SARAJEVO -- Exactly 11,541 red chairs were lined up in rows along the main street of Sarajevo -- one for every man, woman, and child killed during the siege of the city that began two decades ago.
Many of the chairs were small, representing the hundreds of children killed.
The dramatic "Sarajevo Red Line" project was one of many exhibitions, concerts, and performances held to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the start of the siege of Sarajevo by Bosnian Serb forces, which launched the 1992-95 conflict in Bosnia in which more than 100,000 people were killed and more than 2.2 million fled their homes.
According to RFE/RL's correspondent in Sarajevo, Daisy Sindelar, events organized to commemorate the anniversary were seen by many as the first opportunity for the people of Sarajevo to collectively remember the victims.
"This is a city where the war dead were buried wherever space was available, at a time when people could not move far from their houses," she said. "So parks and soccer stadiums in ordinary neighborhoods all served as impromptu graveyards. So many people feel there has never been a chance for the city to come together en masse to pay tribute to the adults and children lost during the siege."
Many Sarajevans wiped away tears as they remembered their loved ones who died during the 44-month siege, the longest in modern history.
Biba Mehimovic, 65, looking at the sweeping rows of small red chairs with her granddaughter Sara, 5, said she felt a range of emotions.
"I'm very sad," she said. "But at the same time, I'm very proud, because Sarajevo is still a city for everyone, still a multiethnic place -- for Serbs, Croats, Jews, Roma -- everyone."
Elma Ocuz, a 14-year-old schoolgirl, also came to Titova Street to attend the commemoration events. She's too young to remember the war herself, but she has heard many stories from her parents and her older brother, who was just 6 months old when the war began.
"My brother was very little, and the food was gone, and it was very hard for [my parents] to see the baby with nothing to eat," she said. "When they talk to me about it now, it's hard for me to listen because it's a very hard story. But I'm proud of my parents, because they made it. They made it."
Bosnian Serb forces laid siege to Sarajevo after the European Community recognized the independence Bosnian Muslims and Croats had voted for in a referendum opposed by the Serbs.
Hundreds Of Children Among Victims
Bosnian Serb forces aided by Serbia went on to occupy 70 percent of the country, killing and persecuting non-Serbs.
In the siege of Sarajevo, which began on April 6, 1992, some 380,000 people were left without electricity, water, or heating as they tried to take cover from more than 300 shells that smashed into the city each day.
Many of those who died during the siege -- including hundreds of children -- were killed by snipers
The Bosnian conflict ended in 1995 with the Dayton peace agreement. That deal ended the fighting but left the nation strongly divided along ethnic lines, with Bosnia-Herzegovina comprising the Muslim-Croat Federation and Republika Srpska.
PHOTO GALLERY: Sarajevo Then And Now
A Bosnian teenager carries containers of water in front of destroyed trams at Skenderia Square in Sarajevo on June 22, 1993. A woman passes through the same square on April 4, 2012.
The wreckage of a tram is seen on a street following shelling in the Skenderija district in Sarajevo in March 1992. A tram travels down along the same street on May 30, 2011.
A man carries firewood across a destroyed bridge near Sarajevo's burned-out national library on January 1, 1994. A man carries a box over the same bridge, now repaired, on April 1, 2012.
People climb on an abandoned tank standing at a crossroads in front of a ruined building in the Kovacici district in Sarajevo in February 1996. People walk along the same road on May 30, 2011.
A UN peacekeeper stands in front of the damaged United Investment and Trading Company towers and an Orthodox church in Sarajevo in March 1993. The renovated towers on April 1, 2012.
A building burning after being shelled in the Pofalici district in Sarajevo in April 1992. The same building pictured on May 30, 2011.
A Bosnian woman does her laundry in the Dobrinja River in the Sarajevo front-line district of Dobrinja on August 2, 1993. The same river is seen April 1, 2012.
Three boys run behind a UN armored personnel carrier as it moves past a burned-out tram in Skenderia Square on August 10, 1993. Vehicles, including a tram, in the same square on April 1, 2012.
Bosnian theater director Haris Pasovic, the organizer of the "Sarajevo Red Line," maintains that the city "needs to stop for a moment and pay tribute" to those killed during the siege.
"Those people gave their lives for the freedom of this city," he said. "They loved this city. They were killed just because they were citizens of this city, because they were in their homes, at their schools, at their playgrounds. They were killed in the hospitals, in the streets, in the apartments, everywhere."
Events to commemorate the anniversary included a "virtual museum" depicting the siege.
On April 5, Vedran Smajlovic, known as "the Cellist of Sarajevo," performed his first concert in the city since the end of the fighting.
Smajlovic had played his cello in the streets, bomb shelters, and at funerals as mortars rained on Sarajevo, becoming a symbol of resistance to war.
PHOTO GALLERY: Remembering The Siege
A Bosnian Muslim woman walks near a banner with the number 11,541 -- the number of Sarajevans killed in the 44-month siege.
"Sarajevo Red Line" was a musical-theater performance that took place in front of 11,541 empty chairs -- one for each citizen killed during the siege.
Many of the chairs were small to represent the hundreds of children killed.
A baby doll rests on a red chair that is one of 643 representing the children who died in the siege.
A man pays his respects at a memorial to the children who died.
Sarajevans look at memorial scrolls bearing the names of some of the children killed.
A delegation from the city of Sarajevo, citizens, and state officials, along with guests, laid flowers at the Memorial Eternal Flame.
A light rain fell as thousands of Sarajevans gathered on the city’s central Titova Street for the “Red Line Sarajevo” commemoration.
Sarajevans stop to look at pages from war-era newspapers posted in shop fronts along the city’s main Titova Street as part of the commemorations.
With reporting by AP and AFP