News 12 Jul 13

Serbian Politicians Row Over Srebrenica Anniversary

The Serbian parliament declared its respect for the Srebrenica massacre victims, but lawmakers continued to squabble over whether the 1995 killings should be labelled genocide.

Marija Ristic
BIRN
Belgrade

Serbia’s national assembly said in a statement to mark the 18th year since the 1995 massacres that it “extends its deepest respect to the innocent Bosniak victims and condolences to their families on the anniversary of their ordeal in Srebrenica”.

“Serbia and its parliament are forever committed to keeping alive the memory of the victims of the brutal armed conflicts in former Yugoslavia in the 1990s,” said the statement issued on Thursday.

“The national assembly also extends its sympathy and condolences to the families of the innocent civilian victims of Serbian nationality in the conflicts in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” it said.

But the Serbian Liberal Party immediately criticised the statement, saying that it downplayed the significance of the massacres and “demonstrated Serbia’s unwillingness to tell the truth about what happened 18 years ago”.

The party said that the government should schedule a special session to prove “not just by words, but by deeds” that its members no longer supported war crimes suspects like Ratko Mladic.

The conservative Democratic Party of Serbia also criticised the statement, saying that other alleged war crimes also merited parliamentary declarations.

“We are wondering why parliament expressed respect only for the innocent victims of Srebrenica, and why not on another anniversary, for example when Bosnia and Herzegovina was recognised by the United States and the West on April 7, 1992, which was the source of crimes against peace from which originated all subsequent crimes [during the war],” MP Slobodan Samarzdic said a letter to the speaker of parliament.

In 2010, the Serbian parliament adopted a resolution in which it condemned the Srebrenica massacres and extended an apology to the families of the victims for not doing everything possible to prevent the massacre, but it did not define the killings as genocide.

The League of Vojvodina Social Democrats on Thursday asked for the declaration to be included in school textbooks.

It also called on MPs and politicians not to show a lack of respect to the victims on anniversary of the killings.

“At least today, out of respect to the victims, don’t argue if genocide or war crimes took place in Srebrenica and, at least today, accept that International Court of Justice defined it as genocide,” its statement said.

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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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