Authorities in Republika Srpska accused of burying genocide memories in tourism bid

The Vilina Vlas just outside the house of Višegrad in eastern Bosnia is no regular

The Vilina Vlas just outside the house of Višegrad in eastern Bosnia is no regular hotel, but you would not know that from the way the Republika Srpska tourism authorities are selling stays there.

Lookup for the hotel and spa sophisticated on TripAdvisor and you will locate the pursuing detect:

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The concept is possible a reference to an on the web backlash from Bosniaks soon after the authorities in Republika Srpska, a Serb-dominated federal entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, started selling the hotel as portion of a subsidized tourism scheme last thirty day period.

But the genuine activities that make the Vilina Vlas so notorious happened in the course of the Bosnian War (1992-1995), when the hotel performed host to horrendous war crimes perpetrated versus Bosniaks and Bosniak women in certain.

Quoted tweet  by @VisitSrpska: If your preference for this yr is to take a look at Višegrad Spa Elaborate, the Vilina Vlas Hotel allows use of the vacationer vouchers for the quests from Republika Srpska, subsidizing portion of the bills for hotel accommodation…

Murder and rape transpired below

Back again in 1991, when Yugoslavia started to splinter, ethnic Bosniaks built up far more than 50 % the inhabitants of the Višegrad municipality. Pogroms concentrating on Bosniaks and outmigration have found those demographics shift substantially — Bosniak returnees now compose much less than ten% of the municipality’s inhabitants.

The town saw some of the worst genocidal atrocities fully commited versus Bosniaks in the course of the war, such as two are living pyres just two weeks apart in June 1992, which killed a combined complete of 123 Bosniak civillians.

These atrocities ended up carried out by cousins Milan and Sredoje Lukić. Both gentlemen ended up convicted of war crimes at the International Legal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in 2009.

Vilina Vlas was a single of the most notorious of the Serb-managed rape and detention camps in the course of the Bosnian genocide. Hundreds of Bosniak women ended up saved as slaves there and sexually assaulted on a daily foundation by Serb soldiers, as properly as Serb and Russian paramilitaries.

That Vilina Vlas continues to be a entirely functioning vacation resort welcoming visitors each individual yr is terrible sufficient for a lot of who know what took area there.

But the unique work built by Republika Srpska tourism board to advertise the hotel on Twitter and Instagram in the last 7 days of June sparked outrage amongst Bosniaks. On Twitter, a lot of made use of the expression “genocidal tourism” (genocidni turizam).

These whitewashing is not new in Višegrad. Community tourism authorities love to advertise the town’s aged Ottoman bridge — a gem of Ottoman era architecture.

Still foreign visitors not often understand in the course of visits to the town that the bridge was a internet site the place the town’s Bosniak Muslims ended up slaughtered en masse.

Nor do they understand that the town’s mosques, which ended up developed in the course of the exact era, ended up all wrecked in the course of the Serb-nationalist onslaught.

On some occasions, genocide denial has taken a far more active variety. In January 2014, Republika Srpska authorities forcefully taken off the word “genocide” from a memorial stone in Višegrad’s Bosniak Stražište cemetery. As properly as striving to demolish a single of the homes the place individuals ended up burned alive in June 1992. Rebuilt by returnees, it now serves as memorial.

A hidden genocide, far from global focus

The serious violence and depravity witnessed in Višegrad and all along the Drina Valley, as properly as in towns and hamlets in northwest Bosnia and Herzegovina in the course of those many years ended up all portion of the genocidal insurance policies applied by the Army of Republika Srpska and a variety of paramilitary teams beneath command of Basic Ratko Mladić, a convicted war felony.

Their achievements in was partly thanks to the actuality that global attentions ended up skilled on the siege of Sarajevo.

Writing in 1996 war correspondent Ed Vulliamy recalled encountering Nikola Koljević, a a single-time near affiliate of convicted war felony Radovan Karadžić in a hotel foyer in Belgrade in 1992. 

Koljević taunted the journalist about it getting him and his colleagues so prolonged to uncover a network of Serb-operate concentration camps in the location —  Omarska, Trnopolje and Keraterm.

So you uncovered them! Congratulations!  It took you a prolonged time to locate them, didn’t it? 3 months! And so close to to Venice! All you individuals could believe about was inadequate, complex Sarajevo. Ha-ha!

Setting up on leading of terrible recollections

Emir Kusturica, an internationally acclaimed Serbian filmmaker, who soon after the break up of Yugoslavia also started various vacationer organizations, has also uncovered a household in write-up-genocide Višegrad.

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Key entrance of Andrićgrad. Photograph by Wikipedia consumer UkiUros, CC BY-SA three..

In 2011 he started a job called Andrićgrad (Andrić City) named soon after the Yugoslav author and Nobel Prize laureate Ivo Andrić, whose historical novel The Bridge on the Drina is centered on the aged Ottoman bridge in Višegrad. The sophisticated, also identified as Kamengrad (Stone City) is modelled on a medieval fort. 

The Andrićgrad sophisticated was also built on the internet site of a previous sports heart that was made use of as a detention camp for Bosniak civilians in the course of the genocide ten many years before.

Kusturica’s fervent advocacy of Serbian nationalism is not been properly identified outside the house of the location of previous Yugoslavia.

For those acquainted with his political activities, nonetheless, it will not shocking that he would make a household in a area the place new and aged Serb-nationalist mythology arrive alongside one another.

In 2012, the Constitutional Courtroom of Montenegro threw out of court docket the filmmaker’s defamation lawsuit against Montenegrin author Andrej Nikolaidis. Kusturica had sued Nikolaidis for pointing out in 2004 that Kusturica’s write-up-war movies ended up either funded by the Milošević point out apparatus or the write-up-Milošević Serbian point out with a one intention in mind: To progress the Serb-nationalist narrative. In write-up-genocide Višegrad, Kusturica uncovered a area to established this narrative in stone.

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