Yesterday was 21 years since Ratko Mladic and Serb army committed Srebrenica Genocide and systematically massacred 8,000 Bosniaks. Additional 127 bodies were buried, 12 of them children. In my hometown of Bihac, empty classroom chairs and desks were placed at one of the city’s key locations to remember that those children never had their childhood because of Mladic’s monstrous acts. It has become a Bosnian ritual to bury people: every year, July 11th, new bodies, new burials in Srebrenica.
When I came to the US, the very first book I read without a stop was Elie Wiesel’s Night. I felt he knew what I felt. I felt I lived what he lived. Over there and here, then and now, our experiences have been lived before. In some places, it is ethnicity that drives mass murder, in others it is religion, or sexual orientation, or race or.....Whatever political cloud or argument overshadows violent killings of innocent people is irrelevant because we share one ugly and deeper reality: it is us who are to blame for the ebullient life of discrimination that continues to bring violence to our lives.
So, if a thought ever tempts you to judge someone else for the color of their skin, for the God they pray to, for the partner they choose, or for who you think they may be, please rewind, rethink and remember that some of us celebrate our high-school reunions by visiting graves of our friends. They died playing. They died because of discrimination.