News 11 Jul 14

Srebrenica Marks Genocide Anniversary with Mass Burial

Mourners gathered to commemorate the 19th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacres with a ceremony at which the bodies of 175 victims who were identified over the past year were buried.

Denis Dzidic
BIRN
Sarajevo
Thousands of people including survivors of the mass killings gathered at the Potocari memorial centre on Friday. Photo by BETA

More than 15,000 people, including survivors of the mass killings gathered at the Potocari memorial centre on Friday to pay tribute to the victims of the worst atrocity in Europe since World War II, when Bosnian Serb forces overran the UN ‘safe area’ in July 1995 and killed around 7,000 Bosniak men and boys.

Some of them arrived at the memorial after joining a 110-kilometre peace march across Bosnia to commemorate the anniversary.

The bodies of 175 victims were laid to rest, 13 of whom were teenage boys. The youngest was aged 14 when he died.

Srebrenica Mayor Camil Durakovic told the ceremony that, “Unfortunately, this is not the end of the search for Srebrenica victims.

“We are full of sorrow, but we cannot forget or change the past. It must warn us about the future. This memorial must be viewed as a warning. Evil shouldn’t be forgotten and many will not forgive," he said. "This memorial should serve as a vow to all Bosniaks to return to Srebrenica and build a life,” Durakovic added.

Nineteen years after the massacres, 30 Bosnian Serbs have been sentenced to more than 500 years in prison for genocide and other war crimes, while there are several trials and investigations are still ongoing, most notably the prosecutions of former Bosnian Serb political and military leaders Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic.

The Bosnian Missing Persons Institute told BIRN that so far, 6,066 Srebrenica victims have been buried at the Potocari memorial centre.

Spokesperson Lejla Cengic said that most of the victims were found in mass graves, 28 of which mass graves related to the Srebrenica genocide were discovered from 2004 to 2009.

But she said that it has now become much harder to find the remains of victims who are still missing.

“As time goes by we get less and less information about the locations of mass graves, even individual graves. This is a big problem,” Cengic said.

She added that it is estimated that the bodies of around 1,000 to 1,200 men and boys from Srebrenica have not yet been located and identified.

Of the 6,000 victims buried in the Potocari memorial, more than 400 were under 18 at the time of their deaths.

Cengic said that the fate of the 14-year-old boy who is being buried showed how difficult the identification process is, because Bosnian Serb forces moved bodies and remains around in an attempt to conceal their crimes.

“His mortal remains were scattered across four different mass graves,” she said.

Photo by BETA
Photo by BETA
Photo by BETA
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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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