Sunday, July 11 marked the 15th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide. In marked contrast to the reconciliation and nation building that we saw last year in Rwanda, the anniversary in Srebrenica was marked by funerals and yet more denials.
Link: Bosnians mark Srebrenica genocide with 775 victims [World Bulletin]
“Hundreds of thousands Bosnians gathered in Sarajevo, commemorating the victims of Srebrenica massacre, the Europe’s worst genocide after WWII as trucks loaded with the remains of 775 newly identified victims of the Srebrenica massacre left the morgue there to head for the ill-fated eastern town.
The Bosnians gathered near Sarajevo carrying the victims, whose remains were found in numerous mass graves scattered around eastern Bosnia, will be reburied at a memorial cemetery near Srebrenica on Sunday, on the 15th anniversary of the massacre” - World Bulletin
To date, 6,186 of the victims have been identified but close to 8,100 remains have been found. It is estimated that the grand majority of those men and boys were killed on one evening: 11 July 1995. Bodies are often not intact as the Serbs dug up the bodies and moved them in an effort to conceal the massacre.
Link: 15th Anniversary of Srebrenica Genocide [US Dept of State]
World leaders from around the globe recognised the anniversary and offered their condolences. In the link above, Hillary Rodham Clinton recognised the need to rebuild the nation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“A prosperous, free, and unified Bosnia and Herzegovina is the most worthy monument to those who lost their lives at Srebrenica and the best guarantee against such a tragedy ever repeating itself” - Hillary Rodham Clinton
Link: Commemoration of Srebrenica Massacre [UN]
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon spoke at a ceremony commemorating the massacre in new York on Monday.
“We recognize the burden of families and loved ones who carry the memories and pain with each step. And, we vow, together, never again to allow such an atrocity to happen at any time, in any place. This we owe to the souls of Srebrenica. This we owe to our common humanity.
This is a day to remember the horror of Srebrenica. But it is also a time to reassert the power of tolerance and understanding. All Bosnians, and indeed, all of the people of that part of the Balkans, must re-engage with one other on the basis of mutual respect and trust.
Fifteen years have passed. The region has made progress. I am particularly heartened by recent efforts to further smooth the path towards reconciliation. But there is still a long way to go” - Ban Ki-moon.
Amidst calls for understanding and reconciliation, nation building and peace making, there were still Bosnian Serbs denying what had happened and a ceremony to honour their genocidal leader.
A ceremony was held last Saturday to mark the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Serb Democratic Party. The leader Mladen Bosić honoured its founder Radovan Karadžić who is on trial at the ICTY for war crimes and genocide. To honour this man at this time is beyond insensitive and an obvious attempt at inciting hatred and hurt. One of the crimes that he stands accused of is the Srebrenica genocide itself.
The Prime Minister of Republika Srpska spoke on Monday and denied that the events at Srebrenica constituted a genocide. Milorad Dodik spoke at an event remembering the estimated 3,500 Serbians killed in the war, many of them soldiers. Dodik expressed bitterness that the deaths of these soldiers are not remembered in the same way as the victims of the genocide. I think it is insulting and disgusting to contrast the deaths of those killed in combat against that of 8,000 men and boys who were rounded up and executed. The crime did not end there either as the campaign of ethnic cleansing increased to include the repeated rape of the remaining women and girls.