Exhumations team discovers fragments of the Aladža mosque in Foča
The Commission to Preserve National Monuments has learned from the media that the exhumations team looking for the remains of victims of the recent war close to the prison in Foča has found fragments believed to belong to the Aladža mosque, which was destroyed during the war.
At its 15th session, held from 6 to 10 July 2004, the Commission to Preserve National Monuments adopted a decision designating the site and remains of the architectural ensemble of the Aladža mosque in Foča as a national monument.
Pursuant to the provisions of Article V of Annex 8 of the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Law on the Implementation of Decisions of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments (Official Gazette of Republika Srpska no. 9/02), and the Decision of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments, all parties are required to refrain from any action that might damage the National Monument or jeopardize the preservation and rehabilitation thereof.
The Commission to Preserve National Monuments therefore wrote to the State Commission on Missing Persons to request that members of staff of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments be permitted to examine the remains of the Aladža mosque that had been found so that appropriate steps might be taken to protect them, and further requesting that in the event that other fragments of destroyed cultural or historical heritage are found, the Commission be notified so as to take appropriate steps to protect them in a way that would not impede the work of the State Commission on Missing Persons.
The remains of the national monument will be transferred to the National Museum in Sarajevo for safekeeping until they can be rebuilt into the rehabilitated Aladža mosque.
Report on official visit to Foča / Srbinje on 25. 08. 2004.
- Parts of a portico
Site 2 - Fragments of the mihrab
At the request of the State Commission on Missing Persons, on 25. 08. 2004 members of the Secretariat of the Commission to Preserve National Monuments examined the site of a possible mass grave close to the iron bridge over the river Drina in Foča/Srbinje, where fragments of a religious building had been found in the course of searching for the remains of missing persons.
The findings of the members of the Secretariat during their visit to the site were:
- Pieces of stone and wood were found on a site assumed to be the mass grave of Bosniacs who had been held prisoner in the prison in Foča and then killed
- The pieces were found on two sites
- The first site (L1) is 200 metres to the south of the iron bridge over the river Drina
- The entire site is covered by thick layers of soil, rubble and waste, and covers an area of approx. 800 m2
- The pieces found are parts of a portico – a moulded cornice and pieces of columns – and belong to the Aladža mosque, the only one in Foča to have stone columns
- The remaining pieces can be made out below the surface of the soil on the slope down towards the river Drina
- According to the Commission's representatives, most of the pieces are covered with soil to the south-south-east of the place where the above pieces were found
- The other site (L2) is 300 metres to the north of the iron bridge over the river Drina, about 500 metres from site (L1)
- While searching for bodies, a number of trial trenches were dug, in each of which quantities of stone and timber (tie beams) were found
- These pieces are at a depth of about 7 metres, and are covered over with large quantities of soil, medical waste from the nearby hospital, plastic bags and other kinds of garbage
- On the basis of the pieces discovered (parts of the mihrab and entrance portal), and to judge from the type of decoration, quality of workmanship, and type and quality of the coats of paint, they can confidently be said to be remains of the Aladža mosque
- Since the mosque was destroyed by explosives, not set on fire, there are no signs of fire on the wooden pieces visible in situ
- A large quantity of pieces from the minaret – the šerefe, rings and parapet – were also observed
- The remaining pieces are buried over an area of approx. 1000 m2
- The river Drina was running high, as a result of which it was not possible to examine site L2, which is right beside the river and where there are also some fragments.
A meeting was held at the same time with the Mufti of Goražde, during which he was informed of the activities the Commission plans to carry out in the near future. The Secretariat of the Commission was keen to meet the Mayor of Foča Municipality, but no meeting took place because the Mayor had prior engagements.
||Site 2- Fragments of the turbe|
The following conclusions may be drawn from the above.
- Sites L1 and L2 should be fenced off to secure them physically, and work should begin as a matter of urgency on excavating the fragments
- The Government of the Entity of RS should be notified of this and requested to provide funds for this work and subsequent protection
- The entire site on which the Aladža mosque formerly stood should be securely fenced off (a solid sheet-steel barrier with a minimum height of 2.00 metres) and a lean-to building should be erected on the site where the pieces found can be deposited, recorded and sorted, with round-the-clock physical security provided for the site.
Map of the Foča region with the sites marked where the fragments were found
Meeting with Sulejman Tihić, President of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Protection of recently-discovered fragments of the Aladža mosque in Foča / 02.09.2004.