Braes High pupils hear survivor’s horrific tale of Bosnia genocide
A survivor of the 1995 Srebrenica genocide in Bosnia told his harrowing – but ultimately uplifting – story to over 300 pupils from Falkirk and beyond.
The fact Hasan Hasanović (44) was able to stand up on stage at Braes High School last Friday is testament to his sheer will and determination – and pure luck.
Serbia-born Hasan has now made it his mission in life to tell his story – how he made it to safety when he and his family were forced to flee Srebrenica as the Bosnian Serbs descended upon the town in the summer of 1995.
His presentation to the pupils, which was part of Holocaust Memorial Week, was also a tribute to his own family.
Speaking before his presentation, Hasan said: “I was 19-years-old and we walked six days and six nights and I became separated from my father, my twin brother and my uncle. I never saw them again.
“I’m doing this for them and for the youngsters here, hoping it will help them to deal with hatred and stand up against injustice so something like this doesn’t happen again. I came from a country which used to be pretty stable and then it was affected by a terrible war.
“Learning from the books is one thing, learning from reality, from someone’s own experience is totally different. It’s a lesson for countries everywhere, including Scotland. “What happened in my country, could happen anywhere if we allow it and do not stand up for human rights.”
The Bosnian War started in March 1992 and by May, Hasan’s family had been forced to move to the Muslim-held enclave around the town of Srebrenica.
There was no electricity, very little food, and people were being killed every day by Serb artillery fire.
He was just 19 when Srebrenica fell to Bosnian Serb forces in July 1995.
After the United Nations troops retreated, Hasan, along with his father Aziz and twin brother Husein, decided to flee.
He endured a 100 kilometre march through hostile terrain to escape the massacre of around 8000 Muslim men and boys that took place.
Hasan was one of only 3500 who survived the march.
After the war he as an interpreter for the US army then gained a degree in Criminal Sciences and returned to live in Srebrenica in 2009.
Married with a daughter, Hasan now works as a curator at the Memorial Centre, where he shares his story with visitors from all over the world.
David Mackay, Falkirk Council head of education, said: “It’s important to bring guests and visitors like Hasan to the school. It makes it real for the young people. They have learned from various forms of media on subjects like this, but to hear it first hand is exceptionally powerful.
“It’s important to learn from history, but also from the here and now as well.”