I’ve been to more than one hundred mass graves, mass funerals and witnessed the long, exhaustive process of victim identification. I took pictures of bones found in caves and rivers, taken from mud, recovered from woods and mines or just left by the road.
Most of these terrible assignments were around the small, used to be forgotten at-the-end-of-the-road town called Srebrenica in eastern Bosnia.
The international criminal court said the most terrible crimes of genocide were committed in Srebrenica area when the Bosnian Serb forces massacred thousands of Muslims after the enclave, ironically under U.N. protection as a safe heaven, was overrun by an army led by its ruthless commander.
Ratko Mladic, a typical officer from what used to be the Yugoslav people’s army, was the commander of the forces that overran the enclave. He commanded what he said was the revenge upon the Turks for the events from the early 19th century. Thousands of white Muslim gravestones at the terrifying and extremely sad Srebrenica memorial remain as a symbol of that “revenge”. Thousands are still missing, their bones hidden in heavy Bosnian soil.
I have never seen Ratko Mladic, I never photographed him, but his bloody signature is written all over my pictures. Every time I would go to another mass grave or a mass funeral of victims of his “revenge”, the face of a man confident he is doing the right thing would come into the frame. Rolled up sleeves, binoculars in his hands as he ordered his artillery “Don’t let them sleep. Make them lose their minds.”