During the three-day Peace Festival ‘22 in Vitez in central Bosnia and Herzegovina, young people, activists, and journalists sent a unique message about their desire for life without division and discrimination. As their peers in Ukraine face the horrors of violent aggression, their affirmation of the need to maintain the peace was especially powerful.
“Peace is priceless, and we should all make efforts so that scenarios from the past are not repeated,” said a participant of the Peace Festival ‘22 which was organized by the Post-Conflict Research Center and Balkan Diskurs at the Čardaci Ethno Village.
At Peace Festival ‘22, participants had the opportunity to view the latest artwork, photography, films, and music as well as to exchange views and encourage one another to take the path of peace building by rejecting divisive narratives in BiH and the region.
Alem Bajramović, a participant of Peace Festival ‘22, said that these three days were a unique opportunity for young people from all over BiH to get to know each other, exchange ideas, and work together to build much-needed peace through artistic content.
“This is the first Peace Festival that has been organized and I am very proud to participate and contribute along with my peers to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s becoming a leader of peace processes in the region, but also the world,” said Bajramović.
With the release of blue and yellow balloons, the colors of both the Ukrainian and Bosnian-Herzegovinian flags, the participants of the Peace Festival ‘22 sent a message of support to all Ukrainians who are currently facing the darkest of wartime conditions.
Participants enjoyed the documentaries “Maglaj, War and Peace,” produced by the OSCE Mission to BiH, “The Long Shot” by Al Jazeera Balkans, “Ordinary Heroes” and “Uspomene 677” produced by the Post-Conflict Research Center, as well as the theatrical play “Put po svijetu” by the Vitez City Theater.
Ivana Janko, a Festival participant, said she was most impressed by the films and the play they watched. “Young people learn more and better through visual presentations of things that happened. I will cite the example of the film ‘Ordinary Heroes,’ which very effectively presented the lives of ordinary people who suffered during the war and survived, but also helped each other without any regard for religion and nation,” said Janko.
Fedor Marjanović, a writer and guest at Peace Festival ‘22, said that words are a very powerful tool that can be more deadly than a sword, but can also promote peace as well as war. Examples of the use of words for both purposes in this country, as he said, are too many. However, the more important question is which words are louder and which resonant more with the people.
“Can words lead to change? In short, yes – but it takes time and wise ears ready to listen,” Marjanović said.
Peace Festival ‘22, also featured the opening of the exhibition “On the Margins” by the Post-Conflict Research Center and the OSCE Mission to BiH. The opening was followed by a traditional Roma dance performance by the Roma Center of Vitez. Our participants also had the opportunity to discuss being your own boss with bh influencer Mirza Mustafagić.
The musical program of Peace Festival ‘22 included guest appearances by Mostar Rock School, Vanja Strukar, as well as DJ Forora.
Peace Festival ‘22 was organized in partnership with Al Jeezeera Balkans, Vitez City Youth Theater, and Čardaci Ethno Village, and realized with the support of the Embassy of Slovakia Sarajevo, SlovakAid, OSCE Mission to BiH, Rockefeller Foundation, European Union in BiH, and Sigrid Fund Trust.
The Post-Conflict Research Center is an internationally recognized organization which has received numerous awards for its work on peace building in BiH and the region. The multimedia platform Balkan Diskurs provides an opportunity for young people to express their opinions and write on topics important to Bosnian society. The Peace Festival ‘22 is part of the “Peace Museum” project, which will soon include the annual publication of Mir magazine.