The Srebrenica Genocide and the Srebrenica Flower

The Srebrenica Genocide

“When we saw that there was no hope for Srebrenica and its people — that the final moment had come, the terror could be felt in the air. It is a strange feeling to describe, there are no words for it, but you knew that this day is like no other and you knew that this day will stand among the rest of your days.” – Mehmed Alić, as shared with Senida Husić, 2015

Between 1992 and 1995, the village of Srebrenica in Eastern Bosnia served as a Bosniak stronghold and refuge, besieged from the perimeter by Bosnian Serb forces.  Although it had been declared a “Safe Area” by the United Nations, on July 11th, 1995, Bosnian Serb forces led by Ratko Mladić entered Srebrenica with the intent to kill the concentrated Bosniak population taking refuge there.  Despite false promises to the UN peacekeepers assuring the safety of the inhabitants, over the course of just a few days, Mladić’s forces would torture, rape, and kill many of those who thought they were protected.  Once the peacekeepers allowed Bosnian Serb forces into Srebrenica, Mladić ordered the separation of the women and small children from the men and boys.  Both men and women were told they would be bused to Bosniak-controlled territory; but for the men, this was a lie.  While the women and young children were bused out, men and boys were taken to the surrounding countryside and executed.

Around 8,000 men and boys were murdered and buried in mass graves.  In an effort to conceal the scale of the atrocity, Bosnian Serb forces moved many of the mass graves to secondary and sometimes tertiary sites to hide the evidence.  As a result, it has been difficult to identify victims, and the process remains ongoing.  Many in our Bowling Green community lived in besieged Srebrenica and survived the events of the genocide; many of their loved ones did not survive.

The Srebrenica Flower

Photo by Nicole Musgrave, 2017

“I’m one of thousands [of] mothers, living here in Bowling Green… so many single mothers, so many missing husbands.  Some mothers lost their kids at that time.  And I always said, “if I’m – only me I will say, ‘Okay, this happened to me.’”  But it didn’t happen just to me.  It happened to thousands, thousands [of] people in Bosnia.” – Izeta Dželil, 2016

Click here for the transcription of this audio clip.


This small crocheted flower is a sign of remembrance of the genocide that took place in Srebrenica, Bosnia, in July of 1995.  A symbol worn as a pin by many in Bowling Green, the crocheted flower was developed in Bosnia by a crocheting association, Gračaničko keranje (“Gračanica Crochet”), which exists to conserve Bosnia’s traditional crocheting techniques.

The eleven petals on this flower represent the day the genocide began, July 11th. The white petals represent innocence, while the green represents hope.  In addition, the colors and shape also represent the burials of the victims.  In Potočari, when the victims of the genocide are laid to rest, the casket is draped in green (the center of the flower).  The white petals represent women mourning, dressed in white, surrounding the green center.

Featured Image

IMG_7463Formally known as the Srebrenica–Potočari Memorial and Cemetery for the Victims of the 1995 Genocide, this public site in Srebrenica was created to honor the 8,372 victims of the genocide.  Photo by Brent Björkman, 2017.