Nedžad Avdic

Nedžad is 42. He and his three younger sisters were brought up in Sebiočina village, in the neighbouring area to Srebrenica. They had to flee in 1992 as the ethnical cleansing was already underway. The family took refuge in the woods and in neighboring villages, witnessing violence, murders and destruction over and over again.They eventually reached Srebrenica in March 1993.

They lived outside the city in a refugee camp, struggling to survive with nearly no food and electricity. When the bloody serb offensive  started on July 6th 1995, the family had to take refuge in the forest heading to Potocari. With his father and uncle, they decided to join the column in order to reach Bosnian-controlled territory. They were immediately under constant bombardment by Serb artillery from the hills. In such a chaos, Nedžad lost his father and ran through the crowd crying and calling for him. He would never see him again. On July 13, after 2 days and 2 nights, exhausted and desperate, the column was suddenly cut by the VRS soldiers. Holding megaphones, they were offered to surrender, being promised they will be protected  and treated under the Geneva convention. There was no other way : “Surrender or you will be killed.” Together with another 1000 people, they surrounded.

The torture and killings started immediately as they walk to the nearby Sandici meadow. Hands behind the head, walking on dead bodies, they were force to sing "Long live the King, long live Serbia". Laying head down on the grass, Nedžad could hear bursts of fire for hours, before being finally transferred to Bratunac in the lorry of a non military truck. It was hell. People drank their own urine, a lot lost conscience, including Nedžad.  On July 14th, after one night on the truck, they were then driven to a school complex in the Zvornik area. Violence and killings started immediately as they jumped off the truck. In the school, they were forced to take off their clothes, while soldiers tied their hands behind their backs.  Nedžad could hear screamings, firings and broken windows during the all day. Over the course of the night, mass killings started. Prisoners were taken to a field, and ordered to line up in rows of five to be shot. Nedžad was shot three times: in his stomach, his right arm and his left foot. Laying on the ground in unbearable pain, he could hear the sound of bullets firing around him. He wanted to die at that moment. Around midnight, Nedžad noticed a man who was moving : "please, come to untie me.’ They managed to untie each other and flee the execution field. The day after, while hiding in the overlooking hill, they witnessed the ballets of the shovels and trucks, carting the bodies by shovelfuls; reminding him of the horrific black and white scenes of WWII concentration camps.

They wandered 4 days and 4 nights through the woods, hiding in destroyed houses, eating apples and drinking water in the streams. After days of suffering, they finally managed to reach the Bosnian government territory. Nedžad was taken to an hospital in Tuzla and later managed to find his mother and sisters. But nor his father nor his uncle survived.

It took some times before Nedžad was able to speak of what happen to him in 1995. Even at school, he never let his comrades know about the story explaining his bandages and wounds. He studied economics in Tuzla, and finally decided to setup in Potocari, where he now works. He is married and father of 3 young daughters. Together with one of his sister, he wrote his story in a book that was recently published. It is only recently that he decides to be more involved in telling his personal story. As an example, he opened himself to former Tuzla college comrades who knew nothing about his unique survivor's experience. After the publication of his book, as some of them expressed the need to visit the Potocari Memorial, Nedžad guided them through while explaining as well his own survivor story. For some of his friends, it was the first time ever in Srebrenica...

Nedžad considers being back to Srebrenica as a victory over his perpetrators. As a muslim, he never expressed any feeling of revenge. They only thing that matters is the truth, and possibly justice one day - eventhough the political system in Republika Srbska is an obstacle for justice to happen. Progressively, with words his children can understand, he explains his own story, being cautious not to raise any feeling of anger. He educates his daughters so that they are open to the world, whatever ethnicity or religion. 

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