BIRN Publishes Oral History Videos of War Survivors’ Stories

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BIRN has published 20 videos of interviews with war survivors from Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia, filmed by young journalists, students and activists as part of a transitional justice storytelling project.

Twenty videos showing people from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia speaking about their experiences of the wars of the 1990s have been published on BIRN’s YouTube channel.

Some of the survivors talk about their childhood memories of fleeing their homes and being forcibly displaced from their hometowns, while others share emotional stories of losing loved ones. Some also speak about their involvement in psychotherapy for survivors and transitional justice activism.

The videos are the result of a training workshop for 11 young journalists, students, activists and other interested people held in the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, in October 2022.

The Visual Storytelling Using War Crime Archives workshop organised by BIRN’s Transitional Justice Programme was aimed at educating participants in how to contribute to reconciliation and memorialisation processes by exploring archives and using them for independent video storytelling.

Participants learned how to create a safe, non-partisan and compassionate space for survivors to tell their stories and how to produce stories in a short video format that do not trivialise war crimes and war victims’ experiences.

“Youth involvement in transitional justice efforts is essential to promote intergenerational dialogue, foster social cohesion and strengthen the sustainability of peacebuilding,” said Nejra Mulaomerovic, the coordinator of BIRN’s Transitional Justice Programme.

“Young people, particularly those who have been affected by conflict, have a unique perspective on the impact of violence and injustice on their lives and communities. Their engagement in the transitional justice process can help to ensure that the next generation is invested in promoting accountability, reconciliation and peace,” she added.

Mulaomerovic said that storytelling is crucial to the process of transitional justice because it has the power to highlight atrocities and hidden personal memories that can be used to encourage the further sharing of similar experiences.

“Storytelling also has the power to change the narrative surrounding personal experiences of war trauma. The dominant narrative around war often centres on the nationalistic perspective, which can overshadow the human cost of war, including the experiences of civilians,” she said.

“Through storytelling, victims and survivors can challenge this dominant narrative and humanise the experiences of those affected by war,” she added.

BIRN published another series of videos of survivors’ stories after a previous workshop in 2021 about storytelling and transitional justice reporting.

The videos produced by the participants were posted on BIRN’s social media channels, where they were viewed by more than 115,000 people on various platforms.

See all the videos on BIRN’s YouTube channel here.