News 02 Jul 15

UN ‘Shares Blame for Srebrenica Genocide’

At a UN General Assembly event to commemorate the 1995 massacres of Bosniaks, secretary-general Ban Ki-moon said the UN shared the blame because it did not prevent genocide being committed.

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Ban Ki-moon addresses the Srebrenica commemoration.

Ban Ki-moon paid tribute to the victims of what he called the Srebrenica genocide at the General Assembly in New York on Wednesday and admitted that the UN had failed in its mission to protect them from being killed in July 1995.

He said the “atrocious murder of Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica will forever weigh on the collective conscience of the international community”.

“The UN Secretariat, the Security Council and member states share the blame” for the massacres of more than 7,000 Bosniaks after Bosnian Serb forces seized what was supposed to be a UN-protected ‘safe zone’, he added.

The UN secretary-general also recalled how his visit to Srebrenica in 2012 affected him emotionally: “I will always remember the tears and pain of the mothers and loved ones of those who were killed because of who they were,” he said.

The General Assembly commemoration was held amid an ongoing row over a British-proposed UN Security Council resolution condemning the massacres and any denial that they represented genocide.

Serbia, which says that the Srebrenica crimes did not amount to genocide, opposes the resolution, as does its traditional ally Russia, which has said the text is anti-Serb and will worsen ethnic divisions in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic sent a letter to the UN Security Council on Monday calling the resolution “unnecessary and harmful”.

“It will not contribute to encouraging, strengthening, facilitating and accelerating the reconciliation and cooperation process,” Dacic said in the letter.

Russia has proposed an alternative Security Council resolution which does not mention genocide but instead condemns crimes committed during the 1992-95 Bosnian war in general terms.

But the US ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, told the commemoration event at the UN that “those who deny the genocide in Srebrenica” were ignoring the truth.

“They’re trying to distort historical facts that have been amply documented over 20 years,” said Power, who covered the Bosnian war when she was a journalist in the 1990s and won a Pulitzer Prize for a book she wrote about genocide.

Britain’s ambassador to the UN, Matthew Rycroft, said meanwhile that the resolution isn’t meant to exacerbate divisions or “point the finger of blame”, but to commemorate the victims.

Both the British and Russian draft resolutions are expected to be discussed at the Security Council on July 7.

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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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