1st April: War Scarred Mostar

Miran’s Story

We head across one of the bridges from the east side of Mostar where our hostel is to the west side in Miran’s people carrier. He shows us an old school that still stands as it did in 1995 at the end of the war, riddled with bullet holes. It hasn’t been touched as the genocides that occurred here have still not found justice. Another school has been built metres away. We then head down a street full of new flats. One building remains as it did, as you can see in the photograph below. Miran tells us that two families still live here as they do not want to move, this is their home. There is no money, the system is corrupt and as no Croatians live here nothing has been done. Further down the street two buildings stand opposite each other. Miran points these out to us. On this street is the former frontline, on the left is the Bosnian line and on the right is the Croatian. During the war the Serbians invaded the east side of the city and the Croatians took the west, both wanting to expand their lands. The Bosnians & Herzegovinians are trapped in the middle, just wanting to live in their own country, as Bosnians and not Croatians or Serbs. This is Miran’s story. He was 15 when the war began here and had to first flee the east to live with his aunt and uncle on the west when the Serbians came, before his aunt had to flee to the east when the Croatians came. His uncle was killed and left in the street. The pain is real as he recounts his experiences here. He took us also to the Bosnian Serbian frontline in the surrounding mountains and showed us a Bosnian bunker. It’s a story that still lives on in the people yet, for me definitely but I can’t speak for others, is not remembered in the West. A French girl, who is staying in the hostel here and is writing her Masters degree on the geopolitics of Mostar, tells us how she is struggling to find any French or English news bulletins on the fall of the most famous bridge here in 1993. It is a story that people disregard as another part of the Cold War and the dissolution of Communism but it still lives on. He tells us about how in the schools, even today, Croatians and Bosnians are taught separately with different schooling systems. A picture of Tito, the independent Communist leader here from 1937-1980, still hangs in the kitchen of the hostel. Miran openly talks of how he preferred the old system of Socialism and life under Tito, something that people in many former Communist countries may not so freely admit. This is life from Miran’s perspective, of his home and his country. I am only glad that I was able to share in that, if only for a few short hours.

-M

  

Bosnian frontline in the Eastern mountains
View of the Serbian frontlines
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