Gastarbeider in Sarajevo

Na ruim twee jaar en veel verhalen in het Bosnisch uit Nederland, zoals beloofd op mijn afscheidsborrel, ook verhalen in het Nederlands uit Bosnië. Veel plezier. S.


Arcelor Mittal Orbit Casts a Shadow of Shame over London


The following statement is being presented on behalf of the group Guardians of Omarska, founded on April 4 2012 and to be registered soon as an Association, as well as on behalf of the Association 'Survivors and witnesses of genocide' from Bosnia and Herzegovina, and supported by the Foundation of the former camp prisoners of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the Netherlands. I hope you will understand that some remarks will refer to myself as a former camp prisoner of the concentration camps Omarska and Manjaca. 

* Bosnia was a scene of the bloodiest conflict in Europe since the WWII.  In that conflict a campaign of extermination was organized by the Bosnian Serb Army in the Prijedor area in which they conducted mass executions, rapes, concentration camps were opened, and other war crimes.  In one word: GENOCIDE

The final outcome was 3173 civilians were killed, including 102 children from Prijedor and 256 women, 31 000 were detained in death camps, and eventually some 53,000 expelled; all religious, cultural and economic objects of Bosniacs and Croats in the Prijedor municipality were destroyed. 

On the 20th anniversary of suffering, Prijedor authorities have banned commemorations in any public space in the city. In addition now, we have a big corporation, ArcelorMittal, the biggest steel producer in the world who are blocking access to the former concentration camp in Omarska. Namely, Mittal now owns 51% of what used to be the most notorious death camp in the Bosnian war.

Our attempts to negotiate some kind of a solution with Mittal have started in 2004. After the initial letter, sent in November 2004 to Mr. Lakshmi Mittal, here in London, together with the first book written about Omarska, '10th circle of hell' of the author Rezak Hukanovic, here present, and the letter to Mr. Roeland Baan, former CEO of Mittal Steel for Europe in Rotterdam, we were invited for a meeting with Mr. Baan on January 14 2005. I and Mr. Sten Fierant, here present, were promised during this constructive meeting the following:

1) The survivors, family members of those murdered in the camp Omarska in 1992, but also any other visitors will be allowed to visit the former camp on 24 May and 6 August, as chosen commemoration days. Furthermore the visit on other days will be allowed upon request.

2) The notorious White House, the building were all inmates were tortured and very often leading to their death will be preserved3) The proposal to make a Memorial/Museum in the White House was taken to consideration and would be discussed with the HQ in London

* In April 2005, Mr. Baan had a phone call with me and explained that Mittal Steel has been in touch with Mr. Donald reeves and Peter Pelz form the organization Soul of Europe which has been invited to work on this 3rd proposal. After a positive answer from our side, Soul of Europe started already in May 2005 with initial meetings with local NGOs and Omarska survivors in Prijedor municipality. 

* This process or we could say a project for which, according to my information, Soul of Europe received the sum of 100.000 pounds, resulted in a press conference in Banja Luka in Bosnia and |Herzegovina on December 1st 2005. During this conference a representative of Mittal Steel, Mr. Will Smith announced that Mittal would build and finance a Memorial in and around the White House. 

* However, after the strong resistance from the side of local government of Prijedor Municipality and due to internal discussion about the way how the Soul of Europe dealt with this process, Mittal Steel had frozen the implementation of the erection of the Memorial on February 20 2006. 

* Till today, despite several meetings with various representatives of the company in Rotterdam, Luxembourg, Kozarac and Prijedor, as well as phone calls, e-mails and letters, ArcelorMittal has done nothing. 

* Even worse, we found out that, without any consultation, the |White House has been painted wiping out the blood traces. Even an old chair, used for torture disappeared. This means that the first promise of Mittal has been broken. Here we would like to stress that form legal point of view the company purposely destroyed evidence of war crimes.

This year, they denied access to the campgrounds and buildings to students from Munich, representatives of the Goldsmiths University London, Group Four Faces of Omarska from Belgrade, and local NGOs who wanted to commemorate the 20th anniversary of genocide in the region. 

* At the same time, instead of building the Memorial in Omarska, one of the most notorious camps after the II World War, ArcelorMittal invested its money to build a monument in London for the Olympic games. 

* As far as I am concerned This Monument to the Olympic spirit is really the Orbit of shame. We are certain that British people are not aware of the fact that their newest landmark may have somebodies bones built in it. Families and the survivors of the Omarska Camp are appalled at Mittal’s policies and behavior. There are still more than 1000 people missing in Prijedor, of which many Omarska prisoners. There are indications that many corpses have been left inside the pit of the mine.

* This big Orbit monument makes a dark shadow over London, at least this is how many survivors and others think of it.

* Although the city of London and Olympic committee have nothing to do with 1992 events nor the current policy of Mittal towards us as a survivors and the negligence of the history of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Europe, we also invite the wider community to take distance form the Mittal approach so far.

1) We ask that ArcelorMitall allows full access to the site of former Omarska camp, to all buildings.

 2) We expect and urge Arcelor Mittal to immediately stop this shameful policy and finally build the  memorial in Omarska as previously promissed.

3) We do not expect or ask the cessation of production but we do ask that a new mine complex is built to exploit the iron ore instead of the one which was used as a concentration camp and could be considered a mass grave. Until then, we will be free to consider the London Orbit our memorial in exile.

4) We appeal to Arcelor Mittal and the city of London to make a real copy of the White House beneath the current Orbit Monument to commemorate those whose bones may be melted in Orbit.

Some time ago we invited Mr. Lakshmi Mittal himself for a meeting to solve out this issue. I use this opportunity to repeat this invitation and ask publicly for a meeting with the representatives of the survivors of the camp. I also invite Mr. Mittal, the Mayor of London, and the delegation of British government to pay tribute to the victims and join us on 6 August this year for the 20th commemoration day of the beginning of closure of the concentration camp Omarska. 

In the end, let me remind you that it was the British journalists Ed Vulliamy, Penny Marshall and Ian Williams who discovered these concentration camps and saved many, many lives including mine. We have come here to ask the British people to help us preserve the memory of those who cannot be here today because they did not survive the horrors of Omarska. Thank you

Satko Mujagic, during the press conference London 2 July 2012
Gastarbeider in Sarajevo
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