Throughout my four years of high school, I made the ambitious decision to take every history class available at my high school. Weird, I know. During my sophomore year, I became acquainted with Confucius, mingled with Buddha, and analyzed the trans-Siberian trade routes as an AP World History student. As a junior, I rooted for Henry Clay to finally win a presidential election (poor guy!), mourned at the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and wrote more essays than I could ever imagine. Now, as a senior, I am not only enrolled in AP Government and Politics, but Honors Economics and AP European History, learning about the principles of economic and political systems and the consequences that inevitably followed.
While I've never done as much as step foot outside the United States, in my four years of history classes, I feel like I have traveled all around the world, from Constantinople in 1453 to the USSR in the 1960s. However, what I have learned is that the countries that are often spoken about the least end up having the most fascinating history.
Bosnia is one of those countries. Before I started my AP European History course, I had never heard of Bosnia, let alone be able to identify it on a map. Not only has it been continuously fragmented by political treaties, but internally divided by clashing ethnic and religious groups. Yet, little did many know that in the 1990s, a horrible genocide occurred that the world has been silent about.
The genocide is seen as having its official beginnings in 1992 after the Serb seizing of Sarajevo, but it is truly a longtime culmination of ethnic tensions in the area. The Bosnians and Serbs were known for having sharp divisions amongst each other, but living in the same area, conflict was inevitable. After Bosnia-Herzegovina declared its independence from Yugoslavia in April 1992, the Serbs began a process of "ethnic cleansing", a euphemism for genocide.
In 1995, Serb general Ratko Mladic entered Srebernica. There, he separated the children under age nine and women from the men, and would later kill seven thousand men. Those who were fortunate to survive entered brutal concentration camps or rape camps, where women would be continuously raped until they were impregnated.
During the progression of the genocide from 1992 to 1995, an estimated 100,000 people were killed, the majority of whom were civilians. While the war began in 1992, it was not until 1994 when the United Nations intervened with airstrikes. They had the chance to prevent a genocide and to save people, but ideological and political beliefs caused the death for thousands of individuals residing in Bosnia.
To grasp the significance of this genocide requires an insight into the times in which the genocide occurred. It was not during a primitive time of human civilization, but rather the 1990s, only a little more than twenty years ago. While civilians of the United States enjoyed listening to the Spice Girls on their new CD player, watching Titantic, or wearing scrunchies, civilians in Bosnia suffered from fear of a government that they believed would protect them. It did not happen in an underdeveloped country struggling for survival, but rather the hub for human civilization itself: Europe. Yet, because of the failure to intervene, our history books shun this section of history, strangling hope that this will never happen again.
While we cannot take back the pain that this genocide caused for many families, we can fight back by becoming more educated about it. You're already making the right choice by deciding to click on this article, but please don't stop here! It's already evident that textbooks won't teach us about the realities of American failures, but we can stop the cycle by doing our own research and truly becoming activists for the anti-genocidal movement.
It would be a lie to convince ourselves that this was only a trend of the times, that it would never happen in a time such as today. Around the world, civilians in Darfur are enduring inhumane conditions for a glass of water. Women are being shamed and abused in Pakistan. Education is being censored, and indifference is becoming more and more acceptable.
If it could happen in the 1990s in a continent known for its many developments, it can happen in 2015. Never Again is in our hands, in our voice, and in our words. Until my voice runs dry, I will never recant my decision to advocate against the genocides occurring around the world. Will you join me, or will you be a part of the masses?
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