Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Bosnians mark 26 years since Srebrenica genocide that shocked the world

Faces of 8,000 people who were killed in Srebrenica Collected by Dzenana Halimovic

It has been 26 years since the slaughter of 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica, in the eastern Bosnian town of Srebrenica, but every year more bodies are found and reburied, and every year the survivors – mostly women – return to commemorate their fathers and brothers, husbands and sons.

Sunday marked the 26th anniversary of Srebrenica genocide that shocked the world and have stood out as Europe’s only atrocity since World War Two constituting genocide.

On Friday, the remains of 19 more victims of the Srebrenica genocide were sent for burial in the village of Potocari on the anniversary of genocide. Every year on July 11, newly identified victims of the genocide are buried in a memorial cemetery in Potocari in the eastern part of the country.

On 11 July 1995, Bosnian Serb units captured the town of Srebrenica in Bosnia-Herzegovina. In less than two weeks, their forces systematically murdered more than 8,000 Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims). The Serb forces were commanded by General Ratko Mladic overran Srebrenica, which was protected by lightly armed Dutch peacekeepers. They sent women and children away and captured and executed the men and boys they found. Reports suggest some were buried alive, while some adults were forced to watch their children be killed. The bodies were dumped into mass graves and later exhumed by U.N. investigators and used as evidence in war crimes trials of Bosnian Serb leaders. Women and girls meanwhile were taken out of the queues of evacuees and raped. Bodies of victims have been found in 570 different areas in the country.

In the years since, bodies have been unearthed and the victims identified through DNA testing. About 1,000 victims remain to be found.

The UN Security Council declared Srebrenica a “safe area” in the spring of 1993. But Serb troops, led by General Ratko Mladic overran the UN zone.  Dutch troops failed to act as Serb forces occupied the area, killing 2,000 Muslim men and boys on July 11 alone. Some 15,000 residents of Srebrenica fled to the surrounding mountains but Serb troops hunted down and killed 6,000 in the forests.

Mladic was later sentenced to life for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. A special UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague and courts in the Balkans have sentenced close to 50 Bosnian Serbs, including their top civilian war-time leader, Radovan Karadzic, and his military commander, Ratko Mladic, to more than 700 years in prison for Srebrenica crimes.

On Saturday a group of runners marked the genocide with a 227-km ultra-marathon, TRT World reported. The event has been held every year for the past 10 years. Runners start in the Croatian city of Vukovar and run in five stages until arriving in Srebrenica. 

In another event, thousands of people also finished a three-day walk around the Bosnian city to mark the escape of Muslim refugees, re-enacting the escape of Muslim refugees in 1995.

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