The first time that I walked through the Genocide Memorial Cemetery in Srebrenica-Potočari, Bosnia, I was struck by how peaceful it felt. The surrounding hills were beautiful, wild flowers were everywhere and the sky was impossibly blue. Rows of thousands of white tombstones, however, made me quickly realize that what happened in that place in 1995 was anything but peaceful. It was there that thousands of men and boys were slaughtered in the worst genocide in Europe since WWII.
As the Director of DU’s International Service Learning Bosnia & Herzegovina (ISL BiH) program, and the faculty lead for The Social Work Response in Post-War Bosnia course, I have since had the opportunity to visit Srebrenica many times when I bring DU students to Bosnia each summer. During these trips, we have the honor of working with Hasan Hasanović, the curator and interpreter at this memorial. Mr. Hasanović survived the 1995 genocide, although most of his family did not. I have always hoped that he could come to DU where he would be able to have an impact on so many more people than just those who come with me to Bosnia. We are so fortunate to be hosting him as part of the DU Sesquicentennial.
The world promised that the Holocaust would be the last genocide. Fifty years later, it happened again in Bosnia. The world knew it was happening, and the world stood by. Mr. Hasanović has an important story to tell about the human experience of war, genocide and resilience of spirit. After listening to him speak, we will all be challenged to think about our responsibility toward the innocent victims of war, genocide and other human rights violations.
I hope that you will join us to hear this remarkable man tell his remarkable story. He will be speaking at the DU Graduate School of Social Work in Craig Hall on Wednesday, January 29, at 4:30. Please click here for information and registration.Ann Petrila Clinical Associate Professor Director of Field Education at GSSW Director of International Service Learning Bosnia & Herzegovina