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Photographer's Note

Pocitelj, a picturesque little town perched on a hillside above the Neretva River, south of Mostar. Until three summers ago, the people of Pocitelj - Muslims and Christians - had lived together for 500 years.

In August 1993, Croat warlord Mate Boban's troops blew up the ancient mosque, the Turkish baths, built in 1573, and the elegant houses built by eighteenth-century Muslim notables; then they rounded up the Muslim residents and marched them off to concentration camps. Please read Peter Mikuliak's account on ethnic cleansing of Pocitelj, written during his visit to Pocitelj in the summer of 1996.

Destroyed Islamic Sites of Pocitelj
Mosque of Hadzi Alija (built in 1562-63)
Sisman Ibrahim Pasa Han
Sisman Ibrahim Pasa Hamam
Gavran-Kapetanovica House

The medresa of Sisman Aga suffered only minor damage in the HVO assault and is currently used as a school again for the first time since Ottoman days. The students this time are refugee children of Bosnian Croat families from Kakanj in central Bosnia and now living in Pocitelj,where they don't want to be - they'd rather go home, but are now being used as political pawns by politicians.

After the town was "cleansed" of its Muslim population and Muslim civilians taken away to concentration camps, the Croatian Defense Union (HVO) militiamen placed a cross at the top of the ancient fortress, overlooking the town.

András Riedlmayer on Evliya Celebi's Account of Pocitelj:
The Turkish world traveler Evliya Celebi passed through Pocitelj in 1664; here are some translated excerpts from his travel account.

[About the town's principal mosque, built by Hadzi Alija in 1563]: "There is a tall cypress tree in its courtyard. This shining mosque was erected by a forebear of our lord Ibrahim Aga. Alongside the town walls, beside the water, his honored brother built a public kitchen (imaret) which distributes free bread and soup to needy inhabitants day and night. On Thursday evenings, it distributes spiced meat and savory and sweet rice dishes. The imaret will remain thus as long as it is the will of God ... In the town, there is an elementary school (mekteb). Later, our lord Ibrahim built a secondary theological school (medresa) and also sent craftsmen to build public baths (hammam) and an inn for travelers (han) ... The houses of the town are built one above the other, facing west towards the river. There is an abundance of walnut trees here. Since the climate is mild, fruit grows better here than in other towns." Evliya also mentions that Ibrahim built a clock tower whose bell "heavier and clearer than any other in Bosnia and Herzegovina" was, according to legend, brought from Crete. For many years the bell tolled the hours for Pocitelj and in calm weather could be heard in Capljina and Gabela, just as the voice of the muezzin from the Pocitelj minaret "resounded from the stone into the far distance."

The clock-tower's bell still tolled until 1917, when the Austrians, who had occupied Pocitelj since 1878, melted it down for bullets -- just a year before an armistice brought to an end both World War I and the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

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Additional Photos by Salvator Barki (salvator) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1633 W: 84 N: 2214] (19110)
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