Bosnians on Saturday commemorated the massacre of about 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica, marking the 25th anniversary of the killings that shocked the world.
The killings had stood out as Europe’s only atrocity since World War Two constituting genocide.
Grieving families stood by green-draped coffins of nine newly identified victims who will be buried at a flower-shaped cemetery near the town, where tall white tombstones mark the graves of 6,643 other victims.
About 1,000 victims of the massacre in the eastern town during Bosnia’s 1992 to 1995 war are still missing.
World leaders addressed the solemn ceremony by video link, unable to attend because of the coronavirus epidemic.
Instead of tens of thousands of visitors who typically attend the annual commemoration, only a few thousand came after organisers banned organised visits.
During the Bosnian war, Bosnian Serb forces pushed non-Serbs out of territories they sought for their Serb statelet.
Fleeing Muslims took shelter in several eastern towns, including Srebrenica, that were designated as United Nations “safe zones”.
On July 11, 1995, the Serb forces commanded by Gen. Ratko Mladic attacked and overrun Srebrenica, which was protected by lightly armed Dutch peacekeepers.
They separated women and children from men and bussed them to territory controlled by the Bosnian army.
The men and boys were killed, while those who tried to escape through the woods were captured and executed.
Their bodies were dumped into mass graves and later exhumed by UN investigators and used as evidence in war crimes trials of Bosnian Serb leaders.
“We grieve with the families that tirelessly seek justice for the 8,000 innocent lives lost, all these years later,” said U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Washington brokered Bosnia’s peace deal months after the massacre.
Most people at the commemoration were Muslim Bosniaks, showing that Bosnia has not achieved reconciliation almost 25 years since the end of its war, in which about 100,000 people were killed.
The UN war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia convicted Mladic and his political chief Radovan Karadzic over Srebrenica genocide however remained heroes for Serbs, many of whom deny that genocide happened.
A non-government organisation called “Eastern Alternative” in the nearby town of Bratunac organised an event honouring July 11 as the “Srebrenica Liberation Day”, when killings of Serbs in the area by the Bosnian army stopped.
“There can be no trust as long as we witness attacks on the truth, denial of genocide and glorification and celebration of executors,” Sefik Dzaferovic, the Bosniak chairman of Bosnia’s tripartite presidency, told the commemoration gathering. (Reuters/NAN)
– Jul. 11, 2020 @ 14:59 GMT |