Implications and contributions
The traditional Bosnia Muslim community has certain obligatory rituals for death (Stover, 197). First the corpse is washed by an Islamic teacher of the same gender, then the body is wrapped in a white shroud and placed in a lid-less coffin (Stover, 197). The male relatives accompany the body to the cemetery while the female relatives hold a “tevhid of sorrow” or a collective prayer (Stover, 197). Though not every Muslim in Bosnia considers themselves “traditional” and many had abandoned their Muslim identities after the genocide, “many of women…could not visualize the death of their husbands and sons and thus accept it as real” (Stover, 198). When they thought about moving on, the hope that their relatives were still alive would hold them back (Stover, 198). The massacre was difficult to conceive of, so many killed in such a short period of time, that denial was strong (Stover, 198). Women’s groups were demanding proof of their relatives’ deaths, seeking closure (Stover, 199).
Survivors were comforted by having physical remains they could bury properly (Jennings, 186). Though the bodies killed any hope that the relatives had survived, it “would allow them to remember and believe that those close to them had actually existed, that the Bosnian Serb campaign of ethnic cleansing or the executions…hadn’t simply eradicated their husbands, sons, and brothers from human existence” (Jennings 186). The ICMP was telling the families “Your son, your father, the person you loved, did exist” (Jennings, 187). It was a major act of reconciliation, their loved ones had been taken away, but the ICMP even with just a bone, was returning something that belonged to these grieving relatives (Jennings, 187).
The International Herald Tribune stated that, “while mankind has been able to map the human genome, the ICMP is using DNA technology to map a human genocide” (Jennings, 131). The ICMP soon took its method in Bosnia to the international stage, identifying victims of the tsunami of 2004 in Thailand, Indonesia, India, and Sri Lanka, as well as Hurricane Katrina (Jennings, 155). It is also working on identifying people who were “disappeared” by the Chilean government a few decades ago (ICMP). The ICMP is “now helping human beings in a humanitarian way” (Jennings, 156). In total ICMP identified 13,135 victims across Bosnia (Jennings, 176).
Through locating and digging up mass graves the ICTY was able to give irrefutable proof that the 8,000+ men that disappeared after the fall of Srebrenica were killed by Serbian forces. By using the latest technology and an extensive DNA collection program they were not only able to piece together individuals who had been scattered across secondary graves, they were able to identify them and give their remains to their families. This gave the Bosnian Muslim community a sense of closure rarely found in these cases. As they applied these methods to other mass graves across Bosnia the ICTY and ICMP were able to unite over 13,000 victim’s remains with their families. These methods not only will aid us in cases of future genocide, they have also helped us already in the wake of natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and the Tsunami of 2004.
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