In a few days it will be one months since I arrived to USA. As an Atlas Corps Fellow, for the next year I will be serving as a Project Director in GeorgiaForward, is an independent, non-partisan organization working to improve the state of Georgia by engaging business, political, academic and civil leaders to collaboratively shape a statewide policy agenda, located in Atlanta, GA.

I always believe that in life one thing leads to another, and just like that it builds a road for us, sometimes without even asking us if we are ready to take that road.  My trip started 26 years ago, in a county, which at that time was knows as Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Soon, the world did not talk that much about Yugoslavia, as it did about the Bosnian war, which lasted for almost four years, and which was fought in Bosnia and Herzegovina, my country, and in Sarajevo, its capital, and the only home I have ever known about.

On April 6 it will be exactly 20 years since the beginning of Sarajevo siege, the longest siege of one European city after the Second World War. For 1425 days citizens of Sarajevo lived without electricity, water, supplies, heating, medicines, and without any real communication with outside world. According to the data gathered by the Sarajevo-based Research and Documentation Center, 11,541 persons were killed during the 1992-1996. Until this year, Sarajevo has never paid a tribute to these people in a similar way.

Sarajevo Red Line” represents a first project, which will pay tribute to all citizens killed during Sarajevo siege, no matter of their ethnicity, and religion. It will have a form of a drama and music poem performance. Right next to the Eternal Flame monument, in the Maršal Tito Street, the main street in the downtown Sarajevo, 11,541 red chairs will be arranged in 825 rows, that will stretch for 800 meters and in that way represent “audience” which is not part of Sarajevo anymore, but will never be forgotten.

“Sarajevo Red Line is a special project, one of those that mark the cultural history of a country. This project commemorates, in an artistic fashion, the human losses suffered by Sarajevo during the 1992-96 siege. The siege of Sarajevo was an emblematic event of the 20th century.  It has had global consequences and became one of the cautionary events in the world’s history.  It was Susan Sontag who said the sentence that has since become legendary: “The 20th century began in Sarajevo with the Sarajevo Assassination and it ended there – with the siege of Sarajevo. “” said Haris Pasovic, Author and Director of Sarajevo Red Line performance.

If you ever think of these victims as a part of statistics, try counting until 11,541. Then for each number relate a name, childhood, life story, work, friends, family, pictures, home, and emotions. Did they stop being just a number now?

1 thought on “Sarajevo: Twenty Years Later”

  1. Aparna says:

    Asja – thank you so much for sharing! This was so interesting.

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