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Michel Slomka

Srebrenica, le retour à la terre (2010-2015)

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Twenty years ago, the 11th of July 1995, the biggest massacre in Europe since World War II occurred. When general Ratko Mladic and Bosnian-Serbs forces took over the "safety area" of Srebrenica, they achieved their ethnic cleansing policy against Muslims, killing 8.300 men and deporting their families far away from their land.
Twenty years have gone by. That day, children were separated from their fathers, uncles, cousins and brothers, never to see them again. They waited for months and years, far away from home; some are waiting still. Twenty years passed, and the children grew. War dispersed them to the four corners of the world, with broken memories and a giant wound in place of a heritage.
Some of them decided to come back, determined to go back to that fracture in history: Srebrenica.
Sadmir is one of them; in 2006, at the age of 24, his return to the mother land seemed obvious. He came back alone, sleeping in the ruins of the familial house.At first, he hid a Swiss knife in his sleeping bag, but it turned out he never had to use it. He made repairs, found a job, and fell in love with Djelaludina, whom he wed. Twenty years have gone by and the country they knew as kids no longer exists. Torn villages and abandoned fields have been taken over by the forest; the population has dwindled to nearly nothing; the economy is running in slow motion. Inevitably, the echo of passed massacres keeps on resounding in the emptiness of these mountains.
In spite of these events, twenty years afterwards, life presses on. Sadmir and Djelaludina had a little boy and a little girl. Soon, a classroom will reopen, made up of the children of all those who have chosen to come back. The pupils there might ask questions for which the answer is not necessarily at hand. Someday, however, they will understand their parent?s choice; the choice of going back to the life waiting for them, heedless of the difficulties to come.