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High School teachers talk about the Tribunal

Sarajevo, 17 October 2014

Tribunal’s achievements and its importance in the process of post-conflict recovery of communities affected by war crimes has become an integral part of lecture on international humanitarian law delivered to a group of students of Fifth Gymnasium in Sarajevo by teacher Islam Zulović as a part of the Civic Education/Democracy and Human Rights curriculum. Skilfully combining his extensive teaching experience with the knowledge acquired at the ICTY workshop organised last week for high school professors from Sarajevo Canton, Mr Zulović brought the rather abstract notion of justice for victims and importance of war crimes trials closer to the students.

At the very start of the interactive presentation, Mr Zulović asked the students to recall what they had previously learned about Geneva and Hague Conventions, providing them with additional information about genocide and crimes against humanity completing the register of serious violations of international humanitarian law under Tribunal’s jurisdiction.

During a very lively two-hour discussion, the students of the Fifth Gymnasium made clear connections between the work of the Tribunal and war crimes committed in Sarajevo, for which the first life sentence was rendered before the Tribunal in the Stanislav Galić case for acts of violence the primary purpose of which was to spread terror among civilians. Apart from recognising the role of victims, the students also highlighted the importance of expert witnesses in establishing truth, as was the case after the shelling of the Sarajevo Markale market. Asked what the purpose of war crimes trials was, one third-year students clearly replied that their purpose is to “document violations of humanitarian law and provide satisfaction to victims of crimes committed”.

Speaking about the importance of informing young people about the war time past and war crimes trials, student Nasiha Nuhanović stated: „It is very important that people of my age, who did not have to suffer war and crimes committed, can learn what happened, and even more so to be aware that there is some measure of justice. No crime should go unpunished, no violation of human rights should be ignored”.

At the end of the presentation, Mr Zulović invited the ICTY representative in BiH, Almir Alić, to share with the students experiences of the ICTY Outreach programme in working with young people and need for their more active involvement in the process of facing the past.

Voicing his support for the project, a third-year student Vedad Karić, underlined the importance of informing young people about such topics „as they are not being sufficiently discussed in schools“.

Today’s presentation is the first in the series of presentations about the ICTY that Mr Zulović plans to organise for the students of the Sarajevo Fifth and Dobrinja gymnasiums.

Emina Čuhara, third year, Fifth Gymnasium Sarajevo:

„Before this presentation, I knew that war criminals were tried, but I was unaware of so much important information. I’m in particular happy to learn that, for the first time in the history of mankind, wartime rape of women was prosecuted. For me, as a girl, that means a lot because those girls who were raped were mainly the same age as me and I can’t imagine that something like that could ever happen to me."

Segmedina Bjelošević, third year, Fifth Gymnasium Sarajevo:

„I liked the presentation very much. It was very instructive and interesting. I think that there should be more discussion about this in order to resolve some of the issues burdening the relations among people. It is difficult to speak about genocide and wars, but I couldn’t sense that about this presentation, and I very much like that“.

Hana Zeba, third year, Fifth Gymnasium Sarajevo:

It was very useful to learn some details about trials and criminal proceedings, because there is essentially not enough of such information. I'd known some things before, but they were rather vague and incomplete. What I liked in particular was the interactive nature of the presentation, because it allowed us to be involved“.