1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

New chapter

May 27, 2011

The arrest of Ratko Mladic means a lot to the women of Srebrenica, says Sabiha Husic, head of the Medica Zenica support organization. She's worked with many of the victims of the 1995 massacre that left deep scars.

Ratko Mladic surrounded by police officers
For many, the arrest of Mladic means the healing process can startImage: dapd

Sabiha Husic is the head of Medica Zenica, an NGO in Bosnia that offers psychological, social and medical support to women and child victims of war. Husic has worked with many female victims of the Srebrenica massacre in July, 1995, when more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys were rounded up and killed by the Bosnian Serb army.

The women who survived saw their husbands and children taken away, never to be heard from again. Many were raped by soldiers. Ratko Mladic was the head of the Bosnian Serb army during this time, and his arrest Thursday came as a relief to Medica Zenica and the women they work with. Sabiha Husic told Deutsche Welle what Mladic's arrest meant to the women of Srebrenica.

DW: How did the women of Srebrenica react to Thursday's news?

Sabiha Husic: It's very important and great news. A lot of women who are survivors believe that the process of healing for each of them started yesterday (Thursday), when Ratko Mladic was arrested. It is very important on an individual level for each of the survivors, but also for justice. We really believe that justice will come.

What happened to those women in Srebrenica in July, 1995?

It was a horrible period. They saw the men: family members, neighbors, sons, friends, husbands - how Mladic and his army arrested them. Most of the women still don't have any information about happened to their loved ones. They all saw it, but they couldn't do anything. They asked Mladic, is it possible to help them? He promised, 'don't worry, everything will be OK, you will be safe.' But what happened, as we know in Bosnia and Herzegovina and all over the world, is that Mladic did horrible things, and most of the women till now are waiting for any answer about what happened to their family members. I spoke with and wrote with a lot of women who survived it. They spoke about being victims of rape. Soldiers came and picked them out and raped them.

Mladic's son and wife
Mladic's wife and son must now also come to terms with the pastImage: AP

When Mladic finally does stand trial, what role might the women from Srebrenica play? Could some of them testify in the trial?

Yes, I believe that most of them want to testify at the trial. [In the past], one woman told me 'Sabiha, believe me, I live for the day when Ratko Mladic will be arrested. And I want to go to The Hague and give my testimony. It's the last thing I can do for my two sons and my husband. I know that they have been killed, but the last thing that I can do for them is that I give my testimony in The Hague.'

What would a conviction for Mladic in The Hague mean for victims of Srebrenica?

I think for them it means justice and a healing process. It is also very important for peace building in Bosnia and Herzegovina and also among Bosnians in Serbia.

Could Medica Zenica play a role for women who want to go to The Hague?

We want to give them psychological support to help them - regarding preparation, while they are there in The Hague. But also after the process, these women will be retraumatized. It is very important they can get psychological support and everything else they need when they get back.

Interview: Matt Zuvela

Editor: Susan Houlton