January 29, 2014
GSSW was honored to host the first official event of the University of Denver's 2014 Sesquicentennial year. Hasan Hasanović, Curator and Interpreter of Bosnia's Srebrenica-Potočari Cemetery and Memorial Centre, presented a lecture on January 29, entitled "Surviving the Srebrenica Genocide." One of the 1995 genocide's survivors, Hasanović illustrated his powerful first-person account of the tragedy with photos and maps.
Chancellor Robert Coombe joined Dean and Milton Morris Endowed Chair James Herbert Williams in welcoming the audience of nearly 300 that filled the Boettcher Foundation Community Room to capacity. In addition to describing his own harrowing escape and devastating personal losses, Hasanović's lecture sought to provoke discussion of America's educational and civic duty in the midst of worldwide atrocities like the Bosnian genocide.
Hasanović's lecture was followed by a reception featuring traditional Bosnian fare. The event was funded, in part, through DU's Sesquicentennial Provost Fund.
Following the assault on Srebrenica by Bosnian Serb forces in 1995, Hasanović and several family members joined thousands of other men and boys on the the 100-kilometer "Death March" to the free territory of Tuzla. Only a fraction of the men survived the six-day walk; Hasanović's father, twin brother and uncle were killed along the way.
Despite the wealth of media reports and other information available at the time, the world community remained mostly indifferent to the Bosnian genocide. The U.S. government under both Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton initially chose isolationist policies, citing the lack of U.S. interests at stake in the conflict.
This was Hasanović's first visit to the United States, arranged largely through the efforts of Clinical Associate Professor Ann Petrila, GSSW's Director of Field Education and Director of International Service Learning Bosnia and Herzegovina (ISL BiH), DU's oldest service learning program. Each summer, Hasanović meets with ISL BiH students who travel to Bosnia with Petrila, and with students enrolled in her MSW course, "The Social Work Response in Post-War Bosnia."