BAACBH would like to recognize and commend U.S. Congresswoman Sue Myrick (R-NC) and Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) for their support of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and the Bosnian people.
BAACBH was alarmed by the recent events that took place in Prijedor, BiH regarding the Day of Concentration Camp Detainees that takes place on May 9th of each year at the site of the former Omarska concentration camp. Omarska was one of the most notorious concentration camps during the war in BiH. It was one of three camps set up in northern BiH to rid the country of non-Serbs where around 6,000 Bosniaks and Croats were held in appalling and brutal conditions for five months in the spring and summer of 1992. Currently, the biggest steel company in the world, ArcelorMittal owns the mining complex site in Omarska; however, no memorial commemorating the concentration camp exists to this day.
In her statement before the U.S. Congress on May 23, 2011, Rep. Myrick recognized the victims of the concentration camp in Omarska and praised British journalists Ed Vulliamy, Penny Marshall and Ian Williams on their brave reporting that helped uncover the horrors of Omarska to the world. On June 14, 2011, Rep. Smith, the co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Bosnia and the Chair of the Helsinki Commission spoke at length about how remembering the victims is crucial to the reconciliation process so that atrocities that occurred in Omarska are never repeated again. Rep. Smith spoke of foreign correspondent Roy Gutman who called Omarska a "death camp'' and reported on the horrid conditions, rapes and tortures at Omarska and surrounding camps. Congressman Smith concluded his speech by stating: "The horrors that took place at Omarska and their lasting impact on Bosnian society certainly warrant such a memorial. It would provide some closure to victims, and it would counter those who are still unwilling to acknowledge the horrific crimes that, in undeniable fact, were committed there in 1992. It would also serve as a lasting reminder to us all. If atrocities on the scale of those at the Omarska camp are not appropriately remembered, they are more likely to be repeated, in some other distant town or village presently unknown to us. That is why we have these memorials: in the hope we will never forget nor ever allow such crimes to be repeated. As the Chairman of the Bosnian Caucus, I encourage the present owners of the mining complex to permit and support the establishment of a permanent memorial at Omarska. I bring this issue to the attention of my colleagues in the hope they can join me in this call."
To view the entire statements made by Congresswoman Myrick and Congressman Smith regarding the Omarska concentration camp please click on the following links:
Rep. Myrick's Statement
Rep. Smith's Statement