The tragic historical hotel still open and on Tripadvisor

The tragic historical hotel still open and on Tripadvisor

A hotel in Višegrad – that comes with mixed reviews on Tripadvisor – is at the centre of a strong historical controversy, after it was used for disturbing behaviour during its occupation by Serb paramilitary.

As reported in an in-depth profile of the place by The GuardianVilina Vlas spa hotel appears to have mixed reviews on Tripadvisor, and depending on what language you speak, it’s possible to miss the warnings of its history altogether. In fact, most reviews that are negative are only commenting on the cleanliness of the hotel.

But it’s dark history, not all the long ago in 1992, is one of murder, rape and torture of both men and women from the town, part of a Muslim genocide that the town now chooses to ignore and deny.

The bed frames tourists sleep on are the same ones on which dozens of women were attacked and raped, although the mattresses have been changed.

The lobby floor is still the same stone that back in 1992 was hosed down to clean off the blood. Meanwhile, the swimming pool that guests swim in was once used as a mass killing ground.

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The hotel also features on the tourist website for historic Višegrad town, and older editions of the only guidebook to Bosnia-Herzegovina by Bradt, per The Guardian.

“People who go there don’t know they are staying in beds where women were raped, and swimming in a pool in which people were executed,” Bakira Hasečić, a native of Višegrad who established and now runs the Association of Women Victims of War, told The Guardian.

Back in 1992, the Vilina Vlas hotel was overtaken and used as a headquarters by Milan Lukić, the horrific leader of the Serb paramilitary group the White Eagles. Today, from either murder or escape, the Muslim population has dropped from two thirds of the town to less than 10 per cent. The town itself has seen its overall population fall by more than half since 1992.

And whileMilan Lukić was eventually captured, and sentenced to life imprisonment for war crimes including murder, cruelty, persecution and other crimes against humanity, the hotel has been reopened and barely revamped, leaving tourists to stay in a place that was the scene of horrific crimes.

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According to The Guardian, the government has blocked calls for a memorial or a to pull Vilina Vlas down, instead pouring money into repaving the road to the hotel and starting work on an expansion to add a “luxury” floor.

Survivor of both sexual violence and the ethnic cleansing campaign that was partly operated from the spa, Hasečić, has been one of the strongest voices against the goals of forgetting the tragic past in Višegrad. Per The Guardian, she lived down the road from the spa and recalls hundreds of women being taken there to be raped.

“No one knows exact numbers – we think around 200 women were taken through, based on testimony from survivors,” she said.

At least one girl who Hasečić knew, Jasmina Ahmetspahic, committed suicide by jumping from a balcony, she revealed. Others who managed to escape or had Serbian friends to help get them out, were “some of the most traumatised people I had ever encountered”, claimed Dermot Groome, a professor at Penn State Dickinson Law University, US who led the prosecution of Lukić.

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