During his visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina with Remembering Srebrenica Scotland, James McEnaney sits with two survivors of the genocide: Fadila Efendić and Nedžad Avdić.

As the situation around Srebrenica deteriorated in 1995, Fadila Efendić had become increasingly worried.

Bosnian Serb forces were closing in on the town declared a safe area by the UN, and many were afraid of what would happen if – or when – they finally took over.

She felt that her family should try to escape, but her husband did not believe the UN and NATO would stand back and allow them to be harmed.

Unconvinced, she and her daughter left their home, going first to the UN base nearby before eventually making it to Tuzla, a safe area in the north of the country.

Read more: Srebrenica massacre: Horror of the darkest war crime since WW2 still haunts me

She never saw her husband, or her son, again. Nearly three decades on, she still does not know exactly what happened to them, other than that they were massacred.

While travelling to Tuzla, Fadila saved her daughter from being taken away by soldiers who were picking out young women, presumably to take them to one of the rape camps that became of the horrifying feature of the conflict.

As they moved through the crowd, she told her daughter to pull a shawl over her head and look down at the ground. Somehow, it worked.

After the war ended they returned to Bosnia, living first in Sarajevo while her daughter studied and then got married, before she finally returned to Srebrenica.

But the pain continues.

The Herald: The memorial at Srebrenica The memorial at Srebrenica (Image: James McEnaney)

When her husband’s body was first discovered in a mass grave his head was missing; it was only much later that it was found and she was able to ensure a complete burial.

Sadly, this has never been possible for her son, and she does not believe that his full remains will ever be found.

What she wants is for people to know, and accept, the truth about what happened in this beautiful but now forever blood-soaked valley.

That means talking about her own loss, pushing authorities to continue investigating the crimes that happened here, and supporting the victims left behind.

It also means being honest about the way in which her people were betrayed, and the way in which the international community was, she believes, complicit in the massacres that took place here, all of which she presents in incredibly stark terms: “Whoever the UN protects will die.”

'As soon as the night fell, they started the killing'

Nedžad’s story is different, but no less brutal.

His family arrived in Srebrenica in 1993 after being forced from their homes as the former Yugoslavia’s violent fragmentation continued.

He remembers arriving in a town that had already been overwhelmed by thousands upon thousands of refugees, with people huddling around fires in the streets to keep warm.

Two years later, with Bosnian Serb forces taking over the area, he, his father and his uncle joined a group of able-bodied men attempting to travel through the forests to reach safety.

It became known as The Death March.

The Herald: A memorial in Sarajevo, BosniaA memorial in Sarajevo, Bosnia (Image: James McEnaney)

After losing his father and becoming lost in the panicked masses, a 17-year-old Nedžad was forced to surrender to Bosnian Serb forces.

He remembers “very well” the promises that they would be treated according to the Geneva Convention, even though at that time he was too young to know much about what that really meant.

It didn’t matter – it was a lie.

They were transferred into trucks and told they would be transported out of the area – in fact, they were taken to a nearby school.

“They drove all the people from the forest and then they started to torture us. As soon as night fell they started the killing.

"All the time I could hear firing in the hall outside the classroom. All the time I could hear screams. It was somewhere around midnight when my turn came.”

Read more: First Minister hails survivors of Srebrenica massacre 25 years on

Shot three times and left for dead

The soldiers made him take off his clothes and shoes and then get back into a truck outside.

Crammed in with dozens of other men, he was driven to a nearby dam where the actual killings would take place. 

Nedžad was shot three times and left for dead, but somehow he and one other man managed to survive their wounds, untie each other, escape into the woods and, in the end, reach safety.

His mother and sisters had also escaped the killings, but his father and uncle did not.

In 2007 he felt the “need” to return to Srebrenica, intending to stay for a short time; but sometimes life has other plans, and rather than leaving he met his wife and had three daughters.

The Herald: A child's teddy bear toy on display at the War Childhood MurseumA child's teddy bear toy on display at the War Childhood Murseum (Image: James McEnaney)

But this is not a story of hope and renewal. Nedžad explains that the genocide is not “history” here, because “every day” they hear something new.

Sometimes that is information about other missing persons, but it is also genocide denial.

Srebrenica is part of Republika Srpska, and those in power here do not accept that a genocide took place.

Nedžad cannot, for example, visit schools to talk about what happened, and the authorities are hostile not just to the presence of his (tiny) community, but to its very identity.

Read more: Why we must remember the genocide in Bosnia

The drive to erase his people continues, and he worries that, once his generation has passed, those responsible for the genocide will have achieved their goals.

“Probably we are the last generations of Bosnian Muslims who will live here.

"After us we won’t be here. We will have, maybe, the memorial – but our community will disappear.”

That, Nedžad tells us, is why sharing the story of Srebrenica matters so much.