News 29 May 15

Srebrenica Genocide ‘Part of Bosnian Identity’

The Srebrenica genocide, in which more than 7,000 Muslims were killed, is part of the identity of Bosnia, a conference in Sarajevo on the massacre in eastern Bosnia in 1995 heard.

Denis Dzidic
BIRN
Sarajevo

A conference entitled “School of Knowledge: Srebrenica – Mapping Genocide and Post-Genocide Society” on Thursday discussed the facts regarding the 1995 massacre and its after-effects on the country.

Suada Kapic, one of the founders of the FAMA Methodology association, which organised the conference, said that facing up to Srebrenica and past atrocities in the former Yugoslavia was a precondition for a better everyday life.

“Through this event and through generating documents about the wars in the Yugoslav region, we want to show that the methodology of gathering facts is the only counter-poison to political manipulation of history, which is a dominant theme in the region”, she explained.

The School of Knowledge, she explained, seeks to transform education about genocide and war in order to develop a universal educational model, which would be used to share knowledge. This methodology, which detects early warning signs, can strengthen individuals and so prevent future atrocities, she added.

The “Srebrenica – Mapping Genocide” project was unveiled four years ago and shows detailed maps of the events before, during, and after the fall of the town to Bosnian Serb forces on July 11. These maps can be watched individually and the users will have access to all available documents, profiles, reports and video, all available on the website www.srebrenica-mappinggenocide.com.

Sociologist Janja Bec Neumann said that because the genocide was such an organized and massive crime, its legacy remains felt long after the war in society. “The genocide is in our identity,” Bec Neumann said.

“Genocide is not an event, it is a process and what we are seeing today, the denial of the genocide, is one of the strategies of the genocide. We need to shatter the conspiracy of silence, because this region didn’t work through the trauma of such crimes,” she said, describing the investigators and prosecutors working on genocide cases as her heroes.

Former Hague prosecution investigator Jean Rene Ruez spoke about his work between 1996 and 2001 on gathering evidence about the mass killings in and around Srebrenica.

“First we gathered the fact, which was not easy. We spoke to witnesses of crimes, and then we went on to interview some of the suspects and perpetrators. It was a very complex job because we had a crime scene which was 70 by 40 kilometers with detention sites, execution sites, primary graves and then mass graves”, he recalled.

Ruez said that aerial images of the area around Srebrenica were vital in finding the mass graves since they showed areas with disturbed ground.

Sonja Biserko, from the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Belgrade, gave a video presentation at the conference and said that the war in Bosnia had started with a “creeping genocide” and had ended with the 1995 Srebrenica genocide.

“Srebrenica has become a symbol for the genocides at the end of the last century that the international community failed to stop, but also a moral issue for the region,” she added.

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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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