BOSNIA - On the 15th anniversary of Srebrenica (July 11, 2010), one Bosnian Catholic was finally laid to rest, a victim of the 1995 Srebrenica genocide. Rudolf Hren was born in Vrbas, Serbia, but lived in Srebrenica before and during the war. He was buried among his Muslim friends with a Christian (Catholic) insignia marking his grave.
“buried…among his Muslim
friends with whom he lived and died”
"Rudolf is buried among the friends he stayed with until the last day," said his mother Barbara Hren. Her other son Ivan was also killed in Srebrenica. He died in 1992, and the last time she saw Rudolf was July 10, 1995. Fifteen years later, Rudolf’s body was identified in a mass grave near Srebrenica. With the support of Rudolf’s wife Hatidža and daughter Dijana, Barbara decided that Rudolf should be buried at the Memorial center in Potočari near Srebrenica among his Muslim friends with whom he lived and died.
“No one wants to return to Srebrenica.”
Rudolf moved from Serbia when he was three months old because his parents got a job at a lead mine. While his wife and daughter now live in Tuzla, his mother Barbara returned to Srebrenica a few years ago and lives alone on her floor. No one wants to return to Srebrenica.
All but one of the victims buried at the Memorial center were Muslim. Rudolf Hren's grave is the only one marked with a cross so far. "They asked me if I wanted him to be buried elsewhere since this is primarily a Muslim graveyard," said his mother, Barbara. "He died with them. Let him rest with them."
“The vast majority was never seen again.”
Some 30,000 Bosnian Muslims had flocked to the UN military base in the town's suburb of Potočari for refuge. When Serb forces came, the outnumbered Dutch troops opened the gates. The Serbs separated out men and boys, putting them on trucks and carting them away. The vast majority was never seen again. Fifteen years later at Rudolf’s burial, no one representing the UN was at the ceremony. Serbia's president at the time, Boris Tadic, was the first dignitary to arrive, saying he was coming as an "act of reconciliation". "[I want to] build bridges of trust and understanding among the nations in the region."
Source: Draško Đenović Lead Photo: Martijn Munneke