Memorial for Children Killed during Siege | Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Around 10,000 civilians, of whom 1,500 were children, were killed in Sarajevo during the 44-month-long siege, mostly by snipers and mortars fired from the mountains surrounding the city.

This is a part of the memorial to those children – unveiled in 2009, whose centerpiece consists of two large glass abstract sculptures meant to symbolize a nameless mother trying to protect her nameless child. I am standing on the circular bronze platform surrounding the sculptures, made from melted bombshell cases and other weapons that were collected after the war. The imprinted footsteps belong to the surviving siblings and friends of the killed children.

Another monument was unveiled directly next to this one earlier this year. It is made up of seven circular columns with the names of 521 children who were killed during the siege engraved around them. More are to be installed, with around 800 more names engraved, once that information is gathered and their cases are verified. As I turned the columns with my hand, and read the children’s names – Muslim, Catholic, and Orthodox, and years of their births and deaths, the columns made a light, tinkling sound. They reminded me of the prayer wheels I had seen in Buddhist monasteries in Bhutan, engraved with mantras in Sanskrit and auspicious symbols, whose spinning is said to have the same effect as reciting prayers.

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