War Veterans at the Commemoration in Stupni Do: We are building relationships based on trust and solidarity
At the invitation of the Organising Committee to mark 25
years since the war crime against Bosniaks in Stupni Do near Vareš, war
veterans from the region, former members of the Army of RBiH, HVO, VRS, HV,
VJ and JNA, attended today’s commemoration dedicated to those killed in
Stupni Do near Vareš.
On 23 October 1993 (according to ICTY information in the
case against Ivica Rajić), 32 civilians, including five children, were killed
in Stupni Do, about five kilometres from Vareš. Multiple perpetrators have been
convicted of this war crime.
“It is my honour and pleasure to see members of what were
once warring sides standing together here in Stupni Do to pay their respects to
the victims. I am speechless, for me personally, this is a big thing and I feel
I am speaking on behalf of all the people of Stupni Do. They can see that
Bosniak victims from this village have not been forgotten and this group of
veterans sends a message of never again and shows us the path we need to take,”
said Emir Likić on behalf of the organising committee.
Since 2008, the peace organisation Centre for Nonviolent Action, with offices in Sarajevo and Belgrade, has been organising visits by groups of war veterans from Croatia, Serbia and BiH to sites of atrocities against civilians and soldiers committed in the recent war and to official commemorations honouring victims, organised by local and state authorities and victims’ associations.
“By coming to the commemoration, you come to terms with what happened in Bosnia and Herzegovina and you realise that individuals from all sides committed horrific crimes. Then you ask yourself whether we still have the humanity, the kindness to move forward. You wonder if you’ll have the strength to visit a place where members of your people committed a crime. Can each of us do that? We, war veterans, who came here to Stupni Do and pay our respects to the victims, we send a message to young people that despite everything that happened, we can live together,” said Mirko Zečević-Tadić, former member of HVO.
Under the organisation of the Centre for Nonviolent Action,
veterans from the region have attended commemorations in BiH in Gornji Vakuf,
at Site 715 near Zavidovići, in Stog near Vozuća, in Novi Grad/Bosanski Novi, Sanski Most (Hrastova glavica), Sijekovac near Brod,
Laništa near Brčko, Trusina near Konjic, and in Serbia in Grdelička klisura
near Leskovac, Varvarin near Kruševac, Aleksinac, as well as in Croatia in
Pakrac, Varivode and Gošić near Knin.
“We came here on the day when the people of Stupni Do
remember the greatest tragedy that befell this place. As war veterans and peace
activists, we came to pay our respects to the victims of this horrific war
crime. With compassion for the families of victims and their neighbours and
friends, we want to send a message of peace and hope that it is possible to
build new relations between people based on mutual trust and a common desire
for good and solidarity among people,” said Amer Delić from the Centre for
Nonviolent Action Sarajevo/Belgrade.
At the working meeting after the commemoration, the war
veterans from the region were joined by the Mayor of Vareš Zdravko Marošević
and the head imam of the Vareš Islamic Community Mejlis Ramiz ef. Zubača.
Media reports on the visit: