© Ron Haviv, Aug 1992, Trnopolje / Bosnia & Herzegovina (former Yugoslavia)

"When several journalists broke the story of the Serbian prison camps, there was a huge outcry in the world. Immediate comparisons to Nazi concentration camps were invoked and a demand for investigations and intervention were discussed. I was working on the Bosnian Serb side at the time trying to understand the war from their perspective as, like all wars, nothing is completely one-sided. However it was extremely difficult to work as it appeared the Bosnian Serbs didn’t understand or care about journalism and the flow of information even when it was to help people understand them.

I asked a Bosnian Serb Army officer if I could go to a front line near where they had recently lost ground and show the effects on their civilian population. He quickly said no but said if I wanted I could go to visit the prison camps in order to see they really weren’t as bad as people thought.

To this day I am not sure if the Bosnian Serb leadership made a brilliant short-term public relations move or just created a long-term accusatory piece of evidence. After my trip to several camps, TIME published the images and the outcry was as to be expected. Brutal images harking back to World War II but now in color and in the 1990s were shocking to all. But the shock quickly wore off and people really didn’t care. Some camps were closed while new ones on all sides opened and the story in the immediate sense disappeared. But now 20 years later we are reminded what happened again in the heart of Europe while we all watched.” (read more)

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