09 12 2022
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30TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE PIONIRSKA AND BIKAVAC FIRE

     The Association for Social Research and Communication (UDIK) reminds the public of the 30th anniversary of the war crimes that took place in Pionirska Street and Bikavac in Višegrad in June 1992.

In the Pionirska Street Fire, on 14 June 1992, a group of Bosniak civilians were locked en masse in the house of Adem Omeragić in Višegrad. The house was set ablaze and the occupants were left to burn to death. About 70 Bosniak women, children and elderly men, most of them from the village of Koritnik, were confined in a house in Pionirska Street by cousins Milan and Sredoje Lukić, leaders of the paramilitary unit called Avengers. The youngest victim was two days old. A similar scenario happened on June 27, when approximately 70 Bosniak civilians were forced into one room in the house of Meho Aljić in the settlement of Bikavac, near Višegrad. After the captives were robbed, the house was set on fire and the occupants were burned alive. According to the testimony of Zehra Turjačanin, there were many children in the house, the youngest less than one year old. Such crimes were repeated at several other locations in Višegrad.

For war crimes in Višegrad the ICTY sentenced Milan Lukić to life imprisonment and Sredoje Lukić to 27 years in prison. A few years ago, UDIK presented the publication War crimes in Višegrad – verdicts. The publication included nine convictions for war crimes committed in Višegrad, issued by the State Court and the Supreme Court of the Federation. They were sentenced Boban Šimšić, Dragan Šekarić, Miloš Pantelić, Momir Savić, Nenad Tanasković, Novo Rajak, Oliver Krsmanović, Predrag Milisavljević, Vitomir Racković and Željko Lelek. In March 2020, the State Court sentenced Radomir Šušnjar to 20 years in prison. Milomir Đuričić and Vukadin Spasojević are currently being tried before the State Court for crimes committed against the Bosniak population in the Uzamnica camp in 1992 and 1993.

During the war against Bosnia and Herzegovina, members of various Republika Srpska Army (VRS) formations committed monstrous crimes against the non-Serb population of Višegrad, especially women and children. Pionirska, Bikavac, Uzamnica, Vilina Vlas and other locations are real examples of the nature of war crimes in the Višegrad area. The Hague Tribunal has proved that one of the most monstrous campaigns of ethnic cleansing was conducted in Višegrad during the Bosnian war.

The results of the systematic extermination of the non-Serb population are clearly visible today in the almost mono-ethnic structure of the Višegrad population. Bosniak returnees are intimidated by glorifying the Chetnik movement, erecting monuments to Chetnik leaders, but also by the former Vilina Vlas camp, which is today a tourist attraction in this city.

Prosecution of perpetrators of war crimes by domestic courts is extremely important for the process of dealing with the past. Finding the remains is a new step forward in wound healing and building trust and reconciliation in this area. Therefore, we appeal to the citizens of Višegrad to finally speak the truth about the fate of their fellow citizens so that the remains of the victims of the Pionirska Street, Bikavac and other Višegrad execution sites can be buried properly.

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