By Mirza Mustafagić, 23 years
This personal blog is the winning entry in the peace, justice and security blog competition.* The author describes his experiences during the war in the former Yugoslavia, during which his father, grandfather and uncle were killed. The rest of his family were forced out of their home.
First of all, I will tell you my story. During the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in the eastern part of my country in the place called Brčko, my father, grandfather and uncle were killed. All three of them died the same day, on the 4th of May. My pregnant mother, my nine-year-old brother and my grandmother fled for their lives. On the road to Tuzla, my mom was detained for seven days. She was seven months pregnant with me. After my birth, my fight for life started. Living in a new city, without money and anyone to help – it was hard. But I was growing up in a happy family. A happy family, but without my father. Unfortunately, that has left a huge mark on my life. It was hard to watch everyone else having a father but not me. But I always say thanks to my wonderful mother. One of the things she taught my older brother and me is not to hate because of how the hatred of some ‘bad people’ affected our lives.
I am a fourth year student of the law faculty of the University of Tuzla. Three months ago, on 25 May, together with my colleagues, I organised a lecture about 71 people killed in 1995 in Kapija in Tuzla. They were killed by one blast from the mountain above Tuzla. Their average age was 20. During that lecture, we spoke in their memory. But there were also people who came from Serbia who wanted to show respect for those who were killed. That was the most beautiful part of it. In my speech, I said: ”even though I lost three members of my family, I feel proud today because there is someone who wants to show respect. There is a future for us. Hatred killed thousands of people, but what we need now is love, we need each other.”
Today, 21 years after the war, I live in Tuzla, a city in northeastern Bosnia. Tuzla is a unique city. We are all equal – Bosnians, Serbs and Croats. Everyone. That is how Bosnia and Herzegovina and all of the former Yugoslavia should be.
Peace, justice and security are not well known in my country. In theory they are, but in a real life they are not.
We do not have peace. People hate each other just because someone else has another nationality or religion than their own.
We do not have justice because no one has been imprisoned for killing my father, grandfather and uncle. Murderers are walking free.
We do not have security because of bad politicians who are just looking after themselves.
But we have young, smart, educated and motivated people, and we want to move forward and forget the past because of our future.
*The blog comeptition was organised by Justice Hub in conjunction with the Peace, Justice and Security Foundation in The Hague and AYINET. Victor Ochen, the UN Global Ambassador for Peace and Justice (SDG 16) and executive director of AYINET, selected the best blogs.
The first runner up was Jawida Mansour from Palestine who wrote about the experiences of refugee children.
The second runner up was Eddy Ashioya from Kenya who wrote about how he survived the Al-Shabaab attack on his university which left 147 young students dead. His blog will be published on 8 September.
An overwhelming number of submissions were received from around the globe. Thank you to all the participants.
Editorial note: On 8 September 2016, Mizra’s age was corrected from 32 as initially indicated, to 23.