As we finished our small cups of coffee, strips of white cloth were passed around the table. Each of us tied the band around our arm in solidarity with the non-Serbs who received the mandate to do so fourteen years prior in Prijedor.
On Saturday, 31 May diverse crowds gathered in rows to march toward the city center. Bosnian refugees, local citizens, international activists, and the like walked side by side in casual conversation with one another. The demonstration was held in the main square, Trg Zorana Karlice. Organizers passed around pamphlets which politely request the support of participants by signing a petition to construct a memorial honoring children from Prijedor who died between 1992-1995.
White roses were then placed in a circle along the square, representing the proposed location for the memorial. Participants were able to read the names and ages of the children who would be remembered attached to the stems of the flowers.
This temporary act to commemorate innocent victims of war took action providing Bosnian citizens the opportunity to sign a document to illustrate their support. Two lines were organized, one for those from Prijedor and one for Bosnians living outside of the town. Once 1000 signatures were acquired, the petition would then be submitted to the local authorities for further consideration.
The day was most successful by the way in which it brought individuals together in shared support for the victims of ethnic discrimination fourteen years ago. Skeptical onlookers made clear that the tensions between ethnic groups continue to persist in Prijedor. Still, this event has grown in size and momentum each year and allows for fruitful conversations between those afflicted and those in pursuit of a peaceful future.
For more information about the White Armband Day, the website ‘Stop Genocide Denial.’