Višegrad Genocide Memories Exhibition

March 30, 2011

The Center for Arts and Culture (CAC) in collaboration with the Human Rights Initiative (HRSI) organized a photo exhibition entitled "Višegrad Genocide Memories." The opening took place on 23 March in the Exhibition Hall, CEU, where Velija Hasanbegovic for the first time in his life shared his memories and experiences with a wider public. Hasanbegovic was 16 years old when, in 1992, he survived the Višegrad Genocide. He returned to the site of his near execution last summer to photograph the exhumation of hundreds of human remains and document the aftermath of the killings. He did this as a testimony to the tireless efforts undertaken by the survivors to assist in the process of exhumation, identification, and reconciliation, and to disseminate knowledge about the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina.  

The 40 photos exhibited were taken by Velija Hasanbegovic personally. The “Višegrad Genocide Memories” photo exhibition is the first step of a longer project by Hasanbegovic, who is planning to publish a catalogue from his altogether 75 photos, and a documentary about the exhumation, commemoration ceremony and burials of the victims of the Višegrad Genocide. The photos will be on display until May 6, 2011. The exhibition was initiated by a CEU MA student.

For photos and more information about the exhumation process, visit:

http://genocideinvisegrad.wordpress.com/2010/08/11/the-drina-exhumations-by-velija-hasanbegovic/

For a video about the exhibition opening, visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jm8P4Br0ycE

Note: From 2 June 2010 to 2 July 2010 the Open Society Archives at CEU organized an exhibition entitled “Srebrenica–Exhumation.” You can find more information about this exhibition also on http://www.ceu.hu/events/2010-06-02/srebrenica-exhumation

The testimony of Velija Hasanbegovic:

Višegrad was occupied by the Yugoslav Peoples’ Army (JNA) in April 1992. A Serb government was imposed by the JNA which started terrorizing the Bosnian Muslim population. In May 1992, the Hasanbegovic family was put under house arrest by the Bosnian Serb authorities; Velija’s father, Zejnil, was an influential figure in the Višegrad Municipality. Bosnian Muslims were massacred and deported throughout Višegrad. On 17 June, around a dozen Bosnian Serb soldiers surrounded the Hasanbegovic house in the town center and arrested Velija, his brother Samir and his father Zejnil. They were brought to an old spa called Višegradska Banja, which is located several kilometers from the town center. After being interrogated for about an hour, the Hasanbegovics were told that they would be exchanged for Bosnian Serbs. They traveled by car towards the town and stopped in Sase village, where they were told to get out of the car. Three Bosnian Serb soldiers forced the Hasanbegovics to walk towards the Drina River bank. At that moment they realized that there would be no prisoner exchange and that they would be executed.

At the same time, across the river there were three Bosnian Army snipers. They were on lookout for executions, since they had heard testimonies from survivors which stated that civilians were being executed on the river banks. As the Hasanbegovics came towards the water, one of the Bosnian snipers took a shot at one of the executioners. The others shouted to the Hasanbegovics family to jump into the river and swim across. One executioner was wounded while the other two ran away. Then Hasanbegovics swam across and managed to escape to safe territory. Two of the executioners were known to the victims and a third was an unknown man.