Superar Srebrenica is the Sistema-inspired program located in the town where, in 1995, Europe experienced its largest genocidal event since World War II: the massacre of some 8,000 Bosnian Muslims by Bosnian Serbs and paramilitary Serbs. The program was founded four years ago by Ismar Poric, a student at the Sarajevo Conservatory, and several of his friends, in order to promote communication and healing between the children of these divided ethnicities.
In Playing For Their Lives, we wrote about our moving visit to the program in June 2014. Ever since, Ismar’s chatty newsletter has arrived in our inboxes every few months. The program has been growing steadily and now includes kids from towns surrounding Srebrenica – the big problem now is how to transport all the kids who want to come.
“We are trying our best to send a message of peace, love and tolerance to the world (which is very hard at this time),” writes Ismar, “and these children are the best ambassadors of Bosnia and Herzegovina. They are an example of how to live in harmony and peace.”
This month, Ismar recounts the following story of how political factionalism threatens (but doesn’t defeat) the goals and plans of Superar Srebrenica:
“The Choir of Nations, from Switzerland, got in touch with us and said they wanted to celebrate their tenth anniversary here in Srebrenica. I had a meeting with the representatives of the choir in February, and we arranged all the details very easily and with no problems. The plan was to make a joint concert with Superar Srebrenica.
“But because of the political situation here, the concert was almost cancelled. This year was one of the toughest for Bosnia and Herzegovina since the war. During the political campaigns, some of the parties spread hatred and nationalism wherever they went. Their speeches were similar to those from 1992, which led to war. Some politicians openly started to talk about the possibility of a new war in Bosnia and Herzegovina…It was horrible. People were in fear and did not know what to expect for the future. The political situation in Bosnia is never great, but the recent events were not easy to listen to… NEW WAR??? For what??? I know that spreading nationalism during political campaigns is the best way to get votes during elections in Bosnia, but this time they were going too far…
“I started to think about the poor people in Srebrenica and what are they going through. I started to think about my children from Superar Srebrenica and their childhood… All children from the Srebrenica region are already carrying a big burden on their shoulders because of where they are growing up. They don’t need new terrors from the media, political campaigns, etc. But now, in the middle of this political ”hell,” we had a concert scheduled with the Choir of Nations….what to do?
“I thought of the safety of my children, the safety of our guests from Switzerland, the future of this school….It was a huge decision to make. I talked to many people to get their opinion, and many of them said that we should cancel the concert. I was ready to call the representatives from Switzerland and tell them it was not the time for this concert…
“And then I realized this was not the right path. We can’t live in fear and stop our lives whenever people try to say that hatred and nationalism are normal things. These are not the values we want to teach our children. We are a music school, a safe place where EVERYBODY can come and express their talents. We decided to go through with the concert in Srebrenica.
“So, on the 4th of October, the Choir of Nations came to our school, and it was even better that we expected. We had the concert together, our children sang a few songs, the Swiss choir sang a few songs from their repertoire, and at the end we sang ”Ode to Joy” together…it was beautiful and very emotional.
“But the most important thing about this event was that all of the Superar children came to the concert. We realized that the children, and especially their parents, do not support the politics of nationalism, and that they want to send their children to our school no matter what. This is a great success for us all, and once again we can learn so much from our children and their parents.
All the best from Srebrenica,