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Mass Grave in Bosnia, Big Brother & Devastation in Syria

Mass Grave With More Than 700 Corpses Discovered

PRIJEDOR – In September, a mass grave close to the town of Prijedor, Bosnia was discovered. The excavations at the grave have now revealed the remains of at least 360 people; coupled with the previous discovery of 373 bodies in the vicinity of this site, this may well amount to the largest mass grave thus far uncovered in Bosnia. Not only is this a further reminder of the horrors that took place here twenty years ago, but the findings will hopefully bring some form of closure to the families of disappeared people, and ultimately they can be used as evidence in war crime trials in The Hague.

Peculiarly, parts of the Bosnian government and the political elite still seems to be bent on denying such war crimes, for example through forbidding public commemorations organized by the families of the victims in Prijedor in 2012 and 2013. The official argument goes that it is time to "move on" from the conflict, but these bans seem to be politically motivated. Moreover, knowledge of the fact that concentration camps around Bosnia were used in the ethnic cleansing is not widespread: to this date, none of the sites of these former camps hosts a memorial to what happened, particularly not even at Omarska which is the most famous of them.

The Cinema for Peace Foundation has been implementing the Genocide Film Library in Bosnia for two years to record the events of the Srebrenica massacre through interviewing the survivors. The production of a documentary related to the Genocide Film Library has also been started with the Academy Award-winning director Danis Tanovic.

We invite you to watch the following trailers on the Bosnian Tragedy:
  • NO MAN'S LAND by Danis Tanovic is an Oscar-winning satire about the war in Bosnia and the failing of the European Union and UN.
  • WELCOME TO SARAJEVO by Michael Winterbottom tells how journalist Floyd from the US, Michael Henderson from UK and their teams meet at the beginning of the Bosnian war in Sarajevo.
  • A CRY FROM THE GRAVE by Leslie Woodhead is a documentary about the fall of Srebrenica (Bosnian civil war, 1995).

Controversy on US Spying Escalates

BERLIN – Ever since whistleblower and former US National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden in June revealed the truth about the virtually omnipresent US electric surveillance apparatus, the discussion about where to draw the line between necessary intelligence gathering and the right to privacy has raged both in the US as well as elsewhere in the world. 

It has become very clear by now that without proactive measures for encryption, basically every form of electronic communication can be intercepted, monitored and analyzed by the US and other western governments. One of the reasons cited for building such systems has been the fight against terrorism – but how does the recent revelation that German chancellor Angela Merkel's phone was under US surveillance help in fighting terrorism? 

Edward Snowden has meanwhile been granted a 1-year asylum in Russia and landed a job in Moscow. He has also contacted the German government regarding the surveillance: on a guarantee that he would not be arrested and extradited to the US, he has offered to help uncover the extent of spying.

We invite you to watch the following trailers on the topic of confidential leaks and state surveillance:
  • THE MOST DANGEROUS MAN IN AMERICA by Judith Ehrlich and Rick Goldsmith is the story of what happens when a former Pentagon insider, armed only with his conscience, steadfast determination, and a file cabinet full of classified documents, decides to challenge an "Imperial" Presidency – answerable to neither Congress, the press, nor the people – in order to help end the Vietnam War.
  • WE STEAL SECRETS: THE STORY OF WIKILEAKS by Alex Gibney is a 2013 American independent documentary film about the organization started by Julian Assange, and people involved in the collection and distribution of secret information and media by whistleblowers.
  • THE LIVES OF OTHERS by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck is a drama film about the monitoring of East Berlin by agents of the Stasi, the GDR's secret police.

Devastation in Syria – Winter Threatens Weakened Civilians

ALEPPO – In August, after word got out that a suspected chemical weapons attack had taken place close to the Syrian capital of Damascus, the whole world was appalled. Videos of civilians gasping for air while convulsing violently and images of dozens of dead children rapidly spread around the Internet – the red line articulated earlier by the US had clearly been crossed. It seemed evident that Bashar al-Assad would be stopped from murdering innocent people, but diplomacy would determine otherwise.

Instead of stopping Assad, it was agreed that international chemical weapons inspectors would enter the country and start overseeing the process of destroying Syria's chemical weapons stockpiles. In October the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons received the Nobel peace prize – case closed and media attention could shift elsewhere.

However, the reality on the ground in Syria could not be further from peace. While the discussion has dwelt on chemical weapons, Assad's forces have continued to slaughter their own citizens. Moreover, he still does not allow neutral aid agencies in the country to help civilians in need of nutrition and medical care – a demand that has been articulated since over two years. Cinema for Peace highlighted this pressing issue in the summer when a baby milk delivery to Aleppo was conducted with actor Jan Josef Liefers and Jaka Bizilj. With the winter looming ahead, the future does not look bright for Syrians – unless diplomacy finally shows its strength.
For further reference see John Kerry's article on the Foreign Policy website.

We invite you to watch the following trailers on the conflict in Syria:
  • GROUND ZERO: SYRIA by Robert King  is a compilation of photojournalist and videographer King’s footage into a series of raw, largely unedited vignettes that present a snapshot of the ancient city of Aleppo as it crumbles and burns while its citizens are killed indiscriminately.
  • AGONY OF ALEPPO by Marcel Mettelsiefen is a report from the city of Aleppo in Syria under the grips of the civil conflict.