1 Thursday, 27 July 2000
2 [Open session]
3 [The witness entered court]
4 --- Upon commencing at 9.32 a.m.
5 [The accused entered court]
6 JUDGE RODRIGUES: [Interpretation] Good morning, ladies and
7 gentlemen; good morning, technicians, interpreters; good morning, our
8 legal assistants, court reporters; good morning, registrar; good morning,
9 Mr. Harmon, Mr. McCloskey, Mr. Cayley; good morning, Defence counsel:
10 Mr. Petrusic, Mr. Visnjic; good morning, General Krstic.
11 Good morning to our witness. Madam, could you please read the
12 solemn declaration that the usher will give you.
13 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] I solemnly declare that I will speak
14 the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.
15 WITNESS: TEUFIKA IBRAHIMEFENDIC
16 [Witness answered through interpreter]
17 JUDGE RODRIGUES: [Interpretation] Thank you. You may be seated
18 now. Could you perhaps come a little closer to the microphone so that we
19 can hear you well. Are you comfortable, madam?
20 THE WITNESS: [Interpretation] Yes, I am.
21 JUDGE RODRIGUES: [Interpretation] Very well. First of all, you
22 will be answering questions that will be put to you, let me guess, by
23 Mr. Harmon. So first of all, you will be asking questions that will be
24 put to you by Mr. Harmon.
25 Mr. Harmon, you have the floor.
1 MR. HARMON: Thank you, Mr. President. Good morning, Your
2 Honours; good morning, counsel.
3 Examined by Mr. Harmon:
4 Q. Good morning, Ms. Ibrahimefendic. Could you please state your
5 name and spell your last name for the record.
6 A. My name is Teufik Ibrahimefendic.
7 Q. What is your nationality?
8 A. I'm a Muslim.
9 Q. Are you a citizen of Bosnia-Herzegovina?
10 A. Yes, I am.
11 Q. What is the year when you were born?
12 A. I was born in 1948.
13 Q. I would like to start with your educational background, and we'll
14 go through your educational background. Could you please start by telling
15 us what your secondary education was, secondary school education?
16 A. I completed a secondary medical school in Tuzla in 1967.
17 Q. Between 1970 and 1972, did you attend a higher school, majoring in
19 A. Yes, I did. I completed a higher cycle of education, and I was
20 trained as a social worker.
21 Q. Between 1975 and 1980, did you attend the University of Sarajevo
22 and did you ultimately graduate with a degree in psychology and pedagogy?
23 A. Yes, I did.
24 Q. Now, I'd like to go through your additional coursework that you
25 have taken.
1 Starting in 1995 and 1996, did you receive a certificate for
2 additional coursework that you took that was sponsored, this course, by
3 the World Health Organisation and Columbia University, and did you study
4 and take coursework related to courses in war trauma?
5 A. During that period of time, I took a very intensive course on war
6 trauma and I obtained certificates from Columbia University, from the
7 United States.
8 Q. Now, between 1996 and 1997, did you take coursework sponsored by
9 the University of Koln, and could you describe the course and the
10 programme to the Judges, please?
11 A. That programme contained psychosocial counselling for the work
12 with traumatised women and children, and it took about 300 hours of
13 intensive education. It was held in Croatia, in the small town of Tucepi,
14 but it was organised under the auspices under the University of Koln,
15 experts from Koln and a lady who came from Vienna; Sabina Schaeffer and
17 Q. Now, between 1998 and this year, did you take an additional 300
18 hours of training in psychodrama?
19 A. Yes, I did. It is called psychodrama. The term refers to a
20 special method of work with women and children, and we were specialised in
21 that particular therapy and trained to work with women and children
22 traumatised by war.
23 Q. The programme that you've just referred to, was that sponsored by
24 the European Community?
25 A. Yes.
1 Q. At present are you currently pursuing course work in Gestalt
3 A. Yes, I am, since February 2000. Again, it is organised by a
4 university from Germany but it has its seat in Zagreb. They have
5 organised a course which is going to take three and a half years.
6 Q. What is Gestalt therapy, and how does it relate to your present
8 A. Gestalt therapy is a special kind of psychotherapeutic method
9 designed for work with people with various kinds of problems. But it
10 proved to be specially effective during the war because its methods and
11 techniques were particularly well-designed and well-appreciated in the
12 field of work with traumatised persons.
13 The main objective of this particular therapy is to emphasise the
14 relationship between the therapist and the client, the patient, which is
15 very important in the field of war trauma because it is necessary to
16 establish confidence and an open dialogue which will hopefully lead to the
17 client -- which will enable us to reach the client, reach the patient, at
18 a very close level. And the idea is for the patient to become as open as
19 possible during that kind of therapy so that he can talk about his or her
20 experience which is of a particular importance for the war trauma.
21 Q. Mrs. Ibrahimefendic, in addition to that course work, you've taken
22 various seminars that relate to your present work, including seminars in
23 body therapy in trauma and also expressing one's self through painting.
24 Now, can you describe very briefly that type of coursework and the
25 relevance of that coursework to your present-day work?
1 A. Let me say first of all that Tuzla as a town was a very
2 interesting place for experts coming from all over the world because of a
3 large number of refugees who were accommodated in Tuzla. And those
4 experts came to Tuzla to share their knowledge about the war trauma
5 together with us who had vast practical experience in working with war
6 trauma. So during the summer we would cooperate with universities from
7 all over the world, and experts specialised in war trauma would come to
8 Tuzla to work with us, and we would work together on our cases. They
9 assisted us. They supervised us in our work.
10 And one such course was the course in expressing one's self
11 through painting, which helped me a lot in my work with women because
12 traumatised women and children, of course, are having lots of difficulties
13 expressing themselves verbally about their problems and about their
14 feelings, about their pain and their worries.
15 But the idea of expressing one's self through painting was very
16 good and very helpful for us, and it helped us assess the situation they
17 found themselves in. And it was easier for us to assess their problems
18 through their paintings than through conversations that we had with them.
19 Q. Now, I'd like to turn to your work background. Between 1967 and
20 1970, did you work as a nurse?
21 A. Yes, yes. I worked as a pediatric nurse. I worked with sick
22 children who had been hospitalised for a very long time who were suffering
23 from tuberculosis. And my work involved children who spent a lot of time
24 in hospital and who had problems adjusting themselves to the life in
25 hospital and who also had difficulties relating to their education due to
1 their prolonged hospitalisation which would cause interruption in their
2 education. So that was the kind of work that I did during that period of
4 Q. Now, from 1970 until 1994, were you a psychiatric social worker at
5 the clinical centre at the hospital in Tuzla?
6 A. Yes, I was.
7 Q. And very briefly, could you describe your duties and
8 responsibilities while working in that capacity?
9 A. My job, my employment, was actually with the blood transfusion
10 department, because at that time the situation in Bosnia was such that a
11 large number of people had to be mobilised and encouraged to give blood.
12 And people needed to be adequately informed, and they had to be made
13 altruistic and made aware of the need to help the wounded and the sick.
14 So that was my task, that was my job. And I worked with a large group of
15 people, large group of the local population involving younger people at
16 lessons up to the adults of the age of 70, for example.
17 And I worked with hospitals, with schools, with public companies.
18 It was a vast network and system of blood donors. We were in charge of
19 looking for people, finding people who would be willing to give blood and
20 providing the necessary information.
21 Q. Now, from 1994 until the present, are you employed at Vive Zene?
22 A. Yes.
23 Q. Now, yesterday the Judges heard from the director of that
24 programme and a description of that programme, which is a
25 multidisciplinary programme, treating war trauma victims, women, children,
1 both in an in-house situation and in the community itself.
2 You, Mrs. Ibrahimefendic, are the coordinator of the
3 multidisciplinary teams, are you not?
4 A. Yes.
5 Q. In addition to that responsibility at Vive Zene, you treat the
6 women and the children yourself; you have your own caseload. Isn't that
8 A. Yes.
9 Q. Now, we're going to be using terms throughout the remainder of
10 this morning's testimony, the words "trauma" and the words "war trauma."
11 Could you define for us first the term "trauma" and then the term "war
12 trauma," and distinguish between the two?
13 A. Trauma refers to an event which cannot be termed as a normal event
14 in an individual's life. It is a kind of emotional shock that can result
15 in harm and damage to the personality of the individual and which can
16 cause substantial changes in the personality of the individual.
17 Trauma was the most -- one of the most common forms of trauma was
18 the war trauma. War trauma is especially significant and important
19 because it involves a large number of people. These are usually -- this
20 usually happens in difficult situations, situations of disasters where an
21 individual's life is threatened and individual's integrity is threatened.
22 Cases that cause war trauma are, for example, the breakup of families and
23 other similar events that threaten an individual's life.
24 The events that took place in Tuzla or elsewhere in Bosnia during
25 the war are various in their scope, and during our work we came to the
1 conclusion that for certain people, the war events were especially hard,
2 such as: the scarcity of food or water; detention; being witness to war
3 events; feeling that you can be killed; feeling that your life is
4 threatened; the very sight of the wounded people; the injured people; to
5 be present during the shelling or bombardment.
6 And people react in different ways to traumatic -- to various
7 traumatic events. And people have -- usually have traumatic reactions
8 when their families are breaking up. A traumatic event causes a kind of
9 interruption and emotional shock.
10 Q. Now, Mrs. Ibrahimefendic, I've asked you to come to assist the
11 Trial Chamber in assessing the impact on the surviving victims from the
12 events that occurred in Srebrenica in July of 1995. Your organisation,
13 Vive Zene, has treated a number of women and children who were traumatised
14 by the July 1995 events in Srebrenica. Can you tell the Chamber how many
15 women have been treated in your organisation who were traumatised by the
16 events in Srebrenica?
17 A. I worked with 60 women in our centre who spent some time at our
18 centre as in-patients, six or seven months, for example, and I carried out
19 a therapeutical programme with about 80 women outside the centre. I think
20 that about 200 -- no, 140 women and 200 children have passed through our
21 centre in total. But I was working with a higher number of people, I had
22 numerous contacts with people from Srebrenica. However, as regards a
23 specific therapy programme, I conducted that kind of programme with the
24 number of people that I stated.
25 Q. Now, Ms. Ibrahimefendic, you mentioned the figure of 200
1 children. Let me put a different number to you and see if this is a
2 number that might be correct: 300.
3 A. Yes. I only spoke about the children who were in-house patients
4 as part of the programme, but we worked with another 150 people in
5 Spionica refugee centre, then another 210 in the refugee centre of
6 Nihatovici, and also we worked with children who were part of the
7 programme at our centre. In total, about 300 children were from
9 Q. Now, the traumatised women and children that your centre has been
10 treating and has been involved with over the years, is that a small
11 percentage of the Srebrenica survivor community that has been traumatised?
12 A. Yes, it is a small percentage, indeed, compared to the number of
13 victims in Srebrenica. However, if you bear in mind the fact that there
14 are other organisations in the area of Tuzla and that severe cases are
15 hospitalised, then one can conclude that we did a lot of work for a small
16 number of people. However, bearing in mind the overall situation, the
17 result is, more or less, satisfactory.
18 Q. Now, do you have contact in the Tuzla community with other health
19 care providers?
20 A. Yes, with other organisations and with a number of other projects
21 that have been applied to the women in Srebrenica.
22 Q. Indeed, the number of women who are being assisted by the other
23 health care providers is significantly higher than the numbers that you
24 have mentioned today.
25 A. Yes.
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 Q. Now, as I say, what I'd like to do is focus your attention on the
2 impact that the events in July of 1995 had on the women and the children
3 survivors from Srebrenica, and I'd like to get your assessment, if I can.
4 In a global sense, in a macro sense, the level of trauma that you
5 observed the women and the children survivors from Srebrenica suffered in
6 July of 1995 and shortly thereafter, is there a way to inform the Judges
7 as to the degree or the level of trauma suffered by that victim community?
8 A. In my contact with the victims from Srebrenica, women and
9 children, we used various questionnaires in order to assess their
10 psychological condition. We had a number of conversations with them, and
11 on the basis of such conversations, it was possible for us to come up with
12 an assessment as regards the level of trauma.
13 However, we wanted to measure it with certain psychotherapeutical
14 instruments in order to establish the level of trauma in their cases.
15 That level was exceptionally high, and the symptoms that they presented
16 were at a very, very high level of trauma, because the events relating to
17 the month of July 1995 were, globally speaking, events that involved a
18 very large group of women and children and also other survivors, such as
19 elderly people, for example, who all happened to be at one place together,
20 and they experienced that suffering together.
21 For all of them, it was a sudden event, unforeseeable, of course,
22 and it is true that they may have felt a certain safety, security, at one
23 point, but trauma occurs in a sudden manner and it has vast consequences.
24 This all took place in an atmosphere which was beyond their control; there
25 was nothing that they could have done. They were completely helpless.
1 So in such a situation, in Potocari, for example, after this
2 terrible situation in Potocari, when people arrived in Tuzla, the stories
3 that they told were very painful, hard, human stories and very touching.
4 Many women at that point in time simply lost control over their feelings,
5 over their behaviour. The children as well were beyond themselves.
6 Everybody kept asking themselves what was happening and why it was
8 However, the most serious problem was the fact that women and men
9 had been separated. Part of the menfolk had parted with the women and had
10 gone through the woods. One part of the male population stayed with them
11 in Potocari; however, they were separated again in Potocari. Even boys
12 were separated from women in Potocari, and they were wondering what would
13 happen with young boys over the age of ten, for example.
14 So they experienced a large amount of stress immediately after
15 those events and the level of trauma was, indeed, very high.
16 Q. Thank you, Ms. Ibrahimefendic. Tell us now, five years have
17 passed since those tragic events, can you comment on the level of trauma
18 that exists today in the Srebrenica survivor community?
19 A. Trauma is not forgotten, not because people don't want to forget
20 it. It is stored in the mind and it is remembered, because during such
21 terrible, traumatic moments, all our feelings, everything they feel, they
22 think, they smell, they touch, it is a kind of supermemory which lasts
23 very long, so that those memories are still alive. They have their weight
24 and they have their totality.
25 Among the women we worked with, and we use the sample of women
1 with more serious psychological problems, their memories are still vivid.
2 They still have images of what happened. These are so-called flashbacks.
3 Suddenly, these pictures appear, excerpts from the experience they lived
4 through. In the course of their normal activities, walking around town or
5 somewhere else, they come across something that reminds them and this
6 provokes the flashback.
7 Many of those women still suffer from terrible nightmares,
8 feelings of fear, and other symptoms: irritation, nervousness,
9 aggressiveness, a loss of concentration, irritability. Many avoid talking
10 about those events because they are so painful. These are also symptoms
11 of avoidance. In contact with the victim, we can easily recognise the
12 dominant symptoms depending on the personality, its structure, its mental
13 functions, the way the personality reacts.
14 But if this symptom of avoiding remembering dominates, they become
15 depressive, apathetic, passive. They lose joie de vivre. They don't have
16 the need to communicate with other people. They become isolated and they
17 suffer. It is very difficult to reach out to them. Sometimes they don't
18 want your assistance. They simply say, "I want to die. If they have
19 killed our men, why should I live?" They don't have the strength to face
20 up to their living problems. They lack the willpower; they lack
21 motivation for activity. They see the future in dark colours. They
22 cannot imagine what can happen in a year's time. They feel persecuted
23 because they're living in very difficult conditions.
24 So that five years after the event, I can say that their
25 psychological condition is still extremely grave.
1 Q. Ms. Ibrahimefendic, you've seen and you have treated, your centre
2 has treated, war trauma victims from other events from other parts of
3 Bosnia, and you've treated as part of your patient group the women from
4 the events in Srebrenica. Are there differences in the trauma
5 characteristics between the women from Srebrenica and traumatised war
6 victims from elsewhere outside of Srebrenica? If there are, can you tell
7 the Judges what those differences might be?
8 A. Working with the victims of Srebrenica, I have noticed certain
9 differences and within our team we discussed them. We all agreed that the
10 victims of Srebrenica have something that we have described as the
11 Srebrenica syndrome. They suffer in a special way. They have problems
12 that make them different, especially as of July 1995, because this is a
13 vast number of persons who were in the same place at the same time, and
14 they went through common suffering and they have common shared
16 On the other hand, at that time the greatest and most stressful
17 traumatic event for them was the disappearance of a large number of men;
18 heads of families, fathers, brothers, uncles, and so on. So that every
19 woman had losses. All the women I worked with had lost two, three, four,
20 five, six persons. A women I worked with, 56 male members of her
21 immediate and broader family went missing in a single day.
22 So the search for the missing, what happened to them? Were they
23 killed? If they were killed, were they tortured? How were they killed?
24 Were they wounded? Were they hungry, thirsty? Where their bones are, the
25 digging up of graves, identification of victims. All these are
1 additionally stressful events, additional traumas that traumatise them on
2 a daily basis.
3 The fact that they do not know the truth -- even the worst truth,
4 would be better for them than this uncertainty, this constant, perpetual
5 uncertainty as to what happened to their loved ones, because they keep
6 waiting, they're waiting for something. They cannot begin life, they
7 cannot face up with the reality of the death of a missing person. They
8 only remember the moment they bade farewell, the moment when they had
9 agreed to meet in a spot that would be safe. And this is still something
10 that still guides them in their thoughts.
11 This is exhausting, discouraging. They think that life has no
12 value. They even become emotionally lacking. And then, of course, there
13 are the children, so the problems are of a much broader scope.
14 Q. Do you believe that, based on your observations, that it will take
15 longer for the Srebrenica women victims to recover, if at all, from the
16 traumas that they experienced, as opposed to other war trauma victims that
17 aren't from the Srebrenica community?
18 A. I believe so. I think it will take longer for them to recover,
19 but I'm also certain that some of them will never recover. They will
20 never be able to accept these traumatic experiences, wartime traumas, as a
21 part of their life and to move on, to fit them into their life and to move
22 forward and to continue living. Some of them will remain at the level of
23 waiting and uncertainty till the end of their days.
24 If we were to compare them with victims from other areas of
25 Eastern Bosnia, I should like to point out that the reality of death, no
1 matter how painful and terrible, is far better than thinking about what
2 happened. And women who have received from the International Red Cross
3 certificates that their husbands have been found, at first they had
4 regression in their recovery, namely, they were retraumatised. They again
5 had emotional reactions; they again went through shock and disbelief. But
6 after a certain period of time, they started to recover and they tried to
7 accept the reality of death, to take control over their lives, and to
8 start thinking about the future.
9 For example, a woman asked me, "Tell me, what category do I belong
10 to? I am not divorced. I am not a widow. My husband is missing. Who am
12 Q. Now, Mrs. Ibrahimefendic, let me focus your attention now on
13 children survivors of Srebrenica, and I'd like you to assist the Trial
14 Chamber in this respect: Can you inform the Trial Chamber of the level of
15 trauma on these child victims, both in 1995, July of 1995 that you
16 observed, and again, that you continue to observe today?
17 A. The children witnessed all these events. Many older children
18 witnessed the separation of their brothers and fathers from them.
19 Together with their mothers, they spent time in extremely adverse
20 conditions in Potocari, one, two, or three days, depending. There were
21 small babies of three, four, five, six days old. I worked with close to
22 ten woman who had only just delivered their babies and who reached
23 Potocari with those small babies, and they managed, and they survived,
24 both they and their babies, and they reached Tuzla.
25 Then there were also other children of different ages. And if we
1 take into account the fact that children were in the development stage,
2 then the traumatic effect of those events of 1995 differed. The
3 pre-school-age children demonstrated different symptoms: bouts of crying,
4 excessive attachment to their mothers. They had problems with their
5 appetite, sleeping problems, feeling of fear, because they had watched all
6 that. They were with their mothers, and they followed the reactions of
7 those mothers.
8 School-age children had generalised fear of people, of sounds,
9 persons. They did not want to go to school. They had learning problems,
10 low concentration. They had also these flashbacks. They didn't have
11 anyone to share them with because all of them were suffused with these
12 memories. So they had these terrible nightmares. They would get up at
13 night. Many wet their beds, which had no medical reasons, but they were
14 provoked by psychological reasons.
15 Older children, adolescents, those who managed to survive, both
16 boys and girls, had very high oscillations in their moods and behaviour.
17 Adolescence is a period when they should start out on their own, separated
18 from their parents, but the adult world has undermined their beliefs,
19 their values. The world had suddenly become an insecure place, a place
20 where they cannot feel safe, to which they do not belong. They don't know
21 who they belong to, who they are, even. So their behaviour mostly varied
22 from aggressiveness to withdrawal, isolation -- isolation, lack of
23 activity, spending time at home watching TV or reading. Anyway, keeping
24 to themselves.
25 Q. Did you notice in July of 1995, then, a high level of trauma
1 amongst these children?
2 A. Yes.
3 Q. And today, how can you characterise the level of trauma in these
4 children? This is five years after the events that occurred in
6 A. Though five years have passed since the events in Srebrenica, I
7 myself am surprised at times, working with children or talking to them,
8 that the images of those events or of fathers, some children had never
9 even seen or remembered, they can't remember them, they were too small,
10 but they still talk about them.
11 In December last year, that is, seven months ago, a boy drew the
12 Udrc Mountain, and he said, "I want to buy myself a helicopter and go
13 there. That is where my father is, and I want to bring him back"; or a
14 little girl of seven who drew her father who is alive and who is still to
15 come back; or an adolescent who told the story that he witnessed the
16 killing of his father. He was extremely withdrawn, though he was involved
17 in a sports programme, but he joined a group that I was working with, the
18 aim of which was social skills and communication skills. But at one
19 point, he started recounting things that had happened five years ago, and
20 all this was accompanied by very turbulent emotional reactions, and he
21 cried like a baby. He is now 17, but he remembered every detail.
22 There are other examples showing that children still talk about
23 what happened because adults are living together in these communities,
24 they have shared experiences. They often talk about them amongst
25 themselves, and these subjects are very much present among the children's
1 thoughts. They sometimes feel they have secrets. They feel guilty
2 because of their reactions.
3 People are exhausted. The women are exhausted talking about what
4 happened, and then they start avoiding it. It's like a conspiracy of
5 silence, which is extremely traumatic in itself. Events cannot be
6 forgotten. They have to be elaborated, analysed, brought out into the
7 open. Some meaning has to be given to them. In a way, they have to put
8 those events in order in their own minds. They have to say such and such
9 a thing happened. I would say that a victim has been treated when she's
10 able to say, "I am a woman of Srebrenica, I have survived, and I want to
11 continue living." But there isn't a woman you can come across who can say
12 that without starting to cry.
13 Q. Now, you have obviously been involved in the treatment of many,
14 many children from Srebrenica. Could you give us an example of one of
15 those children, perhaps, who witnessed the separation of his or her
16 father, and what effects that observation has had through the present day
17 on that child and the child's development.
18 A. There are several examples. For instance, a woman said that
19 together with her husband, she had stayed in Potocari. He was working in
20 the secondary school. He was an educated man, and he believed that
21 nothing would happen to him. And they thought that if he carried the
22 child and -- towards the bus, they would let him on the bus. However,
23 when he got close to the bus, the child was snatched away from him, thrown
24 aside, and he was taken to the other side.
25 It was very crowded. The woman didn't know what to do. Another
1 woman picked up that child, and during the trip to Tisca, to Kladanj,
2 actually, she didn't even know whether her child was in the bus or not.
3 She fainted several times in the bus, and only when they reached Kladanj
4 did a young woman who had picked up her child give it to her.
5 The child is so devoted to his mother that he won't let her out of
6 his sight for a minute. He has to start going to school. She's extremely
7 worried about him because if he starts going to school, they will have to
8 be separated, and he's still extremely attached to her, which is not quite
9 appropriate for his age.
10 There's another example, if I may, of a young boy of ten. He was
11 rather plump and short in size, and then a soldier put his finger on his
12 forehead and asked, "How old are you?" and his mother said "eight"; and he
13 said, "If you had ten, you certainly wouldn't get into the bus." Today
14 he's a frightened child. He is afraid of going anywhere away from the
15 house. Somebody always has to take him with him. He's afraid of various
16 sounds, of people. He is afraid to take a bus alone, to go into a crowd
17 alone. He's always afraid that something might happen to him.
18 Q. Can you comment on any differences that you have observed between
19 the traumatised children from the Srebrenica victim community and
20 traumatised children from outside of the community, children who were
21 traumatised by events not related to Srebrenica? Are there differences?
22 A. There are differences and they're quite evident. But one of the
23 main reasons, in my opinion, is that children from other areas who were
24 also swept up by the war have preserved their security, and within their
25 family there are male members. So they look for role models among members
1 of the family, among the men of the family; whereas the children of
2 Srebrenica do not have any models they can identify with, especially the
3 boys, and this is one of the main reasons.
4 Another is that the suffering involved a large number of people,
5 as I have already said, in a single day, so that in a very short period of
6 time, a large number of women and children were exposed to a terrible,
7 traumatic event.
8 A third point I would like to make is: The most stressful of all
9 this is the human factor. It wasn't a natural disaster that involved the
10 loss of such a large number of people in such a short time, which makes it
11 even more traumatic. "Why did they do this to us? Did they have to? Why
12 didn't they let our men live? Why? Why? Why?"
13 Q. Can you comment on the impact that the Srebrenica events had on
14 these children and how it has affected their social development?
15 A. Becoming a refugee, and that in itself is a stressful, traumatic
16 event, has changed the environment they are in. They have reached a new
17 environment. New relationships have to be established, new friends found
18 to feel wanted, to feel more secure. But being encumbered by such
19 traumatic memories, together with the problems of refugee status, made it
20 very difficult.
21 Not only the children, but other members of the family were simply
22 unable to establish any kind of social relationships. They didn't even
23 want to. Social relationships were broken off. There were behavioural
24 problems. They could not communicate either verbally or in other ways.
25 They failed to help one another.
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 Simply, their entire behavioural patterns changed even in relation
2 to the closest members of their own families. Mothers and children very
3 often have problems of social relationships amongst themselves. There is
4 no direct or transparent communication. Mothers protect children;
5 particularly boys are overprotected. If they are older, they assume the
6 role of adults and they join the adult world too early.
7 For example, one child says, "My father said, 'You are ten, and if
8 your mother falls ill, you will take care of her.'" So he assumes
9 responsibilities, the role of an adult person. The mothers don't want to
10 confide in their children. With the women we worked with in Vive Zene, we
11 tried to improve those relationships so as to encourage them to share
12 their feelings, because this is something that can lead them forward
13 towards recovery.
14 Q. Thank you very much, Ms. Ibrahimefendic. I appreciate your coming
15 here. It's now my colleagues' from the Defence opportunity to ask you
16 questions. Thank you.
17 JUDGE RODRIGUES: [Interpretation] Thank you, Mr. Harmon.
18 Mr. Visnjic, for the Defence.
19 MR. VISNJIC: [Interpretation] Mr. President, Your Honours, we do
20 not have any questions for this witness. Thank you.
21 JUDGE RODRIGUES: [Interpretation] Thank you very much,
22 Mr. Visnjic.
23 I think we should perhaps have a short break before our questions,
24 because I think we do have a few questions to ask, in order not to rush
25 things. Let us have a 20-minute break, and then we'll come back.
1 --- Recess taken at 10.30 a.m.
2 --- On resuming at 10.59 a.m.
3 JUDGE RODRIGUES: [Interpretation] Judge Fouad Riad has the floor.
4 Questioned by the Court:
5 JUDGE RIAD: Ms. Ibrahimefendic, good morning. Can you hear me?
6 A. Yes, I can.
7 JUDGE RIAD: In your very knowledgable display of the situation of
8 the women and children in Bosnia, you pointed out that what you called the
9 Srebrenica trauma syndrome was different from other syndromes which
10 happened in the area during the same period and which perhaps happened in
11 other parts of the world, and you mentioned very different aspects of this
12 trauma. I won't mention what you said. But don't you think this happened
13 also in other areas of Bosnia, where there were victims, not exactly in
14 the Muslim area, but in the Serb area and in the Croat area? What
15 differentiated them, in your opinion, since you have a very lively
16 experience of what happened? What makes this syndrome very special?
17 A. Ever since the beginning of the war, Srebrenica was a protected
18 area, and many other people in other parts in Bosnia, looking at a
19 geographical map, would see a very small circle, small area, which was
20 isolated from other parts in Bosnia. There was always a fear from those
21 who lived in Tuzla, and also from women who arrived in Srebrenica in 1993,
22 with whom I also worked in 1994 and 1995, that is, until the fall of
23 Srebrenica, they lived in Tuzla together with their children, their men
24 had stayed in Srebrenica, and they had contact with them through radio
25 communications or through mail via the International Red Cross.
1 So during that period of time they were encouraging themselves to
2 stick it all out, and at that time there were not so many families, such
3 families living in Tuzla. However, there was a number of families that
4 were separated. Men were in Srebrenica, and women and children had come
5 to Tuzla from Srebrenica in 1993.
6 The life in Srebrenica in 1992, 1993, and 1994 was very hard.
7 Women had many fears about their husbands. They didn't know what would
8 happen to them. And that fear kept mounting. They kept oscillating
9 between hope and disappointment, despair. And they asked themselves
10 numerous questions, but they didn't know any answers to their questions.
11 They kept telling themselves, "Well, after all, it's a protected area.
12 Somebody will surely do something," and people were trying to find the
13 solution for Srebrenica.
14 So in the end of June, news was reaching Tuzla from Srebrenica,
15 very bad news. Part of the area had already fallen, including those under
16 the control of the Dutch Battalion. For example, when the observation
17 post fell at Zeleni Jadar, women were still telling themselves, "Well,
18 after all, it's not very far from Srebrenica. The town of Srebrenica
19 itself will be protected and will not fall."
20 But then the fall occurred. And thousands of men abandoned the
21 area of Srebrenica, and they went through the woods and mountains into the
22 unknown in their attempt to reach Tuzla. And as they were parting, they
23 agreed that they would meet there in Tuzla. And while they were in
24 Potocari, women were told that they would be taken care of, and that they
25 would be transported in Tuzla, and that they would meet with their
1 husbands in Tuzla.
2 And during that trip, for instance, in Kravica, many women
3 actually saw captured men. One of the women recognised her husband on one
4 of the trucks. And women were even being used, they would be taken off
5 the truck and forced to call out their husbands from woods and tell them
6 to surrender; one of the women called her husband in that way. And they
7 were hoping that an institution such as the International Red Cross would
8 be able to protect them.
9 They had very high hopes for the lists of people made in Potocari.
10 A number of people were registered on those lists, and they were hoping
11 that they would come. They thought that they would spend some time
12 captured in camps. Such lists contained, for example, 230 names, so they
13 thought that perhaps they would spend some time in camps which have their
14 own regulations, and they hoped that the certain regulations and rules of
15 war would be honoured, and they hoped that they -- that their men would
16 come back. And that is why -- that is the main difference.
17 I think these women have a very profound sense of guilt because
18 they believed that they could have left in 1992, that they could have
19 stayed with them in 1993, for example; and those women who stayed on until
20 1995, they also think that they could have done something, that they could
21 have foreseen what would happen to them.
22 JUDGE RIAD: Are you informed about the condition of other women?
23 Are you informed about the condition of other women in other parts of
24 Bosnia where they don't suffer from the same trauma? You mentioned that
25 for Srebrenica it was because there was a very large number in one day.
1 In other parts, you think women are in a better condition, as you said?
2 A. No. They were not in a better condition, but they could somehow
3 manage their life and they accepted what had happened to them after they
4 were made to leave their homes. Some of the women have husbands who were
5 killed, and they have, in the meantime, managed to accept that fact, and
6 they are more or less able to go on with their lives.
7 But there isn't a single family in Zvornik, for example, that
8 hasn't 20 male members of its family missing. And when you think of the
9 families from Srebrenica, for example, most of the male members from the
10 family are missing. And even though a woman may have, I don't know, five
11 daughters, she feels that she doesn't have anyone because the loss of the
12 male members of their families is especially traumatic for them. There is
13 a woman who lives now with two of her daughters and a small grandchild.
14 She keeps saying, "I don't have anyone." Then I tell her that she has two
15 daughters; she doesn't see it as something valuable.
16 Many women say that they cannot go back to the area of Srebrenica
17 because they don't know who they can go back with. They think that they
18 cannot go there alone. They say, for example, "I cannot build a house
19 alone. I'm afraid. I'm fearful." Out of 170 families with whom I talked
20 in the village of Spionica, in the centre of Spionica, only two persons
21 said that they would perhaps come back within a year; all others said that
22 they were not sure. So this feeling of uncertainty when it comes to the
23 return is also very traumatic for them because they still think that if
24 the men were with them, that things would be much easier for them, that it
25 would be easier for them to make a choice and to go on with their lives.
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13 English transcripts.
1 JUDGE RIAD: As far as children are concerned, you mentioned that
2 they are also in a state of great trauma because they have no model to
3 identify with. What is, in your opinion, what's going to be the future of
4 these children? Is the society going to be able to return to normality,
5 or are they destroyed?
6 A. I cannot be that pessimistic because what we are trying to do with
7 them and what other people do with them is we're trying to give them some
8 perspective and to enable them to go on. On the other hand, I am sure
9 that those children will most probably face various problems in their
10 future life, in their future development. This is something that is very
11 difficult to tell. We still don't know. A long-term analysis should be
12 done so that we can perhaps see what the consequences will be.
13 A lady teacher told me her situation. She has a number of
14 children from Srebrenica in her class, and she mentioned the case of a
15 child who told her that his father had disappeared. When she asked the
16 child what his name was, he simply said, "My father disappeared in
17 Srebrenica." That was actually the first sentence that the child said.
18 So that is his identity, the identity of a child whose father had
20 Many young people dream of leaving Bosnia, of leaving it all
21 behind. Many adults keep saying that there is no longer any life for them
22 there, any future, and they see future in dark colours. And if you ask
23 them, "Can you picture your daughter or your son in ten years' time," the
24 woman usually replies "No, I cannot." If I ask them, "Can you imagine
25 your children as grown-ups, having their own family," women usually
1 respond negatively. They said, no, that they cannot imagine them in that
2 way because they don't know what is going to happen to them.
3 JUDGE RIAD: They don't even foresee continuing to live normally
4 in a family life and reproducing and so on?
5 A. They want to continue with their life and to educate themselves,
6 but they have various difficulties relating to the adjustment, and it's
7 going to take great effort to achieve the results. They will be focussing
8 their energy to their education and the development of the family life;
9 however, at the same time, they are under a heavy burden. They are unsure
10 as to their identity. They don't know who they are, where they come
11 from. And it is going to take a few years for them to recover because
12 this feeling of life, the joy of life, is no longer there. If they do
13 have some joy of life, then immediately they have a very strong sense of
14 guilt for feeling that.
15 At the same time, they don't feel they are free individuals. A
16 woman once told me, "I'm not a free woman. As long as I am here, unable
17 to come back to my house and see the place where I was born, I am not a
18 free person. As long as my children are not free to visit the area, we
19 are not free persons. Only when that becomes possible, I will be able to
20 think of myself as a human being who does really exist."
21 JUDGE RIAD: With regard to this woman, you mentioned that women
22 who knew that their husbands are dead are in a better position than those
23 who are still waiting. They are not -- are they still expecting their
24 husbands to come back after five years? Is there still -- how is the site
25 living? Are these women still expecting back, or are they getting
1 remarried? And what is the society or the law, what does it allow? Some
2 of them are young; they can start a new life. Do they do that?
3 A. In the past two years and in view of the fact that a lot of mass
4 graves have been excavated, exhumed, and a number of individuals have been
5 identified, so many women now are faced with this problem relating to the
6 identification and the encounter with bodies that have been dug out.
7 So some of the women now have to bury their dead so they have that
8 problem now as to the burial site of their family members. I know only
9 one woman who has remarried. Other women usually do not even think about
10 it, because in most of the cases they are under a heavy influence from the
11 family of their husband, so they cannot actually get married.
12 Another problem is the fact that their husbands are not yet
13 declared dead. They may have been declared missing, but it's them who
14 have to declare them as dead. Only then can they actually remarry.
15 JUDGE RIAD: You have a background, a very scientific background.
16 Could you put this syndrome, this Srebrenica trauma syndrome, in
17 comparison with other things in your historical studies? If you compare
18 it to the Holocaust, for instance. You mentioned that it's a very
19 specific kind of syndrome. Could you put it in the same category?
20 A. If one takes into account the fact that all detainees in
21 Srebrenica were members of the same ethnic group and that, in a way, that
22 ethnic group was targeted or, as we have had a chance to listen to in the
23 media, that the situation they had found themselves in was a "to be" or
24 "not to be" situation, then in those terms, in those respects, one can
25 perhaps compare the two situations.
1 JUDGE RIAD: Just before I finish. You mentioned that a soldier
2 asked a boy who was going to take the bus, he asked him, "How old are
3 you?" and the boy told him. He told him, "If you are ten --" the boy
4 said, "I am eight." He said, "If you are ten, then you will not get into
5 the bus." Are there examples you know where boys who were ten or over ten
6 were prevented from going with their mothers?
7 A. There are such examples. Women told about how, on the first day,
8 boys who were over 10 or 12 were able to board the buses; however, on the
9 following day, children aged 12 and above were no longer allowed on
11 One woman told us about her son who was three years old, and she
12 said that she disguised him as a girl because she was afraid that she
13 would be forced to leave him behind.
14 One woman said that her son's name was Alija, and when they asked
15 her her son's name, she said his name was Danijel because she was afraid
16 to tell them the real name of her son. So when he came to our centre in
17 September 1995, he kept saying, "My name is Danijel. My name is Danijel,"
18 and then his mother had to tell him, "No, your name is actually Alija, but
19 I told you that your name was Danijel because I had to."
20 They were fearful even for the very young children. One woman,
21 for example, told us how her son had been taken away and pushed aside, and
22 they asked her, "Well, why would you care about this one child of yours?"
23 This young man suffers from nightmares now. He wakes up in the middle of
24 the night and gets up, and he has certain difficulties, certain problems
25 that necessitate psychotherapy. He was a very withdrawn boy at the
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 beginning when he came, but he has now severe symptoms that occurred only
2 recently. She came to our centre in 1995 or in 1996 and she came to ask
3 for medical assistance, because there is a medical doctor who is a member
4 of our staff at the centre. She told me how her child was pushed away and
5 how he fell down, and she told us that her son has actually never
6 forgotten that and he's now ten years old.
7 JUDGE RIAD: You and other people like you who are doing this
8 great humanitarian job, are you trying to -- is there any chance in
9 helping these people to live together again in Bosnia, despite the
10 different ethnic groups? Is there a hope, do you think?
11 A. I personally think that that is the only possible choice and a way
12 out and that there is hope. I've had an opportunity to discuss things
13 with people in Srebrenica, people who lived there, and as a person working
14 with traumatised people, I felt that women in Srebrenica who live there
15 today, women of Serbian nationality, are also traumatised.
16 I think that it is very important to speak out, to talk about what
17 has happened. Things happened and they happened at a certain period of
18 time. It is very important for this aggressive impulse to be dealt with,
19 to open it up. Because on the basis of my knowledge about the so-called
20 conspiracy of silence about what has happened, I think that the life
21 amongst us - this is my idea of Bosnia because I have problems saying that
22 Bosnia is a divided country because I spent years living with people from
23 other ethnic backgrounds, and with my friends, I still have contact with
24 all of my friends - I think it is very important that we discuss openly
25 things that happened.
1 Many children are traumatised, and I'm sure that children living
2 today in Srebrenica are very traumatised and need help. I do believe that
3 we should all start a grieving process. We have suffered too many losses,
4 and I believe that this is the only path for us: that we start talking and
5 discussing things openly, that we talk about what has happened.
6 An 80-year-old man who lives in one of the centres said that
7 sometimes individuals are borne on to a group of people who subsequently
8 destroy that group of people, but that on the other hand, there are
9 individuals who raise them again. He said that he needed a certain amount
10 of freedom to pick up his tent, to pitch it up somewhere in Srebrenica,
11 and that that would be enough to restore his sense of freedom.
12 JUDGE RIAD: Thank you very much, Ms. Ibrahimefendic. Thank you.
13 JUDGE RODRIGUES: [Interpretation] Thank you very much, Judge
15 Madam Judge Wald.
16 JUDGE WALD: Thank you.
17 Among the 140 women from Srebrenica and the several hundred
18 children that you have had contact with or treated, are there any success
19 stories? I mean, are there any of those women or those children that,
20 with the help that your centre has been able to provide, appear to have
21 surmounted the obstacles and are on their way to a relatively healthy and
22 normal life? If so, how small a percentage is that of the group that you
24 A. At the end of therapy, we had some very significant improvements
25 in terms of the reduction of symptoms and the improved functioning of
1 those women and children. Changes were established in the way of thought,
2 in the expression of feelings, in their behaviour, in their communication
3 with other people, in establishing links with members of their family,
4 with society. But later on there were cases of regression, of the
5 reemergence of those symptoms, so that their condition oscillates.
6 Some women are well on the way to recovery but this is a
7 long-lasting process. If you take into account the context within which
8 they are living now, it is very difficult to talk about a progressive
9 evolution of therapy, a therapy leading to recovery.
10 JUDGE WALD: Are you optimistic about the majority of these women
11 and children or only hopeful that some segment will move on to a pretty
12 normal life?
13 A. I feel optimistic about their recovery. I want to be an
14 optimist. I want to give them strength; I want to help them to discover
15 their resources, their healthy instincts, so that they can move forward.
16 I keep trying to find what is still sound in their personality so that
17 this might give an impulse for their life in the future, to give meaning
18 to that life.
19 The husband has disappeared, such and such a thing has happened,
20 what can I do now? How can I move on? Where should I start from? I try
21 to make those memories less painful, those images less terrible, so that
22 they should accept them and integrate them into their daily lives, but
23 that is very difficult for the moment.
24 My attitude is an optimistic one, and that is how I behave.
25 JUDGE WALD: The problems that these women have, and their
1 feelings both immediately and now after five years, which you described so
2 eloquently for us, do those feelings make it very difficult, if not
3 impossible, for them to try to continue a community kind of life? In
4 other words, when they are in these centres, et cetera, are they able to
5 reestablish their old customs, their old religious life, a community life
6 of any sort, or are these deep feelings that you've described which
7 interfere with the way the family operates, the relationship with their
8 children, does that also interfere with their ability to reestablish the
9 community kind of connections that they may have had in their former
11 A. The family was a very strong factor in the villages and family
12 ties were very close. They all sought to preserve those ties because this
13 is precious to them, this is their treasure. By redeveloping those family
14 ties and establishing broader ties with the community, they are trying to
15 establish a future. But here, too, there are ups and downs. For a
16 moment, one may think that things are moving forward, and then already the
17 next minute, this comes to a standstill.
18 Some things that are extremely important for planning for the
19 future have to be addressed; for example, this problem of persecution, the
20 problem of being a refugee. Life as a refugee is extremely distressful.
21 Women do not have any privacy; they don't have any amenities; they live in
22 a single room with several members of the family, and all this has a
23 depressing effect. They all have hopes of returning, of changes, of
24 something else happening. Their original habits and cultural habits that
25 they had in their villages, they're trying to transplant them into the
1 community that they're living in. But very often they suffer from guilt:
2 "I am not allowed to feel any happiness or joy," and this has a
3 particularly detrimental affect on the children.
4 JUDGE WALD: My last question. You talked some about the
5 differences in the kinds of feelings that were evoked by the women who
6 went through the Srebrenica evacuation as perhaps opposed to other women
7 who suffered from other kinds of injuries in the Bosnian conflict. We've
8 been acquainted with some of those other injuries. Do you think there is
9 a difference, part of the guilt syndrome, that comes from the fact that in
10 some of these other cases, the women themselves have suffered? They've
11 either been in camps or they may have suffered sexual abuse or rape along
12 with the injuries that were inflicted on the men, whereas in this case,
13 the women were taken down one path, sent off to Tuzla, and then the men,
14 as it were, were the object of all of the abuse and of eventual
15 execution? So that there's kind of what we call the Holocaust syndrome.
16 "Why was I allowed to survive when someone else wasn't?"
17 Do you think that's part of the uniqueness of the Srebrenica
19 A. The feeling of guilt is extremely pronounced among all the women.
20 "I am guilty for not envisaging certain things. I'm guilty for not going
21 together with my husband. I am guilty for not being able to save my child
22 because they took my child, which means I did not fulfil my principal role
23 as a woman. I'm guilty because I can't find my way around alone. I'm
24 guilty if the children have learning difficulties. I'm guilty if they
25 don't get an education."
1 So that this range in the feelings of guilt is a very broad one.
2 "I am also guilty if I were to get married; I would have a very strong
3 feeling of guilt. Maybe I mustn't get married, either. I mustn't even
4 think about another man."
5 JUDGE WALD: Thank you.
6 JUDGE RODRIGUES: [Interpretation] Thank you very much, Judge
8 Mrs. Ibrahimefendic -- I don't know whether I pronounced your name
9 properly -- I think that we have here a very broad spectrum of questions
10 regarding all the consequences, but I shall try to ask you for a few
11 points of clarification.
12 You spoke about the fact that this was sudden, that they were
13 taken by surprise, that this is a factor, and that this is part of the
14 specificity of the Srebrenica syndrome. The fact that this was a
15 protected area, a safe area, can this also be part of the characteristics
16 of the Srebrenica syndrome; and, furthermore, is this syndrome of guilt,
17 should it be shared by the International Community because it was a
18 protected area?
19 A. If we take into consideration the stories of the women and their
20 explanations for the Srebrenica tragedy, they do put a lot of blame onto
21 the world. "Why didn't they help us? Why did they let us go? Why did
22 they declare us to be a safe area? Why did they let us live for five
23 years in -- for three years in a camp?" That is what women said, where we
24 managed to survive, where we got some food and supplies irregular -- on an
25 irregular basis, where we managed to adjust to that way of life. We
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13 English transcripts.
1 started to till the land. We managed somehow to survive, not to starve to
3 And one woman said, and several of them, in fact, as far as I can
4 remember, "We had only just started to enjoy life." That is what she
5 said. There were fewer shells. There were no more casualties, because in
6 1993 they had a large tragedy. 75 people were killed at the stadium in
7 Srebrenica when a shell fell, and Srebrenica was packed full of people.
8 After that, there were no more shells. They would come only sporadically,
9 and then suddenly this happened. We had started to feel safe. We had
10 sort of relaxed. Some women in 1994 got married. I worked with several
11 women who got married in 1994. Life was going on, the kind of life they
12 could give themselves, and then this came as a surprise. It was sudden.
13 Suddenly, they could no longer rely on being safe in a safe area. They
14 were suddenly at risk, and they were slowly approaching Srebrenica town
15 itself. So for them, this was a factor of surprise.
16 They said that in June they might have intimated something, but
17 they didn't believe that it would happen, and until the very last moment
18 they believed that somebody would come to their assistance. All the women
19 said, "Two or three planes flew over, and we were happy. We thought here
20 is help, but nothing happened." And they sought help in the UNPROFOR
21 base. That was the only safe place at the time where they thought they
22 would be protected and that they would be given assistance there.
23 JUDGE RODRIGUES: [Interpretation] You also spoke about the stories
24 of great suffering. You also mentioned that you used various techniques
25 like psychodrama and Gestalt therapy. If we accept these methods of
1 psychotherapy as being most appropriate to facilitate expression, what did
2 you observe in the roles played, in the way people expressed themselves?
3 What are the areas of communication among various members participating in
4 these therapies? Which are the most impressive results in terms of
5 communication achieved by the application of these therapeutic methods?
6 A. Applying these techniques and methods, the most significant was
7 evoking the last encounters with loved ones. These were the most painful
8 points when evoking memories.
9 At the beginning of therapy, it was very hard for women to express
10 themselves verbally. In most cases, they couldn't control their emotions,
11 and it took a great deal of time, several months of participation in these
12 projects, for them to express those feelings. And using these methods and
13 techniques, they had to disassociate themselves, in a sense, from their
14 pain, from their anger, from their sorrow, and from the other emotions,
15 and to relieve themselves of them, to feel free of them.
16 JUDGE RODRIGUES: [Interpretation] Under those conditions, is it
17 possible for people to refer -- to recreate those painful moments?
18 Because those were seconds; the very moment of separation, that was a
19 second one might say, a few seconds. Those people, do they manage to
20 recreate through role playing that situation?
21 A. Yes, yes, yes. I have already said that in very traumatic
22 situations, all the sensors are switched on. Sensory reactions are
23 powerful so that everything you feel, see, smell, touch, is deeply
24 embedded in the memory. And in the course of therapy when a woman reaches
25 that level, she can accompany those events with all the emotional reaction
1 she had at the time she experienced that traumatic event. For example,
2 women might say, "I was thirsty. I still feel the touch of my husband's
3 hand. It was sweaty." She would relive the whole experience of that
5 So these are very successful therapies. When a woman manages to
6 express all this, the next time the emotions are not so painful, the
7 images are not so painful; she's more relaxed, less tense. Of course,
8 using all these methods of relaxation, because when a woman is tense,
9 she's unable to express any feelings. So in my work we applied these
10 methods of relaxation because physical tension is extremely harmful, and
11 when they are physically tense, they cannot express their emotions.
12 JUDGE RODRIGUES: [Interpretation] Can one say that these persons
13 have difficulty in perceiving their surroundings, because this supermemory
14 that you have mentioned was and still is under a kind of mortgage,
15 encumbered by those events.
16 A. Yes. They think that they differ from other people. "I am
17 different; I am special; I am separate; I have experienced this." And it
18 is very important in the course of therapy for that woman to accept that
19 she is a normal person that is reacting normally to an abnormal
20 situation. The situation was abnormal, and she's a normal person, and her
21 reactions are normal.
22 When she accepts this as being normal, then she starts thinking
23 about herself in a different manner. She learns to accept that she is
24 normal. The situation was abnormal. "It was normal for me to react in
25 this way. It was an unusual experience and out-of-the-ordinary
1 experience." So that it is very important for the woman to learn to
2 recognise the symptoms in her, what is happening, why it is happening, why
3 these reactions occurred in which situations, and for her to be able to
4 accept them. And that is extremely important for recovery.
5 JUDGE RODRIGUES: [Interpretation] You have already mentioned that
6 the absence of information about the destiny of the men in this case,
7 because we are mostly speaking about women, that the absence of this
8 information about the destiny of their men and the importance of
9 exhumation work and identification of bodies. I think you already
10 mentioned this, but the mourning, if we relate this question to marriage
11 or not marriage, is it impossible to mourn without having this
12 information, because as you said, the absence of information provokes
13 anxiety, anxiety provokes tension, permanent tension leads to depression,
14 and so on. So what is the role which the exhumation and identification of
15 bodies can have to somehow reduce all these problems?
16 A. I think that the agony must be brought to an end. The truth is
17 cruel, but it is the truth, and women are ready to accept the truth,
18 regardless of what they will be told, because they can no longer vacillate
19 in this despair and uncertainty because this is important for their life
20 in the future. What happened? They must know what happened, and they
21 must be given more detailed information about their loved ones. They must
22 know where they will be able to bury them and to perform the regular
24 Some women have already started those rituals linked to the
25 burial, and they accept the truth that the husband is not there on the
1 occasion of religious holidays, for instance, for Kurban. They slaughter
2 a sheep, linked to the death of her husband. In that way, she's
3 recognising that he is dead, but she wants confirmation. She wants a
4 certificate from someone else because she feels terribly guilty if she is
5 the one to have to declare him dead, and this is very, very important for
7 JUDGE RODRIGUES: [Interpretation] Do you think that it could be
8 useful to overcome these difficulties, at least a little, for you to have
9 included in the Srebrenica syndrome the fact there was a large number of
10 people sharing the same suffering, do you think it must be useful,
11 perhaps, to have a monument or a collective ceremony in observance of the
12 missing people or to pay homage to those missing people, men?
13 A. For the people of Srebrenica, this would be evidence, recognition,
14 for the suffering they have lived through. They want this to be observed
15 in a certain place, a certain time so that it be said that people have
16 lived through this, and they have managed to overcome it and their
17 memories and their traumas. Even though they are victims, they want this
18 to be observed in a way, with some kind of material evidence.
19 Every 11th of the month, the women of Srebrenica in Tuzla rally in
20 public places with lists of missing persons demanding the truth. They
21 want more respect for what they have lived through. Somebody has to pay
22 homage to their pain and their sacrifice, and in a sense they wish to
23 share their sorrow, their disappointment, their destiny, and their future.
24 JUDGE RODRIGUES: [Interpretation] You also mentioned the
25 importance of the development of children and adolescents, though each
1 group has different problems, but the importance of development. If we
2 accept that the development is the result between a line of continuity and
3 another line of change which need to be coordinated, from the cultural
4 point of view, is there something that could be done, bearing in mind that
5 in the end, after all, these people have brutally lost continuity by the
6 sudden and violent events, so from the cultural point of view, could we
7 resume this process of social identification? Is there something that can
8 be done in that direction? Sorry, are you doing something along those
10 A. In our work, we are working in several directions, and we are
11 seeking to cover all our clients by treatment and to help them function in
12 all spheres: emotional, social, behavioural. We seek to develop a social
13 net, a system of social support within which they will feel safe and
15 However, the problem with young people and children is that they
16 are trying to deny what has happened, trying to forget it, to put it
17 aside. They do not wish -- they cannot face up to it, they cannot accept
18 that that is a part of their life and to live with the truth of it. The
19 problem of denial is present among young people.
20 JUDGE RODRIGUES: [Interpretation] I didn't, of course, wish to
21 establish any kind of a programme here, but perhaps a revision of history
22 could help to reformulate, review, and learn. Perhaps from the point of
23 view of the plan of education or a revision of history, the teaching of
24 history, do you think that something should be done, any changes should be
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 A. I think that would be the proper solution, to revise what has
2 happened, to perhaps establish the historical background for everything
3 that happened. An explanation needs to be given as to what happened.
4 Children cannot understand what it is that happened; even adults, many
5 adults don't understand.
6 I know that whenever I had group therapy and tried to give an
7 historical explanation for what happened, that the rational acceptance of
8 what happened was far more successful and contributed to the recovery of
9 those women. It is very important for them to receive the proper
10 information and to rationalise the events.
11 JUDGE RODRIGUES: [Interpretation] A small point of clarification.
12 You mentioned that children have problems and symptoms of -- development
13 symptoms. Are things moving forward a little, after all?
14 A. You mean in a positive direction? I'm afraid I didn't quite
15 understand your question.
16 JUDGE RODRIGUES: [Interpretation] Perhaps there's a problem of
17 translation. You said that children have many neurotic -- neurosis
18 symptoms -- sorry, bed-wetting. After they had outgrown these problems,
19 are things going further? Do they even relieve themselves in bed, have a
20 bowel movement in bed? Does that happen sometimes?
21 A. People who receive therapeutic assistance are very happy, but
22 unfortunately we can't provide everyone with this treatment. We have very
23 good results with the reduction of bed-wetting in children who, because of
24 trauma, have this problem. However, we can't cover a large number of
25 children. It is a fact that some women do not want any assistance.
1 They're isolated, they're passive, and they don't accept any assistance.
2 They reject it. They say, "No one can help me. My life is what it is and
3 I don't want to change anything."
4 But we have some very positive results among children treated in
5 our centre. Great improvements were achieved in their behaviour. If they
6 were aggressive or withdrawn, if they had this problem of bed-wetting or
7 if they had terrible dreams or if they were very bad at school or if they
8 lacked motivation, by various methods, techniques, and activities, we
9 worked with them in groups and individually and we have some very good
10 results. But unfortunately all children are not covered by such
12 JUDGE RODRIGUES: [Interpretation] It is said that the first step
13 towards dealing with a problem is to start talking about it; that is a
14 general principle. But I think that here that principle does not hold
15 true. Does this principle, in your opinion, apply to this situation, or
16 are there other requirements, other steps to be taken to address this
17 problem? Because it is not a situation of normal treatment, but other
18 techniques need to be applied, other resources and other concerns taken
19 into consideration.
20 A. To deal with these problems, it is important to have a multifold
21 approach. One is therapy. To deal with a problem, it is true that one
22 has to start to talk about it. But there are many other problems that
23 need to be resolved in the community: social problems, political problems,
24 economic problems, for an improvement to be achieved.
25 It is a fact that the very principle that someone starts talking
1 about a problem, starts verbalising his needs and wishes, is already the
2 first step indicating that he is seeking assistance. That is very
3 important, for people to emerge from their passiveness and to start to
4 fight for themselves, to demonstrate a wish to fight. But there are other
5 aspects too which need to be taken into consideration. Contacts are very
6 important to establish, interpersonal contacts.
7 JUDGE RODRIGUES: [Interpretation] You said, and I quote you: "It
8 is not possible to engage in long-term research." Do you think that in
9 terms of the consequences of several events, and in this particular case
10 we're talking about Srebrenica, can we stop with the results we have
11 achieved or should we really engage in research, applying follow-up
12 methods, so that we can have a more global view of the situation?
13 A. I think we need to have a global approach as to what has happened
14 because we are acting in a disunited manner, and I think our efforts need
15 to be pooled, and possible follow-up studies should be engaged in to see
16 the changes that will occur.
17 To foresee the future of a child who is dislocated, for whom the
18 world has become an unsafe place, a child that doesn't have a home, who
19 has lost his father, who is living in a refugee centre under very
20 difficult conditions, it is very difficult to foresee his future. A
21 global approach would help us all to feel safer and to know in which
22 direction we should all focus our efforts.
23 JUDGE RODRIGUES: [Interpretation] I would like to put to you a
24 last question. Of course, there are many questions but we need to finish
25 with this testimony.
1 You are practically involved in these developments; you are
2 familiar with the environment and the surroundings. Could we not come to
3 an absurd situation, that the persons who are dead are happier than those
4 who have survived, or more fortunate, rather?
5 A. Those who have survived do not feel happy. They have a large
6 number of problems. Many women say, "Why am I alive when others are
7 dead?" They say that very often. "Why do I have to struggle with all the
8 difficulties that life entails? I just can't deal with them."
9 But I think that those who have survived need to be given a
10 meaning to life. Life does have meaning regardless of what they have
11 lived through. In my practical work, as you have said, I frequently say
12 to the women, "If you don't tell me the story about your son, I don't know
13 him, and therefore if you are gone, no one will ever hear the story about
14 him." So I try to instil in them the feeling that life does have a
15 meaning regardless, that life in itself is burdensome, that in life we do
16 have to encounter many difficulties and changes; that people with no
17 traumatic experiences, experiences involving risk to life, are fortunate
18 but that life is a struggle, and we have to confront all those problems
19 and misfortunes that come our way.
20 JUDGE RODRIGUES: [Interpretation] Another question. You touched
21 upon a point. I think that the whole of humanity, in my opinion, this is
22 a humanitarian cause, and the whole of mankind should be interested, and
23 the International Tribunal, as a part of the community, must pursue the
24 objectives that are yours.
25 You have experience. What do you think should be the role of the
1 Tribunal? Please feel at ease and feel free to tell us what you think.
2 Specifically, in this courtroom, what kind of role should it play, because
3 this is the courtroom that victims come to. And you already have certain
4 indications about that.
5 A. The Hague Tribunal, all the victims, all the women with whom I
6 have had a chance to work, has a very great significance for them. They
7 expect that justice will be done. We believed we were members of a
8 civilised society, of a society where good will be compensated for and
9 evil punished. They do trust that the real causes of what happened will
10 be identified and that the people will muster enough courage, including
11 victims, to tell the story of what happened. Those who did it, that they
12 too will be able to speak out so that we all can have a future, so that we
13 all can have a basis for a common life together one day.
14 Great expectations are being placed upon the Tribunal. People
15 expect that justice will be done and that the right decisions will be
17 JUDGE RODRIGUES: [Interpretation] Yes. I think that my colleague
18 Judge Fouad Riad has one more question for the witness.
19 JUDGE RIAD: [Interpretation] Yes, Mr. President. Thank you very
21 [In English] Ms. Ibrahimefendic, in fact, my question is based on
22 some of the answers you gave to my colleagues, my very eminent Judge
23 colleagues, which touched on a very basic problem, a very basic issue, and
24 this is the planning for the future and the continuation of life for this
25 community, because some communities could not rise up again after
1 destruction in history, some continents even.
2 In this community in particular, some of the other experts who
3 spoke here mentioned to us that in this Islamic community, it's a
4 patriarchal society, with all the effects of a patriarchal society. The
5 man is the spine. I will give you an example. One of the ladies who had
6 five daughters said, "These girls don't count. I want a man. I want a
7 boy," or that sort of thing. We know that.
8 Now, with the men who disappeared, how can this society, as my
9 colleague Judge Rodrigues asked you, how can they continue in a changed --
10 he said, even with a coordinated change? How could they go along this new
11 line without the spine, when this society was revolved around the man?
12 Could they completely change, completely become a very ultramodern
13 society, or is there a chance of this complete change? Will it be like a
14 snowball and the society will disintegrate more and more? Can the women
15 remarry? Can they stand on their feet? Can the boys and the girls resume
16 their lives? Perhaps this is psychological and sociological, and it's
17 your field. Thank you.
18 A. I think that there should be a change in the behaviour of those
19 women. The women we worked with, we tried to make them realise that they
20 have to take life in their own hands, that they have to assume
21 responsibility for a number of problems that would normally be taken care
22 of by men, that they have children and consequently have responsibility
23 regarding their children. So there have been certain changes in that
25 Many women would like to go back, for example, to go back and
1 start a new life, because the economic situation is very hard. They have
2 had enough of the refugee life; they feel it has become unbearable. In
3 that view, the role of the woman has changed.
4 I think that it will be very interesting to see in what way the
5 role of the women will change in these patriarchal, Islamic families.
6 This concerns the rural areas to a greater extent, because in towns women
7 have their jobs, their professions, and they are able to live on their
9 So we should focus on the necessity for the women to assume
10 responsibility for their own life and to have them become like men in
11 certain aspects of life. In patriarchal families, women who tend to
12 struggle, who are somewhat aggressive in that way, are not valued enough,
13 but life circumstances have changed for them, and many of these women have
14 changed. They have become more spontaneous, more independent, and little
15 by little they are resolving problems which were very difficult at the
16 beginning for them. This concerns, for example, administrative problems,
17 because before they would never go out into the public to various public
18 institutions to take care of the bureaucracy, but this is slowly changing,
19 and they are now involved in that aspect of life as well. The absence of
20 men has already changed them to a certain extent, as has the life of a
22 JUDGE RIAD: You added when you were answering Judge Wald that
23 family is an important factor, very important factor in this rural life,
24 and it's a factor in life for the continuation of life. Can these women,
25 now that the men have disappeared, can they remarry without being looked
1 down upon by society as being not, not in a tradition of faithfulness and
2 so on? Can life be resumed, really, in this area?
3 A. I think that many women still think about having a man and
4 remarrying, but many women do not have anyone to marry because there are
5 not many men in such an environment, so it is very difficult to discuss
6 these issues with women. Not only in Srebrenica, but elsewhere in Bosnia,
7 many young people left, left the country as early as the beginning of
8 1992. And later on, during the war many people abandoned, left the
9 country, and they're still doing that.
10 So I've heard people say that Bosnia is the country of women.
11 There are very many women in Bosnia. And in the settlements where they
12 live, there are mostly women and children. There is very few men left who
13 have survived and who are living in these centres.
14 In the Spionica settlement, there are 90 single mothers out of 170
15 families. I think that there are about 20 married couples, and the rest
16 is the elderly population, over 70, including elderly men.
17 So these are very particular social problems which may lead -- or
18 may, rather, affect the continuation of life in those parts of the world.
19 Certain men have survived, but they have their own families, and they are
20 surrounded by a number of women who don't have husbands.
21 JUDGE RIAD: In this very closed environment, did the percentage
22 of birth decrease substantially?
23 A. Yes, in the year 2000, but there was an increase at one point in
24 birth rate in previous years in Tuzla, as far as I know.
25 JUDGE RIAD: How much was the decrease in your opinion in the last
2 A. It's very difficult to provide a precise answer to your question
3 because Tuzla was the place where many refugees found accommodation, and
4 the town population has become older. There were a number of births in
5 1996. There was an increase, actually, in births at that time, but a lot
6 of people have moved out, so it's very difficult to give you precise
7 information about that. But perhaps I should give you an example: Out of
8 1.500 people living in the settlement of Mihatovici in the settlement of
9 Tuzla, last year the pre-school population programme was focussed on 80
10 children; however, now we have only 22 such children taking part in that
11 programme. But in 1996, for example, not all children could be admitted
12 into the pre-school programme of education, but things have changed and
13 there has been a decrease, and we would actually be able to admit many
14 more children in such programmes than before.
15 JUDGE RIAD: Thank you very much.
16 JUDGE RODRIGUES: [Interpretation] Let us finish with a question.
17 How many generations do you think it will take for the life to return to
19 A. I will try, Your Honour, to answer your question by an example. A
20 Jewish psychotherapist living in the States once took part in a programme
21 here, and I had an opportunity to be present at four of such sessions in
22 Bosnia. The objective of those sessions was for us to speak out, and her
23 idea was to have a group of professionals from the federation and from the
24 Serbian entity of the country and to have us start talking about what
25 happened together. I must say that I was looking forward to taking part
1 in that work, and that that was -- and that the initial contact with our
2 colleagues from the Serbian entity was rather disappointing. At least, I
3 was disappointed in a way.
4 However, the following three encounters yielded certain results.
5 They were actually quite successful, and we realised that we had certain
6 ideas in common, that we were able to think about what has happened and to
7 accept what we have all been through together. We were able to share
8 memories and to start the grieving, the mourning process and the
9 reconciliation process, and we were beginning to be able to accept that as
10 part of our lives.
11 However, it is very difficult for me to tell you how many
12 generations it will take for us to be able to live a normal life, as you
13 put it. I really don't know.
14 JUDGE RODRIGUES: [Interpretation] Ms. Ibrahimefendic, we have come
15 to the end of your testimony, and I think that we have managed to reach an
16 answer to the questions that was posed by Shakespeare, "To be or not to
17 be," as you put it while you were discussing the possibility of comparing
18 that tragedy to the Holocaust.
19 So I think that we have realised that the question that has --
20 that we all have to ask ourselves is what it means to be a human being.
21 We would like to wish you a lot of success in your work. It is indeed a
22 very important work and an enormous work. And we also hope that you will
23 be able to cooperate with your Serbian or Croat colleagues in order for
24 all of you to be able to restore a multi-ethnic community where the
25 dignity of the individual will be one of the fundamental values.
12 Blank page inserted to ensure pagination corresponds between the French and
13 English transcripts.
1 Thank you very much, Ms. Ibrahimefendic, for coming here. We wish
2 you a lot of success in your future work.
3 WITNESS: [Interpretation] Thank you, Your Honour.
4 JUDGE RODRIGUES: [Interpretation] I think that we will adjourn for
5 the day, Mr. Harmon?
6 MR. HARMON: Mr. President, we will adjourn after the conclusion
7 of testimony of this witness, but I would like to tender for purposes of
8 this phase of our case certain affidavits, and then I have nothing further
9 for today. So with the Court's permission, pursuant to Rule 94 ter, we
10 filed a number of affidavits on July the 20th, and we have shared these
11 affidavits with our colleagues. They have no objection to our presenting
12 these affidavits.
13 I would add, however, and emphasise that these affidavits, first,
14 are a small sample of views of people who were in the victim community in
15 Srebrenica. Many of these affidavits contain facts, and we are asking the
16 Trial Chamber to consider the facts contained in each of these affidavits
17 only on the issue of victim impact and not to consider the facts as
18 additional evidence or for any other purpose.
19 So if I could, Mr. President, we would tender affidavits that are
20 Exhibits 714 through 721, and then further affidavits 723 through 733.
21 These affidavits contain both an affidavit sworn in accordance with the
22 law of the State of Bosnia, and they also contain a supporting statement
23 of the affiant that was taken by the Office of the Prosecutor. Thank
25 JUDGE RODRIGUES: [Interpretation] Let us hear the Defence on
1 this. Mr. Visnjic, do you have any objections or comments to make?
2 MR. VISNJIC: [Interpretation] Mr. President, the documents
3 mentioned by the Prosecutor, that is, the exhibits under the numbers
4 stated, were received by the Defence a while ago. We managed to review
5 them. It is true that they contain certain facts which would be subject
6 to an examination of witnesses, direct examination of witnesses. However,
7 I should agree with Mr. Harmon when he said that the probative value of
8 this evidence should be restricted or, rather, limited to the consequences
9 of the events that the victims have suffered.
10 [The witness withdrew]
11 MR. VISNJIC: [Interpretation] So I should like the Chamber to note
12 this objection of the Defence which is actually part of an attitude that
13 we share with the Prosecution in this respect.
14 JUDGE RODRIGUES: [Interpretation] Therefore, the exhibits that
15 have been tendered will be admitted into evidence, and the facts contained
16 therein should be taken into account only to the extent they relate to the
17 consequences suffered by the victims. The documents are therefore
18 admitted under that caveat.
19 Mr. Harmon, shall we call it a day.
20 MR. HARMON: Yes, Mr. President, we should. Thank you.
21 JUDGE RODRIGUES: [Interpretation] Thank you very much.
22 We will therefore adjourn until tomorrow, 9.30.
23 --- Whereupon the hearing adjourned at 12.30 p.m.,
24 to be reconvened on Friday the 28th day of July,
25 2000, at 09.30 a.m.