Tuesday, September 02, 2014


Chairs At Sarajevo Siege Ceremony Come From Serbia

Each chair, lined up in silent rows down Marshal Tito Street in the city center, symbolizes one of the people killed in the 1992-96 siege.
Each chair, lined up in silent rows down Marshal Tito Street in the city center, symbolizes one of the people killed in the 1992-96 siege.

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Video War Lives On In Sarajevo, 20 Years Later

April 6 marks 20 years since the start of the siege of Sarajevo, a 44-month blockade of the city by Bosnian Serb forces. All of Bosnia was ravaged by the war, but it was the siege of its capital city, together with the Sarajevo market massacre, that represented the worst of the horrors of the Bosnian War. RFE/RL reports from Sarajevo, a city that refused to die but where the war lives on.
When Sarajevo marks the 20th anniversary of the start of its siege on April 6, the key memorial ceremony will be poignant, moving, and not entirely free of irony.

Actors will perform a drama for an audience of 11,541 empty red chairs. Each chair, lined up in silent rows down Marshal Tito Street in the city center, will symbolize one of the people killed in the 1992-96 siege.

But a touch of irony will creep in because the chairs themselves come from neighboring Serbia. And it was Serbia which provided arms and funds to the Bosnian Serb paramilitaries who kept the city under fire for four merciless years.

Media in Sarajevo broke the story of the chairs' origin just hours before organizers begin setting them up for the ceremony.

"Mayor Alija Behman has confirmed that those chairs are coming from Stara Pazova in Serbia because the factory there offered the lowest price for them," RFE/RL correspondent Dzenana Halimovic reports from Sarajevo. "They guaranteed the shipment within the necessary time and they are going to grant the delivery. They won't charge anything."

'Wasn't Ethical Or Moral'

The news that the chairs come from Serbia has caused a stir for several reasons.

One is that – while the Serbian factory granted generous terms – the source of the chairs can't help but create mixed feelings.

"People are kind of bitter since we are talking about a significant event and we are talking about more than 11,000 people killed by people who were supported by the Yugoslav National Army and Serbia itself," Halimovic said. "And that is the main reason why people are kind of bitter here. But they do not protest, in fact. They just say that it wasn't right; it wasn't ethical or moral."

Tiny chairs for Sarajevo's youngest victims.Tiny chairs for Sarajevo's youngest victims.
Tiny chairs for Sarajevo's youngest victims.
Tiny chairs for Sarajevo's youngest victims.
Another reason the chairs are making headlines is that their origin highlights the struggling state of Bosnia-Herzegovina's economy a decade and a half after the war ended.

Behman, the Sarajevo mayor, said the organizers looked into ordering the chairs locally from the country's largest furniture factory in Gorazde, but it could not guarantee production of so many chairs on time.

That will make the simple chairs bear witness to many things on April 6. Witness to those who are not sitting in them, first and foremost. But also witness to the Herculean task of recovering from a war that killed 100,000 people across Bosnia, created 2 million refugees, and left a prosperous part of Europe in tatters still visible today.

Written by Charles Recknagel, based on reporting by RFE/RL's Balkan Service
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Comment Sorting
by: Paul from: London
April 06, 2012 07:59
Oh lighten up , chuck. Has Naser oric been invited? The real butcher of the Balkans?
In Response

by: F from: London
April 06, 2012 10:30
The numbers of the dead on the Serbian side don't get anywhere near the bosnian one. Get over it Paul!
In Response

by: Paul
April 06, 2012 13:56
Serbs are as much or more Bosnian than anyone else. If you you knew what your mujahideen did, you may change your tune.
In Response

by: F from: London
April 06, 2012 20:42
Sure they are Bosnians, perhaps they should stop calling themselves Serbs after all. Yes, I do know what mujahedeen did -I read the Hague judgements and I condemn that wholeheartedly. Those foreign mujahedeens had to understanding of the Bosnian war nor did fight for the same ideal as the Bosniaks did. Don't forget the Bosniaks never hated Christians and never will.

by: Danilo Bingham from: Zagreb Croatia
April 06, 2012 09:45
Nothing new, because of money came wars, so because this chears was cheapest, they took them.
Hope nobody will seat on them, perhaps only the ones who bought them.
In Response

by: Olympia
April 07, 2012 18:52
Yes, it also gave a chance to the most famous muslim from Sarajevo, Emir Kusturica (won Golden Palm in Cannes) to say that these chairs are there to send a massage to all bosnians to be buying domestic products (meaning Serbian products, meaning Serbia is and should be their country). Just to remind everyone that Emir Kusturica run away from Bosnia and to this day he lives in Serbia. Obviously, he does not agree with his own brothers.

by: Miroslav Milosevic from: Belgrade, Serbia
April 06, 2012 10:06
This article is a typical example of hate speech. It implies the "collectivisation of guilt" which means that everyone belonging to a nation shares the guilt for their governments' moves and decisions. The message of this article is "anything that comes from Serbia is hostile." which obviously aims the aveage Bosniak reader to think the way that they should "boycott buying all Serbian products", although Serbia's participation in Bosnian war is officially denied. On the other hand, the factory actually wanted to help the ceremony probably since they obviously tributed it to the fact it comemorates a murderous siege. Anyone questioning the "moral" of that muve is poisoned with utter hate, which being understandable or not, is not worth mentioning in a medium as RFE which claims being "independent"
In Response

by: mmmm from: Sarajevo, BiH
April 06, 2012 15:33
So, they denied it officially and that covers their participation in the war and killings of thousands of people? Wow, what a logic! Who was Arkan? Did he participate? Who was Milosevic? He didnt either I guess? Who is Seselj? Him neither? Those are only few that prove that Serbia was a main factor and the participant in this war. Also, why is Serbia looking for Bosnians that committed the war crime in Bosnia? Why are so many people on interpol's or whatever other lists by Serbia's request? Maybe because they didn't participate? I don't think so. Serbia did participate and was a main contributor to all atrocities that have happened. You should check your facts before you want to defend your beloved country. I know it hurts and it wasn't right and many wish that i never happened, but the fact is that it did and the sooner people like you start taking the responsibility for your people's action the sooner this all will be behind us.
In Response

by: Stefan
April 06, 2012 22:11
A lot of people in Serbia did support the war because it was advertised as the war against secession. The Bosnian Serb's were never asked whether they wanted to secede from Yugoslavia or not, that's the main cause of the war in Bosnia, and Serbs as constituent people of Bosnia and Hercegovina federal unit of SFRY had to be asked and had to give their approval before BiH declared independence. It was therefore logical that Serbs from other serbian lands such as Republic of Serbia and Montenegro support the struggle of their countrymen.

But to say all serbs are guilty and should have collective feeling of guilt is utterly stupid. No sane person would ever support the horrific war crimes that happened in Sarajevo or Srebrenica, and people accused of that have been brought to justice. I wish the bosnian muslim side would bring their accused to justice too and realize that this war was caused by political power hungry elites on both sides and not by some crazy Serbs or Bosnians willing to go to war for no reason
In Response

by: Mark from: Australia
April 06, 2012 21:02
No Miroslav, it is not hostile to Serbia, but insensitive to the victims. It would be the equivalent of sourcing German made parts for a holocaust memorial. It involves a commonsense and nuanced understanding that is either generally lacking in the region or exploited in games of emotional blackmail.

On the point of "collectivisation of guilt", there is ample irony that the Serb state and by implication Serbs, that have been tagged as the genocidal people because of the war crimes in the 1990s, especially given the military advantage the Serb armies had, for so long tried to tarnish their neighbours with the same tag, even til today.

The ICTY is not perfect, but it is the best arbiter of truth for the region there is at the moment.

by: Mick from: Australia
April 06, 2012 13:46
This article is so stupid who cares where the chairs came from? really? So what is this article trying to say that Bosnian Muslims should boycott Serbian made products? Or the morality of buying Serbian products because of the war? Who really gives a sh#@t!
In Response

by: Mark from: Australia
April 06, 2012 20:52
I'ld say there are 11,541 reasons to care, to paraphrase your vernacular.

The article is questioning whether it is appropriate to be sourcing the centerpiece of a memorial for the 11,541 victims of Serb shelling, from the very nation-state that aided and abetted in the deaths of those Sarajevans (cf ICTY case of Dragomir Milosevic).

It would be akin to a ceremony commemorating the victims of the holocaust sourcing the memorial from Germany. It's insensitive to the victims.
In Response

by: vn from: Belgrade
April 07, 2012 12:36
From your comments I gather you would deny that there had been any Serbian victims in Sarajevo, with relatives in Serbia and elsewhere, which is rather disrespectful to them. The victims came from all nationalities. But you're not the only one spinning such nonsense here. And your correlations of Germany and holocaust as Yugoslavia (Serbia, Macedonia & Montenegro) versus Bosnia are completely out of place. Who, in the first place, would be so stupid as to say that all Germans belonged to the Hitler's Nazi Party?

by: Vakhtang from: Moscow
April 08, 2012 03:45
There is a denigration of the Serbs..
аnd who ever thought about the other nationalities, that surround the Serbs?...аbanians trafficked in drugs and human organs, using seized territory of Serbia..
Why Sarkozy is silent?
If I catch him anywhere...Sarkozy will speak correctly...he did not hide behind Bruni..
Sarkozy!!! Bring back tо Germans what they had won in the forties...

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