Montenegrin textbooks do not elaborate on Srebrenica

On the occasion of July 11 – Srebrenica Genocide Remembrance Day, Centre for Civic Education (CCE) pays a tribute to victims of that crime and reminds of the gravity of Srebrenica tragedy. Post-Yugoslav societies must treat the victims of Srebrenica, as well as their families, with due moral and legal obligation, and thus contribute in the establishment of culture of reconciliation, tolerance and peace.

Genocide which took place in Srebrenica is an example of most massive crime perpetrated in Europe since World War II, when members of army of Bosnian Serbs systematically executed at least 7,800 unarmed Bosnians, age 14 to 70, from 11 to 19 July 1995. Crimes perpetrated in July 1995 in Srebrenica were the subject of nine trials before the International crime tribunal for former Yugoslavia.

Education system must inform future generations on this, and every other, crime from more recent past of the region. Unfortunately, findings of recently presented CCE study “Montenegrin textbooks: what do they conceal and reveal on the contemporary history of Montenegro?” indicate that these issues are being curtailed, and that generations of pupils and students complete their formal education without gaining the adequate knowledge on what happened in not so recent past of Montenegro and region. Also, at the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Montenegro, which, among other, educates future teachers and professors of history, History of Yugoslavia II is envisaged for last working week. This lesson examines the disintegration of Yugoslavia only by 1992, while war in its entirety, with the emphasis on Srebrenica and other atrocious crimes are completely neglected. Students involved by research which was conducted on three faculty units of University of Montenegro, marked Srebrenica mostly as “genocide”, “genocide against Muslim population”, “crime against the humanity”, “massacre”, “war crime”, “biggest crime since World War II”, thereby estimating that “Serbian nation is most responsible for this crime”. While the students of Law Faculty and Faculty of Political Sciences mostly agree that this was the case of genocide, nobody from the Faculty of Philosophy marked this crime as genocide. CCE’s team was not able to hear the opinion of Montenegrin high school students on this matter since the Ministry of Education precluded such research, but if they are educated on this matter solely from the existing textbooks, they will hardly learn anything.

Post-Yugoslav societies, institutions of the system, particularly the educational institutions, should contribute in the remembrance of atrocious crime in Srebrenica, as well as of every other crime perpetrated against innocent civilians, on the territory of former Yugoslavia during the period 1991-2001. Moreover, they should join the forces through regional cooperation and quality education system to work on the improvement of culture of remembrance and respect, confession and compassion with victims, in order to contribute to the reconciliation in region. Civil society organisations have been insisting on that for years in Montenegro and region, and in doing so, they formed the largest regional coalition that advocates the establishment of RECOM. CCE will continue with its activities in the area of establishment of culture of remembrance, individually or as a referent organisation of Coalition for RECOM for Montenegro.

Tamara Milaš, CCE Programme associate and Spokesperson of Coalition for RECOM in Montenegro