news 09 Jan 14

Bosnian Serbs Mark Anniversary Amid War Allegations

Bosnia’s Serb-led entity Republika Srpska celebrated its 22nd anniversary, angering victims’ groups that claim it was created through ethnic cleansing and killings during the 1990s conflict.

Elvira M. Jukic
BIRN
Sarajevo
Ceremony in Banja Luka. Photo: RS Presidency

Republika Srpska marked the anniversary of its foundation in 1992 on Thursday with a series of high-profile events attended by top Serbian politicians and clergy as well as local officials.

Addressing an official reception to mark the occasion in Banja Luka, the entity’s President Milorad Dodik said that Republika Srpska intended to strengthen its autonomy and in time achieve independence.

He said that the entity was created because Serbs wished to live on their own territory, proud and equal with other peoples.

“We are a state-building nation, which does not build a state for the sake of a state, but as a guarantee of freedom and development,” Dodik said.

“That’s how, based on domestic and international law, Republika Srpska was created,” he added.

Serbia’s Foreign Minister Ivan Mrkic, Justice Minister Nikola Selakovic and Energy Minister Zorana Mihajlovic also attended the event, while Serbian Patriarch Irinej led a liturgy for Republika Srpska’s patron saint Archdeacon Stefan at the Orthodox church in Banja Luka.

But critics argued that the celebrations were shameful because of the war crimes that were committed in Republika Srpska during the 1992-95 conflict.

The head of the Society for Threatened Peoples in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Fadila Memisevic, pointed out that several soldiers and policemen from the entity had been found guilty of perpetrating atrocities including genocide.

Memsevic also noted that Republika Srpska’s first president, Radovan Karadzic, is currently on trial at the Hague Tribunal, “charged with mass murders, expulsions, rapes, deportations to concentration camps, with the burning of villages and the demolition of towns and finally the greatest crime in Europe after WWII, the genocide in Srebrenica”.

Postcard campaign targeting Republika Srpska officials.

The anniversary celebrations have also been criticised by war victims’ groups who sent postcards with pictures of corpses exhumed from a recently-discovered mass grave to Republika Srpska officials this week.

The message on the postcards alongside the photograph of the human remains read: “If you are marking the Day of Republika Srpska, don’t forget that these are its foundations.”

The Republic of the Serbian People of Bosnia and Herzegovina was proclaimed on January 9, 1992. It was later renamed Republika Srpska.

The entity’s existence was confirmed by the Dayton accords in 1995, which ended the Bosnian war.

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