Saturday, 11 July 2009

Srebrenica

Today is the 14th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre, where they are still working on covering and identifying the bodies of the victims. There will be a burial ceremony of the 534 newly discovered victims in commemoration.

From France 24:

"Tens of thousands of Muslims are expected in the eastern town to attend a commemoration and burial ceremony for 534 newly identified victims.

The remains of the victims, aged between 14 and 72, were in most cases found in secondary graves, where they had been moved from initial burial sites in an attempt by Serbs to cover up war crimes.

The massacre of some 8,000 Muslim men and boys killed by Serb forces after they captured the UN-protected enclave on July 11, 1995 is to be commemorated for the first time across Europe, but not in ethnically divided Bosnia itself.

The European Parliament in January proclaimed the date a day of commemoration of the Srebrenica genocide, calling on countries across the continent to support the move."


The massacre won't be commemorated across Bosnia and Herzegovina: Serb deputies have blocked an attempt in the Bosnian parliament to declare 11th of July a Remembrance Day in BiH, and Bosnian Serb authorities have condemned the EP resolution.

The man who led the Bosnian Serbs during the war, Radovan Karadic, is awaiting trial before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). The UN Security Council has extended the mandates of the ICTY judges to continue their work, and the work of the ICTY looks to be a long way from completion, with 2 fugitives still at large: Ratko Mladić and Goran Hadžić. Ratko Mladić was the Bosnian Serb military leader at the time of the massacre, and is charged with direct involvement in what happened.

The OHR and Special Representative for the EU to Bosnia and Herzegovina has made a speech at Srebrenica; here's an excerpt:

"...we must do everything in our power to build in Bosnia and Herzegovina a society that can uphold the law, that can protect its citizens, that can ensure their physical safety, their freedom, their dignity and their fundamental rights. A just society. Part of that effort includes communicating clearly and accurately the nature and scale of crimes that were committed during the 1992-95 conflict.

You know that in January 2009 the European Parliament adopted a Resolution calling on all citizens, members of the European Union and Western Balkan countries to mark July 11 as a day of remembrance of the genocide committed in Srebrenica. It is important to understand the nature of this resolution – it does not call on citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina to remember the genocide, but it calls on ALL Europeans to observe this day. This is not something only for those who were bereaved. Every right-thinking person will contemplate with horror and profound sorrow the terrible crime that was committed here. That is why today is a day of mourning not just for the people of Srebrenica but for all the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina and all the people of Europe and the world.

No one must be allowed to deny or belittle the suffering of victims and their families, and no one must be allowed to misuse the memory of that suffering for their own political ends. There are still some who have failed to understand the terrible moral and human calamity that war crimes represent. In that lack of understanding are the seeds of fostering hatred in future generations. Everything must be done to prevent this hatred from perpetuating itself. It is our commitment to educate and inform. Peace is built upon true information, on justice, and justice is built upon truth.

The most fitting memorial to those, who we have gathered here to remember and honour, is a Bosnia and Herzegovina that guarantees the dignity of its inhabitants."


It is hard not to feel shock and anger at what had happened; I am very lucky to have grown up in a society which, though divided, never reached the level of killing that the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina had to endure, but it serves as one of the world's - unfortunately many - reminders of what evil can easily happen if we put one identity or idea above our common humanity.

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