Srebrenica: Bosnians celebrate their 25th anniversary since the massacre in which 8,000 men and boys were killed | News from the world

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Bosnians celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre, the only crime in Europe since the Second World War to have been called genocide.

More than 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the city of Bosnia and Herzegovina were killed by units of the Bosnian Serb army, although Srebrenica was declared a “safe area” under United Nations protection.

A ceremony was held when nine newly identified victims were buried in a flower-shaped cemetery near the city.

They were buried among the graves of 6,643 other victims.

Body parts are still unearthed in mass graves and identified through DNA analysis.

The remains of approximately 1,000 victims are still missing.

Dozens of world leaders, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the Prince of Wales, sent video messages to broadcast during the ceremony – unable to attend in person because of coronavirus social distancing requirements.

Pompeo said, “We mourn the families who tirelessly demand justice for the 8,000 innocent lives lost, all those years later.”

One of the few Bosnian officials present in person, the Bosnian Muslim member of the country’s tripartite presidency, Sefik Dzaferovic, went further, calling on the world to demand that Serbian leaders finally accept responsibility for what happened. .

He said: “I call on our friends around the world to show not only in words but also in actions that they will not accept the denial of the genocide and the celebration of its perpetrators.

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Bosnian Muslim man reads religious book between graves

“The Srebrenica genocide is denied (by Serbian leaders) just as systematically and meticulously as it was executed in 1995 … we owe it not only to Srebrenica, but to humanity, to oppose this. ”

During the 1992-1995 Bosnian War, Bosnian Serb forces embarked on what was then called ethnic cleansing, driving non-Serbs from the territories they sought for their Serbian state.

Many of those who were forced to flee took refuge in several cities in eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina, including Srebrenica.

The UN has said they will be protected and has sent peacekeepers to “safe” areas.

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Bosnian Muslim women wearing masks cry in front of coffin of newly identified victim

But on July 11, 1995, Serb forces led by General Ratko Mladic invaded Srebrenica, which was only protected by lightly armed Dutch peacekeepers.

Bosnian Serb forces ordered the women and children to leave, but arrested the men and executed everyone they found.

The bodies were then thrown into mass graves.

It was not until later, after the massacre was revealed, that many remains were exhumed by United Nations investigators and used as evidence in war crimes trials against Bosnian Serb leaders.

However, it was not until 2004, after the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia was established in The Hague, that the massacre was not declared genocide, a crime under international law.

Mourners at the memorial look at the list of names of those who were killed
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Mourners at the memorial look at the list of names of those who were killed

The UK said it spent millions of pounds to support Srebrenica-related projects, including for the families of the victims and their fight for justice.

Foreign Minister Dominic Raab, a former diplomat from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs posted in The Hague, said: “We remember the victims and the anguish of their families.

“During my stay in The Hague between 2003 and 2006, pursuing those responsible for this dark chapter in European history, I remembered daily the heinous cruelty perpetrated against the innocent.

“The UK is committed to ending impunity and helping to rebuild the countries affected – as demonstrated by our commitment to the ICC and the UK’s investment and support for Bosnia. ”

About 100,000 people were killed during the Bosnian War and reconciliation is far from over.

Bosnian Muslims pray during the mass funeral at the Potocari memorial and cemetery near Srebrenica
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Bosnian Muslims pray during the mass funeral at the Potocari memorial and cemetery near Srebrenica

Mladic and his political leader Radovan Karadzic have been condemned by the ICTY but they remain the heroes of certain Serbs, many of whom deny the genocide.

On Saturday, Serbs in the nearby town of Bratunac organized an event marking July 11 as “Liberation Day of Srebrenica”.

Sefik Dzaferovic added: “There can be no trust as long as we witness attacks on the truth, a denial of genocide and the glorification and celebration of the executors. ”

A memorial was also held in The Hague, the Netherlands.

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