Seema Jilani writes: On July 11, 1995, a Dutch contingent of United Nations peacekeepers ceded control of Srebrenica, leaving the town’s civilian population — swollen with thousands of Bosnian Muslim refugees — at the mercy of besieging Serb forces. Serb soldiers and paramilitary police officers systematically executed about 8,000 Muslim men and boys, dumping their bodies in mass graves, which were bulldozed to hide the evidence.
The images most people remember today — the skeletal prisoners behind barbed wire, awaiting death in concentration camps — are only a part of the genocide. This was the worst atrocity on European soil since World War II; the entire region is dotted with mass graves.
Less well known is the history of “The Column,” a group of about 15,000 Bosnian Muslims who tried to escape the executions by walking more than 60 miles northwest through thick forests toward the safe haven of Tuzla. The harrowed survivors who reached the town were emaciated and traumatized.
To honor the memory of those who died, and to highlight the lack of justice served on those who perpetrated war crimes, hundreds of survivors and supporters this week walked the route taken by The Column in reverse. Working with the photographer Laura Boushnak, I interviewed survivors and relatives of the victims. [Continue reading…]