In 1992, Hasan Nuhanović and his family fled the violence in their hometown of Vlasenica but got only as far as Srebrenica. United Nations peacekeepers arrived in Srebrenica in 1993, and Nuhanović found a job with them as a translator. When the Bosnian Serb army attacked Srebrenica in 1995, Nuhanović and his family sought shelter at the UN base with some 30,000 other civilians.
The Dutch UN peacekeepers handed the civilians over to the Bosnian Serbs, who separated men from women and children. Nuhanović was allowed to stay on the base because of his job. He desperately sought permission for his family to remain as well.
Nuhanović’s parents and brother were forced off the UN base. All three were among the 8,000 Bosniaks killed by the Serbs.
Nuhanović has since learned some details about where and how his family was killed, but their remains have not been found.
Hasan Nuhanović – So the crowd of twenty, thirty thousand people came down to Potocari, where the Dutch base was located from Srebrenica on 11 July, afternoon.
People came down because they thought that the Serbs were coming to kill them. I realized that the only way to survive was to remain on the compound for as long as possible with the Dutch.
I was there with my family in the room when three Dutchbat soldiers came, looked at my family and at me, and they told me, “Hasan, tell your family that they have to leave the compound.”
And I knew I could stay because I had the contract with United Nations so the Dutch could not throw me out of the base.
I was trying to convince the UN, I mean the Dutch and the UNMOs to allow my brother to stay at least. But my brother told me, “Stop begging them for me. I don’t want you to beg them for me. I will go out and I will do as all other people did.”
At this point I realized that Franken was going to allow my father to remain on the base. And Franken said that’s because he was one of the three representatives of the refugees. And then I translated these words to my father, and my father asked Franken like this, he pointed at my brother, and he said, “Okay, but what about my other son?” And then Franken said, “Well, tell your father, if he doesn’t want to stay, it’s his choice. He can leave with his other son.” So my father shook hands with Franken, he smiled at him, and he left the base to catch up with my mother and my brother who, at that time, were probably already at the gate.
They’ve been missing for years.