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The incredible story of a Bosnian concentration camp survivor

Updated: Sep 21, 2018

Ramiz Tiro lost 33kg in camps run by Croat forces, where he was tortured and forced to serve on the front lines.

Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina - When 67-year-old Ramiz Tiro was finally released from the concentration camps run by Croat forces during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1994, he felt like an animal.

Starved and dehydrated, he had lost 33kg. Having spent 262 days in "hell", as he described it, he had forgotten what it felt like to be treated as a human being.

"I thought I wouldn't make it out alive because you lose hope," Tiro told Al Jazeera.

"I was tortured so much; they made an animal out of me. There was psychological [torture], hunger, thirst, non-stop labour, working on the front line amid shootings; you didn't feel like you were going to survive and that there would ever be an end to this."

Ramiz Tiro describes his time in concentration camps run by Croat forces as 'hell' [Mersiha Gadzo/Al Jazeera]

It was under the leadership of the so-called Croat wartime statelet "Herceg-Bosna" and its military (HVO) that thousands of Bosnian Muslims (Bosniaks) were rounded up from their homes and transferred to a network of concentration camps where they were regularly abused - enduring severe beatings, psychological torture, hunger and thirst while others were shot dead.

Detainees were forced to carry out dangerous work on the front lines for the HVO - digging trenches, building forts and picking up dead bodies - and were forced to serve as human shields, as confirmed by the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia, (ICTY) in 2017.

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