It is undeniable that the Bosnian genocide is one of the most horrific events that happened in the history of mankind. It is considered as the largest massacre in Europe since the Holocaust happened as it wiped out tens of thousands of Muslims and has had lasting impacts on the surviving populations. The consolation is that Radovan Karadžić, the mastermind behind the Bosnian genocide, was brought to justice already and is bound to spend the rest of his life in prison. Nonetheless, the damage and pain caused by the Bosnian genocide will never be forgotten as it will forever be considered as one the darkest chapters that occurred in the history of the world.
Life in Bosnia before the genocide
Life in Bosnia before the genocide happened was simple. Bosnia was the center of the military operations of Yugoslavia, so it was not surprising to see plenty of weapons and soldiers here. It can be said that Bosnia as part of Yugoslavia led to positive developments which brought orderliness and prosperity. The economy of Bosnia relied heavily on its natural resources which paved the way for numerous industries to rise, and the people benefited from this because these industries gave them jobs to support their families. Even if Bosnia’s society was comprised of people coming from different ethnicities, it was never a problem for the people to work together because they understood the importance of brotherhood and togetherness as crucial factors to their success. The fact that Bosnia through its capital city of Sarajevo was designated to host the 1984 Winter Olympics only exemplified its tremendous success before the Bosnian war and genocide happened (Bartrop 90). The people of Bosnia had so much pride and happiness because they were being admired and respected all over the world. Unfortunately, this was not meant to last as the people of Bosnia were bound to experience something horrific in the long run after the breakup with Yugoslavia happened.
What caused the Bosnian War which was fought between the Bosnians and the Serbs was the decision of Bosnia to declare its independence from Yugoslavia which was not supported by the Bosnian Serbs under the leadership of Radovan Karadžić (Donia 18). The Bosnian Serbs acted aggressively because they wanted to make sure that they would control Bosnia even if they had to wipe out the Bosniaks, the Serbs, and the Croats. This became the motivation behind the genocide which was part of the ethnic cleansing that the Bosnian Serbs wanted to happen. The Bosnian Serbs became selfish to the point that they wanted to get rid of the Bosniaks, the Serbs, and the Croats in Bosnia who they believed did not deserve to live anymore since they were the inferior ethnic groups.
The Muslims were involved in this genocide
The Muslims were involved in this genocide because of the participation of the Bosniaks who practiced Islam. What made Bosnian society beautiful was that it allowed religious diversity to flourish. The Bosniaks thrived as Muslims which happened to be the largest ethnic group in Bosnia, followed by the Serbs who were members of the Orthodox Church, and the Croats who were mostly Catholics (Ching 20). Unfortunately, the Bosnian Serbs did not show any respect to the religious beliefs of these ethnic groups because for them, their ethnic group was the only one that deserved to survive in Bosnia. Thus, their only solution was to kill all these Bosniaks, Serbs, and Croats so they could reign supreme and have no threats to their dominance anymore. Since the Muslim Bosniaks were massacred during the genocide, their population in Bosnia nowadays has significantly declined, and many of those who survived the genocide decided to just live in other European countries for their own safety. This was the devastating effect that the genocide did to the Muslim Bosniaks who used to be the largest ethnic group in Bosnia before the war and genocide happened but are now scattered all over Europe as part of their adjustment and healing over what was done to them.
Bosnia’s economy changed during the Bosnian War in the sense that it had to mobilize its available resources to make sure that it can come up with a strong defense against the Bosnian Serbs. Bosnia was forced to spend most of its money in supporting its military forces so that they can put up a strong fight against the Bosnian Serbs. Fortunately, Bosnia found an ally in Pakistan which provided its own support through offering some of its weapons and ammunitions as part of its contribution to the war. Many civilians who did not want to get involved in the war were forced to get out of Bosnia as refugees. This was the unfortunate reality that these civilians faced as part of the consequence of the war.
The signing of Washington Agreement
The signing of the Washington Agreement paved the way for the conclusion of the Bosnian War to happen. Haris Silajdžić, the leader of Bosnia, Mate Granić, the leader of Croatia, and Krešimir Zubak, the leader of Herzeg-Bosnia, all came together and decided to sign the Washington Agreement so that the Bosnian War would finally come to an end and stop the devastation as well as casualties that it already caused (Bartrop and Jacobs 224). These leaders agreed that the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina must be established so that there will be no more conflicts and disputes that would happen in the future regarding which territories should be controlled by the Croats and which territories should be controlled by the Bosnians. The establishment of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina made sure that the Croats and the Bosnians can peacefully coexist in one territory because they already learned from the brutal lessons left behind by the war. Aside from this, the cantonal system was implemented as part of the Washington Agreement to make sure that there will not be any ethnic group that will reign supreme anymore in the newly established Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The cantonal system was put in place so that the presence of ethnic groups in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina will be more balanced.
The type of pain that the Bosnians are dealing with currently is the fact that thousands of them had to die because of the ethnic cleansing that was done by the Bosnian Serbs. The Bosnians today still feel the pain that was caused by the war and the genocide which could have been prevented. This pain will never go away because it is simply so hard for them to accept the reality that they lost family members and loved ones forever for a selfish reason that the Bosnian Serbs wanted to become the most dominant ethnic group. Bosnia simply wanted to become independent from Yugoslavia, and the price that its people had to pay for this desire for independence was losing their lives in a gruesome manner. Thus, it is hard to blame the Bosnians for still feeling the pain today.
It can be said that Bosnia has been able to thrive after the war. The country has done an excellent job in terms of ensuring that its people will have a long life expectancy, that its people will have access to excellent quality of education, and that its people will have a decent amount of income to feed themselves and their families. There is a universal healthcare system that is being implemented in Bosnia today which means that everybody has access to the healthcare services that they need which are being guaranteed by the government. The economy of Bosnia is healthy and competitive as it is being supported by the productivity of its agriculture and tourism industries. Bosnia is trying to become part of the European Union which it believes is necessary for its sustained growth and development. Thus, there cannot be any doubt that Bosnia today is even better than what it was before the war happened which is only good for its people because this is what they deserve after enduring hell. Bosnia has managed to recover from its dark past and is already on the right track when it comes to progress because there is nothing else left for it to do but to keep on growing and improving. It has learned from the painful mistakes of the past and has moved on.
Bartrop, Paul. Bosnian Genocide: The Essential Reference Guide. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2016.
Bartrop, Paul and Steven Leonard Jacobs. Modern Genocide. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2014.
Ching, Jacqueline. Genocide and the Bosnian War. New York: Rosen Publishing, 2008.
Donia, Robert. Radovan Karadzic: Architect of the Bosnian Genocide. London: Cambridge University Press, 2014.