Bosnia and Herzegovina marked on Wednesday the 23rd anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide with a massive gathering in Potočari and a funeral ceremony of the 35 newly identified victims.
There are a lot of different opinions about events in and around Srebrenica for the first half of July 1995 -a few months before the end of the war. Several verdicts on various courts in the world confirmed that the events have all the needed elements to declare what happened there a genocide but a part of the public is not convinced about that. Serb leaders, or the majority of them, do not recognise events as a genocide, with it being one of the biggest problems in BiH’s political life. They are also convinced that the events were just a military response to the Bosniak warlord from the UN protected Srebrenica enclave, Naser Orić. According to Serbian accounts, in the villages near Srebrenica, more than 3 000 Serb civilians were brutally killed. For these crimes nobody was sentenced and Serb politicians insist on equal justice for all sides. Orić was sent to the court but the first instance verdict was that he is not guilty for these crimes. On the second instance, the verdict was changed and the case was sent to a new trial.
In response to “genocide negators”, Bosniak politicians are trying to push a law in BiH Parliament which would declare the genocide denial as a criminal act. However, it keeps being a wishful thinking.
Meanwhile, there are also those politicians who are trying to use Srebrenica for their promotion. That is the opinion of the majority in BiH the participation of politicians from Serbia who are attending the commemoration.
This year, a few thousands gathered at the genocide site to pay tribute to the victims. Among them were top international officials now serving in BiH. To name a few, the International Community High Representative, Valentin Inzko, who expressed his outrage over the fact that some Serbs still deny the atrocities in question ever occured.
“It is horrible that there are still people who deny this genocide has ever happened. We had a similar situation in Austria with people who denied the Holocaust. A professor had even to go to jail for three years. A man who wore socks with the number 88 on them was punished for it,” Inzko said and explained that this number symbolised the Nazi, “Heil Hitler” greeting.
He added that the feeling that people were killed in an organised and planned manner is difficult to handle but all people together have to build a new Bosnia and Herzegovina in which “life will be stronger than death”.
European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, and Commissioner for EU enlargement, Johannes Hahn, said in a joint statement that the commemoration “reminds us of one of the darkest moments of humanity and modern European history, and of our responsibility to prevent such an atrocity from ever happening again.”
The future lies in reconciliation, in avoiding divisive actions and rhetoric, in collective respect, recognition and remembrance, they said.
“The European Union will continue to support the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina to overcome the legacy of the past and advance the country on its European path,” the statement said.
Dunja Mijatović, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, urged politicians to show more empathy for the families of the victims and make searching for those still missing a priority.
“The lack of political will is a phrase, a cheap excuse for covering up war crimes. It’s time to change that,” she said.
Despite the fact that there are politicians who deny the genocide, one thing is shared by all – events like this shall not be repeated in any part of the world….. / IBNA