Turkey marks 26th anniversary of Srebrenica genocide

Turkey marks 26th anniversary of Srebrenica genocide

Turkey marks 26th anniversary of Srebrenica genocide

The Turkish president on July 11 commemorated the 26th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide, voicing his sorrow and sympathy to the victims.

In a video message at the memorial ceremony to mark the massacre's anniversary in Bosnia, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Turkey will continue to stand with Bosnia and Herzegovina and Bosnians.

Turkey will never let the genocide, which is “a black mark in the history of Europe and humanity,” be forgotten, he added.

“The wounds Srebrenica opened in our hearts are still bleeding although 26 years have passed,” Erdoğan said.

Recalling the court decree on the war criminal, Erdoğan said although the decree cannot alleviate the sufferings of the “tragedy in the heart of Europe,” it can help prevent other genocides.

He underlined the significance of peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which harbors different beliefs, cultures and ethnicities, saying its stability is necessary for all of Europe, particularly the Balkans.

The Turkish president called on political figures to oppose hatred, violence and discrimination, and reunite based on common human values. “Making peace permanent on these lands [Bosnia and Herzegovina] is our common duty,” he said.

Erdoğan also extended his condolences to the families of the genocide victims.

Meanwhile, Vice President Fuat Oktay on Twitter quoted the statement of Alija Izetbegovic, independent Bosnia's first president: "Whatever you do, don't forget the genocide. Because the forgotten genocide is repeated."

"We have not forgotten, we will not forget ... On the 26th anniversary of the #Srebrenica genocide, I commemorate our 8,372 Bosnian brothers who were martyred. May their place be heaven," he said.

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu also tweeted an image that said: "July 11, 1995. We did not forget and we will not forget the Srebrenica genocide."

"On the 26th anniversary of the #Srebrenica Genocide, the black mark of human history, I wish Allah's mercy on those who were martyred in this persecution, and patience for their families and our Bosnian brothers and sisters," Çavuşoğlu wrote.

Thousands of people in Bosnia were gathering on July 11 to commemorate the 1995 Srebrenica genocide.

The execution of more than 8,000 Muslim Bosniaks, most of them men and boys, is being commemorated in a series of events on July 11, followed by the reburial of victims whose remains were found in mass graves and recently identified through DNA analysis.

Twenty-six years after they were brutally murdered, 16 men, two teenage boys, and a woman will be laid to rest at a memorial cemetery at the entrance to the eastern town, joining more than 6,600 other massacre victims already reburied there.

Newly identified victims are given a dignified burial each year on July 11, the anniversary of the day the killing began in 1995.

Turkey marks 26th anniversary of Srebrenica genocide

"As soon as I got up and had coffee, I came to visit the graves of my husband and his brother, to say a prayer," said Kadefa Rizvanovic, who lost 20 male relatives in the slaughter and still hasn't found the remains of all of them.

"My paternal and maternal uncles are also buried here. I said a prayer for them and for all the victims of Srebrenica,'' she added.

More than 8,000 Bosnian Muslims were killed when Bosnian Serb forces attacked Srebrenica in July 1995, despite the presence of Dutch peacekeeping troops.

Serb forces were trying to wrest territory from Bosnian Muslims and Croats to form a state.

The U.N. Security Council declared Srebrenica a “safe area” in the spring of 1993. But troops led by Gen. Mladic overran the U.N. zone. He was later found guilty of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. Dutch troops failed to act as Serb forces occupied the area, killing 2,000 men and boys on July 11, 1995 alone.

About 15,000 residents of Srebrenica fled to the surrounding mountains, but Serb troops hunted down and killed 6,000 more people. Bodies of victims have been found in 570 different areas across the country. In 2007, the International Court of Justice at The Hague ruled that genocide had been committed in Srebrenica.

On June 8, U.N. tribunal judges upheld in a second-instance trial, a verdict sentencing Mladic to life in prison for the genocide, persecution, crimes against humanity, extermination, and other war crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina.