Emir Bektic was 16 years old when the Srebrenica massacre began on July 11, 1995.
Over the course of a few days, 8,000 Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) men and boys were killed and thousands of women were raped by Bosnian Serb military forces.
“It was a very painful period to have to listen to all of the things they were telling us and … their only dilemma was whether to kill us there or to slaughter us down below in that stream we passed,” Bektic told Al Jazeera. “For me, as a boy, I was scared.”
The Srebrenica genocide came after a nearly four-year war between Bosnia’s Serbs, Bosniaks and Croats.
While trying to escape, Bektic and his family had to split up. He and his father were captured by soldiers.
Bektic said he knew those would be their final moments together.
“I laid down on his lap and he hugged me, and that is the last moment that I remember from that night,” he recalled. “In the morning, I was awakened by the sun rays that were breaking through the treetops. I found myself leaning against a beech tree and I was alone.”
He shouted and searched for his father but to no avail: “I lost my father, he was killed that night. They found his remains in 2011 in Zvornicka Kamenica and he was buried in the Memorial Center in Potocari.”
The remains of Emir’s father and those of his relatives were found in the years following the genocide.
He wrote a book of his testimony, When You Wake Up Alone, to serve as a reminder to never forget Srebrenica.
This video was produced and edited by Al Jazeera NewsFeed’s Seena Khalil.
The footage was filmed by Jasmin Omerspahic.
The interview was translated into English by Alma Milisic.