Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Villagers Put Past Behind Them

Bosniaks and Serbs set aside their bitter experiences of recent years to try to live together again.

Villagers Put Past Behind Them is a story about Serb returnees to the village of Nisici near Sarajevo, which is in the Bosniak-Croat Federation. One of the villagers, Zdravko Kojic, says he fled at the beginning of the war because he didn't want to witness the murder of his neighbours. Nisici was under the Bosnian Serb control until 1995, when it was taken over by Bosniak forces.

After the war, Kojic decided to return to the place in which his father and grandfather were born. He has many friends among local Bosniaks, who regularly visit him; they even help Serb returnees repair a church which was damaged in the war. Among those helping Serb returnees is a former Bosniak soldier, who lost his leg during the war. He says Bosniaks and Serbs have to live together, despite everything that happened in the Nineties. And although they don't have problems with their Bosniak neighbours, Serb returnees complain about the treatment they receive from the local Bosniak authorities, who ignore their pleas for small improvements that could make their lives much easier.