News 11 Mar 15

Reports of UN Srebrenica Declaration Divide Bosnia

Media reports about a proposed UN General Assembly resolution to declare an international day of remembrance for the victims of the Srebrenica Genocide have sparked conflicting reactions.

Denis Dzidic
BIRN
Sarajevo

 

 

Victims' names inscribed on a Srebrenica memorial.

Bosniak and Serb victims’ representatives and politicians have taken opposing stances about the reported plan to mark the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacres by declaring July 11 an annual remembrance day for over 7,000 Bosniak men and boys killed by Bosnian Serb forces in 1995.

“We encourage all member states, organisations of the UN system and other relevant international organisations, as well as civil society organisations, to observe the international day of remembrance including special observances and activities in memory of victims of the Srebrenica genocide,” Bosnian media have reported the draft resolution has been reported as saying.

Media reports claimed that the draft resolution was initiated by Britain, but the British embassy in Sarajevo told BIRN that this was not true.

“We are aware of preliminary discussions within the United Nations about possible ways of commemorating the 20th anniversary of the genocide in Srebrenica, including through the possibility of a declaratory resolution, but the UK has not so far been involved in the preparation of a draft resolution,” a British embassy spokesperson said.

The Dutch embassy in Sarajevo also said that the Netherlands was not behind the potential resolution, but expressed concern about negative reactions to the idea in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“The embassy regrets the fact that some politicians in the country have immediately reacted to the possibility of a Security Council resolution on Srebrenica with negative comments, including genocide denial and divisive rhetoric,” embassy spokesperson Mak Kapetanovic told BIRN.

“The facts of the genocide in Srebrenica have been legally established by the ICTY; therefore, we hope that the decisions of this court will be respected and that political representatives in Bosnia and Herzegovina will acknowledge the past and work together towards a better future for everybody in this country,” he said.

The president of the Mothers of Srebrenica association, Hatidza Mehmedovic, said that because UN peacekeepers in Srebrenica allowed the genocide to take place, the global body has an obligation to endorse the resolution.

“The big powers should adopt this declaration, since they are the decision makers in the world. They made the decisions in July 1995. This is the minimum they owe us for allowing the mothers to suffer so… This is declaratory for them, but for us it is vital, to warn future generations,” Mehmedovic told BIRN.

But Bosnian Serb officials – who have disputed that the crimes in Srebrenica constitute genocide – condemned the draft resolution.

An MP from the Serb Union of Independent Social Democrats, Dusanka Majkic, said the resolution is probably a result of “Bosniak pressure” and would hinder reconciliation and the search for justice.

“The aim is to send black-and-white images regarding Bosnia and Herzegovina, It is sad this is being done by democratic countries, who should know that things like this should only be judged when sufficient time has passed,” Majkic told local media

She argued that crimes were committed by both sides around the Srebrenica region during the conflict.

The Srebrenica killings have been defined as genocide by international and Bosnian courts.

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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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