"Bosnian Book of the Dead": A Book for the Living

First published 29th Jan 2013

Research and Documentation Center (RDC) -member of the International Practitioners Network has launched "The Bosnian Book of the Dead" a Book which recalls  the names of over 95 000 victims of the 1990's conflict in the Balkans.

The "Bosnian Book of the Dead" launched last week in Sarajevo,  lists 95,940 names of those killed in the last Balkans conflict. The book contains   demographic information (including age, gender, ethnicity and profession) and information about the combat status and death of each person of named. This represents the most comprehensive record of its kind both in terms of the details about each victim and the volume of data retrieved  and  recorded. Mirsad Tokaca, director of the project and Director of RDC confirmed that over 200,000 pieces of information were collected and corroborated by a team of international experts over several years. 

A colossal effort, this four volume book serves not only to preserve the memory of those who died and honor victims and their families, it also serves as record which can clarify events in the conflict.  Speaking at the launch Tokaca said that he  hopes this book can finally put an end to "the number games [in the region] that politicians are so fond of."   

The politics of numbers that has been played out by politicians and the media since the end of the conflict has  created a barriers to  reconciliation efforts in region by making toxic public discourse about accountability. According to Natasha Kandic, a prominent human rights defender in Serbia who participated in the project, States in this region must recognise their "obligation to name all the victims [of the conflict]" before genuine reconciliation can be reached.

The International Practitioner Network of Casualty Recorders (IPN) is a network housed by the Oxford Research Group which aims to empower practitioners through fostering a common voice for  practitioners in this field. The Network promotes collaboration and information exchange between members and offers technical support. Members of the network are currently working on developing common standards for casualty recording and a number of other collaborative projects.