In this short film, six young East Londoners travel to Bosnia to discover its turbulent history and what ‘justice’ must really mean
On a cool winter evening, I was privileged enough to be invited to a film screening at the Barbican in London, a visit which was both powerful and highly educational. The production, Justice in Action, is a documentary set in London, Bosnia and The Hague. Six schoolgirls, aged between 16 and 19 from Tower Hamlets’ Mulberry Girls School, attempted to enrich their view of global justice and citizenship through researching and visiting the scenes of the worst atrocities committed in Europe since the Second World War.
After exploring the turbulent history of Bosnia in Sarajevo by speaking to the relatives of those killed and later interviewing survivors of the Srebrenica massacre and infamous ‘Death March’, these students experienced highly emotive stories and challenged their own personal views of justice, peace and reconciliation. They engaged survivors in dialogue to see what their perceptions were of the justice, if any, that could be brought out of the trial of Radovan Karadzic, the former Bosnian-Serb leader accused of genocide, one crime among many others. As expected, the views of survivors and families of victims ranged from a complete lack of faith in the international judicial process to merely wanting their stories heard.
The film is barely over an hour long, yet the director, Fiona Lloyd Davis of Studio 9 Films, does a truly remarkable job of conveying the stories of Bosnia’s war-time survivors whilst simultaneously taking us on a journey with the school girls. One can see and hear for their self the changing views and perceptions of the students as they come face to face with extremely poignant dialogues and frustrating international court rooms. Most of the students appear to be influenced by the stories they hear first-hand while through the film many become quite emotional and thus expressive in their condemnation of the atrocities. However, what impressed me as a viewer was the realistic and measured judgement some of the students displayed when analysing the modern process of international prosecution and the theme of justice itself.
Having personally volunteered in Bosnia and lived with genocide victims from the 1992-95 war, I had an extra incentive to watch this film. The Muslims of Bosnia, possibly the most hospitable people I have ever met, continue to struggle, particularly in the East around Srebrenica, to live as equals under a Serb-run parliament. Conveying their stories and reminding the world of the atrocities that took place is no easy feat and such films serve to educate a public, which is all too ignorant of a massacre that has taken place on our doorstep only two decades ago.
I can only echo the words of the producers as they state on their website:
“The young women came away from this experience with a sense of personal responsibility for the stories that they heard – to ensure that the voices of the survivors are heard widely so that genocide never happens again. Through this film they aim to demonstrate that through the power of storytelling we can make a change and work towards spreading peace and prosperity across the world.”
In a world currently ravaged by atrocities and injustice in countries such as Syria, Palestine and Burma, one can take solace in the fact that there is still an innate movement in many parts to seek justice and have these valuable stories heard, understood and, most importantly, acted upon. I would highly recommend watching the film and at the very least, taking time out to read about the recent history and turmoil Bosnia has been through.
Image from: http://justiceinaction2012.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/cropped-flier3.png
Reclaim Your Stage:
The Platform is a groundbreaking blog that provides current affairs and cultural commentary. Our pieces offer challenging opinions from a range of spectrums; that’s why we love hosting a platform for them.