Bosnia and Herzegovina
Many Malaysians are well aware of the 1992-1995 war that engulfed Bosnia. It was a three way conflit between the orthodox Serbs, the muslim Bosniaks and the catholic Croats. It was by far the bloodiest and most widely covered of the Yugoslav wars. I remember the massive donation drive in our newspapers and TV and the military and humanitarian aid our country offered to them later.
A fews days ago in a volunteer work in Sondernach, near Metzeral, I had the opportunity to actually meet a bosnian political refugee. When he knew that I come from Malaysia, he warmed up immediately and we had some good chat together. According to him, the serbs, croats and bosniaks are actually of the same origin, the same root; the only difference between them is their religion. This was enough to actually cause the bloody war and the ensuing sufferings. After 3 years of war, 100 000 are killed and 2 million displaced, which is a very significant proportion of the population considering that their habitant is only around 5 million.
In his family alone, his brother, whom he says to be the smartest fled to the US in 1993, just 1 week before the war. His second brother fled to Sweden after the war ended while he came to France in 2004. He bemoans the fact that his country is in a deep mess now: with 3 seperate government and ruling councils in his country, massive corruption, more than occasional violence and massive sell out of Bosnian assets to foreigners.
I asked him if he plans to settle down in France since things are alot better here, he shaked his head and told me that he does not like France. He says that people are more friendlier in Bosnia, with neighbours having lively debates around BBQ and children playing animatedly around whereas here, the buildings are beautiful, households are affluent but where are the children and what happended to the camaraderie among neighbours? He told me that although his son, who speaks fluent french may want to stay back, he will always return to Bosnia. What a true patriot!
Talking about Malaysia, he told me that our country greatly aided Bosnia and he is very indebted to us. He mentioned also about a big mosque that the malaysian government donated for them in Sarajevo. He also asked about "sarong", "nasi lemak", our former pm mahathir and also talked about how blessed malaysians are. Frankly, I am humbled that whatever contributions that Malaysian gave did not go unnoticed by the Bosnians amidst the great sufferings they have gone through and I am very proud to be a Malaysian. Throughout the day, sadness and regret were clearly written on his face, I wish him the best and that one day he could go back to Bosnia in peace. Shalom.