The 2019 edition of TRUE STORIES MARKET presents five cases selected from the archives of key organisations that work to document the Yugoslav Wars to film and TV professionals.
The Fight for Justice by a Kosovo War Rape Survivor
During the Kosovo War in 1998-99, many women were subjected to sexual violence. Twenty years after the end of the war, during a televised interview, Vasfije Krasniqi Goodman became the first survivor of wartime rape in Kosovo to speak publicly about her ordeal. In her own words, Krasniqi Goodman was fortunate enough to have the support of her family, which most other survivors of wartime rape in Kosovo do not enjoy. Krasniqi Goodman’s story is also a story about thousands of other women in Kosovo who still live in fear of stigmatisation and exclusion from society – women whose loved ones know nothing of their experiences, and who often struggle with serious psychological problems. Krasniqi Goodman sought justice before the courts in Kosovo, but in vain. The two Serb policemen indicted for her rape were acquitted of all charges in 2014.
End of the Road for the Victims of the Koricanske Stijene/Koricani Cliffs Massacre
On August 21, 1992, members of the Prijedor Police Intervention Squad executed more than two hundred civilians at Koricanske Stijene (the Koricani Cliffs) on Mount Vlasic in Central Bosnia. Only twelve people survived the massacre. On July 20, 2019, remains of more than one hundred victims were finally laid to rest. This was the last act of the senseless tragedy, as most of the perpetrators of the massacre were tried and sentenced, and the remains of most of the victims were recovered. The Hague-based United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia tried and convicted the masterminds and some of the direct perpetrators of the massacre (Milomir Stakić, Radovan Karadžić, and Darko Mrđa), while to date, Bosnia and Herzegovinian courta have imprisoned ten direct executors. The convicts who confessed their guilt (Damir Ivanović, Gordan Ðurić, Ljubisa Četić) shared information about what happened on the day of the massacre, and the remains of all the victims have finally been found.
The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) is a regional network of non-governmental organisations that promote freedom of speech, human rights, and democratic values in Southeast Europe. BIRN has developed a specific network structure that includes local independent organisations gathered around an umbrella organisation – Balkan Investigative Regional Reporting Network (BIRN Hub) – a structure that has the advantage of combining local, nation-based expertise with unique regional co-operation.
The Story of Iva Radić, Who Is Still Searching for the Remains of her Father killed in Vukovar
Iva Radić has spent the past twenty-eight years searching for her father. Radić was born to a Serb mother and a Croat father, who did not fight in the Croatian War of Independence. When the war reached Vukovar, the Radić family fled. “My father Mijo had relatives in Split, who told him they would welcome him and me, but neither my mother nor the children from her first marriage. After that, we all went to Serbia, but soon we decided to return to our hometown. Upon our return to Vukovar, soldiers of the Yugoslav Peoples’ Army stopped our car not far from the Velepromet storage facility, which had been converted into a makeshift prison camp. They ordered my mother, my sister – who had just reached legal age – my physically disabled father, who suffered from muscular dystrophy, and me out of the car, and took us to be interrogated. They separated my father from the rest of us, and took him to be questioned in nearby Negoslavci. That was the last time we saw him. After ten days, they put my mother, my sister and me on a bus to Serbia,” recalls Radić, citing events from November of 1991, when she was eight years old.
Documenta – Centre for Dealing with the Past – encourages the process of dealing with the past in Croatia, through documenting and investigating pre-war, wartime, and post-war events, and works with organisations of civil society and government institutions, and with similar centres abroad.
The Story of Selma Čengić
Selma Čengić was a twenty-five-year-old nurse when the war in Bosnia Bosnian War broke out, but she managed to escape to Germany with her parents, her husband, her brother, and her three-year-old son. Three years later, the war was still raging and the men in the group decided to return to their homeland to fight. Even though she learned German, found a job, and enrolled her son in school, she could not bear the thought of her husband, father, and brother returning without her. Against everyone’s advice, Čengić handed the legal guardianship over her child to her mother, so she could return to Bosnia to tend to the wounded. On the way home, Čengić was the only woman in a bus full of men. After several years of horror, she was reunited with her family. Today, she is in an ethnically mixed marriage, and is the mother of two boys.
Izvor is an association that was established in 1996 by families of missing persons and civilian victims of war. It gathers information regarding the relatives of missing and killed civilians from the Prijedor municipality. In its database, Izvor has records of 3,176 missing and killed civilians from Prijedor, among them 258 women and 102 children. Nearly a quarter-century after the end of the Bosnian War, more than 520 civilians from the municipality of Prijedor are still unaccounted for. Some 320 families of civilian victims of war returned to their pre-war homes in Prijedor, while most others live abroad and only occasionally visit the city.
The Story of Fikret Bačić
Fikret Bačić was a husband and a father of two when he was fired from his job in 1991. He left to work in Germany soon after. A year later, he learned that all thirty-two members of his extended family had been executed outside their family home in Zecovi. Among them were his wife, his mother, his children, and all his nieces and nephews. Six years later, he returned to Bosnia to start a new family, and to try find the bodies of his loved ones. He took part in the prosecution of those responsible for the crimes, and launched an initiative to erect a memorial to the 102 children murdered in Prijedor during the war. Bačić envisaged a memorial that pays tribute to all victims, regardless of their ethnicity. Yet, to this day, he still has not managed to persuade the local authorities to approve the memorial, nor has he found the remains of his family.
Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly Banja Luka was officially registered on August 16, 1996, as a local nongovernmental organisation in Republika Srpska / Bosnia and Herzegovina. Since that period, hCa Banja Luka has actively participated in promoting, strengthening, and linking civil initiatives, working on reconciliation and the empowerment of marginalised groups for political activism, both on the local and regional levels.