By Emir Zukić
During this project, we visited many places and saw a lot of different things that helped me to better understand what happened in this region in 1992. But something that touched me profoundly was Kemal’s movie called “Pretty Village,” which we saw the first day and later visited monuments to those who lost their lives in Kevljani.
In the movie, I heard the real stories from people who survived torture. They showed great strength while telling their story. I could saw pain in their eyes and it was really hard to listen to that while imaging those pictures and stories that they were describing. Every story had a similar background, but every story was different with its own message.
On the second day after morning session and workshops, we went to visit monuments in Kevljani for those who lost their lives. Many people were killed and many buildings were destroyed including the mosque in the village because they wanted to prevent everyone from coming back to the village after the war. But people rebuilt their homes and the mosque—keeping the old, destroyed minaret in order to remember what happened and to defy those responsible for their pain. Some of them were beaten up, some lost their family members but all of them decided to support their village and make it better place to live.
Before coming here, I knew that people in Bosnia are really innovative in many things, especially when there is a need to find loopholes in the law. When local authorities did not want to issue permit for building a monument for victims on public property, the local people found a way and built it on property owned by the Islamic community, so the local authorities did not have jurisdiction over it. The names of all the victims are written on that monument in the village.
While we were walking down the village and listening to the story about Kevljani, I saw an old Mercedes coming towards us. When it got closer, I recognized the man that was driving. It was one of the people from Kemal’s movie and whose story we heard. He smiled at us and continued on his way. I was amazed by his strength. He smiled—after all that he survived.