In Der Spiegel, Slavenka Draculic, a Croatian, writes of why she cannot visit Belgrade: 

Why had I not visited for all of these years?

Was it about “them”? About what “they” did to “us”? Or about what Serbs did to themselves? If I traveled there I would carry two decades of images and emotions with me, like that of the Muslim woman from Srebrenica whose son was murdered by the Serbs. Her words, “I was forced to drink the blood of my own son,” are burned in my memory. So too is the photo of a young man bent forward over a railing with a gaping hole in his chest. How strange, I thought when I saw it, that you could see the railing through the hole.

The young citizens of Serbia were born after the war but cannot visit other countries without a visa, unlike during the time if Yugoslavia.

Today young Serbs are isolated and prohibited from seeing the world, and they are angry about it. At a recent conference, I heard a young Serbian man speak passionately about the fact that his generation was not even born when the wars broke out. They are not responsible for the crimes of their fathers. Because they are young, he implied, they are blameless. I must admit that this presumed innocence does not feel right to me.

The young still bear responsibility:

I wonder how much the new generation in Serbia knows about its own past. Like ours, their generation is responsible for its silence, for not asking about what happened before they were born, for not caring about what their fathers did during those wars, for believing that they have the right to visas just because they are young and their hands are clean. Most of all, they are responsible for failing to ask their parents why they are deprived of visas. The youngest generation of Serbs cannot be held responsible for the past. But all of them are responsible for their present attitude toward the past. That was the lesson that we, their parents’ generation, had to learn the hard way.

Silence is complicity.

We cannot repeat our mistakes and the mistakes of our parents. We all have to confront the past. The new postwar generation has its own responsibility: it must seek the truth. The youth of Serbia suffer because they are not asking questions.

This, I believe, is why I don’t visit Belgrade. I couldn’t bear the silence.

Today January 22 is the anniversary of Roe v. Wade.


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