The Betrayal of Srebrenica: A Commemoration
by Lisa DiCaprio
Photographs by Paula Allen
Conceptualization and Production of the Exhibit by Lisa DiCaprio
The Betrayal of Srebrenica exhibit focuses on the ten-year commemoration of the July 1995 massacre of over 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys in the UN “safe area” of Srebrenica, which occurred during the last year of the war in Bosnia (1992-1995). Trial proceedings at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) have affirmed that the Srebrenica massacre constituted genocide as defined by the 1948 UN Convention on Genocide. The main purpose of the exhibit is to highlight the need to enforce all aspects of this Convention – the prevention, suppression, and prosecution of genocide.
The exhibit serves as a focal point of educational activities. I give an opening presentation at each exhibit in which I provide historical background on the war in Bosnia, the betrayal of Srebrenica, and the international campaign for truth and justice. I have also organized programs (films and speakers) to accompany each exhibit that are open to the general public. The exhibit opened at Antioch College in October 2005, Washington and Lee University in January 2006, Hofstra University in September 2006, Wellesley College in February 2007, and Boston College in January 2008. A bilingual version of the exhibit was displayed in Sarajevo in July 2007 during the annual conference of the International Association of Genocide Scholars. The exhibit website is based on a catalogue that I designed this year. Following the arrest of Radovan Karadzic, I added a new section, ICTY Updates, in which I summarize the significance of his trial.
The photographs in the exhibit depict Sarajevo, Srebrenica, Srebrenica survivors, the activities of the International Commission of Missing Persons (ICMP), and the July 11, 2005 ten-year commemoration of Srebrenica attended by over 30,000 survivors and their supporters. The text panels relate the capture and betrayal of Srebrenica with quotes from journalists, UN officials, Bosnian Serb military and political officials, and ICTY judges. This is a visual narrative of loss and hope, finality and anticipation – finality represented in the burial scenes, and the anticipation of justice, as yet only partially realized, in the organization of this international commemoration.
With the exception of the mass grave photograph, the exhibit does not include any graphic scenes of the Srebrenica massacre. The horror of the executions of over 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys is expressed by images evoking their absence – the wall of scrapbook photographs of the “missing” in the office of the Women of Srebrenica in Tuzla, the survivors reading the lists of the individuals whose remains were buried on July 11, 2005, and the countless rows of coffins before which the survivors mourned.
With our exhibit, we answer the appeal of the survivors never to forget what happened in Srebrenica in July 1995. This is our contribution to the project of remembrance – the affirmation of the memory and experiences of the survivors, which is the starting point of all justice.
Lisa DiCaprio October 26, 2008