The “Forgotten Children of War” association, with the support of the Youth Initiative for Human Rights, the Autonomous Women’s Center and Women in Black, opened the exhibition BREAKING FREE in the premises of Endžio HAB – Dobračina 4, Belgrade. The official opening began at 18:00 where co-authors of the exhibition, Ajna Jusić, president of the Association, and Mirna Omerčaušević, program manager, addressed the audience. The exhibition will stay open until October 22, every day from 12 a.m. to 20 p.m.

The original and most powerful idea of the exhibition is to make the audience aware of the existence of children who are a direct consequence of the war in the former Yugoslavia. These children include the category of children who were born as a result of wartime rape, children of UN peacekeepers and children of humanitarian workers, whose missions took place in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the war and in the post-war period.

“The goal of this exhibition is to emphasize the important fact that all the discrimination, pain and suffering that these children survived, they still experience in the age of peace. Today, children deal with acts of discrimination, humiliation, marginalization, stigmatization and social rejection. Using this exhibition as a tool, we want to create a space for insight into one’s own responsibilities in the context of the consequences of war and sexual violence. It is crucial that in the peacetime, citizens become aware of their own discriminatory practices, which can further complicate the already difficult fight against injustice on the teritory of the former Yugoslavia,” – said Ajna Jusić.

“We believe that dialogue and understanding of trauma in the time of peace is the basis for the establishment of a regional understanding of war and the improvement of transitional justice. If we, young people, and our children, allow to have the same fate as our parents, it will be a defeat for mankind. Precisely because of this, as long as these children have strength, they will tell their stories and show how much pain is caused by human hands, but didn’t have to. We have an obligation to build a society that understands and respects the trauma of each individual. There will be no peace and understanding until each individual faces the consequences of war and at the same time acknowledges other people’s pain in the peacetime” – said Mirna Omerčaušević.

Sofija Todorović, program director of the Youth Initiative for Human Rights Serbia, addressed the audience and emphasized that the importance of the Breaking Free exhibition is reflected in the very fact that it was opened for the first time in Belgrade, in the premises of Enžio HAB, which has long been known as one of the rare places of freedom, where stories of great importance for our society are told and presented.

Breaking Free emphasizes solidarity, empathy, freedom, equality and choice. Children born from an act of wartime sexual violence clearly express their identity as “children of their mothers”, they have never been and will never be “children of the enemy”. Our mothers, all survivors of wartime sexual violence are not to blame for that!

Concept of the exhibition was developed by Ajna Jusić and Mirna Omerčaušević, while the author of the photographs and video work is Sakher Almonem, a Syrian-French artist born in 1986. After a 12-year professional dance career in Syria, France and Austria, he started taking interest in stage photography. Inspiration for this exhibition was born when Darrel Toulon (The Alpha Group) invited him to participate in the project “In the name of the father”, created in cooperation with the National Theater Tuzla.

Let’s be a society of equal values, not a society of different labels!