Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

IN THE PAPERS

Valls ♥ Business

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

New French economy minister signals changes to 35-hour week

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

'Macron-economy' pun already worn out

Read more

DEBATE

What Next for Gaza? Lasting Ceasefire Agreed After 50 Days of War (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

What Next for Gaza? Lasting Ceasefire Agreed After 50 Days of War

Read more

FOCUS

Video: Milan is starting point for Syrian refugees’ European odyssey

Read more

MIDDLE EAST MATTERS

Terrorist ransoms: Should governments pay up for hostages?

Read more

ENCORE!

Kristen Stewart and Juliette Binoche star in 'Clouds of Sils Maria'

Read more

WEB NEWS

India: journalist launches "Rice Bucket Challenge"

Read more

  • Assad cannot be partner in fight against terrorism, says Hollande

    Read more

  • Ukraine calls on NATO amid rebel counter-attack

    Read more

  • Platini will not run against Blatter for FIFA presidency

    Read more

  • New French economy minister takes swipe at 35-hour work week

    Read more

  • Erdogan's inauguration paves way for constitutional change

    Read more

  • Air France suspends flights to Ebola-stricken Sierra Leone

    Read more

  • Uzi shooting by 9-year-old rekindles gun debate

    Read more

  • Mother of American journalist asks IS leader for his release

    Read more

  • UN probe accuses Syrian regime, Islamists of ‘crimes against humanity’

    Read more

  • Uruguayans sign up to grow marijuana at home

    Read more

  • Missouri governor appoints black public safety director

    Read more

  • French unemployment rises 0.8% in July to record high

    Read more

  • Video: Iraq’s Yazidis flee to spiritual capital of Lalish

    Read more

  • Video: Milan is starting point for Syrian refugees’ European odyssey

    Read more

  • Airstrikes and Assad - Obama’s military conundrum in Syria

    Read more

  • IMF’s Lagarde investigated in French corruption case

    Read more

  • In pictures: The ministers in France's new government

    Read more

Europe

Sarajevo marks 20th anniversary of brutal conflict

Video by FRANCE 24

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2012-04-06

Sarajevo marked on Friday the 20th anniversary of the Bosnian War, a conflict that saw two million displaced and 100,000 killed. The nation still struggles with the legacy of the brutal conflict, with ongoing simmering ethnic tensions.

AFP - More than 11,000 red chairs lined Sarajevo's main avenue on Friday as Bosnians marked the 20th anniversary of the bloodiest conflict in Europe since World War II with songs and remembrance.

Thousands of people gathered as a choir accompanied by a small classical orchestra performed an arrangement of 14 songs, most of them composed during the city's bloody siege.

"Why are you not here?" they sang to the 11,541 empty seats on Marshal Tito Avenue, one for each civilian killed in the city during the 1992-95 war.

People placed white roses on some of the chairs, while on the smaller seats symbolising the hundreds of children killed sat teddy bears, toys and school books.

"The amount of empty chairs shows the horror that we lived through," Hazima Hadzovic said.

"I just feel the need to come and honour the victims. I lost so many friends I cannot even remember all of their names now," the 56-year-old told AFP.

The ceremonies were taking place exactly 20 years since ethnic Serb snipers fired on a peace protest attended by thousands of Bosnians, shattering the last hopes for peace.

As the first civilian casualties of the war fell, the European Union recognised Bosnia's independence from the former Yugoslavia on April 6, 1992.

In the following three and a half years the country was torn apart along ethnic lines.

Some 100,000 people were killed and half the population of 4.4 million fled their homes.

Many in Sarajevo live daily with the memories of the longest city siege in modern history. For 44 months Belgrade-backed Bosnian Serbs shelled the town from the hills above and snipers shot pedestrians at random.

"I mostly recall the near continuous bombardment, the snipers, the dead," 64-year-old Fuad Novalija, a craftsman in Sarajevo's old town, told AFP.

"The shells fell when we least expected them. People were killed as they queued for water or bread."

While the city's most symbolic buildings have all been restored, Sarajevo still bears the traces of shells and bullets.

It was the 1995 massacre of 8,000 Muslims after the fall of the UN "safe area" of Srebrenica to the Bosnian Serbs that finally led to NATO intervention.

Five months after the massacre -- labelled a genocide by a UN war crimes tribunal and the UN's top court, the International Court of Justice -- the Western-imposed Dayton peace agreement ended the war.

Bosnian Serb political and military leaders Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic are both facing trial for genocide before the UN war crimes court in The Hague for Srebrenica. The other main protagonists of the war have all died or have been convicted of war crimes.

While Dayton brought peace, it also cemented the ethnic divisions that still haunt the country today, creating a state composed of the Muslim-Croat Federation and the Bosnian Serbs' Republika Srpska.

The two semi-autonomous statelets have their own political institutions, loosely connected through an almost powerless central government.

Craftsman Novalija said Bosnia has been stagnating politically since the end of the war as the economic situation deteriorates.

"We have peace now, but that is really the only progress," he concluded bitterly.
 

Date created : 2012-04-06

  • INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE

    Mladic war crimes trial set for May 14

    Read more

  • BOSNIA

    Leaders form cabinet to end crisis in ethnically divided Bosnia

    Read more

  • BOSNIA

    Police arrest 17 over attack on US embassy in Sarajevo

    Read more

COMMENT(S)