News 08 May 17

Bosnian Serbs Move Tuzla Attack Commemoration

The authorities in Bosnia’s Serb-dominated Republika Srpska said a commemoration of the 1992 killings of Yugoslav People’s Army troops will not be held in Tuzla this year, claiming it was unsafe.

Admir Muslimovic
The commemoration in Tuzla in 2016. Photo: BIRN.

The Republika Srpska government’s Board for Cherishing the Tradition of Liberation Wars announced on Monday that a ceremony commemorating an attack on a retreating Yugoslav People’s Army column in the Bosnian town of Tuzla on May 15, 1992 will not be held there this year for security reasons and because of the lack of a permanent memorial.

Instead the commemoration of the deaths of more than 50 Yugoslav troops who were killed by Bosnian forces will be held in the Serb-majority town of Bijeljina instead.

The decision to change venue follows a similar move by Republika Srpska last week, when a commemoration of the 1992 killings of Yugoslav People’s Army troops retreating from Sarajevo was shifted out of the capital for the same reasons.

Milenko Savanovic, the minister of labour and veterans’ affairs in Republika Srpska, said that the decision to hold the memorial outside Tuzla was also due to the fact that the Serb authorities were not allowed to install a memorial plaque to the killed troops at the spot where they died in the town.

“This decision has been made due to security reasons, as well as the fact that we are not allowed to mark the murder of the Yugoslav People’s Army members in compliance with Serbian customs, erect a memorial plaque with the names of the killed persons and hold a memorial service according to Christian tradition,” Savanovic said.

Local victims’ representatives, municipal officials and veterans’ associations will however lay flowers on the street in Tuzla where the attack happened.

Ilija Jurisic, a former police officer from Tuzla, was charged with issuing an order for the attack on the retreating Yugoslav People’s Army column.

Jurisic was sentenced in 2009 to 12 years in prison for committing a war crime.

According to the initial verdict, the Yugoslav People’s Army and Bosnian representatives agreed that the army could pull out of its barracks in Tuzla without being attacked, but the Bosnian side broke the deal and opened fire on the Yugoslav soldiers.

But six years later, the appeals court in Belgrade acquitted Jurisic of the charges due to a lack of evidence.

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