News 24 Sep 12

Vlasenica Marks 20 Years Since Susica Camp Closed

More than 150 former prisoners and citizens from the Podrinje region in nothern Bosnia took part in the „Marsh of Salvation – Susica 2012” to mark 20 years since one of the most notorious concentration camps in the Bosnian war closed.

Denis Dzidic
BIRN
Sarajevo
Susica commemoration     Photo by Islamic community Vlasenica

The Bosnian Serb run camp Susica in Vlasenica was active from the spring to September 1992.

During that time more than 8,000 Bosniaks were detained there in inhuman conditions, while hundreds lost their lives, according to the march organizers.

The event held on Saturday, September 22, was organized by the Islamic community in Vlasenica and had participants travelling from the village of Turalici in the Kladanj municipality to the camp grounds in Vlasenica.

Along the way, the participants also visited the location of the mass grave Ogradice, where remains of around 300 former camp prisoners were found.

“Around 1,600 people were killed in the Susica camp, while many others survived the most horrible abuse, rapes, torture and finally deportation to other concentration camps for non-Serbs, primarily the Batkovic camp in Bijeljina. Some prisoners were also taken to frontlines as human shield, ” reads the statement issued by the Vlasenica Islamic community.

One of the participants in the event was Melka Ponjavic, who was detained in Susica with her daughter.

“My daughter had cigar burns all over her body, that is how they used to torture her,” Ponjavic said at the commemoration.

Only three men have been sentenced for crimes in the Susica camp so far. The Hague Tribunal has sentence Dragan ‘Jenki’ Nikolic, former Susica commander to 20 years in prison in 2005, while the Bosnian State Court has sentenced Predrag Bastah and Goran Viskovic to a total of 40 years in prison for crimes in Vlasenica and Susica.

In its verdict against Nikolic, The Hague Tribunal found that around April 21, 1992 the town of Vlasenica was taken over by Serb forces, who shelled the surrounding villages causing death of a number of civilians.

“As a result, many Bosniaks fled from the area. Those who remained were either deported or arrested. In June 1992, Serb forces established a detention camp in Susica. Women and children generally stayed in the centre before being forcibly transferred to nearby Bosniak areas."

"During their stay, women were raped. Between late May and September 1992, at least 8,000 civilians were detained in Susica. Many men were killed, including 140 detainees allegedly killed in September 1992,” reads the verdict.

 

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