Paweł Starzec

2013 - Ongoing

Bosnia and Herzegovina

History is a settlement within the community, regarding an order of past events approved by the members. Relying on the structured history in the process of creating common identity stresses the social significance of constructed history. The nation, as an ethnic group owning an organised state, among its constitutive features has sharing common cultural and historical grounds. The culture of the community is also based on shared version of history as well. By common saying, that’s winners who write history.

Makeshift is a project on rewriting history in Bosnia and Hercegovina, focusing on mass atrocities of Bosnian War 1992-95, places where they were committed, and their erased context. In most cases, places used to keep, torture, rape and murder civilians were renovated after the war, and thus restored to their former purpose of buildings of public utility. History is a collectively set narration, so it has the ability of being rewritten from scratch. Now, in the wake of 25th anniversary of the end of the war, a lot of events that happened are concealed by new historical narrations, in order to maintain the integrity of newly founded society of divided ethnical groups. I find it extremely important to analyse this conflict – its buildup and aftermath, as a lot of those factors seem universal and beyond specific place and time, and thus everything that happened could be easily repeated again.

The entire landscape bears contamination that part of newly written history wants to erase.

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  • Drina River. The view from Mehmed-Paša Sokolović Bridge in Višegrad, titular for Nobel-prize winning “The Bridge on The Drina” by Ivo Andric. UNESCO site. Former execution ground.

  • Alipasino Polje. There was at least one site of detention in this area. Three male witnesses describe events occurring at the prison at Alipasino Polje, indicating that there may have been only one. Because the other witnesses do not allege that women were raped at the prison where they were held, this may be another site.

  • One subject described the White House as the most infamous structure at the camp. He stated that the building was where the camp authorities held those they called extremists. According to the subject, the first room to the left was the punishment room, where hardly anyone came out alive.

    Reports stated that no one was killed with a gun at the White House, only by beatings and the like. According to reports, in the morning prisoners would see bodies piled up next to the white house. Subject estimated that guards killed five to 10 men per night, and up to 30 prisoners on some nights. He added that guards sang as they beat prisoners to death and sometimes sang nationalistic and religious songs.

  • School ground, Trnopolje. It was referred to as a «refugee reception centre» or an «open camp» by Serb authorities. However, according to one report, Trnopolje was actually run like a detention centre from May to August 1992. The camp was discovered by two crews of journalists on 7.08.1992, and one of photographs, depicting emaciated Fikret Alić behind barbed wire, was later printed on the cover of Time Magazine.

  • Keraterm. The men had not been given water for three days, and started to lost their minds, and reportedly were running out of air in the room, hallucinating, and taking off their clothes. According to a subject who was in Room 2, machine guns were lined up next to the door of Room 3. Another subject reported that he was near the door in Room 1 and saw five machine gun bays, all shooting into Room 3.

  • Each year on 21.08, 250 roses are thrown from Korićani cliffs into the abyss hiding Ilomska river in an act of remembrance. On this date in 1992 almost 250 men were killed by gunfire and thrown into the ravine.

  • Former Museum of the Revolution, Jablanica. Building was used as a detention centre. Reports estimate the number of inmates for about 800 people.

  • FK Bratstvo Stadium, Bratunac. According to one report, local Muslim residents were collected and sent to the local stadium for «consultations with the new authorities». Some 6,000 to 7,000 Muslims were interned at the stadium on 10 June 1992. They were reportedly forced to serve as blood donors, and some did not survive because so much blood had been withdrawn. Reportedly, the bodies of hundreds of individuals have been burned or thrown into the Drina River.

  • Hotel Una, Novi Grad. The victim was blindfolded and beaten both with truncheons and what he believes were bags of sand. In another account, the reporting inmate noted that prisoners were contained in rather poor facilities which consisted of one room in the cellar without windows and which was completely dark. The witness noted that there was a candle but not enough air to sustain the flame. It was reportedly also difficult to breathe.

  • Heliodrom, Rodoč. In September 1993, the camp commander reported 1,300 inmates including two women who refused to leave. On some occasions, guards withheld all food and water from the detainees, in retaliation for military setbacks. There was regular cruel treatment and infliction of great suffering, with soldiers and guards routinely beating detainees, often to the point of unconsciousness and severe injuries.

  • Partizan Sport Hall, Foča. As there were no other rooms available in the building, women were occasionally raped in the gym in front of all the detainees including children, or outside the building on the meadow. Most of the time, however, women were taken out and driven in a car to other locations. On several occasions, several women were kept several days and nights at one place and raped every night by a different group of «Cetniks».

  • One of the prosecuted stated that he visited the site in Vogošća Motel at least once a week on the suggestion or orders of his commanders or his platoon leaders. He stated that he was told it was important for his morale to rape Muslim women. Prosecuted confessed to raping eleven women on this site, and killing them at Zuc mountain afterwards.

    Prosecuted also stated that he was present when French and Canadian UNPROFOR soldiers came to take women away in UN APCs, and that UN soldiers raped women and returned them to the restaurant. Prosecuted also added that once he saw General McKenzie, the commander of UNPROFOR in Sarajevo, with four girls. He said he recognised the general from television.

  • 47 prisoners from the Bosanski Samac T.O. Building were transferred to the JNA casern in Brcko. The prisoners were reportedly interrogated and beaten. Interrogators included the camp commander and the commander of the Bosanski Samac fourth detachment, who traveled to Brcko on at least two occasions for the purpose of interrogating prisoners.

  • Apparently, women detained here were picked up by police officers, members of the White Eagles and Arkan’s and Seselj’s men. Many of them were not yet 14 years old. According to this witness, the women detained at the hotel had sufficient food and drink because they were the selected women meant to later give birth to Cetnik babies.

    Vilina Vlas was one of the main detention facilities in Visegrad. It was located in a hotel/spa about seven kilometres south-east of Visegrad proper, on the way to Gorazde. This camp was established with the coming of the Uzice Corps in the end of April. It held women for the purposes of rape, serving as a camp brothel. Of them, five committed suicide by jumping form a balcony at the hotel, six others escaped and the rest were killed after multiple rapes.

  • Viktor Bubanj Army Barracks. One report alleged that four captured soldiers were brought to this camp in September of 1992 and executed in front of other detainees. One part of the prison was allegedly in better condition for visits by journalists and the ICRC. Prisoners were beaten, and denied medical assistance, and women prisoners were rape. Nowadays The General Court of BiH.

  • Vila Disco, Doboj. Serbs detained between 200 to 412 Muslims in a building/bar in Vila. The building was owned by Kasim Perco, a Muslim who fled during the hostilities. The detainees were interrogated and beaten. At least one detainee was beaten for six hours and stabbed with a knife. Approximately 50 detainees were removed from the camp to be used as a «living shield» by soldiers. Twenty-three of the detainees were killed.

  • He made her kiss the cross he wore around his neck three times and cross herself. When she told him she did not know how, another of them showed her and made her do it. He then told her that she had changed religion and that she was now a Serb. After this time, the three other men left the room. She had to perform fellatio on the perpetrator while he held a knife to her throat. He ejaculated inside her. Then, the second man came in, and she was forced to do the same thing to him, then the third, and the fourth.

  • Hasan Veletović School, Višegrad. A witness described how she was imprisoned in this school, along with members of her family. She spoke of being raped there by Serb soldiers every single day and night. At times she was raped in front of her mother or her father, who were beaten while she was raped. She described how one day, soldiers cut off the head of her mother’s maternal uncle and played ball with it in the school yard.

  • Petkovci Dam. Between 1500 and 2000 men were executed at this location during the Srebrenica Genocide, with some bodies buried in a mass grave there, and some of them being reburied in secondary locations.

  • The Bridge on The Drina. A historical landmark described in A bridge on the Drina by Ivo Andric, stone bridge in Višegrad was used as a place of execution during ethnic cleansing of Višegrad and whole Drina Valley. Civilians were executed by having their throats slit or being thrown in the water and being shot at in-flight. River carried the bodies further downstream, and during maintenance work on nearby Perucac dam more than 300 were found. Pictured during an official municipal water jumping contest.