Drina the largest mass grave in the Balkans
In summer 2010, remains of victims of the aggression in BiH from Lake Perucac near Visegrad were exhumed. Artificial reservoirs of the hydroelectric plant in Bajina Basta in neighboring Serbia use the Drina to produce electricity, while Lake Perucac is partially on the territory of BiH.
More victims in Lake Perucac
Numerous wars and conflict, carried on in this area, in the past took thousands of lives. The bodies of victims were thrown in the Drina and ended up at the bottom of the lake.
"Certainly, Lake Perucac, besides these 200 remains that we discovered almost two years ago, holds the remains of at least that many victims more on the bottom of the lake and the Drina," Amor Masovic, president of the Commission for Missing Persons of FBiH.
Cleaning the Bajina reservoir was an opportunity for many people, led by experts in finding missing persons, to participate in the search of part of Lake Perucac. However, determining the final number of victims at the bottom of the lake will take much more time.
"I see no chance that in the foreseeable future it would be possible to reach the bottom of the Drina in order to investigate and in order to find and identify the remains of all the victims. We will continue working to explore the area of Visegrad municipality and other graves that are available, and we will hope to find in them a number of Visegrad citizens, although in my opinion, most of them are on the bottom of Lake Perucac and the Drina," Masovic explains.
"I think that the Drina is the largest mass grave in the Balkans. If we return back to history and the events of the First and Second World Wars, of the Balkan Wars, and all the genocides that the Bosniak people have been exposed to, that according to some even number at ten, then it is certain that the Drina, from its beginning to the mouth, is likely the largest mass grave in the Balkans," Masovic said.
Fraction of the truth
He emphasizes how the missing person search teams in the past two years "showed the whole world and found only a small fraction of the truth that the Drina hides in its bosom, but unfortunately, most of its secrets will forever remain hidden at the bottom."
"In Lake Perucac certainly at least 200 victims were found, of which 162 have been identified, and at least 38 still haven't been identified. We can assume why this is so. Because all members of their families were killed and no one among the living can give blood for a DNA analysis or they did not have close family members," Masovic explained.
When it comes to future activities in the field of searching the Drina and Lake Perucac, Masovic said that if "relations in the region remain as they are today, if a significant part of the public in BiH, part of the public in neighboring Serbia and Montenegro and elsewhere will negate that genocide happened against the Bosniaks, including at Srebrenica, and if they negate it, it is difficult to expect that the turbine will be allowed to stop again."
"In Lake Perucac two years ago, we exhumed the remains of officers of the Austro-Hungarian Army, who were buried there a century ago, between 1914 and 1918," Masovic explains, emphasizing that "the coins found in their pockets from this time testify to that."
"The assumptions are that their army or another buried them in a meadow that at the time was present on the banks of the Drina. When the hydroelectric power plant was built at Bajina Basta, the meadow was flooded by the lake," Masovic said.
Concern about graves
The remains of exhumed soldiers and others are in the premises of the city cemetery in Visoko. The BiH government is very close to signing an agreement with the government of Germany on the basis of which a company from Germany would build and maintain a cemetery in a locality in BiH for the care for the graves from the First and Second World War, where the remains of their fellow citizens would be buried.
"Germany already has such agreements with Croatia, Slovenia, and recently with Montenegro," explains Masovic, the head of an expert team that delivered a draft agreement to the Presidency of BiH and the Council of Ministers for further proceedings.