Professor of Anthropology at the University of West Illinois Heather McIlvaine-Newsad spent several days in BiH and shared her experiences with listeners of the radio Tri States Public.
She said that the most brutal conflict in Europe since the Second World War took place at the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina and lasted for three years, eight months, one week and six days.
“Until the end of the conflict, more than 100.000 civilians were killed, more than 20.000 went missing or are believed to be dead, and two million people were displaced. More than 80 percent of casualties were Bosniak Muslims who were killed in the process of ethnic cleansing. That was the worst act of genocide since the holocaust conducted by the Nazi regime,” said McIlvaine-Newsad.
When she returned from BiH to the USA, many people asked her who spends their vacation in BiH. She admitted herself that she would hardly ever visit BiH if she did not have friends from Germany who work in Sarajevo.
“Although our trip to BiH was short, I think that this visit was one of the most important trips I took. BiH is a strange place now. It is not a developed country, but it is definitely not undeveloped either,” said McIlvaine-Newsad.
She described the apartments of her friends in Sarajevo as apartments in Chicago, Boston and Miami, with a lot of windows that overlook the city.
“However, as soon as you get outside, the traces of war are evident everywhere. Façade of the bakery is full of bullet holes, just like every other building on both sides of the street,” McIlvaine-Newsad said.
McIlvaine-Newsad also said that there is a street in Sarajevo called the Sniper Alley and that it is sufficient to take a look on the left and right to see why it was named like that – to look at the infrastructural damage caused by sniper shots.
“However, the biggest damage is on people. People are careful. They are careful with each other, as well as with visitors,” McIlvaine-Newsad said.
She explained to the listeners that during the nineties neighbors fought against each other and that very often even family members turned against one another.
“What made them enemies is religion. Bosniaks Muslims, Serbs Orthodox Christians and Croats Catholics, who worked and lived together in Yugoslavia became mortal enemies,” McIlvaine-Newsad said.