News 27 Jun 17

Bosnian Serbs Plan Russian Memorial in Srebrenica

A Bosnian Serb organisation sparked anger by announcing it will install a memorial in Srebrenica to the former Russian ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, who vetoed a Srebrenica genocide resolution.

Danijel Kovacevic
BIRN
Banja Luka
Vitaly Churkin, the Russian Federation's former ambassador to the UN. Photo: UN Photo/Evan Schneider.

The Bosnian Serb-run Eastern Alternative association said it will install a memorial to Vitaly Churkin on July 8 in the town park in Srebrenica in gratitude for his blocking of the UN Security Council resolution on Srebrenica two years ago.

Vojin Pavlovic, the president of Eastern Alternative, told BIRN that the memorial had already been prepared, and that under Churkin’s name, it would say in Russian: “Thank you for the Russian NO.”

“This is our modest sign of gratitude to Russia for principled politics, support for the truth about the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the protection of [Bosnia’s Serb-dominated entity] Republika Srpska, as well as for the brave Russian ambassador Vitaly Churkin, who vetoed the embarrassing resolution,” Pavlovic said.

Churkin, who died in February, was the Russian envoy in the peace negotiations during the conflict in the former Yugoslavia from 1992 to 1994.

In 2015, he vetoed a British-drafted Security Council resolution that would have condemned the Srebrenica massacres as genocide.

The resolution was intended to mark the 20th anniversary of the killing of some 8,000 Bosniak men and boys by Republika Srpska’s forces.

China, Nigeria, Angola, and Venezuela abstained and the remaining 10 members of the Security Council voted in favour.

Churkin said the resolution was “not constructive, confrontational and politically motivated”.

It is not yet known whether Eastern Alternative can legally install the monument, however.

Pavlovic said that a request was filed to the local authorities in February, but no permission has been granted yet, although he added that Eastern Alternative interprets the silence of the Srebrenica administration as a sign of approval.

The unveiling of the memorial is scheduled to take place just three days before July 11, the 22nd anniversary of the Srebrenica massacres.

It has been widely condemned by associations representing the families of the victims as an attempted provocation.

“They do something each year on the 11th of July. I do not know what else they can invent in order to provoke [post-war] returnees and survivors of genocide,” Hajra Catic, the president of the Women of Srebrenica association, told BIRN.

Munira Subasic, the president of the Mothers of Srebrenica and Zepa association, said that she would not be surprised if monuments to war criminals were installed in Srebrenica.

“They are proud of what they did in Srebrenica, they never repented,” Subasic told Bosnian media.

The UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague ruled in 2004, in the case against Radislav Krstic, a former general of the Bosnian Serb Army, that the Srebrenica massacres were genocide.

The ruling was also upheld by the International Court of Justice in 2007.

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Background

Srebrenica: Genocide Reconstructed

In July 1995 Srebrenica was shelled and occupied by the Army of Republic of Srpska,VRS, despite being declared a protected area by the United Nations. More than 7,000 people were killed, the victims of genocide.

Ratko Mladic: The Force Behind the Srebrenica Killings

The Bosnian Serb commander’s role in the genocide committed in Srebrenica is described in detail in many indictments and verdicts pronounced before local and international judicial institutions.

The Indictment Against Ratko Mladic

Indictments in 1995 and 2000, further amended in 2002 and 2010, charge the former commander of the Republika Srpska Army with genocide and other crimes.

Ratko Mladic: From Promising Officer to Bloodstained Warlord

When Mladic ordered his army to bomb the people of Sarajevo until they ‘go insane’, he revealed the murderous intentions that would culminate in the Srebrenica massacre.

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