Bearing Witness Retreat Bosnia and Herzegovina


What is a Bearing Witness Retreat?

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From 8 – 12 May 2017, we’ll come together—from different countries, cultures, and religions—in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia. From there we will proceed to Srebrenica. This retreat is organized by the Zen Peacemaker Order Europe to bear witness to ethnic conflict and war crimes and to the failings of the international community.

Video: Ron Haviv / VII

It has been more than two decades since former Yugoslavia fell apart. The brutal conflicts that followed its dissolution are over, but the legacy of the tragedy continues to unsettle the region.
Often described as Europe’s deadliest conflict since World War II, the Yugoslav Wars have become infamous for the war crimes involved, including ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity and rape.

This retreat is about what happens when life contracts into you vs. me, when we shut our eyes to the despair of others because they’re others, not us. That’s when the whole process begins anew: children crying out for their parents, mothers wailing after their boys and men, the sorry
procession of families carrying what they can as they flee, guns and burned homes smoking behind them.

Photo by: Ron Haviv / VII

Photo by: Ron Haviv / VII


By bringing different local groups together with international participants, we are willing to face this dark complexity, that arises when we try to locate ourselves to the past and present developments in Bosnia.
Also, we want to bear witness to our shared responsibility in acknowledging the non-intervention of the international community.
Entering the complexity that is Bosnia-Herzegovina requires a lot of listening. This action, as practiced in the three tenets of the Zen Peacemakers, rises from not-knowing and bearing witness.
Being aware that we are touching an open wound, we as international Peacemakers will be careful not to bring any kind of ‘peacemaking knowhow’. Instead, we will educate ourselves beforehand about the local, historical situation so that we can sensitively detect the different narratives, and especially question our own Western point of view.
Then, coming to Bosnia we will listen to the soil…

This bearing witness retreat will be a retreat by donation.
To help us support peace work in Bosnia- Herzegovina we ask you to donate € 850 (or more if you can afford).
To cover the costs we ask you to donate a minimum of € 700.