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Bosnians and Iraqis on freedom and remembrance

In cooperation with the National Committee 4 and 5 May, the BMP Foundation conducted a study in 2020 on how Bosnians and Iraqis in the Netherlands experience freedom, unfreedom and commemoration. Forty Bosnians and Iraqis who fled to the Netherlands in the 1990s concluded that we must continue to work on freedom. A publication that is still relevant and urgent, also partly due to the war in Ukraine.


Great involvement in 4 May

Interviews with both Bosnians and Iraqis have shown that they find it extraordinary that all victims of the Second World War are remembered at the same time in the Netherlands.  The Bosnians in particular miss a national culture of commemoration and one day of remembrance to remember all the victims. Just like many Bosnians, the interviewed Iraqis feel involved in the 4th of May and at the same time they find it painful because it reminds them of all the suffering and victims in their own country. Many interviewees also indicated that Liberation Day (5 May) is difficult because you celebrate freedom, while you know that there are so many people living in unfreedom, both in Iraq and in other countries. 


The importance of personal story telling

The interviewees also say that their own stories can help make other people aware of the importance of freedom. The idea is also born to gradually broaden the commemoration and celebration and to look for stories that are more in line with the experiences of young people. Telling personal stories can help them understand what it means to be at war, but it can also be important for the people who tell it to come to terms with it. It also fits in nicely with this year’s theme ‘Freedom in Unity’. Another motive for telling these stories is that people should be aware that what happened in the Second World War could happen again.


Reason for research

The aim of the research was to gain insight, based on personal stories, into the meaning of the concepts of freedom and unfreedom for Bosnians and Iraqis, into their experiences with commemoration, and into their images of the future. The conclusions of the study are intended to contribute to thinking about the future of commemorating war victims and celebrating liberation and freedom in the Netherlands.



The full publication can be downloaded here or go directly to Issuu for a magazine version.