Marking unmarked sites of suffering (abbreviated as ONMS) entails putting up temporary signs that say: “Unmarked SITE OF SUFFERING – At this site, during the past war, people were subjected to inhuman acts – By not letting these events be forgotten, we stand in solidarity with all victims – May it never happen again to anyone.”
As an informal activist group, associated with the Centre for Nonviolent Action (CNA) and with the support and participation of CNA members, the ONMS Team has been marking unmarked sites of suffering since 2015.
The basic idea dates back to the 2011 basic training in peacebuilding where a participant explained how there was a stadium in his town that had been used during the war as a detention camp for captured civilians and soldiers and where his father was imprisoned and abused. He said he wanted to organise an action to put up a large sign in front of the stadium saying how the site was a detention camp, photograph it and share the photos on social media. Following the training, CNA offered its support to help make this action a reality, but nothing came of it. The idea was formulated as a proposal for possible actions offered to the group of participants at the 2014 Training for Trainers in Peacebuilding. A group of four people came together around the idea and with advisory and material support from CNA, started fleshing it out and preparing the first actions.
The desired outcome of the action was to show solidarity with victims across division lines within Bosnian-Herzegovinian society and to point out the unfair and selective approach to victims depending on their nationality, or the nationality of the perpetrators of the crimes against them. Another objective is to raise awareness in local communities, to point out these sites of suffering that are usually associated with victims ‘from the other side’ and have been relinquished to oblivion, even denial, though there are trials and facts that have been established as beyond doubt. Some are seen as shameful and associated with the burden of collective guilt. Making these sites visible and information about the events that took place there available is a way to make sure they are not forgotten.
The target group of the action is the public in places where the unmarked sites of suffering are located and where the past is viewed through one-sided dominant narratives. Feelings of injustice, distrust and fear are present in the everyday life of all ethnic communities. There is also a lack of trust in both local and international tribunals prosecuting war crimes. This type of action seeks to examine our common past, highlighting the loss of life and suffering, and promoting an anti-war attitude and efforts to make sure such atrocities are never repeated.
We draw on legitimacy for conducting these activities as citizens seeking a better future for our society, without fear or injustice.
More about the idea, development and implementation of activity at “Nothing but misery”