Survivor of the Bosnian genocide in Srebrenica, Fahrudin Muminovic bravely shares his story.
This year, July 11th marks 25 years since the start of the genocide in which over 8,000 Bosnian Muslims, including my father, were rounded up in and around the town of Srebrenica, and killed by Bosnian Serb forces.
I am now the same age my father was when he was murdered, and back then my life very nearly ended with his.
I don’t remember anything before that day, though I know my mother had died after complications from my sister’s birth just a few years before.
For me, life began then. And it started with death.
Childhood in Srebrenica: Love and loss
That day, I was with my father, my uncle and my sister in our house near the woods, and through the window, I saw a neighbour running towards us.
He was shouting at us to be careful and hide, because the Bosnian Serbs, who had been at war with Bosniaks (primarily Bosnian Muslims) for three years, were approaching.
My uncle took my two-year-old sister and escaped through the woods. But, aged seven, I was too old to carry – and too young to make such a journey on foot.
Under my father’s orders, I hid under the bed but after 15 minutes, the soldiers found us and took us outside where other male Muslims were gathered. They forced us to put a cloth over our eyes so we couldn’t see where we were going and rounded us up onto a truck.
At one point the cloth fell away from my face, and I asked my father to tie it again. But instead, one of the soldiers grabbed me and tied it himself, so tight that it hurt.
We drove for about half an hour, and they forced us out again. Then the shooting began.
I knew that all around me, men were dropping like flies. I dropped to the ground too, but I was still alive – I had been shot in the knees.
I was still alive. I lay on the ground on my stomach, writhing in pain.
What happened next was a miracle. I heard a man’s voice saying: “Wai