Muhamed Memić

"At the farewell, my twin brother gave me a candy"

Muhamed with his mother and sister

On July 11, 1995, Srebrenica fell into Serbian hands. Fifteen thousand people set off through the forests towards free territories. Among them were Suljo Memić and his twin sons, Ahmed and Muhamed. The only one among them who has so far escaped from that ordeal, the son Muhamed, recounts:

"The last time the three of us were together was in the early morning hours of July 11, 1995, in the forest above Kravica. We had to part ways, and I had to move forward, leaving behind my father and my brother Ahmed, with whom I had sat next to in school since the first grade. I could not imagine that this would be our final goodbye. My brother gave me a candy at our farewell. To this day, I still wonder where he got that candy. And now, I cannot remember the last words he tearfully spoke to me at our parting. I met up with my father again that same day around the afternoon prayer in the forest above Nova Kasaba. He was very frightened. He kept asking if anyone had seen Ahmed. He told me he would have loved to go with me, but it wasn’t possible. My father only had 100 marks on him, so he offered me 50. I refused, saying he needed it more. Father also had four cans of food, two of which he offered to me. I declined those as well, saying he needed them more as he was sick. We parted with tears in our eyes, not suspecting that we would never see each other again.

We expected a Serbian ambush at the asphalt. However, to our surprise, there was no ambush. We sprinted across the road and continued running. Gunfire was coming from all directions, the thunder made it impossible to hear anything. We arrived at Cerska in a single breath. It was only in Cerska that we learned of the horror. We were informed that after our crossing, the Chetniks had cut the column right on the road and had committed an unprecedented massacre. We all cried, as each of us had someone in that miles-long column. It shook us to learn that people were brutally killed, and some in despair even killed themselves. From Cerska, we left the next day around noon. The massacre on the asphalt at Konjević Polje was a sign that we needed to proceed more cautiously and with more discipline. In Mehmedići, we fell into a big ambush, as the Serbs had driven us into a creek. They beat us with everything and anything. I will never forget that. The creek had stunk of gunpowder.

Around one o'clock after midnight, we crossed the road at Crni Vrh. It was our fourth night without sleep as we made our way through the forests and Chetnik ambushes. We were heading towards Baljkovica. People were hungry, exhausted, and we heard there were even suicides. We spent the whole day in the forest above Baljkovica. I saw people eating leaves and grass. As if things couldn't get worse, that evening brought freezing rain and hail, a real downpour, and we all shivered with fever... Suddenly, gunfire erupted from all sides. Deafening noise and roaring, and thick smoke hovered over the battlefield. People died, were wounded, but we kept pushing forward, always moving ahead. With the help of our fighters from free territory, we finally managed to break through the Serbian encirclement and by dusk on July 16, 1995, we reached free Nezuk. We all cried like little children, simply not believing that we were finally free. It had been six days without food, without rest, in a continuous march. Between 3,000 to 4,000 of us crossed into free territory. We were like the dead.

That same evening, we were transferred to Živinice where thousands of women and children were gathered, waiting for their loved ones. There, I finally reunited with my mother and sisters. My mother and sisters cried when they saw the condition I was in. They cried for my father and Ahmed, who had not made it...

Salih Smajlović, "If Bones Could Speak: Narratives of Genocide and Crimes against Bosniaks 1992-1995" El-Kalem and Preporod, Sarajevo 2011, pp. 47-50.

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