Magazine article The Christian Century

Balkan War Strikes Washington Community

Magazine article The Christian Century

Balkan War Strikes Washington Community

Article excerpt

In the violent nightmare that the former Yugoslavia has become, Dragan Ilic is just another faceless statistic - another possible victim of ethnic cleansing. But in the close-knit residential neighborhood around the U.S. capitol, Ilic's fate has become a tangible witness to the horror unfolding half a world away. His story is a cautionary tale for those who seek to reduce the complex religious, ethnic and political tangle in the Balkan states to a simple matter of good versus evil.

Ilic, 65, a retired banker, was forcibly taken from his apartment in Moster, Bosnia-Herzegovina, on March 1 by Croatian army officers. Ilic is a Serb - a Serb who believed in religious freedom and spent a year in prison under the communists for refusing to recant his religious beliefs. "There was no apparent reason for the abduction of Mr. Ilic, who was not politically active," said Arthur Keys, an ordained minister and a longtime Capitol Hill church lobbyist. He now heads a consulting firm, Keys and Associates, which specializes in humanitarian-assistance issues.

Ilic's daughter, Suzana Basaric-Ilic, fled Moster with her two daughters, Sanja, seven, and Vanja, three, in October 1991. The next April their Moster home was blown up. Finally, in August 1992, Suzana's husband, Miaden, was able to flee the country. Family members found themselves settled on Capitol Hill, where Miaden, an electronics technician, works in a local hardware store and Suzana, an accomplished flutist - first flutist for the Moster Symphony - often plays for local churches.

When word of Dragan Ilic's kidnapping spread through the well-connected Capitol Hill neighborhood, issues that had been abstract took on a human dimension. "Americans have a difficult time understanding the complicated histories, the conflicting religious and world views, the romantic moralistic declarations by self-appointed political leaders or the economic and geopolitical interests at stake in the former Yugoslavia," commented Keys, who is also Suzana's brother-in-law. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.