Disunity haunts Srebrenica memorial

Srebrenica survivors and dignitaries from the international community are to commemorate the day – 10 years ago – when Bosnian Serb troops executed 8000 Muslim men and boys in a UN-designated safe-area.

A new Srebrenica mass grave was discovered only last week
A new Srebrenica mass grave was discovered only last week

And though 50,000 people are expected to attend Monday’s ceremony and bury the remains of 610 massacre victims, many in the Bosnian Serb and Muslim communities in and around Srebrenica still feel bitter towards each other.

About 1500 local police with helicopter support and European peacekeepers have been drafted in to maintain order in a largely unrepaired town which suffers 70% unemployment – almost double the national average. 

Last week, police removed more than 35kg of explosives near the town memorial where about 2000 identified victims have already been buried.

And on 8 July, a 73km memorial walk for survivors back to Srebrenica had to be rerouted when landmines were found on numerous forest paths.

Serb recognition?

Despite a first expression of remorse from Serbian President Boris Tadic, who announced on Sunday he would “bow to the innocent victims”, many Serb officials do not welcome commemoration, denying any atrocity took place.

In charge of local government in the Serbian district of Vojvodina, Radical Party leader Tomislav Nikolic threatened an international music festival with closure if it went ahead with plans for a minute’s silence and a message of peace.

“If this event, which serves for young people to pass the time, dance and socialise … turns into any kind of political provocation, then there will be no Exit [music festival] next year,” Nikolic told local media in the regional capital, Novi Sad.

But Aljazeera.net learned that the event’s organiser refused to back down and marked the 10th anniversary at midnight on Monday.


Exit general manager Bojan Boskovic confirmed that plans to point out war crimes of the past decade had gone ahead.

“This isn’t just about commemorating Srebrenica only, but about remembering Srebrenica among a heap of war crimes which were committed against Serbs and Croatians and Bosnians and Albanians and everyone else.

Relatives must wait for most mass
grave remains to be identified

“It’s about this being one minute for peace and I don’t want what we are doing to be politicised,” he said.

However, Serb villagers from Kravica, just a few kilometres northwest of Srebrenica, told Christian Science journalist Beth Kampschror that their victims had been forgotten because of the focus on the 10th anniversary.

Kampschror quoted one villager, Goran Gataric, as saying: “Srebrenica, Srebrenica, Srebrenica – we have had it up to here.”

Mass graves

Denial of what happened in Srebrenica on 11 July 1995 has allowed the former Bosnian Serb leader, Radovan Karadzic, and army commander General Radko Mladic to avoid arrest. Both have been indicted for genocide.

Recent reports have placed both of them in Serbia, out of the jurisdiction of the 250 Nato soldiers or the 7500 EU peacekeepers in Bosnia, although Nato troops arrested Karadzic’s son Alexandar on suspicion of his being in contact with the former leader.

Meanwhile, 1300 bodies recovered from mass graves have been laid to rest after being identified through DNA testing. But more than 4500 body bags full of human remains still need to be analysed.

On Sunday, the Bosnian government announced a new mass grave, believed to contain more bodies of people killed in the massacre, had been found.

Thirty bodies have already been recovered from the grave, which is said to contain hundreds more.

Source : Al Jazeera, News Agencies

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