Above: Bosnian Serb Army
It has been more than ten years since the Bosnian War ended, but the atmosphere in Sarajevo is still the same. The Serbs are not done yet.
Branislav Dukic, leader of the Association of Bosnian Serb War Victims, confirmed that their group plans to build an 85 foot cross on Trebevic Hill this month, in memory of Serb war victims.
During the war, Trebevic Hill was one of the deadliest locations from which the Serbs mercilessly fired artillery on Sarajevo. Today, Trebevic Hill is still Serb territory. Since it is high above ground — which made it the perfect location from which to fire artillery during the siege — it overlooks the Muslim-dominated capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Pictured below is a view of Trebevic Hill from Sarajevo.
Ever since the war ended, the country has been divided between the Orthodox Christian Serbs and the Muslim Bosniaks and Roman Catholic Croats, with the latter two religions coexisting peacefully with one another (the Croats actually erected a cross on Hum Hill above the southern town of Mostar to commemorate those of their group that were killed there during the Bosnian War). The division is delineated by the slope of Trebevic Hill, with the upper half dominated by the Serbs.
“The initiative came from families of fallen soldiers and civilians for a monument to be built in memory of 5,800 Serbs who died in the conflict,” said Dukic. “The monument will be lighted at night so that it can be seen 24 hours a day.”
Never in my life have I seen more disrespectful people than these Serbs. Most of the victims who died in that war were not Catholic, they were Muslims. And to put the cross in a location that was considered as the deadliest “weapon” of mass killings?! It’s an insult not only to Islam, but to Catholicism.
These Serbs want to remind the Muslims at the foot of the hill 24 hours a day of the horrors they have done and they are going to use the same symbol they falsely used in the war, a symbol shared by Catholics around the world, to convey that message.
During the war, the Serb forces took control of Sarajevo by bombarding the city with artillery from Trebevic Hill everyday. They took control of all utilities as well, cutting off power and water supply. They even took their food and medicine.
Dukic and his people want to show that same dominance now in the form of this cross.
Needless to say, the announcement has outraged the international community, most especially the “other” victims of the Bosnia war. The Sarajevo Association of War Victims criticized the plan:
“It is an illegal, immoral and shameful act, especially because it will be erected in memory of Serb soldiers who kept the city under siege, committing crimes for which their commanders have received long prison sentences at The Hague Tribunal.”
Below: Stanislav Galic & Dragomir Milosevic
The U.N. Hague War Crimes Tribunal has convicted two Bosnian Serb generals (pictured above), Stanislav Galic (life imprisonment) and Dragomir Milosevic (33 years imprisonment), for the shelling, sniping and indiscriminate terror of Sarajevo during the siege, which is considered one of the longest in modern history.
Mayor Semiha Borovac of Sarajevo shared the sentiment of the group that building the cross at that location is an act of provocation. She said the monument would definitely enrage people in Sarajevo:
“This is not contributing to reconciliation. It is not in the tradition of Sarajevo to build such monuments. We build churches. But this I cannot support.”
“If used properly, religious symbols can help reconciliation,” said Miroslav Lajcak, head of the Office for the High Representative. “But, the idea to erect the cross on the Mount Trebevic is an irresponsible abuse of victims and a political provocation aimed at creating the inter-ethnic tensions… it is unacceptable.”