Bosnia & Hercegovina

Bosnia & Hercegovina
September 1992
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Naila Jusufagic and her husband are Bosnians of Muslim descent from Sarajevo, who escaped in July 1991 and came to Canada as refugees

Twenty nine years ago I was born in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Hercegovina .. one of the six republics of the Yugoslav federation. I had a happy childhood, and was raised in the atmosphere of absolute tolerance and love towards the other cultures in Bosnia and Hercegovina – Serbs, Croats, Jews, etc.

Although my father and mother had lived through the Second World War and had seen much atrocities and injustice to Muslims from the Serbs, they never taught me to hate them collectively .. they would always say that those were the Ultranationalist Serbs “Cetnicks”, and that their rule would never happen again.

As I grew up in Sarajevo, my concerns ranged from: how to finish my studies at University and find a good job, to how to dress nice and where to go for vacation. My life there was like a song, and it was the same with most of my friends, regardless of their nationality, religion, sex, colour of eyes or hair.

And look at me now .. I am here in Canada with my husband, happy to be alive and in a safe place, but at the same time, tormented to be separated from our parents, brothers, and friends, desperate for news from them, not even knowing if they are alive! We probably no longer have our house and belongings back there … Everything we worked hard for all our lives is gone.

Every time I sit to a meal, I can’t help wondering when my family have last eaten. I envisage the elderly having to stand in a bread line surrounded by gun fire.

It hurts us even more that we no longer have our Serb friends, with whom we shared many a joyful hour as we grew up together, suddenly we are at the two opposite ends of a conflict that neither they nor us created. My husband’s and my best friends in Bosnia are Bosnian .. Croats, Serbs .. and were just as stunned by the ridiculous stories about them being harassed. We all naively disregarded this, and kept saying oh that is stupid and such obvious propaganda, nobody will accept that .. but unfortunately, as Goebel said once : the hundred times repeated lie becomes the truth !

Our lives have turned into hell .. and why all that ? !

The oldest reason in the world has been pulled out .. RELIGION! Suddenly, in our united community, in the middle of our mutual respect and harmony, the seed of evil had been planted, and started growing and flourishing its bloody flowers all over ex – Yugoslavia. Please forgive the expression, but it is hard to be mild in our circumstances !

We know one thing for sure: we are going to live together again in the future, like we had before, but when .. and at what cost .. ? !