SABRINA ANA PERIĆ
During the war in Bosnia in the early 1990s, between 3000 and 5000 people were imprisoned in the Omarska concentration camp, situated on the site of a large iron mine. This iron mine was transformed by its own labourers into a concentration camp; instead of producing ore, labourers used workplace knowledge and practices to concentrate people, create primary and secondary mass graves, and participate in torture and killing on the basis of ethnic identification.
After the war, the iron mine was bought by the world's largest steel manufacturing corporation, Arcelor Mittal. (AM). AM did not allow Omarska's former prisoners, or the families of Omarska's victims to visit the site, or to hold commemorations on the land where countless atrocities occured. In fact, Omarska's workers continued extracting iron ore despite the requests of local families to look for mass graves on the mine site.
In August 2010, Arcelor Mittal finally allowed for an Omarska camp commemoration to be organized on its grounds. These images below represent survivors', families' and supporters' first encounter with the space of the mine/camp since the end of the war in 1995. The day included formal and informal commemorations, all conducted outside of the White House, the infamous building on the mine site where prisoners were held, tortured and killed. The living who came to commemorate the dead were limited as to where they could go. Our bodies were guided by caution tape and the incessant warnings of hired private security guards who warned us about off limits areas. These spaces were described as potenitally dangerous to visitors unfamiliar with mining tools and machinery. The incongruency of suffering families and corporate images of worker safety dominated the space of commemoration. Earth movers and other machines were cordoned off from the gathering public - as if machines alone were dangerous to people. This story of extraction reminds us that extractive activity creates our moral worlds.
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