postgraduate students in the Croatian coastal town of Dubrovnik on Monday, May 16, 2005.
Students, journalists, local Croatians and some tourists drawn in by flyers promoting the event around Dubrovnik’s “old city” came to the exhibition opening.
“We must never let people forget what happened,” said course director Professor Janja Bec-Neumann at the opening. “We want our students to learn to speak out when they see evil, not just genocide, for that is only the final stage, but they must learn to recognize the very earliest stages of evil so we can help to prevent it happening again. If we forget, it would be like killing them a second time,” she said.
The photography exhibition, entitled “Remembering War Crimes in Prijedor 1992, Bosnia & Herzegovina: Exhumations, Identifications and Burials”, is the work of a local photographer who lived through the war in the Prijedor area. He said he wanted his photographs to serve as a document about what happened. “We have to tell people, to show people what really happened – otherwise, the enormity of the evil is so great, ordinary people just wouldn’t be able to comprehend it,” he said at the exhibition opening on Monday.
During the 1992 – 1995 war, an estimated 3,278 non-Serb residents of Prijedor area were killed or went missing. So far, some 1,900 individual remains have been exhumed, but hundreds of bodies are waiting to be identified. Surviving family members are still seeking the fate of more than 1,300 persons. Sinanovic’s series of photographs covers all aspects of the identification process, from exhumations through to burial. The exhibition is sponsored by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), which assists in exhumations of remains of the missing and identification through the use of DNA.
ICMP’s Civil Society Initiatives Department is also taking part, for the second year in a row, in the postgraduate course, “War Crimes, Genocide and Memories,” held at the Inter University Center in Dubrovnik. ICMP wishes to raise public awareness about the missing persons issue as a critical human rights issue to be addressed in order to enable peace building and stability in the former Yugoslavia. ICMP works to empower associations of families of missing persons to be able to advocate on behalf of their members in their pursuit of truth and justice. ICMP has organized the visit three survivors of the war crimes in the Prijedor area talk about their experiences to the course participants to highlight the human impact of the course themes of war crimes and genocide.The photo exhibition will be open for public in the Lazareti gallery through 21 May, 2005, from 10 AM to 3 PM.