Bosnians rebury 409 massacre victims on Srebrenica anniversary
SREBRENICA, Bosnia Hercegovina
Bosnian Muslim woman, survivor of Srebrenica 1995 massacre, searches for burial plot intended for her relative, at memorial cemetery in village of Potocarion near Eastern-Bosnian town of Srebrenica, on July 10, 2013. AFP PHOTO / ELVIS BARUKCICTens of thousands gathered July 11 in Bosnia to rebury 409 newly identified victims of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre on the 18th anniversary of Europe’s worst post-war atrocity in which Bosnian Serb forces slaughtered some 8,000 Muslims.
Thousands of people flocked to Srebrenica town to attend the funeral of the victims whose remains were found in mass graves in the eastern Bosnian Srebrenica region and only identified almost two decades after the 1995 killing.
“This year we buried the youngest victim of the genocide, the Muhic family’s baby” whose remains were exhumed from a mass grave in 2012, said Kenan Karavdic, a government official in charge of the burial ceremony at the Potocari Memorial Center. The baby, who died shortly after her birth in July 1995 at the U.N. base in Potocari, near Srebrenica, “buried next to the grave of her father Hajrudin, killed in a massacre,” Karavdic said.
Among 409 victims laid to rest, 44 were aged between 14 and 18, officials said. This year’s commemorations bring the total of identified victims to 6,066. Another 2,306 remain missing.
Turkey was represented at the ceremony by Culture and Tourism Minister Ömer Çelik. “Forgetting what happened in the past will be the worst thing done to the memories and souls of the genocide martyrs,” Çelik said.
“July 11 is not only a sad day that reminds us pains in the past, but it is also a call from the past that tells us that all people should reach happiness and virtue to live together regardless of their ethnic or religious origin,” he said.
Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ stressed that what happened in Srebrenica was genocide and that it had been recognized a genocide by both the United Nations and the International Court of Justice.
“Srebrenica is a concrete indicator that racism and hatred of humanity can turn people to killing machines,” Bozdağ wrote on his Twitter account. “We should never let Srebrenica to happen again in order to prevent both mothers of Srebrenica and other mothers from crying,” he added.
Srebrenica was a U.N.-protected Muslim town in Bosnia besieged by Serb forces throughout the country’s 1992-95 war. Serb troops led by Gen. Ratko Mladic broke into the enclave on July 11, 1995. That morning, some 30,000 Bosnian Muslims flocked to the U.N. military base in the town’s Potocari suburb seeking refuge. Serb forces had also entered the U.N. compound unopposed by any of the hundreds of U.N Dutch soldiers. They began separating men from women. Over the course of five days, they executed 8,372 men and boys.
Catherine Ashton, the EU foreign policy chief, paid her respects to the Srebrenica victims on behalf of the European Union. “No words can give peace of mind to families of the victims … Nevertheless, what we can demonstrate is respect for their loss, refusal of genocide denial and, as a concrete measure, support to justice,” Ashton said.
The Srebrenica massacre has been judged an act of genocide by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Court of Justice. After escaping justice for years, both Karadzic and Ratko Mladic are now being tried by the ICTY for war crimes and genocide. Mladic was arrested in Serbia in 2011, while Karadzic was held in 2008. So far, 38 former Bosnian Serb military or police officials have been convicted, including some for genocide, for their role in the Srebrenica killings, both by the ICTY and Bosnia’s own war crimes court.
UN judges reinstate Karadzic genocide charge
Appeals judges at the United Nations' Yugoslav war crimes tribunal have reinstated a genocide charge against Radovan Karadzic linked to a campaign of killing and mistreating non-Serbs at the start of the Bosnian war in 1992.
The decision Thursday reversed the former Bosnian Serb leader's acquittal last year on one of the two genocide charges he faces.
Presiding Judge Theodor Meron says appeals judges believe that prosecution evidence presented at Karadzic's trial "could indicate that Karadzic possessed genocidal intent."
Thursday's ruling will likely further draw out his long-running trial on 10 other charges including another genocide count for allegedly masterminding the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.
Compiled from AP, AFP and AA stories by the Daily News staff.