Bosnia

Although many different ethnic and religious groups had resided together for 40 years under Yugoslavia’s repressive communist government, this changed when the country began to collapse during the fall of communism in the early 1990s. The provinces of Slovenia and Croatia declared independence, and war quickly followed between Serbia and these breakaway republics. Ethnic tensions were brought to the forefront, and people who had lived peacefully for years as neighbors turned against each other and took up arms. When Bosnia attempted to secede, Serbia – under Slobodan Miloševic’s leadership – invaded with the claim that it was there to “free” fellow Serbian Orthodox Christians living in Bosnia.Starting in April 1992, Serbia set out to “ethnically cleanse” Bosnian territory by systematically removing all Bosnian Muslims, known as Bosniaks. Serbia, together with ethnic Bosnian Serbs, attacked Bosniaks with former Yugoslavian military equipment and surrounded Sarajevo, the capital city. Many Bosniaks were driven into concentration camps, where women and girls were systematically gang-raped and other civilians were tortured, starved and murdered.

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