News 11 Jul 15

Candle-Lit Srebrenica Memorial Held in Belgrade

After the Serbian interior ministry banned rallies on the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacres, around 200 Belgraders gathered to light candles in memory of the victims.

Marija Ristic BIRN Belgrade
Photo by BETA/AP

The candes were placed next to numbers representing the Bosniaks killed by Bosnian Serb forces.

They held the improvised memorial after interior minister Nebojsa Stefanovic decided to ban all public gatherings in Belgrade on the 20th anniversary of Srebrenica on Saturday, citing security risks after right-wingers said they would protest.

Stefanovic said he had to take action to “guarantee peace and security”.

Activists seeking to mourn the Srebrenica victims had planned an event on Saturday called #sedamhiljada, aiming to symbolically gather 7,000 people – representing the approximate number of deaths 20 years ago – outside the parliament building in Belgrade.

But far-right organisations Dveri and Zavetnici, as well as members of the nationalist Serbian Radical Party, announced that they would hold gatherings at the same time.

The nationalist organisations, led by Serbian Radical Party chief Vojislav Seselj, who is on trial for war crimes, also arrived at the presidency on Friday evening, chanting nationalist songs and carrying banners with the slogan “Stop lying about Srebrenica”.

A large number of police officers were deployed to stop the far right activists approaching the mourners.

Shortly after midnight, police escorted both groups away, while city cleaning service workers removed the candles.

Stefanovic also warned on Friday that there were security threats to Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, who said he would attend the anniversary commemoration in Srebrenica.

“We expect a larger number of extremists out there, some are already present and some will arrive in Srebrenica tomorrow,” he said.

But Vucic said on Friday that he would go anyway.

“Safety assessments never interested me,” said Vucic.

Photo by BETA/AP
Photo by BETA/AP
Photo by BETA/AP

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