Twenty oral history videos in which war survivors tell their personal stories, produced by students as part of a BIRN mentoring scheme entitled Youth Memory Transfer, have been posted on YouTube for public viewing.
In the videos, the interviewees talk about their personal experiences of war and the trauma they experienced during the 1990s conflicts in the former Yugoslavia.
Some tell stories about the loss of family members, others speak about growing up as a child in the war or everyday life during the conflict, while others speak about the trauma of sexual violence and rape, or how they were involved in activism after the war.
The videos are the result of the training and mentoring programme that included an interactive workshop at which young participants from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia examined truth-seeking, fact-checking and transitional justice reporting as an exercise in storytelling.
“Our focus was always to ensure impartial reporting about the past through professional journalism. With this programme, we want young people to hear first-hand experiences about the wartime past and learn different ways of storytelling with the aim of creating compelling content,” said Nejra Mulaomerovic, programme associate at BIRN.
As a part of the workshop, the students conducted independent research related to each survivor’s history in their local communities in order to gain deeper background knowledge of their subject’s personal stories.
The programme gave the students a better understanding of the history of the break-up of Yugoslavia by documenting the stories of people who lived through it face-to-face. It also provides the public with insights into the experiences of the generation that lived through the 1990s wars through the videos published online.
“Storytelling is crucial to the process of transitional justice because it has the power to reveal atrocities and hidden personal memories that can be used to encourage the further sharing of similar experiences and expand knowledge of these narratives. For victims of war crimes and atrocities, storytelling has a healing aspect, as it gives them a voice and provides recognition of their experiences and traumas,” said Mulaomerovic.
The programme was based on using oral history techniques to preserve diverse historical perspectives that foster greater understanding about what happened during the 1990s wars, with a view to helping achieve lasting peace and reconciliation.
The videos were produced with the support of the Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO) and the European Union. Their content is the sole responsibility of BIRN and its partners and does not necessarily reflect the views of RYCO and/or the EU.