is Dutch history

On July 11 2020 it will be exactly 25 years since the genocide in Srebrenica took place. More than 8.000 Bosnian Muslim men and underage boys were murdered. The Dutch UN Battalion Dutchbat was supposed to provide protection. As the Bosnian Serb forces came to take over the enclave, Dutchbat was vastly outnumbered and were far too lightly equipped to repel the more heavily armed Bosnian Serb troops. It also had its request for air support to the UNPROFOR denied. Subsequently, the Serbian forces, under Mladić’s command, led Srebrenica’s Bosniak male inhabitants into the mountains, where thousands of them were massacred. This is the largest genocide in Europe since World War II.

Srebrenica is Dutch history is a campaign which demands attention for the Srebrenica genocide, the role of the Netherlands and its 25th anniversary in the Netherlands.

Photographer Robin de Puy made 25 portrait photos of Bosnian Dutch women and men of 25 years old. All photographed have roots in Bosnia, but are born or raised in the Netherlands. Their double identity symbolizes the interconnectedness of Dutch and Bosnian history. The temporary monument consists of large format prints of the 25 photos placed in a circle on the Plein. Within this circle the physical commemoration will take place on July 11, after which the temporary monument will remain for three weeks.

If you also feel that the genocide should have a more prominent place in Dutch history education and should be taught in an inclusive manner. If you agree, please sign the petition here.

Srebrenica is Dutch History shows all 25 portraits, background-information and personal stories.

Merima: “My family escaped through the woods. My father-in-law was murdered in Srebrenica. The war continues to haunt us. Even after 25 years, not all missing persons have been found. Every year we bury someone who has been identified. The Dutch government offers hardly any recognition. Srebrenica is not in the textbooks. This affects me. The war and the horrors it brought are tucked away. Dutchbat has failed, just admit it.”

Martin: “My colleagues are also on the Plein. Those men and women with full equipment, heavy vests and armored cars. I am a team leader at the training center of the military police. And I hope to give the students a moral compass. The standards and values ​, which have been brutally broken in Srebrenica. My family went through a war. And the disadvantage of Bosnians in the Netherlands. But I learned from my parents: treat everyone equally. Dare to look at yourself in the mirror to think about what you can do to prevent something like this from ever happening again.”

Enida: “As someone who is a Bosnian in the Netherlands and a Dutchman in Bosnia, I think it is very important to participate. None of us want anything like this to ever happen again. I myself have not experienced discrimination, but I always try to stand up for minorities. Because people are still oppressed. People are still being separated from their families. I feel the urgency of that problem and want to make others aware of it. I want to call on everyone to be good to each other.”

Milena: “Just before the fall of Srebrenica she saw a Dutchbatter in the camp, he was not older than 22. My mother remembers how much pity she felt for that boy, who was just crying. While she was carrying two children. I think: how, how can you put yourself in the position of another at that moment? When I see those war images my blood starts to boil. From an early age on I can’t stand injustice. At school I made sure it was brought up. But Srebrenica did not appear in the history books. That is why I hope that this cause will also bring to bear on something in education.”

Azra: “My parents came here without knowing anyone. They did not know how their family was during the war. Here they had a deaf child. But they never chose the victim role. They taught themselves and my sister sign language. They put so much energy into it. That is why I am where I am. And I am also there for them, when they start telling their stories. Which I will pass on to my children. I struggled with my three identities: Bosnian, Dutch and deaf. But like my parents, I choose to always make the most of it. I want to communicate with people and I am getting better at it.”

Adnan: “We are the invisible migrants. We are absorbed in the crowd. That is the Bosnian in us: adapting to the ruling party. My father has clear views indoors, but outside he is more careful. While as a Rotterdammer I have my heart on my sleeve. That’s why I say it honestly: Srebrenica has become a political game. A business model. Some benefit, the others watch. This cause is a counterbalance. To create awareness not only of Srebrenica, but of everything that still goes wrong in the world: African Americans, the Rohingya, the Uyghurs.”

Elvir: “I wear my father’s ring, who died in Srebrenica. And a cigarette box which was found near his body, in which he had scratched my name. I have that too. Every year I visit his grave at the large cemetery in Potočari. And then I figure out what I would do if I had millions. Because someday, if we are all stronger and financially independent, we can change the country. I would start with the infrastructure. I’d also build asphalt roads around Srebrenica, for all those villages in the mountains. I want to ensure that Bosnia is accessible to everyone.”

Amin: “My parents are both from Potočari. They have always taught us what happened, while at the same time protecting us. The more interest we showed, the more they opened up. That’s how I do it myself. If someone is really interested, then I am willing to tell. Last year I took three Dutch friends to Srebrenica. We stood there in that cemetery. They had no idea. What happened then was pointless. No one has benefited from it. If it will be forgotten, all would’ve been completely for nothing.”

Zana: “We are never in the news. How many Bosnian youth are there actually in the Netherlands? We just don’t stand out. But I am standing here, with my photo, despite everything my parents have been through. We have been given the opportunity to grow here. Everyone deserves that opportunity. I am proud of my history and my background. I took a lot of that with me. My parents’ culture also adorns me.”

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