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More genocide victims are to be buried on the anniversary of Srebrenica

#genocide #victims #buried #anniversary #Srebrenica

Thousands of people are expected on Monday to commemorate the 27th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide, which most Serbs and their leaders in ethnically divided Bosnia still do not recognize.

The remains of 50 recently identified victims of the worst massacre in Europe since World War II are interred with 6,671 others in the memorial cemetery.

About 8,000 Muslim men and boys from the eastern city of Srebrenica were killed by Bosnian Serb forces in July 1995, an act of genocide under international law.

The EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, and Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhely paid tribute to the dead in Srebrenica at a time when the Russian invasion of Ukraine shows “that even today we cannot take peace for granted”.

“Russia’s unjustified and unprovoked aggression against Ukraine has brought a brutal war back to our continent,” it said in a statement.

“The mass killings and war crimes we see in Ukraine bring back vivid memories of those who witnessed the war in the Western Balkans in the 1990s.

“More than ever, it is our duty to remember the Srebrenica genocide… to work in defense of peace, human dignity and universal values.

“Europe failed in Srebrenica and we face our shame.”

Discovery of skeletal remains from the massacre has become rare in recent years, although around 1,200 people are still missing, according to the Institute for Missing Persons of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

– 20 years waiting ‘in vain’ –

The identification process was complicated by the remains being bulldozed and placed in mass graves to disguise the extent of the slaughter.

Mass funerals of identified people are held every July 11, the date of the takeover by the troops of Bosnian Serb General Ratko Mladic, who was sentenced to life imprisonment for war crimes.

The remains of one of the 50 people awaiting burial were found scattered across three separate mass graves, said Amor Masovic, a forensic expert who has worked on dozens of mass graves in the Srebrenica region.

The remains of most of the others were found spread across two mass graves, he added.

Behrem Halilovic, 62, has been hoping for years that more of his brother’s bones will be identified before he can hold a proper funeral.

“We’ve waited 20 years for more remains to be found, but it was in vain. We can’t wait any longer,” he said on Friday as the 50 coffins traveled from Sarajevo to Srebrenica.

On July 11, 1995, his brother was 27 years old. He and her father had attempted to seek refuge with UN forces, but both were captured and murdered.

Behrem survived by fleeing through the forest.

– ‘heroes’ –

Bosnia has been divided along ethnic lines since the brutal war of the 1990s, which claimed around 100,000 lives. One half of the country is owned by the Serbian entity while the other is governed by a Muslim Croatian federation.

More than a quarter of a century has passed, but Mladic and Radovan Karadzic, the wartime president of the Republic of Srpska, who was also sentenced to life imprisonment, remain “heroes” in the eyes of many Serbs, whose pictures still adorn many walls.

Serb political leaders now living in Bosnia and neighboring Serbia refuse to accept that genocide took place in Srebenica, preferring to speak of a “grave crime”.

“We have been fighting for the truth and demanding justice for 27 years, but for 27 years they have been denying the truth, denying genocide,” said Munira Subasic, leader of a women’s association in Srebenica.

Former Bosnian High Representative Valentin Inzko criminalized denial of genocide and war crimes last July and sentenced him to prison.

The move sparked an uproar among Bosnian Serbs, led by Milorad Dodik, who sits in the country’s collective presidency.

He has started a process of Serbs withdrawing from the army, the judiciary and the tax system, stoking fears of breaking up the country or starting a new conflict.

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#genocide #victims #buried #anniversary #Srebrenica

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