Dr. Mustafa CERIC: It is the right and duty of the Bosniak nation to ask “why” and “how” it was possible for genocide to occur upon them at the end of the twentieth century. It is just because they were Muslims? Is it just because they were Bosniaks? Is it just because they were Europeans of a different civilizational circle and thus it was permissible the perpetrators to inflict such a heinous act of crime on them?
As we approach the 11th of July, the day of the twentieth anniversary of the Serbian genocide in and around Srebrenica, across the world new information is revealed about the circumstances, analyses are conducted about consequences and fingers are pointed to the public and secret guilty ones, domestic and international, for the greatest crime against humanity on the soil of Europe after the Holocaust.
It is the right and duty of the Bosniak nation to ask “why” and “how” it was possible for genocide to occur upon them at the end of the twentieth century. It is just because they were Muslims? Is it just because they were Bosniaks? Is it just because they were Europeans of a different civilizational circle and thus it was permissible the perpetrators to inflict such a heinous act of crime on them?
While the answer to the question “why” will probably never be obtained, the answer to the question “how” is becoming ever more clear thanks to the testimonies recently published in national and international media. Some testimonies about the genocide against Bosniaks are previously known to us, while some others have only recently come out.
It is really painful to learn from these testimonies that in early 1995 everyone knew that the Serbian army was preparing an atrocity campaign against Bosniaks in Eastern Bosnia. But no one was willing to stop it, not even those in the international community, who have publicly said that they are ready to protect the Srebrenica-Å½epa-safe-zone, but secretly collaborated with representatives of the Serbian army. Therefore, no one is innocent in regard the genocide in and around Srebrenica on July 11th, 1995. There are only those who are less guilty as well as those who have admitted their sin of omission, while others failing to do so.
With a sense of responsibility before God and history, I take this opportunity as the Grand Mufti of Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1995 to 2012 to express on this occasion of the twentieth anniversary of the genocide against my people a word of appreciation to all of those with whom I have worked for a long time in order to prevent the denial of the truth about the genocide as well as to promote the justice as much as it is possible in this imperfect world.
I do this for myself and on behalf of my people who know the value of friendship. And as to their enemies they regret their inability to understand that there shall be no revenge, but that shall be a sincere acknowledgment of the truth, that shall be an honest redemption for the genocide that would lead a reasonable people to a forgiveness and reconciliation with a promise of “Never Again”.
With all our grievances we hold in our souls in the aftermath of the genocide, we know that there are conscientious and responsible people in this imperfect world who reject the evil, who are capable to confront atrocity crimes against humanity, who are prepared to spread the good around the world.
Indeed, the Bosniak people are deeply aware of the importance of the establishment the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague. Therefore, a word of our appreciation is due to the founders of this Tribunal, namely the Security Council of the United Nations, who have recognized the significance of an international court for a war crimes allegedly committed by top political and military officials of the Serbian nation and state. This fact is all the more significant because the Bosniak people know that they are not the only victims of genocide in the world and thus they are grateful to the world attention towards the Bosniak victims as well as to the world sympathy for their pain and suffering. In addition to the so far fourteen (14) final verdicts against war criminals, the pending verdicts for Radovan KaradÅ¾iÄ‡ and Ratko MladiÄ‡, are expected to be the strongest message that the world will not tolerate genocide, not ever and not anywhere.
In this way, and on this occasion the Bosniak people are expressing their word of appreciation to all individuals, non-governmental organizations and government institutions in the world, that have initiated and adopted resolutions, which are clearly defined and strongly condemned the genocide against the Bosniak Muslims in and around Srebrenica. All resolutions on the genocide against the Bosniaks, adopted by national parliaments in the United States, Canada, Australia and Europe were unanimous in their assessment that the Serbian military and paramilitary units committed genocide in and around Srebrenica on July 11th, 1995.
Of course, the Bosniak people would be happiest ones if there had not been a genocide. There was no no reason for such a crime against humanity whatsoever. Hence, it is absurd to contest the right of the victims of genocide to speak out about their pain and suffering just because it irritates the perpetrators of the genocide. Also unacceptable is the denial of the truth about the genocide, because those who deny the genocide are capable to repeat it once again. The confession of a sin is the first and most important step on the path to peace and reconciliation, whereas the condemnation of genocide is the first sign of repentance, which leads to forgiveness and coexistence.
For this reason, the Bosniak people are grateful to all nations of good will at home and abroad, who recognize their sacrifice, their pain and suffering. There is no adequate justice, but there is the plain truth, which is for the victims of genocide more important than anything else. Because, man may afford an injustice, but he cannot afford the untruth. Thus, all the resolutions on the Serbian genocide in and around Srebrenica, which have been adopted so far as well as the last one of the British proposal, which was debated in the Security Council of the United Nations on 8th July, 2015, but unfortunately was not adopted because of the Russian Veto – all these resolutions represent an expression of the conscience of humanity, a conscience that clearly tells
that the world cannot and will not tolerate the untruth and injustice.
Being aware of the meaning of this noble conscience of mankind, the Bosniak people have the right and the duty not to give up the truth, or to lose hope in justice exactly as they were recently told by David Scheffer at a conference in Sarajevo on June 11th, 2015, when he said,:
There is no political philosophy or theory of international law, which deserves to be followed if it tolerate to commit crimes against civilians for a long time. I do not imagine myself that I can now offer a new form, which could be applied in the very complex conditions of today’s world. But I want to suggest that the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina earned the right to join and assist in creating a future that is intolerant of terrible crimes.
This is a great testimony of a great expert and friend of the truth. I hope that the Bosniak people live up to this task and that they are capable of their mission to do everything possible so that, after Srebrenica, a genocide will never happen, to no one, nowhere. The flower-remembrance in white of innocence and green of hope with eleven petals assumes exactly the universal Bosnian message of the fight against genocide in the world.
This should be the purpose of our existence as well as the purpose of all people who appreciate the truth. These are the people to whom we send this word of a sincere appreciation for their moral sensibilities, political courage and solidarity with our prayers:
May grief become hope!
May revenge become justice;
May mother’s tears become prayers;
That Srebrenica never happens again, to anyone, anywhere!