East Ham student visits site of Bosnian genocide for BBC documentary
PUBLISHED: 16:51 20 May 2015 | UPDATED: 16:51 20 May 2015
A student has revisited the horrors of the Bosnian genocide for an upcoming BBC documentary.
Jonas Pelendi, 20, of Ranelagh Road, East Ham, was picked as one of five people to travel to Srebrenica in Bosnia as part of a BBC project to mark the 20th anniversary of the massacre this year.
In July, 1995, some 8,000 Muslims – mostly men and boys – were systematically executed by Serb soldiers in and around the town of Srebrenica and their bodies were dumped in mass graves.
The massacre followed a civil war that broke out in 1991 and eventually destroyed the former Yugolsavian republic with fighting led by Serb ultra-nationalists.
Jonas, who is studying for a degree in International Relations at Queen Mary University, was invited on the trip through charity Remembering Srebrenica, of which he is a member.
He said it was “emotional” speaking to survivors of the war, adding: “It was a very strong experience. We had an opportunity to speak to relatives of those who died and with that I could feel their emotional weight.”
The BBC documentary, set to air in July, will feature the journey of Jonas and his four fellow visitors.
“It was a tough experience,” said Jonas. “I was born in 1995 and never learnt anything about the Bosnia war.
“The fact that this dark episode in mankind’s history occurred only a few hours from London by plane really drove home the proximity of ethnic hatred and a great sense of sadness.
Dwelling on his experience, he added: “I was able to spend time with mothers who would risk the odds for one more moment to share with husbands and sons they watched hopelessly fall into the hands of their killers.”