Mothers of Srebrenica want Nobel committee to take prize from Austria's Handke

NEWS 10.10.2019 21:07
Source: Reuters/Leonhard Foeger

Bosnian war victims' association said that awarding Austrian author Peter Handke with the Nobel Prize was “disappointing and shocking,” considering his denial of Srebrenica genocide and protecting those who committed war crimes in Bosnia during the 1992-95 period, and asked the Nobel Committee to take the prize back from him.

“It is sad that such important award was given to a denier of genocide in Srebrenica when everyone knows what had happened in Srebrenica,” said Head of the ‘Mothers of Srebrenica and Zepa Enclaves’ Association Munira Subasic following the news about a new Nobel laureate.

Handke won the award “for an influential work that with linguistic ingenuity has explored the periphery and the specificity of human experience.”

His debut novel “Die Hornissen” (“The Hornets”) was published in 1966, and his other works include the 1969 play “Publikumsbeschimpfung” (“Offending the Audience”).

Handke has become “one of the most influential writers in Europe after the Second World War,” according to the Nobel committee.

But, the Austrian author is also known for his controversial stances on the events from the early 1990s in former Yugoslavia. An article published by ‘The Guardian’ in 1999 among other things carried Handke's words saying that Muslims had staged their own massacres in Sarajevo and that he did not believe the Serb troops killed thousands of Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica in 1995.

His stances were met by harsh criticism of the fellow writers worldwide.

The victims’ associations in Bosnia deem that the Committee “made a circus of itself” by deciding to reward Handke.

“With this decision, they sent a message to others that they can win various awards and recognitions regardless of what they were doing in the past. It is very immoral and ridiculous for them to pass such decision without any previous review. With this decision they once again hurt and broke the hearts of Mothers of Srebrenica, who lost their sons, husbands, brothers,” said Subasic.

She urged the Nobel committee to pass a new decision as soon as possible and take the prize from Handke, to re-establish its dignity and honour.

“This decision is a disgrace and very bad message for all humans. They should know that they hurt many people and damaged the image of the rewarding committee by deciding to reward a denier of genocide. Therefore, we call on the Committee to urgently change its decision and seize the prize from Handke,” said Subasic stressing that this is how the committee could fix the mistake.

“We will continue to fight for the truth about Srebrenica,” she added.

The eastern Srebrenica region was a UN-protected zone in the 1992-95 Bosnian war but despite that, it saw a mass killing of over 8,000 Muslim men and boys, which two international courts ruled was an act of genocide.