Two decades from war, a new fight to save Bosnia

(Reuters) – The shooting began over the course of weeks, but if Bosnia’s war needs a beginning to mark, then it’s April 6, 1992, twenty years ago this Friday.

That’s the day the West recognized the Yugoslav republic as independent and Serb gunmen fired on peace demonstrators in Sarajevo, the opening salvo of a siege on the capital that would last for 43 months.

The war reached Dr Ilijaz Pilav 11 days later when men in uniform turned up at his clinic in the eastern town of Srebrenica.

He would escape from Srebrenica on foot through a forest on a summer day in 1995, hours before it was captured by Serb forces, who went on to massacre 8,000 Muslim men and boys there and bulldoze the bodies into pits.

Seventeen of Pilav’s relatives were among the victims. It is in their memory, he says, that he is now fighting in court to force Bosnia to rewrite a constitution that paid for peace by enshrining ethnic segregation into law.

With 100,000 dead and two million displaced, the war was finally brought to an end by a peace deal signed in Dayton Ohio, which established a state divided among ethnic foes.

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