News 11 Jul 14

Serbian Activists Honour Srebrenica Massacre Victims

Amid heavy police presence, and despite threats, Serbian anti-war activists, led by the NGO Women in Black, honoured Bosniak victims of the 1995 slaughter in Srebrenica.

Marija Ristic
BIRN
Belgrade
Photo by BIRN/Marija Ristic

A group of activists in Belgrade, under the auspices of the campaigning group Women in Black, held a vigil on Thursday in Belgrade for victims of the 1995 masacre in the eastern Bosnian town Srebrenica.

Named “Srebrenica – we will never forget”, the ceremony marked the 19th anniversary of the slaughter of thousands of Bosniaks in the town by Bosnian Serb forces led by Ratko Mladic.

Activists carried banners with the names of the 8,372 known victims, placing the largest black banner, which read “Responsibility”, in centre of the main square of Belgrade, Trg Republike.

As a result of the threats, that the organisers of the ceremony received this week, police did not allow pedestrians to approach the activists.

On July 8, during the similar performance held in town of Valjevo, activists from Women in Black were physically attacked by a group of young people wearing T-shirts proclaiming their support for Mladic, who is currently on trial for genocide in The Hague.

Police arrested four of the attackers, and a court in Valjevo ordered them into custody for 30 days.

Despite attacks and threats, Stasa Zajovic, head of the campaigners, said they would not abandon their public demonstrations.

“We will continue to put pressure on Serbia, not just for Srebrenica, but also for other war crimes,” Zajovic said.

On Thursday, a number of human rights groups held a meeting in front of the Serbian presidency building, carrying banners that read “Solidarity” and “Responsibility”.

The organisers said their aim was to get Serbian institutions to name July 11 as "Memorial Day" for the victims of Srebrenica. The organisations also sent letters to President Tomislav Nikolic, the government and parliament, urging them to stop “denying genocide”.

Although international and Bosnian courts have classified the massacre in Srebrenica was an act of genocide, Serbia still officially denies it. In 2010, parliament adopted a resolution condemning the killings in Srebrenica, but stopped short of calling it genocide.

Only one Serbian president, Boris Tadic, visited the memorial site near Srebrenica in Potocari, in 2010. Serbia's current President, Nikolic, apologized to Bosniak victims for the "crime" last year.

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