Peace Festival 2024: By Respecting Human Values We Build Peace

Cover Photo: Mitar Simikić

Tolerance, peaceful coexistence, and the absence of violence, along with respect for universal life values, are necessary for building sustainable peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

This is the shared message of youth from various communities in Bosnia and Herzegovina who participated in Peace Festival 2024 in Vitez, organized by the Post-Conflict Research Center (PCRC).

“Such festivals provide an opportunity for youth to express their opinions and views, and with the cultural content available, these are opportunities to work on breaking down disinformation and decontaminating the youth,” said Ljupko Mišeljić, who came to the Peace Festival from Banja Luka.

Andrea Milojević, a student of medicine who came to the Peace Festival from Derventa, finds the topic of peace interesting as well. She believes that peace is crucial not only in Bosnia and Herzegovina but worldwide and that young people in particular should be involved in, and work on building peace. “For me, peace is love, and love is comprehensive. It implies understanding and non-judgment,” emphasized Andrea.

Peace Festival 2024 brought together 40 young people from 20 cities in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Photo: Mitar Simikić

The participants spent a day in Travnik, where they explored its rich historical, cultural, and religious diversity. “An intense sense of peace was felt at the Travnik Fortress [today]. It has been here for years witnessing various armies, enduring wars, only to proudly evoke admiration for its beauty today. As we walked through Travnik, we encountered Bosniaks heading to the mosque for Friday prayer, at noon we were joined by the bells from the Catholic church, while we headed towards the Orthodox church,” described Lejla Ćirić from Glamoč.

She added that her mind was completely filled with peace upon entering the birth house of Ivo Andrić, whom “all the participants of the Festival unanimously declared as OURS.”

During an interactive session on peacebuilding, the youth discussed moral courage in their local communities after watching an episode from the documentary series ‘Ordinary Heroes,’ produced by the PCRC and Pinch media.

The participants of the Festival enjoyed the interactive game “Behind the Wall” (Humanity in Action BiH), through which they learned more about peace and the legacy of war. Photo: Mitar Simikić

Velma Šarić, President and Founder of the PCRC, explained that ‘Ordinary Heroes’ are part of a multimedia program representing positive stories of moral courage from members of different ethnic groups who, in hard times, decided to truly embody human values.

“The war is over, but we are surrounded by people who are facing transgenerational transmission of trauma. Stories like these are what young people need to be surrounded by because if we heal ourselves, we will heal everything around us,” said Dženeta Fazlić from Sarajevo.

At the Festival, the film The Deepest Summit was screened, produced in co-production with Al Jazeera Balkans and MY TV. The ‘Ordinary Hero’ award was presented to Tomislav Cvitanušić, a Bosnian-Herzegovinian mountaineer who climbed Mount Everest. He spoke with young people about fundamental life values, strength, and energy that helped him climb the world’s highest mountain peak.

Tomislav Cvitanušić: Man on top of the world awarded Ordinary Hero award. Photo: Mitar Simikić

“For my generation, it’s too late, we cannot make many changes. The only hope is you. You are our future. You have the right to dream, no one can tell you otherwise. As long as you dream, you are alive, when you stop dreaming, I’m not sure what happens to you. With your work and your effort, everything is possible,” Cvitanušić conveyed.

The award ceremony marked the end of Peace Festival 2024, held with the support of the Embassy of Slovakia in BiH through the Slovak AID support program, the Embassy of Canada in Hungary, Slovenia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina through the Canadian Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI), and with the developmental grants from the PCRC. The Festival’s partners are Ethno Village Čardaci Vitez and Al Jazeera Balkans.

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