The story of Hajra Catic, a Srebrenica mother who passed awayin Sarajevo yesterday, was marked by the search for the remains of her son Nihad, a war journalist who announced the events in Srebrenica on July 10th.
A radio report by her son, journalist Nino Catic, was published just a day before the Srebrenica genocide. The anxious report, meanwhile, has become a symbol of the latest appeal made by residents of this small town in eastern Bosnia to the international community and the United Nations (UN).
“Srebrenica is turning into the biggest slaughterhouse. The dead and wounded are constantly being dragged to the hospital. It is impossible to describe it(…). This is a shameful crime being committed against the Bosniak population of Srebrenica. Is Yasushi Akashi, Butors Gali, or someone else behind it all, I am afraid that it will no longer matter for Srebrenica, ” stated Nino Catic in his last report from Srebrenica.
But, the help of the international community did not arrive. On July 11th, Nino Catic, together with his fellow citizens, set out for the free territory, but he never reached it.
“I remember that he did not come home for six days, and then on the evening of July 10th, he came and said that his father and I should get ready for Potocari and that he and his friends would cross the forest to the free territory. When I headed to Potocarion July 11th with my husband, I stopped by the post office where there were radio amateur’s headquarters and saw my son for the last time. He said to me, ‘Mom, see you in Tuzla.’ They grew up in the war, under grenades, but God gave them to be so beautiful that it cannot be described in words, “ said Hajra Caticin 2014.
Hajra Catic never found her son’s bones, and as time passed, the hope for finding them became smaller and smaller.
“By finding at least one of his bones, I would also find peace in myself. I often go to the grave of my husband Junuz and cry in the hope that my Nino also has his nisan (grave monument). If I don’t find him, if I don’t mark the place where he rests, with his name and surname on his nisan, those who deny the genocide in Srebrenica will say that I never had him. It kills me,” said Hajra Catic in a 2020 interview.
Although the International Court of Justice in The Hague, meanwhile, has ruled that genocide took place in Srebrenica, and former High Representative Valentin Inzko banned genocide denial with the amendments to the Criminal Code, many Srebrenica mothers are still searching for the remains of their closest relatives.
Yet, many mothers have never been able to live enough to seethe results of the search. The fates of Hajra Catic, Suhra Pasalic, and others were marked by searches whose results never came.