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  • These are simple objects:

  • clocks, keys, combs, glasses.

  • They are the things the victims of genocide in Bosnia

  • carried with them on their final journey.

  • We are all familiar with these mundane,

  • everyday objects.

  • The fact that some of the victims carried

  • personal items such as toothpaste and a toothbrush

  • is a clear sign they had no idea

  • what was about to happen to them.

  • Usually, they were told that they were going to be

  • exchanged for prisoners of war.

  • These items have been recovered

  • from numerous mass graves across my homeland,

  • and as we speak, forensics are exhuming bodies

  • from newly discovered mass graves,

  • 20 years after the war.

  • And it is quite possibly the largest ever discovered.

  • During the four years of conflict

  • that devastated the Bosnian nation in the early '90s,

  • approximately 30,000 citizens, mainly civilians,

  • went missing, presumed killed,

  • and another 100,000 were killed

  • during combat operations.

  • Most of them were killed

  • either in the early days of the war

  • or towards the end of the hostilities,

  • when U.N. safe zones like Srebrenica

  • fell into the hands of the Serb army.

  • The international criminal tribunal

  • delivered a number of sentences

  • for crimes against humanity and genocide.

  • Genocide is a systematic and deliberate

  • destruction of a racial, political, religious

  • or ethnic group.

  • As much as genocide is about killing.

  • It is also about destroying their property,

  • their cultural heritage,

  • and ultimately the very notion that they ever existed.

  • Genocide is not only about the killing;

  • it is about the denied identity.

  • There are always traces

  • no such thing as a perfect crime.

  • There are always remnants of the perished ones

  • that are more durable than their fragile bodies

  • and our selective and fading memory of them.

  • These items are recovered

  • from numerous mass graves,

  • and the main goal of this collection of the items

  • is a unique process

  • of identifying those who disappeared in the killings,

  • the first act of genocide on European soil

  • since the Holocaust.

  • Not a single body should remain undiscovered

  • or unidentified.

  • Once recovered,

  • these items that the victims carried with them

  • on their way to execution

  • are carefully cleaned, analyzed,

  • catalogued and stored.

  • Thousands of artifacts are packed in white plastic bags

  • just like the ones you see on CSI.

  • These objects are used as a forensic tool

  • in visual identification of the victims,

  • but they are also used as very valuable forensic evidence

  • in the ongoing war crimes trials.

  • Survivors are occasionally called

  • to try to identify these items physically,

  • but physical browsing is extremely difficult,

  • an ineffective and painful process.

  • Once the forensics and doctors and lawyers

  • are done with these objects,

  • they become orphans of the narrative.

  • Many of them get destroyed, believe it or not,

  • or they get simply shelved,

  • out of sight and out of mind.

  • I decided a few years ago

  • to photograph every single exhumed item

  • in order to create a visual archive

  • that survivors could easily browse.

  • As a storyteller, I like to give back to the community.

  • I like to move beyond raising awareness.

  • And in this case, someone may

  • recognize these items

  • or at least their photographs will remain

  • as a permanent, unbiased and accurate reminder

  • of what happened.

  • Photography is about empathy,

  • and the familiarity of these items guarantee empathy.

  • In this case, I am merely a tool,

  • a forensic, if you like,

  • and the result is a photography that is as close

  • as possible of being a document.

  • Once all the missing persons are identified,

  • only decaying bodies in their graves

  • and these everyday items will remain.

  • In all their simplicity,

  • these items are the last testament

  • to the identity of the victims,

  • the last permanent reminder

  • that these people ever existed.

  • Thank you very much.

  • (Applause)

These are simple objects:

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B1 TED genocide forensic recovered carried war

【TED】Ziyah Gafić: Everyday objects, tragic histories (Ziyah Gafić: Everyday objects, tragic histories)

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    Max Lin posted on 2016/02/11
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