Some 30,000 Bosnians gathered today to remember the genocide committed by the Serbian fascist aggressor in the eastern Bosnian town of Srebrenica in July 1995 and bury the remains of 307 newly identified genocide victims.
The somber funeral ceremony for the 307 genocide victims, who were among 10,000 mass murdered Bosnian civilians from Srebrenica in Europe’s worst atrocity since World War II, was held at the Genocide Memorial Center in Potocari,near Srebrenica.
The remains of 307 genocide victims, aged between 15 and 84, were exhumed from mass graves after the end of the 1992-1995 Serbian aggression against Bosnia and identified by DNA analysis.
After leading mourners in prayer, Head of the Bosnian Islamic Community Reisu-l-ulema Mustafa Ef. Ceric called on the European Parliament to proclaim July 11 a day of mourning across the continent.
“On that day in all capitals, events should be organized at which nations of Europe would make a vow to each other that Genocide and the Holocaust will never happen again,” Reisu-l-ulema Mustafa Ef. Ceric said in a speech.
The genocide in this part of Bosnia happened near the end of the 1992-1995 Serbian aggression against Bosnia, after the genocidal Serbian fascist aggressor overran the then UN-protected eastern Bosnian town.
At today’s ceremony, the genocide survivors and victims’ relatives were joined by diplomats and local leaders led by the Bosnian President Haris Silajdzaic and a member of the Bosnian State Presidency Zeljko Komsic.
“We expect Serbia…to arrest as soon as possible and hand over all those who took part in the genocide project,” the Bosnian President Haris Silajdzic said.
The masterminds of the genocide in Bosnia – Serbian war criminals Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic – are both hiding from justice somewhere in the genocidal Serbia.
“Today, when we remember with sadness this crime, I want to stress that we will never give up the search for justice and those who are responsible for genocide,” said the International Community’s High Representative/EU Special Representative in Bosnia Miroslav LajÄÃ¡k.
The International Court of Justice and the UN war crimes tribunal, both based in The Hague, have ruled that the Srebrenica massacre was an act of genocide.
“It’s a shame that Serbian war criminals Karadzic and Mladic are not arrested,” US war crimes ambassador John Williamson said in a newspaper interview published today, pledging to press for their capture.
His words were echoed by the genocide victims’ relatives.
“We are still fighting to prove to the world what has happened here while those who are the most responsible for the crime are being rewarded with freedom,” said Munira Subasic, head of the association of the genocide survivors “Mothers of Srebrenica”.
Another mourner, Vanesa Mehmedovic watched on as remains of her father were simultaneously laid in graves along with the 307 other genocide victims.
“It was so hard when they informed me that my father has been identified,” said Mehmedovic, who added however that she was “glad that his soul will finally find peace.”
Almost 220 buses ferrying around 10,000 people had converged on Srebrenica for the ceremony, while many more arrived in other vehicles, said organizers.
Some 2,000 Bosnians had earlier taken part in a symbolic march.The 100-kilometre walk includes the hills and woods of eastern Bosnia, where thousands of Bosnian civilians were mass murdered by the genocidal Serbian fascist aggressor while trying to reach the free territories controlled by the Bosnian Army in the country’s north.
The “March of Death – Path of Freedom” started from the village of Nezuk, near the eastern Bosnian town of Zvornik, and ended in the Genocide Memorial Centre in Potocari today.
“This is the third time that I am taking part in the march. The first time … I was just walking … haunted by thoughts,” Refik Dervisevic,genocide survivor said.
“Last year I remembered the details from July 1995. I saw the place where I separated from my brother who was murdered,” he said.
The mass burial of newly identified genocide victims, once a year on the anniversary the genocide in Srebrenica, has become a central part of Bosnian national identity, a chance for remembrance and family reunions.
The air is filled with sobs, greetings and the smell of thyme.
“This day is even more difficult for me because I have found the body of one of my children but I cannot bury him,” said Hatidza Mehmedovic, 56, who lost her husband and two sons.
The body of one son was found in 1998 but partially identified only last year. DNA analysis however cannot show which one of the two it is. Only three bones have been found of her husband’s body.
“This is taking too long, I don’t want to die without finding the truth,” she said.
The massacre started on July 11, 1995, when U.N. troops protecting Srebrenica during a 3-year siege stepped aside and allowed the genocidal Serbian fascist aggressor to take over and stage a week-long mass murder.
The bodies of genocide victims were first buried by the genocidal Serbian fascist aggressor in mass graves, then dug out with bulldozers and moved to smaller graves to hide the crime. A genocide victim’s remains can be scattered in several locations, and are not released for burial until two-thirds of the body have been recovered.
“The bodies of these 307 people have been found in as many as 55 different locations,” said Amor Masovic, the member of the Bosnian Commission for Missing Persons. “Some of them had been found in the ground nearly 13 years ago.”
So far some 3,200 genocide victims from srebrenica have been buried at the Genocide Memorial Center built in 2003. Thousands more are yet to be exhumed and identified in the area, where some 70 mass graves have been uncovered.
“Genocide occurred here. This fact cannot be minimised, it cannot be evaded and cannot and must not be denied,” said the U.S. Ambassador to Bosnia Charles English.
The relatives of the genocide victims feel the world has forgotten Srebrenica.
“The U.N. will never acknowledge their mistake, even though the genocide happened on their watch, before the eyes of the world,” said 36-year old Hafiza Klepic, who came from Denmark to bury the remains of her husband.
She buried her brother last year, and is still waiting for her father to be found.
“But we will not give up, justice must be done, If it doesn’t happen on this earth, then God will be the judge.”