By Asger Pedersen
With a history like Bosnia and Herzegovina, it is no wonder that the past plays such a big role in the countries mindset. In order to understand the present and influence the future it is important to look to the past. This was a big part of Project on Peacebuilding over the last week. One of the most powerful experiences where the past became very clear in the present was the collective funeral that we went to in Prijedor. Here the community got together to bury the bodies of Muslims killed during the war that had been discovered over the last year. It was a very emotional experience to see a community mourn together. It is a clear reminder that the wounds of the past are still hurting and are not based on the memories of the people. Their memories are physically present in the remains still being found from victims of the war. A little less than 1000 people have still not been found in the Prijedor area and in order for families to get closure it is vital that the search continues.
As emotional as it was to be present at the collective funeral, I was truly inspired to meet the many activist that work around Prijedor and Banja Luka. Collectively coming together around issues such as memory politics, social inequality, LGBT rights, and feminism, the activists look to the future, trying to move on from the past. By fighting for a more equal and just society, where people are not discriminated because of race or sexuality, they are trying to make a brighter future for themselves and Bosnia. They did not always agree on how to do this, but they had the same goal. And for a country that has been looking backwards in the past two decades, seeing the energy and determination in these activists was the highlight for me during this week.
And this makes me hopeful for the future of Bosnia.