Bosnia remembers 20 years after war began

Bosnia remembers 20 years after war began

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina
Bosnia remembers 20 years after war began

Some 11,541 red chairs are lined up in Sarajevo on the 20th anniversary of the start of the Bosnian war. REUTERS photo

Exactly 11,541 red chairs were lined up in rows along Sarajevo’s main street on April 6, one for every man, woman and child killed during the 1992-95 war, as Bosnia commemorates the 20th anniversary of the bloodiest conflict in Europe since World War II.

A classical orchestra was set to play a concert for the 11,541 empty seats, with Sarajevo residents asked to stop what they are doing to mark the start of the conflict.

In the morning workmen set up the seats along a length of some 800 meters, on Sarajevo’s central Marshall Tito Avenue. Exhibitions and performances were also being held.

Exactly twenty years ago, the last hopes of thousands of Bosnians who took to the streets of Sarajevo to demand peace were shattered, as Bosnian Serb snipers fired on the crowds. As the first civilian casualties of war fell, the European Community recognized Bosnian independence from former Yugoslavia on April 6, 1992.

In the following three and a half years the country was torn apart, divided along ethnic lines. Some 100,000 people were killed and half the population of 4.4 million fled their homes. Many in Sarajevo live daily with the memories of the longest city siege in modern history. For 44-months Bosnia Serb troops shelled the town from the hills above and snipers shot pedestrians at random. “This city needs to stop for a moment and pay tribute to its killed citizens,” said Haris Pasovic, organizer of the “Sarajevo Red Line.”

Compiled from AFP and AP stories by the Daily News staff