Pubblichiamo integralmente l'intervento di Jacob Finci, Presidente della comunità ebraica della BiH, presso il recente convegno dell'Osservatorio "Abitare il conflitto"
Jacob Finci è una persona eclettica. Specializzato in diritto commerciale ha ben presto affiancato, alla sua carriera lavorativa, un forte impegno nel campo umanitario e dell'associazionismo. Attualmente è inoltre Presidente dell'Associazione "Verità e riconciliazione" con sede a Sarajevo, fondata nel 2000 con lo scopo di redarre la proposta di legge per l'istituzione di una commissione per la verità e la riconciliazione in Bih e di coordinare gli sforzi di tutte le realtà della società civile bosniaca in direzione dell'avvio del processo di riconciliazione tra i popoli della Bih.
E proprio in questa veste Finci è stato invitato a Rovereto lo scorso 6 dicembre ed ha tenuto l'intervento qui di seguito pubblicato.
Il contesto è quello del secondo convegno annuale dell'Osservatorio. Per il quale ci si è posti un obiettivo ambizioso: parlare di conflitto e riconciliazione andando oltre la dimensione individuale, già affrontata da molti progetti di sostegno psicologico promossi nell'ambito della cooperazione allo sviluppo, per affrontare quella collettiva.
Solo recentemente nei Balcani si è iniziato infatti a cercare di capire e definire cosa sia avvenuto in questi tragici dieci anni. In Bosnia Erzegovina ed in Serbia sono state create delle Commissioni sulla verità e la riconciliazione, sul modello sudafricano, che hanno iniziato a lavorare tra polemiche e contestazioni. A Belgrado si è da poco tenuto un Convegno internazionale sulla figura e le opere di Hannah Arendt. Ed il suo "La banalità del male", cronaca sul processo Eichmann, ci riporta in modo intenso all'attualità del processo Milosevic e del ruolo del Tribunale dell'Aja nel fare luce sulle tragedie di questi ultimi dieci anni.
Perché serve una Commissione sulla verità e la riconciliazione
"All happy families are alike, but an unhappy family is unhappy in its own fashion", wrote Leo Tolstoy in Anna Karenin. Equally, Bosnian and Herzegovinian tragedy between 1991 and 1995 cannot be compared to other or similar wars, aggressions, genocides, ethnic cleansings and other terrible things that used to happen to others and befell on us recently.
The same applies to recipes for overcoming the trauma, which has affected all of us who have encountered the Golgotha. Of course, it is most hard for those who lost their kin, to those who were left disabled, homeless or displaced but it is also quite hard for those who transgressed against the God's and human laws.
The return of displaced persons and refugees, reconstruction of infrastructure, apprehension of war criminals and trials at The Hague are slow but are the first signs of the process of normalization. It will take a long time to get things to their original state, if at all possible. It will take a while for all to return to their homes, for the war criminals to meet their punishment so that we can start living as we have been for centuries.
Each of the major players on the political scene does what he/she believes needs to be done and in accordance with his/hers mandate but in most cases we are talking of moves that are supposed to provide instant results so that each of the holders of these high positions could return home and brag about them in the next electoral campaign at home with the "results achieved".
Few of them asked the BH citizens of their needs. What were their expectations at the end of this dark tunnel and what was the form of the light at its end?
There have been many receipts and recommendations. Some remind us of a joke of a physician who tested several medicines on a patient and who sadly concluded after the patient eventually died: "What a shame, I had so many other tests to perform."
We were subjected to many tests during the six years of, I dare say, the "cold war" but the fact is that no one is happy with the results. It may be exactly because of this that this may be the perfect timing for establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which, unfortunately, is not a magic wand for solving all of our problems but which can probably help us in improving inter-ethnic and inter-personal relations. It can help us in facing our past openly although painfully as a sting of a healing needle, which saves a life, but the sting itself hurts. We must face our past; we must accept it and learn from it the mistakes we are not allowed in the future ahead of us.
When the World War Two was finished we were all on one side - on the side of the victors and the NAZIS were the ones that were defeated in addition to, as our textbooks said, local traitors. We all hated the Nazis and the number of local traitors diminished in time until it was altogether lost or until they joined the victors. We have never resolved that part of our history, as it was so much easier to shove things under a carpet of forgetfulness and new interpretations.
There were not a few of those who justifiably said that the Bosnian war was not a continuation of the Battle of Kosovo but was a continuation of the World War Two. The continuation which was made possible because the things were not properly named, because the victor's faults were not properly appraised as neither were the few good acts of the defeated. Anyway, the victors write history.
It is obvious that the Dayton agreement has not recognized the victors although the three parties returned from Ohio with a victorious smile on their face and we all realized, someone earlier and someone later, that we were all defeated and that we have all been losers. One is a loser in any war.
It may be that such a peace agreement produced a situation in which we have three different curricula in our schools, three different syllabi on history with each being presented as victorious one. It is either openly stated or it can be read between the lines there that our neighbors are our enemies, that they came to "our land" and spoiled our idyllic life and that this is only a temporary situation.
Teaching our children that, what can be expected but another war in 20 - 30 years and the final clash with our loathed enemies? To avoid that we need to realistically evaluate our recent past - the period between November 1990 to December 1995 will do. We need to hear from Bosnians and Herzegovinians who stayed there during the war what they went through and what actually happened to them.
Our memory, which may be good, is not perfect and we forget a lot. It will soon be ten years since the Bosnian tragedy began and now is the right time to preserve that memory from oblivion. Otherwise, we will remember only that what is written in memoirs of Karl Bildt, Lord Owen, Alija Izetbegovic, Richard Holbrook and all those who believed that their mere passing through Bosnia and Herzegovina gave them the right to believe that they knew everything about it and that they are the relevant ones to note it down and to publish it.
We need to preserve our own memory, as it will take too long for the archives to be opened. Anyway, we know that our archives are either empty or destroyed and that the long wait will produce nothing but erase our memories and replace it with memories of others.
The idea is to establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission at the state level which will be provided with the possibility to collect testimonies of all those who spent the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina and who can and want to say what happened to them during that period of time. The Commission will work parallel to the Tribunal in the Hague, which is prosecuting the war criminals and meting out punishment to all those who deserve it but it is clear that the Tribunal will complete its work with no more than 120 - 140 convictions and less than 1000 witnesses. That is why it is so important to let those who have something to say speak. The Commission will be the rights place for them.
It is obvious that majority of those who will appear before the TRC will be victims, especially since everybody in BH was a victim in a way. It is essential to make hearings public and available to all so that all of us can hear victims from all sides since we have been convinced that it is only us, our nation, who is the victim. We were also victims of propaganda and are often offended when our "good boys" are declared as bad on the other side. We all defended something in this war and it is quite painful to learn that the defense was often in violation of applicable laws and that it ended in crime. The painful realization of what actually happened, without attempts to even out crimes or to quantify them, will help us see the tragedy of the past war in a different way.
We expect those who were mobilized and who were granted amnesty to also appear before the TRC. Not all who were drafted are war criminals; after all they have been pardoned before the law but not before their conscience. They too should be given a chance to confess before the TRC and free their heart of burden of evil and continue to live in peace of mind. This will be an opportunity for them to earn that pardon.
The third group of witnesses will include those individuals of all ethnic groups who, despite grave risks, resisted ethnic cleansing and acted to protect victims of other ethnic groups. If Bosnian society is to really reconstruct itself, its citizens need to be informed not only of the crimes committed, but also, of the potential for goodness and brotherhood which remained even in the midst of barbarity and insanity. Nationalist extremists who oppose the peace process would prefer to bury such stories of cross-ethnic valor and humanity (of which there are many), because these accounts will make it harder to divide people.
Finally, The Truth and Reconciliation Commission should analyze acts of those who cannot appear before the Tribunal. It needs to analyze the work of media and how the language of hate lead to crimes, it needs to evaluate the work of religious communities and their role in the past war, actions and attitudes of political parties need to be examined as well as the role and actual effects of involvement of the international community in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the period. None of those cannot and will not appear before the Tribunal and an honest evaluation needs to avert us from making similar mistakes in the future.
How will the TRC work?
A list of possible candidates for commissioners shall be compiled in broad discussions and based on recommendations coming form all parts of the country. After narrowing the list to a dozen of nationals of Bosnia and Herzegovina, individuals who enjoy indisputable credibility of all peoples of this country, who are persons of high integrity, unbiased and who do not currently perform high political functions and who did not occupy high political or military positions in the period 1990 to 1995. The Parliament of BH would choose seven commissioners.
Within the next six months, The TRC is to adopt rules of procedures, establish 13 regional offices (the selection of sites not governed by disposition of cantons and entities but to make them accessible to all within an hour's drive), train the staff and organize a fundraising conference.
In the next 18 months all citizens of our country will be given opportunity to appear before the TRC in any of the regional offices and to tell their story regardless of the side they were in during the conflict. The TRC will not have a subpoena authority and all hearings will be open for public and media. The role of media is essential and it is expected to play a positive role and become a part of solution after its disgraceful role in the past war.
Crisscrossing of the testimonies will result in overlapping of accounts coming from both or even from all three sides and will provide a unique opportunity for many to see the events in their entirety, something that most of us were missing. Some of the testimonies will hurt us, no doubt, but it is better to take that bitter pill now instead when it is too late.
The whole process is of paramount importance for the final result. This type of mass psychotherapy proved to be successful in South Africa, El Salvador and some other countries misfortunate enough to go through bloodbaths and massive disregard for human rights. The letting go, going through a sort of purifying catharsis, liberates and removes the heavy burden one has lived with for years. There is no reason why it should not help us too especially since the Tribunal in the Hague has been established to deal with the worst crimes, which makes things considerably easier for us. We expect between 5 - 7 thousand testimonies, which will be systemized appropriately.
In the six months after that, the TRC is to prepare final report with recommendations for the parliament of BH to adopt. After that, the Council of ministers or the government would annually report to the Parliament on implementation of the recommendations.
It is clear that the Commission is not a magic wand but just an attempt to help the country, to preserve our memory and to replace the inter-ethnic distrust with understanding and trust, which are so essential for coexistence, even if we only lived side by side with our neighbors in the beginning to be able to start living with them one day.
The only worst thing is maintaining that the Commission cannot improve the overall situation and that it useless to try anything. No one has learned to swim before jumping into water and, consequently, we cannot claim that the Commission will be a failure if we do not try to do something.
Sarajevo, November 2002