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'Death in the White House' Author Inspires Monument

‘Death in the White House’ author Mirsad Causevic who survived the Horrors the detention camp Omarska has started an initiative to construct a monument in the camp’s neighbouring town Prijedor, Bosnia and Herzegovina. A commemoration of the 3,176 victims that came from the area that aims to recognise and acknowledge their suffering, Causevic explains, “I want to speak to all the relevant institutions, political organizations, and government representatives in BiH, who might have at least some influence on setting up a monument on the place where it belongs, in Prijedor. It is about time to pay the tribute to victims of Prijedor, as well as of all the other cities, and to allow the construction of monument for innocent civil victims regardless of their religion. If we do not build it, then it is like these 3,176 victims from Prijedor never existed” (Causevic 2018).

Causevic’s, biographical book, ‘Death in the White House’ published in 2018 recounting the impossible conditions in the camp and brutal context of the civil war 1992-95. The White House is physical manifestation of Arendt’s ‘Banality of Evil’. A banal unpleasant and worn white structure, part of a complex ran by the Serb military called Omarska camp[1] assembled near the town of Prijedor and named after the iron mine and ore processing plant within which it was situated. The Omarska camp was part of a wider network of investigation and detention centres for Muslim and Croat internees throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina during the war.

Omarska had only a few structures, a canteen, a huge steel hanger that housed the thousands of male and female prisoners and the white house, a small single-story building with five small rooms - an average looking, iron mine utility building and yet it witnessed the most horrific acts of violence. Murder, torture, rape, and abuse of prisoners was common place and the majority would take place in and around the white house. Approximately 6,000 Bosniaks and Croats were held in appalling conditions at Omarska for about five months in the spring and summer of 1992, including 37 women. Hundreds died of starvation, punishment, beatings, ill-treatment and executions (Čaušević, 2017), Vulliamy recounts that, “[f]rom that once-crammed hangar, men were called for barbaric execution. In that White House, they were slaughtered by the hundred and above that canteen, women were serially raped. On an L-shaped strip of concrete land in between, an orgy of killing and torture was unleashed” (Vulliamy, 2004).

[1] Omarska Camp was later classified as a concentration camp by Human Rights Watch

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