Ten members of the Kosovo Coordination Council of Associations of Families of Missing Persons visited Tuzla and Srebrenica on 10-11 July 2007. The goals of the visit for these families were to better understand the forensic sciences work of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), to exchange experiences with representatives of associations of families of missing persons from Bosnia and Herzegovina, and to participate in the 12th annual Srebrenica commemoration and funeral.The family associations visited ICMP’s forensic facilities where mortal remains of Srebrenica victims are re-associated and identified, as well as the global center where blood samples collected by ICMP from relatives of the missing and all bone samples received from government authorities are archived and sent to ICMP labs in Sarajevo and Banja Luka for DNA testing.
“I’ve heard presentations about the DNA identification process before, but it was all foggy to me, now I really understand how it works”, said Bajram Qerkini of the “Parents Council” Mitrovica. When Bekim Gashi of the association “Shpresimi” from Suhareka saw that all of the data about his mother and four sisters who went missing in 1999 was in the ICMP database, he said “I didn’t fully trust the process before, but this reassured me. Even though my sisters and mother have not been identified yet, I feel like I have found them.”
The group visited the Budak exhumation site where Sadik Selimovic of the Missing Persons Institute of Bosnia and Herzegovina explained the background about the site, as well as the work of the government and judicial authorities, the close cooperation with family members as well as with ICMP, which allows families to follow the entire process of exhumations from start to finish.
Representatives of Srebrenica Associations met the delegation at the Potocari – Srebrenica Memorial and showed the visitors the cemetery and the newly opened Memorial Room. The Memorial Room consists of two black towers – one presenting the film on the fall of Srebrenica, the other containing showcases with twenty personal stories.
This visit continues a process of exchanging experiences between family associations throughout the region. Semina Alekic, who visited Kosovo in April 2007, stated that “we need to continue our cooperation.” Families said that they wished that all other family members of the missing could have the chance to participate in a visit like this and that such visits should take place more often.