20 Years After Srebrenica Massacre, Women Are the Healers

   •    July 6, 2015

This article was originally published by The Boston Globe.

As US Ambassador to Austria, I took part in a ceremony in May 1995 marking the half-century anniversary of the liberation of a Nazi concentration camp by American forces. One after another, envoys stood at the wreath-laying and declared: “Never again.”

Yet within a few hundred miles, in a genocidal land grab, Serbian nationalists were conducting a campaign of terror that cost more than 200,000 Yugoslav lives, left 60 percent of Bosnian homes destroyed, and planted millions of landmines in fields. With no international resistance, the horrors peaked in the worst atrocity in Europe since 1945: On July 11, Serb forces began to slaughter 8,000 unarmed Muslim men and boys in the town of Srebrenica. That carnage became a tripwire for US-led intervention to end the atrocities.

On the 20th anniversary of the massacre, the women of the Balkans are finding strength in their calls for justice and their work for reconciliation. Some have defied trauma and moved back to Serb-dominated Srebrenica, managing to put aside memories of rape and torture to breathe life into a place of death. Even as they’ve planted crops in soil where their husbands and sons lie in mass graves, their sisters have built organizations bridging ethnic divides. Together, they have catalyzed a global movement to change the way we halt and heal the wounds of war.

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