18 November 2011: During the past five days the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) organized a study tour for a group of 15 members of the Youth Initiative for Human Rights (YIHR) from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo and Serbia.
During the visit, YIHR activists learned about the work of ICMP’s political unit, the justice and civil society initiatives department, ICMP’s assistance in terms of forensic anthropology and archaeology, the work of ICMP’s DNA identification systems and ICMP’s role in the Western Balkans and globally.
YIHR activists also met with the Missing Persons Institute Board of Directors, Mr. Amor Masovic, Mr. Marko Jurisic and Mr. Milutin Misic, who briefed YIHR about MPI’s activities, the BiH Law on Missing Persons and the problems MPI is facing. Three of the six family representatives on MPI’s Advisory Board briefed the YIHR activists about the role of family representatives in the work of MPI.
The YIHR activists visited the Podrinje Identification Project (PIP) in Tuzla and ICMP’s Identification Coordination Division (ICD) where they saw how forensic experts examine human remains and how by matching DNA profiles from blood and bone an ICMP DNA matching report is generated. The group also visited the Potocari Memorial Center near Srebrenica and the City cemetery Vlakovo where they saw Sarajevo’s Monument to Peace.
The visit was concluded by a group discussion on memorials, commemorations and a brainstorming session on how youth can become more involved in the issue of missing persons in the Western Balkans.
“For most participants this was the first time to see how the identification process of missing persons is done. The visit to ICD and PIP was shocking, but it helped us to know and feel the gravity of crimes committed during the wars in the former Yugoslavia”, said Valid Zhubi from YIHR Kosovo.
“When it comes to war crime denial in the former Yugoslavia, and especially in Serbia, I think visits like this are very important. It provides us with arguments and motivation for our future work. All those who deny the Srebrenica genocide should be brought to the PIP mortuary and the Potocari cemetery to witness for themselves the results of horrible crimes,” said Luka Bozovic of YIHR Serbia following the visit.
“The days spent in ICMP facilities and the visit to the Potocari Memorial Center have motivated me to continue my interest in the issue of missing persons in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This visit helped me personally in facing the past and the disappearance of my missing family members from Sanski Most. I only hope more young people will have a chance to come and see these places”, Adis Hukanović of YIHR BiH said.
“I am amazed at ICMP’s efficiency and work transparency. The entire organization has demonstrated a high level of dedication and expertise. The study trip completely fulfilled my expectations and will be a motivation for me to continue encouraging people for regional cooperation in all fields of our joint interest”, Marko Kovačić, member of YIHR Croatia said.
As part of its mandate, ICMP fosters a process of dealing with the past, works directly with members of associations of families of missing persons and others to encourage greater cooperation among different religious/national groups in order to solve common problems and advocates for more effective policies.