Thursday, November 29, 2012

thoughts on: Logavina Street

Logavina Street: Life and Death in a Sarajevo NeighborhoodLogavina Street: Life and Death in a Sarajevo Neighborhood by Barbara Demick

I remember the events of Sarajevo, but if I ever knew the causes, I had forgotten them. Barbara Demick, at the time a young foreign correspondent living and reporting from Sarajevo throughout its civil war, beautifully captures both the spirit of the people of Sarajevo and the nightmare they endured.

For centuries a city where religions coexisted peacefully (30% of marriages were of mixed religious backgrounds), fashionable and affluent Sarajevo became a war zone when Serbian nationalists besieged it in an attempt to expand Serbian territory.

Demick's reporting and book focused on the residents of Logavina Street, located in a predominantly but far from exclusively Muslim neighborhood. On Logavina lived imams, doctors, hairdressers, members of the Croatian military, orphans, etc. A microcosm of the residents of the city, rich and not, Muslim, Serb, Croatian, neighbors who before the war had seen their differences as minimal and were shocked that anyone would use religion as an impetus for war. Not in Sarajevo. Not their home.

The horrors of the war, the deaths, the deprivations, the dignity of those who endure - these are easy to remember, but they are not the most important lessons. We need to learn that no place is immune to such violence, that the hatred of even a small minority can destroy peace, that radicalism arises not from true religion but from avarice and lust for power.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"For centuries a city where religions coexisted peacefully (30% of marriages were of mixed religious backgrounds), fashionable and affluent Sarajevo"

Not true. The people turned against each other in WWI and WWII - fought on different sides and neighbors/mobs were killing those of the other ethnicity in those wars too. As well there was tension and discrimination during those centuries. There is a story in an Ivo Andric, the famous Nobel Prize winning writer, called "Letter from 1920" which goes on and on about the dangerous hate in Bosnia, just under the surface:

"...But see, there exists something that people from Bosnia, at least people of your sort, should have to see, to never lose out of sight: Bosnia is a land of hate and terror. Leaving the terror aside as a correlative of that hate, its natural echo, I want to talk about hate. Yes, hate. You too are instinctively shaking and complaining when you hear this word (I saw it that night on the train station), just as all of you refuses to hear, see and realise that. But the point is that it should be seen, established and analysed. Unfortunately, nobody can or is capable of doing that. The fatal characteristics of that hate is that Bosnian man is not aware of the hate that lives in him, is afraid of analysing it and – hates anyone who attempts to try to do so."

"mick's reporting and book focused on the residents of Logavina Street...members of the Croatian military"

Ah yes, the Croatian military from Croatia was in Bosnia the whole time - 40,000 of them. Croatia wasn't sanctioned or threatened over this. Croatia was destroying Bosnian (specifically Bosnian Serb) villages and the west was silent. They also had their own torture/rape camps of Serbs (or operated some in collusion with the Muslims). (During the Muslim-Croat war which broke out in late '92 in southern and some central parts of Bosnia, they put each other in camps/prisons where they'd held Serbs previously).

Also, the shooter of the mixed couple, the so-called "Romeo and Juliet of Sarajevo" was identified as a Croat sniper in Sarajevo named Dragan Bozic, in an independent Croat newspaper. Serbs were being blamed for what Muslims and Croats did all the time. And the Muslims especially knew it and that Serbs would get the bad PR and blame. This was witnessed by UN officials who were living there during the war, and spotted and traced them in some cases. But the mainstream media kept this ignored or suppressed.

Now Sarajevo is practically pure Muslims. And Izetbegovic was an ex-con who wanted a Muslim state for decades before the war. He outlined it in his book, published in 1972. The western media falsely advertised and pushed him as a moderate. The real moderate was Fikret Abdic from Northwest Bosnia who actually had more votes than Izetbegovic, but was sidelined.
Fikret Abdic was actually allied to the Serbs during the war. FACT!
In the end, he and his tens of thousands of moderate Bosnian Muslims in the northwest were attacked and chased into Croatia where the Croats stopped them from moving further north.