In the darkest corner of my soul
By Dado Ruvic
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Bosnian war.
I was only three years old when the war broke out. Although I was only a child, I keep the dark images of horror, blood and the suffering inside me, buried deep in the darkest corner of my soul. I was only a child, but the memories of war will never fade away. It is something all of us carry as a burden on our souls, each every one of us in our own way.
Regardless of my memories, I try to do my job impartially and without any influences. I want to see things rationally. I want to cover the stories that matter; the stories that carry the message. I want to say and express what some people dare not say. The photos are not merely photos, they are tears. They are screams of the desolate despair. They are pain.
In Bosnia, more than 10,000 people are still missing and have not been found. These are not only numbers. They are someone’s children, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives. Ten thousand people still without a trace; in the darkness. Twenty years after the war, 10,000 is not merely a number. Year after year, I witness the excavation of the new mass graves. And the years go by, as if carried by the winds of sorrow.
The political system in Bosnia makes the process of the excavation even slower and more painful. In the city of Vlasenica, Serb forces killed more than 2,600 people during the war. Some 300 of them were children; 300 innocent souls. Eight mass funerals in all these years covered by the veil of mist and darkness, with only hundreds of bodies found. Will this process continue at this pace? Who knows if the mothers will live long enough to find and bury the remains of their children?
Although I, as a photographer, tend to always remain impartial, the thing that strikes me the most is seeing mothers hugging and kissing their sons’ half-empty coffins. These coffins are half-empty because nothing but a few bones of their killed sons have been found. A mother cannot go to eternal rest without burying her loved ones, or at least some of their bones that were found in numerous mass graves, moved several times from one place to another after the crimes were committed.
Then, on the day of the mass funeral, the birds stop singing. This is the day when time stops and every heart skips a beat. And still, there is another wound that makes our hearts bleed even more. The night before the funeral, while the coffins were being transferred to the location, a group of people carrying the coffins to their final resting place were stoned by local Serbs on their way to the cemetery. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. Such scenarios are repeated every time, in a different way; the day before the day when the birds stop singing. The night when the tears run like rivers.