Almost a quarter of a century after the atrocities committed in a supposed UN-protected zone, students don’t learn about what happened.
Bosnia Herzegovina’s history changed forever in July 1995 when Serb troops entered a supposed UN-protected zone in Srebrenica and carried out a genocide of Bosnian Muslims.
The atrocity was the worst war crime committed in Europe since the Second World War and claimed the lives of more than 7,000 people in just a few days.
Bosnian Serb leaders, Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, were later convicted of genocide at UN-administered trials in 2016 and 2017 respectively.
For many Bosnian Muslims, the scars of the genocide persist, with grieving families unable to find closure as the remains of their loved ones lie undiscovered.
Yet despite the horrors of the atrocity and having lost close relatives in the slaughter, students in Srebrenica today do not learn about the genocide.
“We are not given information at school about what happened,” Bosnian local Avdo Becirovic told TRT World.
“They don’t allow us to learn about it in our history lessons. Even if there is something in the books, the teacher ignores it,” he added.
Becirovic described one incident where students were due to take a lesson on the events at Srebrenica but the teacher due to oversee the class was not happy with the content so decided to skip the class.
The reason for such behaviour stems from the aftermath of the war, which ended in 1995 with the Dayton Accords.
Bosnia Herzegovina was divided into two administrative political entities and Srebrenica fell into the administrative region known as ‘Republika Srpska’ meaning ‘Serb republic’.
This region has the autonomy to set its own policies in certain fields including education.
As the political representatives of the entity are overwhelming Serbs who deny the genocide, school curriculums reflect their worldview.
Serb leader Milorad Dodik, for example, is on the record as saying: “We won’t recognise the genocide because the genocide didn’t even happen.”
The examples of historical revisionism extend beyond the Bosnian genocide.
One example of this is the way NATO’s bombing campaign in Yugoslavia during the Kosovo War is presented.
NATO intervened in order to force the withdrawal of Serbian troops who were committing atrocities against Kosovans.
But in Republika Srpska, students learn about it as an act of foreign ‘aggression’.
Parent Mirnes Zahirovic told TRT World, that while authorities claimed the curriculum was made in accordance with the law, which insists on all ethnic groups being equally represented, in reality: “The curriculum favours just one ethnic group, a Serb one.”
The education system is seen as one of the main obstacles to the reconciliation of Bosnia’s different communities and students find it easier to talk to their peers than to those whose job it is to educate them.
Genocide victims are still waiting for their stories to be taught to the next generation but as it stands, progress is very slow.