(Omarska Camp, August 5th, 1992)
Milomir Stakic, 1992 Mayor of Prijedor, in the courtroom of the Tribunal in Hague) He faced eight charges in all, ranging from genocide and extermination, to deportation and persecution in the form of destroying local villages, as well as mosques and Catholic churches. He was eventually found guilty of five charges, while being acquitted of personal responsibility in the genocide. He was sentenced to life imprisonment, but through the appeals process reduced his sentence to forty years.
(cemetary of wartime victims in Kozarac)
January 14th, 2005 - Meeting took place in Rotterdam between Mr. Baan and the representatives of Foundation OPTIMISTI 2004, Satko Mujagic and Sten Fierant. The following was agreed:
· The White House should stay untouched and in the current state (After seeing the picture of the White House Mr. Baan did not consider this building “of any particular value for the production”)
· The access to the camp in the future will be guaranteed, especially on the Memorial days (May 24th and August 6th). Also on other days the entrance should be guaranteed;
· The White House should (in some longer term) become a Memorial Center. Regarding the last request Mr. Baan pointed out that Mittal Steel needs more time and will come back to this matter later on.
A chair used during torture in the White House in 1992 (photo L. Bryant, 2006)
White House during the visit in 2006 (photo L. Bryant)
Following the meeting Mr. Baan received the book “The Killing Days” of Kemal Pervanic and the radio documentary “Extending the Ethnical Borders.” The book “The Circle of Hell” of former detainee Rezak Hukanovic, which was sent to Mr. Mittal earlier has apparently been lost.
April 15th, 2005 - Mr. Baan had a telephone conversation with Mr. Mujagic in which he explained that Mittal Steel approached Mr. Donald Reeves and Peter Pelz and their organization “Soul of Europe” to further work out the idea for a Memorial Center in Omarska.
After several meetings with Kemal Pervanic in London and paid by Mittal Steel an amount of 100.000 GBP, the Soul of Europe worked on this initiative intensively during 2005 in Prijedor together with survivors of Omarska (Rezak Hukanovic, Muharem Murselovic, Nusreta Sivac, Mirsad Duratovic), Emsuda Mujagic, the management of the company in Prijedor and others, including local Serbs.
December 1st 2005 - at a press conference in Banja Luka, Mittal Steel (represented by Mr. Will Smith, Ms. Petra van Helden and Mr. Mladen Jelaca) announced that there will be a Memorial Center in the White House in Omarska on a 34 ha area which shall be isolated from the rest of the company. Furthermore, Mittal Steel will finance the whole project. There were many announcements in the media about this decision in the Netherlands, Great Britain and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
(future model of the memorial in White House in Omarska as presented by Mittal Steel and Soul of Europe in Banja Luka on December 1st, 2005)
Shortly after this event, the initiative was resisted by the Municipality of Prijedor, who was responsible for setting up of the concentration camps Omarska, Trnopolje and Keraterm (according to several verdicts of the International Tribunal for former Yugoslavia in The Hague) in the summer of 1992. After meeting with former British Ambassador, the Mayor of Prijedor, Marko Pavic said that the Memorial in Omarska would undermine relations between different ethnic groups in Prijedor. In October 2009 Pavic even accused former prisoners of Omarska of lying, saying that in 1992 there were no camps in Prijedor region.
Furthermore, due to the non-transparent work of Soul of Europe, the online petition was started by Kemal Pervanic and Lee Bryant. Also some organizations of survivors in Bosnia and Herzegovina critisized the work of Soul of Europe.
19th December 2005 - Prior to their meeting in Rotterdam with Mr Baan, Mr Reeves and Pelz met with the representatives of the OPTIMISTI 2004 Foundation. The main issue of the meeting was the criticism from the side of some survivors and the fact that the Prijedor municipality is openly against the initiative.
January 21st, 2006 - Amnesty International presented its report on the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, using Mittal as a case study.
February 20th, 2006 - Mittal decided to put the initiative on hold.
For immediate release (Mittal Steel Press Release)
Mittal Steel's Suspension of the Omarska Memorial Project Is Temporary
London, 21 February 2006 - “Mittal Steel wants to clarify that the suspension of the Omarska Memorial project is temporary and that Mittal Steel did not ‘abandon’ the project as published by some media. Mittal Steel is the majority shareholder of the New Ljubija iron ore mines near Prijedor since April 2004 and as such, it re-states its commitment to the Omarska Memorial project and ultimately hopes that it will prove possible to continue with developments and see the project through to a conclusion supported by all parties.”
April 10th, 2006 - All involved initiative parties reacted to this press release and sent a letter to Mittal Steel, with the request to continue with the initiative.
May 19th, 2006 - In Rotterdam, a meeting took place between the representatives of survivors and family members of the victims. - Mr. Lee Bryant, Kemal Pervanic and Satko Mujagic, and from the side of Mittal Steel - Mr. Will Smith, Mrs. Kirsten Ireland and Mrs. Petra van Helden. Mr Lee Bryant presented a document with a proposal how to continue the initiative.
August 2006 - various meetings took place between initiators from Diaspora and from Bosnia. In the meantime Mittal Steel asked Sir Stephen Smith to resume and implement Reeves’s project. Mr. Smith wrote a proposition which was received by Mittal in August 2006.
From September 2006 Mittal Steel was working on its own Foundation, after which the initiative would be resumed.
In 2007 Mittal Steel became part of Arcelor Mittal (with headquarters in Luxembourg and London), with Ms. Felicidad Cristobal as a General Manager of Arcelor Mittal Foundation.
Spring 2007- Mittal Steel organized a conference in Malta on the issue of the Memorial in Omarska
Mr. Milorad Dodik, the President of Republika Srpska, stated in a conversation with the representatives of the Union of Former Camp Prisoners that he agrees with the building of a Memorial Center in Omarska.
May 29th, 2007 - Another letter to Mittal Steel was sent by OPTIMISTI 2004 Foundation requesting the continuation of the project and a meeting with Ms. Cristobal.
October 2007 - In Luxembourg Mr. Satko Mujagic met with Ms. Cristobal and Mr. Langefeld. During the very constructive meeting Ms. Cristobal stated that Mittal still wants to finalize the project but only with support of local community.
Headquarters of Arcelor Mittal in Luxembourg
Every year on August 6th the Assosiation of former camp prisoners "Prijedor 92" and "Kozarac" organize the commemoration visits to the site of Omarska Camp.
Over the past few years, the visitors have not been allowed to visit all of the premises that were used in 1992, but only the White House. It has been noticed that the White House has been painted in the meantime (the blood traces which are result or 1992 tortures can no longer be seen).
Ed Vulliamy in Omarska, August 6th 2006 (foto L. Bryant)
May 24th, 2010 and April 11th, 2011 - Visiting German students (from Regensburg resp. Munich University) were not allowed to enter buildings other than the White House. (on April 11th 2011 the students from Munich, guided by Mirsad Duratovic and Sudbin Music from the Assosiation of former camp prisoners "Prijedor 92" could 'enjoy the view' of the sheep grazing around the White House in the field where human corpses had been thrown in the summer of 1992.)
'access forbidden' (photo L. Bryant, 2006)
Autumn 2008 - with the permission of the owner some scenes of the movie 'St. George shoots the dragon' were filmed in former Omarska camp, later submitted by Serbia for Oscar as a best foreign movie in 2010.
In September and October 2010 public meetings took place in Belgrade and Banja Luka organized by Ms Milica Tomic and the Working Group “Four faces of Omarska”.
Working group "Four faces of Omarska", Belgrade, September 9th 2010 (photo: heartefect.org)
February 2011 - representatives of several organizations from Bosnia and Herzegovina (Izvor - Edin Ramulic, Optimisti 2004 Ervin Blazevic, Assosiation of camp prisoners Prijedor 92 - Mirsad Duratovic) visited a former camp in Dachau.
(Crematorium in Dachau)
Months prior to May 9th, 2011 - The Union of Camp Prisoners of Bosnia and Herzegovina is planning to visit the camp and organize a round-table meeting in the canteen together with the guests from Belgrade, Milica Tomic and the Four Faces of Omarska Group, Women in Black and Ms. Sonja Biserko.
April 20th 2011 - At the meeting in Prijedor the representatives of Arcelor Mittal (Mr Muraree Mukharjee, Mr Mladen Jelaca and Mr Predrag Sorga) informed the representatives of the assosiations of camp prisoners (Mr Murat Tahirovic, Mr Mirsad Duratovic, Mr Sabahudin Garibovic and Mr Sudbin Music) that the access to the former camp Omarska on May 9th will not be granted.
April 30th 2011 - during the pressconference in Sarajevo Mr Murat Tahirovic announces that visit will take place anyway, even if the visitors would be stopped at the camp gate
May 2nd 2011 - Mr Sudbin Music and Satko Mujagic are meeting Mr Pavic, Mayor of Prijedor at his office (2nd May was official holiday). Pavic offers any other day except 9th of May because on this day in RS a victory against fascism is being celebrated (at this poiny Mujagic asked:" Mr Pavic how would you call Omarska in 1992 but fascism?" )
May 5th 2011 - in an open letter, the Mayor of Prijedor accused the vistors of Omarska for 'celebrating those who destroyed Europe 60 years ago'.
May 8th 2011 - Murat Tahirovic received threats on the phone. The guests from Belgrade arrived in Kozarac and during a long meeting with many activists and survivors of Omarska, it was decided to visit the camp.
May 9th - A visit took place without incidents. Mr Izetbegovic and Mr Komsic were among the guests, as well as the Ambassador of the Netherlands, representatives of the Embassy of the USA and Turkey and the Deputy OHR. Stasa Zajovic from Women in Black and Milica Tomic gave very emotional speeches being first Serbs to speak in Omarska during commemorations. The Declaration on fight against fascism has been read by Stasa Zajovic.
May 10th 2011 - One day after the visit, on grafitti In Cirkin Polje, suburb of Prijedor was written: 'Muslims and Gypsies into camps'
May 16th 2011 - Women in Black, the Group '4 faces of Omarska' and other organizations from Belgrade wrote a letter to President of Serbia Tadic, Pres. of RS Dodik, 3 members of Bosnian Presidency, the Mayor of Prijedor Pavic, and the CEO of Arcelor Mittal in which they asked support for continuation of the Omarska memorial initiative.
May 27th 2011 - the CEO of Arcelor Mittal answered the letter stating that the company does not want to get involved in politics and that Mittal never committed itself to build a memorial in Omarska (which is not true: on youtube a film can be found from the press conference from 1 December 2005; see above)
May/June 2011 - 3 US Congressman and Ms Emine Bozkurt, a member of European Parlament supported the initative for a Memorial in Omarska.
October 2011 - Assosiation of camp prisoners Prijedor 92 sent a letter to the Mayor of London, International Olympic Comitte, Ambassador of UK to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
" It is quite theoretically possible and horrifying to imagine, that the ore for construction of this monument, could have possibly been smelted with bones of our dearest, who disappeared in the slaughterhouse Omarska. It is a known fact that only few kilometers away, second largest mass gravesite in Bosnia was uncovered, called “Stari Kevljani”. While the search is still on for hundreds of victims, it is hard not to assume that those operating mining fields are still concealing more mass gravesites. (...)
While London is building a monument to human spirit with financial help of company that owns former concentration camp Omarska, it is quite ironic that we are still being denied, by that very same company, to build a memorial to commemorate suffering and destruction that occurred in 1992.
We are kindly asking you to take this into consideration and adequately react by supporting initiative to build Memorial Centar Omarska." - til April 2012 no one answered.
March 2012 - Arcelor Mittal denied acces to the camp to the students from Munich
April 14th 2012 - another visit to Omarska is planed by 4 faces of Omarska togther with proffessors and students from Goldsmith University. Until April 11 Arcelor Mittal did not agree to allow this visit.
April 4th 2012 - together with 3 other activists, Satko Mujagic formed a group on Facebook called: "Guardians of Omarska" Within 7 days 2600 people became a member.
Some articles on Omarska:
Omarska, August 6th 2009 (photo cafe.prijedor.ba)