A Bosnian research group has issued a book with the names of around 96,000 victims of the 1990s conflict, intended to be the most accurate memorial yet published.“I think it is vital that we have, in one place, the names and identities of Bosnian citizens who were killed during the war,” said Mirsad Tokaca, director of Sarajevo’s Research and Identification Centre, which published the ‘Bosnian Book of the Dead’.
“This list will hopefully stop the number games which politicians are fond of. We are maintaining the memory and trying to free the daily political narrative of mythical ideologies and national interests,” said Tokaca.
Tokaca said that before the book was published, more than 200,000 pieces of data were collected, compared and evaluated by an international team of experts in order to count the victims.
But he said that 96,000 was not the final number of victims and that the book contains another 5,000 names of people whose cause and place of death could not be fully confirmed.
The book was put together with the help of Serbia’s Humanitarian Law Centre, whose board member Natasa Kandic said it was the “most complete work about the war ever published”.
“The Balkan culture likes numbers, especially about the war. They are being used for political purposes, so this book can represent the end of manipulation and start of reconciliation. All countries of the region have an obligation to name all of the victims,” said Kandic.
She added that the book could serve as a basis for further research about the war.
“At first glance, the data shows there were almost ten thousand female civilian victims. That can tell us that this war was a war against civilians,” added Kandic.
Bosnian university professors Omer Ibrahimagic and Zdravko Grebo, who attended the book’s launch in Sarajevo on Monday, said it would ensure the victims were not forgotten.
“The book will serve so the evil of the past is not forgotten, and it can help us to systematise our memories, so that we may never forget and live in peace,” added Ibrahimagic.
Grebo meanwhile said that the war in Bosnia was not over but had simply been transferred from the military into the political arena.
“Hopefully, projects like this can be a basis for a Bosnian book of the living,” said Grebo.
The Research and Identification Centre, an NGO which aims to gather documents and data on genocide, war crimes and human rights violations, said that the book also contains more than 50 works by ten artists.