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Thursday, September 19: Day 150 – Modern Day Ruins

There are reminders of the war around every corner in Mostar. Here is a photo of the sniper location.

Here is the large traffic circle where people were being targeted by the sniper.

Here is what we passed on the way to the bus. Are these reminders of war or a slow response to clean up?

Even a memorial to those who perished in the war was in ruins.

We left Mostar by bus. We waited at the east side bus station which is very run down. There were four young kids from about 5-8 who were smoking. They were looking for cigarettes in trash cans. I didn’t give them money but they seemed happy when I gave them pizza.

It is hard to pass by beggars in the streets. Some are in real bad shape: gnarled and twisted limbs, open sores, blind, etc.

The drive was beautiful. When we arrived in Sarajevo, it was cold. Remember that the 1984 Winter Olympics took place here. I put on my winter coat and St. Louis Cardinal hat.

As the Swedes say, “There is no bad weather, just bad clothing.”


We went to a museum about the genocide that occurred at Srebrenica.

There were so many mass murders during the war, but most people would agree that one of the worst was Srebrenica. Thirty one thousand went missing. Remains of 8,372 executed Muslims have been recovered. It is known as the greatest massacre since WWII.

There were 40,000 refugees in Srebrenica. In April 1993, Srebrenica was declared a safe city by NATO so logically, war refugees, mostly Bosnian Muslims, flocked to the city.

Sadly, this made it easy for the Bosnian Serbian Army to exterminate these people. They were largely in one place. So in July 1995 they entered the city and killed most of these Bosnian Muslims. Very few escaped. This can’t be anything but genocide.

The process of exhuming the bodies, identifying the remains and burying the victims is a long and arduous. The remains have been found in primary, secondary and tertiary locations.

A primary location is the term used for the location of the massacre. A secondary location means that the bodies were transferred, often by bulldozer and a move to front line sites is a type of cover-up for the war crimes. A tertiary site is rare but not unusual as the bodies had been moved a second time. Bodies moved by bulldozer are damaged and incomplete making DNA analyses difficult. One body had remains in five different graves. These are crime scenes of exhumation.

Even if one bone is found, there is a burial so the family can have closure. They don’t refer to the remains as bodies of victims but a bag of bones.

There is a commemorative funeral every year as a memorial service for the genocide victims of Srebrenica. It is ironic that some of the policemen who are guards for the event are the same ones who killed the people that are being commemorated.

At the “first” funeral in Potocari, six hundred graves were dug and remains were interred there. Four shovels were used per grave. A photographer recording the event said that dirt hitting a coffin was an awful sound…but magify that by 2,400!

Some try to say that this was a civil war and not aggression. The facts don’t point to that. What occured here was ugly and evil with no justification.

Men were either killed on site or rounded up and put on buses and transported to other areas. Many were shot on bridges and tossed into the river. Those waiting in other buses were forced to watch.

On July 11, men who realized their future decided to walk through the mountains in order to get to Tuzla, a free city in the north. On this march, the Serbian army was shooting and shelling the woods as they escaped. Also, there were mines so each man stepped where the last one stepped.

Many were captured and then murdered by the Bosnian Serb Army. One father, Ramo, called out to his son, Nermin, to come out from the woods. “They won’t hurt us.” This scene was captured in a photograph by a Bosnian Serb soldier. Here is a statue replica in a park in Sarajevo.

You can find the real photo online. The remains of Ramo and Nermin were found in a mass grave.

Today there is a Peace Walk each July that traces the steps of these frightened, starving men. Many tears are shed along the way.

Pray for the families of these victims of these senseless killings! May God heal their horrible memories and the brokeness that was left behind. Only Jesus can heal this type of pain. Come, Lord. Amen.

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