Bosnia remembers: Empty chairs laid out in Sarajevo in memory of 11,541 killed 20 years after bloody conflict began
* Chair laid out for every man, woman and child killed in conflict
* Sarajevo siege went on for 44 MONTHS
Empty chairs were laid out in Sarajevo today in honour of the 11,541 people killed in the city during the Bosnian war which began exactly 20 years ago.
The seats - lined up along the city's main street - were left empty in memory of the victims of the 44-month Serb siege of the city.
Hundreds of the chairs are small representing the children slain in the conflict.
Bosnia remembers: 11,541 red chairs are pictured along Titova street in Sarajevo as the city marks the 20th anniversary of the start of the Bosnian war, April 6, 2012
A city in grief: The chairs are arranged in 825 rows and look like a red river running through the city. Special small chairs have been laid out for the children who died in the conflict
Exhibitions, concerts and performances are being held across the city today two decades after the conflict began on April 6, 1992.
'This city needs to stop for a moment and pay tribute to its killed citizens,' said Haris Pasovic, organizer of the 'Sarajevo Red Line.'
The Serb siege of Sarajevo went on for - 11,825 days - longer than the World War II siege of Leningrad, now St. Petersburg.
Its 380,000 people were left without electricity, water or heat, hiding from the 330 shells a day that smashed into the city.
Exactly 20 years ago today some 40,000 people from all over the country - Muslim Bosniaks, Christian Orthodox Serbs and Catholic Croats - poured into the square to demand peace from their quarreling nationalist politicians.
Grieving for the dead: Bouquets of flowers are laid out on some of the chairs in the centre of Sarajevo today - 20 years after the start of a 44-month siege
City united: Exhibitions, concerts and performances are being held across the city today two decades after the conflict began on April 6, 1992
Destruction: The frontline in Bosnia was here on the mountain Trebevic. Bosnian Serb forces fired shells from this position (file photo)
The European Community had recognised the former Yugoslav republic of Bosnia as an independent state after most of its people voted for independence.
But the people voted along ethnic lines, with Bosniaks and Croats voting for independence, and Bosnian Serbs preferring to stay with Serb-dominated Yugoslavia.
The ethnic unity being displayed on the Sarajevo square irritated Serb nationalists, who then shot into the crowd from a nearby hotel, killing five people and igniting the 1992-1995 war.
The Serb nationalists, helped by neighboring Serbia, laid siege to Sarajevo and within a few months occupied 70 percent of Bosnia, expelling all non-Serbs from territory they controlled.
Meanwhile Bosniaks and Croats - who started off as allies - turned against each other, so all three groups ended up fighting a war that took over 100,000 lives, made half of the population homeless and left the once-ethnically mixed country devastated and divided into mono-ethnic enclaves.
Grim: A young boy peers through the snow covered windshield as he's grandfather tries to start their car that stopped on the infamous sniper alley in Sarajevo on November 18, 1995
Civil war: A man walks on the so-called 'sniper alley' in Sarajevo after buying a can of oil donated by the European Community
A 1995 peace agreement brokered by the United States ended the shooting but its compromises left the nation ethnically divided into two ministates - one for Serbs, the other shared by Bosniaks and Croats - linked by a central government.
The result is a bureaucratic monstrosity: Bosnia has three rotating presidents at the state level and each ministate has its own president - that's five presidents in all.
There are 13 prime ministers in total, over 130 ministers, more than 760 lawmakers and 148 municipalities.
Not only does this cost the impoverished nation of 3.5 million over 50 percent of its annual GDP but it leads to endless bickering between institutions.
Brussels insists Bosnia must be more centralised but that goes against Serbs' desire to maintain their autonomy.
Bogdan Vukadin was one of those Serb soldiers firing from the mountains on Sarajevo during the war.
'We did not fight this war for nothing,' he says. 'We have our Serb Republic, we have our government, we have our president, we have our own institutions.'
Ethnic mistrust or economic differences between the mini-states are keeping the groups in Bosnia separated.
Pock-marked: The Marijin Dvor square in Sarajevo is seen through a 20 year old shrapnel hole in a building currently under renovation
A sign 'for sale' is placed onto a war damaged house in an abandoned village by the main road near the town of Derventa March 27, 2007
Children in school are learning three different version of history, calling their common language by three different names - Serbian, Bosnian and Croatian - and are growing isolated from each other in monoethnic enclaves.
Foreign investors - the only hope for the country's economy - are avoiding Bosnia for its political instability and its enormous bureaucracy.
The pressure to join the EU has united some of the country's institutions. Bosnia now has a common currency, a central bank, its two ministate police forces are run by a joint ministry.
There is a state court, border police on state level and even a joint army - melded from the three that once fought each other.
Now those same soldiers from all three armies are united, protesting together over a lack of retirement pay and jobs in the same central Sarajevo square.
Dressed in old uniforms, exhausted and unshaved, Serbs, Bosniaks and Croats sleep and eat at this doomed square, occasionally shouting up to nearby government offices 'Thieves, thieves!'
The former soldiers say they are here to defend Bosnia from lying politicians. Many of them were only 17 in 1992 when the ethnically mixed crowd gathered to demand peace but was cheated.
'We will be here together till the end, demanding our rights,' said Milomir Saric, a Bosnian Serb veteran.
Remembered: A Bosnian Muslim woman walks near a banner with the number 11,541, to symbolise red chairs, along Titova street in Sarajevo as the city marks the 20th anniversary of the start of the Bosnian war
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