13TH ANNIVERSARY OF SREBRENICA GENOCIDE
“We call upon the European Parliament to pronounce this day a day of mourning in Europe, to organise commemoration ceremonies in Europe and to send a message that another holocaust, and another genocide will never happen again.” – Reis Mustafa Ceric
“I know it is unlikely after this time I will find them but every time I hear of a new grave I hope that at last my soul can rest. Many bodies were burned or thrown in the river.” – Sabaheta Fejzic.
PHOTO CAPTION: Munira Subasic lost 22 members of her family when Bosnian Serbs overran Srebrenica. More than eight thousand men, children, and elderly were rounded up, stripped of their identification papers and then slaughtered.
During the 1992-95 Bosnian war, the United Nations declared Srebrenica — which had been besieged by Serb forces throughout the war — a U.N.-protected safe area for civilians. However, the area was constantly attacked by Serbs from surrounding villages around Srebrenica. Thousands of Bosniaks flocked into the enclave for protection.
A film entitled “The Women of Srebrenica Speak” by Milica Tomić was screened yesterday. The commemoration was not attended by any senior Bosnian Serb officials.
This year, more than 2,000 people joined the Peace March on a four day long walk to Srebrenica in a march to commemorate the 13th anniversary of the genocide in the former eastern Bosniak enclave during the 1992-95 war in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The March started from the village of Sapna, near the eastern Bosnian Serb town of Zvornik, and ended in front of the Srebrenica Genocide Memorial Memorial in Potocari on Friday, July 11, the actual day of the anniversary.
PHOTO CAPTION: Bosniak men carried Bosnia-Herzegovina state flag and Bosnian historic flag (white) at a start point of a four-day march to the Srebrenica, in the village of Nezuk near Zvornik. A four-day march is held along the route survivors used 13 years ago to escape the Bosnian Serb killings in Srebrenica, the worst massacre in Europe since World War II.
“I would like to ask all Serbian mothers and all Serbs whose hands have not been stained with blood to stand by those innocent people and denounce the perpetrators.”
“I would like to ask the Serbian authorities to stop hiding the criminals, and the Serbian youth not to listen to them, to come to Srebrenica, to see. I do not teach my children to hate, but to see people as they are, not to ask them their name, names are not important.”
“I do not consider myself personally responsible for what happened,” said Rob Zomer, 35, one of the former soldiers. “I did what I could.”
His colleague Johan de Jonge, 40, said July 1995 has changed his life: he has become aggressive, and suffers nightmares and insomnia.
“In 1905 George Santayana wrote that: ‘Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it,'” – said Lajcak, the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina/EU Special Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“Today we are gathered here not only to pay our respects to the families who are burying their loved ones, but also to remember the past in the hope we will never again have to repeat it. I say “we” because genocide is the worst crime against humanity, and a crime against humanity is a crime against all of us… The first requirement of justice is to find and punish all of those who were involved in the genocide.”
“I know it is unlikely after this time I will find them but every time I hear of a new grave I hope that at last my soul can rest. Many bodies were burned or thrown in the river. But for some families this place means that their nightmare is over. One day it may be so for me,” – said Sabaheta Fejzic who lost her son, her husband, and her father.
“They killed him in one spot and then mutilated his body. It was a crime on top of a crime. When they find his head I shall finally be able to lay him to rest and I will have a place to lay a rose,” – said Zumra Sehomerovic,remembering her husband.
At Friday’s ceremony, survivors and victims’ relatives were joined by diplomats and local leaders led by the Croat and Muslim members of Bosnia’s tripartite presidency — Zeljko Komsic and Haris Silajdzic.
“We are still fighting to prove to the world what has happened here while those who are the most responsible for the crime are being rewarded with freedom,” said Munira Subasic, head of an association of Srebrenica mothers.
“It was so hard when they informed me that my father has been identified,” said Mehmedovic, who added however that she was “glad that his soul will finally find peace,” – said Vanesa Mehmedovic as she watched on as remains of her father were simultaneously laid in graves along with the 307 other victims.
Zina Huremovic, 49, was pregnant the last time she saw her husband, Izet, before she escaped the besieged town in 1993. She searched for Izet ever since, even leaving a drop of her son’s blood at the DNA lab. Last year she was notified that Izet’s body had been excavated and identified.
“I was waiting for all these years — looked at his picture and hoped he would come back,” her son, Ermin, now 15, said as his mother sobbed in his arms. “Today I am burying my hope with him,” the boy said. “That’s why I will never forget or forgive.”
The highest World Courts, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), as well as the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) have ruled that the massacre in Srebrenica was genocide. Former Secretary General Kofi Annan described it as the darkest page in U.N. history.
Bosnian Serb General Ratko Mladic and the political leader of Bosnian Serbs Radovan Karadzic have both been indicted for genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of the laws or customs of war at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.
If you would like to learn more about Srebrenica Genocide, please consult our Questions and Answers.
Srebrenica genocide is not a matter of anybody’s opinion; it’s a judicial fact recognized first by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and subsequently by the International Court of Justice.
MAY VICTIMS’ SOULS REST IN PEACE…
PHOTO CAPTION: A Bosniak woman cries surrounded by coffins containing the remains of her family members inside the Potocari memorial cemetery July 10, 2008, a day before a funeral ceremony to commemorate the 1995 Srebrenica massacre. The Bosnian Serb forces slaughtered some 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys after the former United Nations “safe zone” fell into their hands in 1995. Newly identified victims are buried each year by their families after their bodies are dug out of mass graves.