Gariwo: the gardens of the Righteous

Versione italiana | Search in site:

Hasan Nuhanovic 1968

the accuser of Srebrenica

Born in Zvornik (Bosnia Herzegovina) in 1968, he studied engineering at the University of Sarajevo.

During the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Hasan Nuhanovic – then in his early twenties – lived as a refugee in the Srebrenica area with his family and some 25 thousand other Muslims. When the first Blue Berets arrived, he hoped that these Dutch peacekeepers would rescue them from the Serbs. The hopes raised among the Bosnian refugees were, however, tragically dashed. Hasan had found work as an interpreter at the UN base manned by the Dutch battalion and from there, in July 1995, he stood by powerlessly as the UN soldiers handed the Srebrenica refugees over to general Mladic, who then proceeded to slaughter over eight thousand Muslim males of all ages.

Nuhanovic was one of a handful of survivors of that massacre and had the courage to denounce the tragic experience of Srebrenica in a book entitled “Under the UN Flag”. Of the moment in which the Dutch Blue Berets ordered the Bosnians to leave the UN base, he wrote: “I knew, everyone knew, that it was equivalent to a death sentence. My mother was crying, and so was I. My 22 year-old brother was too proud to do so”. Particularly moving is his memory of the moment when the refugees decided to send emergency “negotiators” to speak to Mladic in a last-ditch attempt to save their lives. Among them was Hasan’s father, who begged the general, in vain, to treat his own people in a civilized fashion.

Thanks to Hasan’s testimony, the Dutch government was summoned to the international court in the Hague to answer for their behaviour.

Hasan Nuhanovic has been called “the Eli Wiesel of the Balkans

Exemplary figures

against ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslaviaì

People who opposed ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia during the war that broke out for the partition of the territory, after the collapse of the communist regime following Marshall Tito's death.
In 1992 Slovenia and Croatia became independent, the war in Bosnia broke out and Sarajevo was set under siege. It was the start of the "ethnic cleansing" carried out through systematic slaughters, the expulsion of civilians and mass rape.  
The Panel of UN experts who studied the opportunities to settle conflicts in the Balkan area defined ethnic cleansing as "the attempt to make a given area ethnically homogeneous by using force or threats to oust the people belonging to other ethnic or religious groups from it.”