Monday, August 27, 2007

Bosnian woman's fight for her land

Interesting story of a Bosnian woman and her fight to regain her land (excerpts below). However, it is also much more than that. It is also a story about governments taking responsibility and giving people back their rights. You cannot ask victims of oppression and occupation to just forgive, forget, and move on. The wrongs must be acknowledged and corrected, as much as possible, for the healing to begin.

Fata Orlovic's house is easy to find in the village of Konjevic Polje. It is the one with a large Serbian Orthodox church built in its front garden.

"I want them to remove the church and I want soil back on this plot of land," she tells me, furiously motioning towards what would have been her front garden.

Like many Muslims in the hills of eastern Bosnia, she was ethnically cleansed from the village during the war in the early 1990s.

When she returned to Konjevic Polje in 2000, she was outraged to find the church had been built on her land.

"If she doesn't get the church off her land you will never have a society that is governed by the rule of law," explains James Rodehaver, human rights director for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in Sarajevo.

"It would mean a constant process of dealing with political crises and changes of political will. The legacy of the war would never be resolved."

Only the more nationalist Serbs still oppose Fata, and the government of the Bosnian Serb half of the country has said it will help find a solution.

"It doesn't bother me that it's a church," Fata explains. "It's where they worship and that is fine. I respect churches as much as mosques.

"But if they want a church they should just put it on their own land instead of mine. I respect all nations and religions, but I can't respect people building on my land."

Read on at BBC News

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