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Opinion: Serbia has more to apologize for

The crimes committed by the Serbs across Bosnia are too many to apologize away. But I would like to hear them try.

A man pretends to cry as he holds a wooden cross with the letters "Truth" during a protest against the state's decision to apologize to victims of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre in front of Serbian Parliament building in Belgrade, April 1, 2010. The European Union praised Serbia for acknowledging its troubled past after parliament in Belgrade apologized over the 1995 killing of thousands of Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica. (Marko Djurica/Reuters)

REVERE, Mass. — The Serbian government recently issued an apology for the 1995 massacre in Srebrenica, during which they systematically rounded up and killed about 8,000 Bosnian Muslims. Unfortunately, the mass killing, rape and torture of innocent civilians took place in other parts of Bosnia too, including my hometown of Visegrad, where my two brothers, grandmother and uncle were killed.

In Visegrad, 70 percent of the population was Muslim, but that was before the Serb nationalists came with their slogan, “Kill everyone who is not Serb and bring and unite all the Serbs into one nation called Greater Serbia.” After that, there were no Muslims left. Thousands were brutally murdered like my brother, Samir, who was only 15 at the time. The Serbs threw him off a bridge and shot him as he was falling.

My grandmother was burned alive in her own house, as were many others. Numerous women and girls were raped. Some were taken to prison, like my father, where they were constantly tortured. The rest of Visegrad's population was forced to leave the city. My mother with my surviving siblings and very pregnant sister-in-law were among those forced to flee.

My husband and I sought refuge in Bosnia's capital city, Sarajevo, which we naively thought was a safe haven. We truly believed that the world wouldn’t let anything happen to this European city that was home to the 1984 Winter Olympics.

However, as soon as we arrived in Sarajevo in April of 1992, the Serbian army surrounded the city with their tanks and canons in ditches, and started shelling. We were hungry and didn't have access to drinkable water in the besieged city, but our biggest problems were the snipers and constant shelling that killed and wounded many. The hospitals became full and I, like many other Bosnians, wanted to be a part of the defense and began assisting in Kosevo Hospital.

My help didn’t last long. One morning my husband and I were waiting for the bus to take us to work when a mortar fell one meter from us. I didn’t know immediately what had happened. I was lying on the ground and could see my arm hanging off the bone. I could see holes in my legs.