conflict

REMEMBERING SREBRENICA by Alex Walker Walker

 Asmir Mehic from Team Bosnia at the Homeless World Cup.  The Homeless World Cup is a unique, pioneering social movement which uses football to inspire homeless people to change their own lives. Homeless World Cup 2016 is taking place in Glasgow's George Square from July 10th to July 16th. For more information, visit www.homelessworldcup.com

This week marks the 21st anniversary of the bloodiest episode in post-World War II European history. The Srebrenica Massacre, which began on 11 July 1995 and lasted for 11 days, saw the genocide of 8,373 Bosniak Muslim men and boys at the hands of Bosnian Serb Army of Republika Srpska under the command of General Ratko Mladić. Between 25,000 and 30,000 women, children and elderly people were forcibly removed, abused and displaced by the end of this grotesque chapter in modern European history.

Asmir Mehić, 23, who is part of the Bosnia-Herzegovina squad, was only two years old at the time of the genocide. “I was just a baby so I can’t remember very clearly,” he says. “I left with my mother and we ran away to the free zone in Tuzla. My father stayed behind in Srebrenica to fight and was killed in the war. My mother has shown me and told me all about what happened.

“The war was religious and it was aggression against the Muslim population. We were only executed because we were Muslims. It is silly to fight over religion. Religion is supposed to spread peace amongst people, not war. The war was silly, but very deadly.”
— Asmir Mehić
 Asmir Mehic from Team Bosnia at the Homeless World Cup.  The Homeless World Cup is a unique, pioneering social movement which uses football to inspire homeless people to change their own lives. Homeless World Cup 2016 is taking place in Glasgow's George Square from July 10th to July 16th. For more information, visit www.homelessworldcup.com

 

It was extremely hard for Mehić’s mother to provide a family home in Tuzla because everything the family had had been left behind in Srebrenica. “We have been there for over 20 years, but we have never been able to afford our own house and make our own home there,” Mehić says. “We have lived in collective accommodation most of the time.”

A keen amateur footballer most of his life, and a big fan of Barcelona and Sarajevo, Mehić became involved with National Partner of the Homeless World Cup, IFS-Emmaus, when some people who were aware of his living situation asked the organisation to reach out to him.

They asked him to attend the training sessions with the organization, which offers invaluable support and guidance to young people from sensitive and vulnerable groups. His face lights up into a beaming smile when asked football means to him. “First of all, I love just playing football, it is a great sport,” he says.

“The most popular in the world and through football you can come together with other people, it brings different people together. Coming here to Glasgow I have had the chance to meet other people from other cultures like I’ve never had the chance to before. The Scottish people are really good hosts and its beautiful here,” he enthuses, although laughs as he adds: “The weather could be better!”

Looking to the future, Mehić says: “I want to find a job and have a stable situation. I want to build a home and start a family. In Bosnia, I coached young kids and I would love to do this as a job in the future as I love football so much.”

Words by Gregor Dow - gregordow@icloud.com  

Bosnia - Visegrád by Alex Walker Walker

After travelling around Kosovo for a couple of weeks,  the assignment took us to Bosnia.   

Travelling to Bosnia from Kosovo is not as easy as it might first seem.   Due to the current political relationship between Kosovo and Serbia, with Serbia not recognising Kosovo's independence and still regarding it as part of its own territory,   its not possible to enter Serbia from Kosovo without having already been in Serbia for your specific trip. (confusing right!)

This meant that a simple 7 hour journey turned into a 26 hour journey travelling through what seemed like every neighbourhood in Montenegro using two busses and a 5 hour taxi ride before we finally arrived in Sarajevo.   

After finally renting another car and driving to Visegrád.  We were able to start focusing on what we originally came for,  but it was nothing like we expected. 

Most parts of Bosnia still have many scars from the conflict in the region which was to be expected, however unlike Kosovo not much effort being made to hide it.   Bullet, grenade and shell holes are still visible in the many of the buildings but when we arrived in Visegrád what immediately stunned us,  was the overwhelming beauty of the area, which seemed to completely take the attention away from the scarred landscape.   Unlike Kosovo, with its flat open landscape,  Bosnia so far showed us gigantic ravines, bright blue still river water, and towering hills.    It was quite hard to picture the town being the victim of some of the worst war crimes since the holocaust.

More information will be available regarding the story in the near future,  it is currently a work in progress.   However in the meantime,  below are some images from Visegrád.