"Life After Genocide" Rwanda & Srebrenica in Bosnia Herzegovina

My focus on the project about “Life After Genocide” is to pick up on the destinies of a few of the people who survived the Genocide in 1994 in Rwanda and 1995 in Srebrenica, Bosnia. After both genocides, people say the same thing; “Never Again”- yet, it happens on a very regular basis.

The scale of what happened in Bosnia and in Rwanda is different- more people were killed I Rwanda. Yet, the possibilities of preventing, could probably have happened. The response after the genocide, from the local population seems, at least on the surface, to be different. There are more people talking about forgiveness and reconciliation in Rwanda. There seems to be more bitterness in Bosnia. This is something that interest me- why is it like that? Is it the political situation in the countries that is different or is it something else?

Every year, there is a peace march (Mars Mira) between Tuzla and Potocari, near Srebrenica. It follows the route taken by men and some women when they tried to escape to safety, after Srebrenica fell to Ratko Mladic on July 11th 1995. Only this time, it goes in opposite direction, honouring the 8000 or so who died during this one week period. Upon arrival in Potocari (The walk takes 3 days and covers about 120 km), the memorial ceremony takes place and the burial of the dead will happen. Every year the remains of the identified bodies are laid to rest. There are still more then 1500 bodies that have not been buried. Some are yet to  discovered.

Version of this project has been shown at the Foto 8 gallery in London (my foto 8 page). The project has also been on display at the FIFDH Geneva International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights and Nikon Pro Magazine recently selected part of this story to be featured in their magazine (Winter 2014/05 issue). It has also been exhibited internationally including in Switzerland, USA, and Hong Kong. It has also been shortlisted by the Swiss Photo Award as well as being on display with Reporters Sans Frontiers and PhotoReporters/ Impresum in Zurich, Geneva and Lausanne. 

My Archive on Life after Genocide is available through Keystone Photo, Zurich, Switzerland.

Bellow is a picture of Advija who buried her father on July 11th 2012. Read her story here.

Caskets prepared to be buried at the Potocari memorial ground

175 bodies were laid to rest during the ceremonial burial in Potocari, near Srebrenica on July 11th 2014
Coffins being carried out to be buried during the "Burial of the Dead" on July 11th, 2014. 175 bodies were laid to rest at the Potocari Memorial Cemetery, just outside Srebrenica in 2014. 
After the rainfall, the graves were full of water. this man is preparing the grave for a relative who can finaly be laid to rest, 19 years after the genocide which took place in Srebrenica in July 1995.
A man is praying at the burial of the dead at the Potocari memorial cemetery on July 11th 2014
Thousands of family and friends came to help and to pay respect that memorial funeral that took place in Potocari, near Srebrenica, on July 11th this year.
Evening Prayers during Mars Mira/ Peace March
Marizella Dozic lives in Srebrenica. She is studying to become a nurse, she does not want to continue like her mother to run the family farm.
The ICMP, body identification centre in Tuzla. Some new bodies had just been found.
Hasan Hasanovic nside the culture centre in Pilica where 500 men got killed, incuding the twin brother of Hasan.
Fatima Klempic- Doutbasic at work at the Hospital in Tuzla.
Saliha Osmanovic in her vegetable garden, behind her house. She produces the majority of food that she needs during the year.
Advija can finally lay her father to rest. He is one of 520 people being buried on July 11th 2012.
Advija is feeding her baby in her flat that she shares with her husband in Iljaz, near Sarajevo.
Marie-Jeanne lives with her twin daughters. Her husband tried to kill them during the 1994 genocide, as they were not "pure".
Marie-Jeanne Yankurije and her twins were taking care of a neighbour girl.
Marie-Jeanne lives in the middle of a banana plantation, near Kibuye. It was here, while hiding and pregnant, her ex husband tried to kill her.
Munanira walks through the fields where he was left to die 20 years ago, at the age of 12. His scar in the head from the machete is still very much visible, even in this picture.
John tends to get home pretty late everyday, 7 days a week. Once at home though, the welcome committee consisting of Libie and her friend is always welcomed.
John Musha tends to get home late everyday, 7 days a week. He lives around 10 minutes walk from his café and hopes, in the future, to be able to run "Landmark" Tearoom with his girlfriend.
After arriving a few days late for work, it is not easy to agree on everything. The carpenters are disagreing on who's fault it is not to be ready..
The kids came running as we arrived in Bisesero for the 20th commemoration of the genocide in Bisesero on April 7th 2014. The Bisesero area is where the resistance managed to fight back for longer during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. Still approximately 50000 people got killed during the 100 days between April and July 1994.
With the hills and lake Kivu as a backdrop, Aaron Mukomeza (the son of Aminadabu Birara, the chief of the civilian resistance against the genocide) can be seen leaving the Bisesero Memorial after the day program was finished.
If you ever travel and visit the little village Bisesero in Rwanda, then you will find amazing views of the (1000) hills in the surrounding area. You will also see the beautiful lake Kivu with Congo (DRC) in the background. This is also where resistance was stronger during the genocide against the Tutsi in 1994.
The people here are preparing for the eveing part of the commemoratin taking place on April 7th.
Hundreds of thousands of men participated in the killings during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. Raphaël says that "he did what he was told to do". The tools were a machette and a club. He has spent 12 years and six months in prison for what he did. Today, he works as a peasent near Kibuye, not far from the border of Congo (DRC).
I meet up with Révérien at his place in Switzerland. He tells me that, his place, his home, is here, in Switzerland. On April 20th 1994, 43 members of his closest family was brutally murdered in the Rwandan genocide, in front of his eyes. Just luck, perhaps, saved him from dying. He did lose an arm, an eye and was stabbed in the face, at the back of his head, in the chest, on the shoulder and some other places.
Reverien with friends at Chez Lando, discussing the next few days on his arrival back to Rwanda.
Just oposite the church where all of Reveriens family got killed, together with several thousand others, there is a graden. As Reverien was still alive, he crawled there, on top of them, in order to get some fruits. The grounds were full of dead people and he had to walk accross them. As he met some of the killers, he begged them to kill him too. They laughed and cut his eye out.
Coming home revives a lot of memories. The aunt of Reverien now lives in what was the family house. She is now looking after the place.
Reverien still have some family left. Here, he is visiting his uncle and aunt as well as some other friends.
Janvier met Reverien when both were at the same red cross hosppital in 1994. She was 11. She had been thrown into a very pit. As a result, she is paralysed from neck and down. Still, she greeted us with a massive smile, make up and new nails. Still, life is not easy. She has been 20 years in bed and can not move at all. Not even to be take outside.
From her bed, Janvier can see the corridor in the house where she lives. The little girl ofte come to play. Janvier was 11 in 1994, this girl is younger, but one can only imagine how different her life would have been without her injuries.
It gets cold in the winter in Switzerland, although the landscape can resemble the mountainous Rwanda, the snow filled terrain is definately very different then what Reverien grew up with in Mugiuna, Rwanda.

This project has been part funded by Webster University in Geneva.

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