news 06 Jun 12

Dispute Over Visegrad's War Victims Memorial

A Bosniak victims' association from Visegrad claims that the town is run by war criminals following a protest by Serbs over the use of the word genocide on a memorial to Bosniak war victims.

Elvira Jukic
BIRN
Sarajevo

A group of Serb citizens of Visegrad gathered in the center of the town and protested on Saturday against the use of the word “genocide” written on the monument to Bosniaks killed during the war.

The Women - Victims of War group, a Bosniak victims’ association, claims in a press release on Wednesday that the protest indicates that the town of Visegrad is still run by Serbs who committed war crimes during the 1992-95 war.

“Graves, mass graves and rapes are the truth”, the association said, pointing out that survivors from the war   are still searching for the remains of some 1,500 Bosniaks who were killed in Visegrad 1992.

“Yes, it was a genocide, because almost no Bosniaks have returned to their pre-war homes,” said Bakira Hasecic on behalf of the victims’ organisation.

But the Serbs in Visegrad do not agree.  “The Hague Tribunal did not state that genocide was committed in Visegrad, ” one of the Serb citizens told local media on Saturday during the gathering.

The monument in Visegrad was erected on May 26 at the Muslim graveyard of Straziste where 60 Bosniak victims of the Bosnian war were buried. 

The protestors objected to the part of the inscription which reads “to killed and missing Bosniaks, victims of the Visegrad genocide”.

The Ministry of Labour and Veterans of Republika Srpska, the Serb dominated entity in Bosnia, called for all officials and NGOs to refrain from making false and unsubstantiated claims about the killings that took place in Visegrad.

“Inaccurate statements and unfounded claims about the armed conflict in the 1990s, from which inappropriate conclusions may be drawn concerning the victims of one ethnic group, leads to the suspicion that individuals are putting out such statements for malicious reasons, “ the Ministry said.

 “Such acts can have unwanted consequences for all the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina.”

Victims deserve a monument and respect, the Ministry said, but added that the political misuse of them does not foster tolerance and respect.

The monument was built at the Muslim graveyard of Straziste in Visegrad and is dedicated to Bosniak victims of the Visegrad genocide.

Before the war Visegrad was mainly Muslim. According to the 1991 census, the municipality was home to some 21,000 people of whom around 13,500 were Bosniaks [Muslims] and around 7,000 were Serbs.

Since the ethnic cleansing campaigns of the 1990s, those figures have changed radically and about 95 per cent of the inhabitants of the town today are Serbs. The new census will report the exact figures in 2013.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, ICTY, has sentenced the high ranking Bosnian Serb politicians Biljana Plavsic and Momcilo Krajisnik for the expulsion and murder of non Serb civilians in Visegrad in 1992.

Two men who were directly involved in the war crimes committed in Visegrad, Boban Simsic and Mitar Vasiljevic, were sentenced by the Bosnian Court and the ICTY, respectively, to 14 and 15 years in prison for crimes committed in the town.

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