news 10 Jul 13

Thousands Head for Srebrenica Massacre Memorial

Thousands travelled to the memorial at Potocari near Srebrenica on foot, on bicycles and on motorbikes ahead of the reburial of 409 victims on the massacre’s 18th anniversary on Thursday.

Elvira M. Jukic

More than 200 motorcyclists from Bosnia, Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Italy, Turkey and Croatia set off from Sarajevo on Wednesday as part of the Moto Marathon to Srebrenica 2013 intended to commemorate the anniversary of the massacres by Bosnian Serbs which killed some 7,000 people in July 1995.

They will join around 5,000 people who set off on foot from Nezuk near the Bosnian town of Tuzla on Tuesday.

The aim of the motorbike ride, one of the organisers said, is to keep alive the memory of the mass killings in Srebrenica, which international courts have defined as genocide.

“Yesterday we had guests from six countries. Everyone is aware of what happened in Srebrenica,” said organiser Enver Suljic.

The thousands who are heading for the memorial in the village of Potocari on foot are taking part in an 80-kilometre Peace March.

The route from Potocari to Nezuk was one by which dozens of men managed to escape the massacres – the only safe way out of Srebrenica in the summer of 1995.

Around 200 people are also cycling on from the north-west Bosnian town of Bihac to Potocari in the east to attend the mass burial of the remains of the 409 victims.

Some are also running a marathon from Bihac to Potocari in support of the Nezuk Peace March.

A group of nine cyclists from the Serbian capital Belgrade are also heading to Potocari, a journey of around 220 kilometres.

The Serbian peace group Women in Black said that the activists aim to show solidarity with the victims of genocide and their families and also to remind citizens of Serbia of the need to face the crimes committed in their names.

Four Croatian war veterans, two of them Bosniaks, also started a 227-kilometre-long road race from the eastern Croatian city of Vukovar to Srebrenica on Saturday.

Eighteen years ago, military and police forces from Bosnia’s Serb-led entity Republika Srpska attacked the UN-protected ‘safe area’ of Srebrenica, and subsequently killed around 7,000 men and boys and forcibly expelled around 30,000 women, children and elderly people.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, ICTY, has defined the crimes in Srebrenica as genocide in several of its verdicts.

The ICTY and the Bosnian state court have so far handed down prison sentences totaling more than 500 years for war crimes in Srebrenica.

There are several ongoing trials over the genocide, including the prosecutions of the political and military leaders of Republika Srpska, Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic.

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