Bosnia marks Srebrenica massacre

2010-07-12 11:11

kalahari.com

Srebrenica - Hoisting hundreds of coffins aloft, a line of weeping relatives stretched for at least 1.6km on Sunday as they honoured Srebrenica massacre victims on the 15th anniversary of the worst atrocity in Europe since World War II.

A whole hillside in the eastern Bosnian town was dug out with graves, waiting for 775 coffins covered in green cloths to be laid to rest at the biggest Srebrenica funeral so far.

Still, that was less than a tenth of the total number of Muslim men and boys executed after Serb forces overran the UN-protected town on July 11 1995, during the 1992-1995 Bosnian war.

"I grew up without a father and I don't even remember him," said 16-year-old Hajro Ibrahimovic.

When the procession reached the hill, some 60 000 people splintered into rivulets as relatives sought the exact grave for their loved ones.

The sound of dirt pounding against the coffins' wooden lids echoed over the valley, as two announcers, one male and one female, solemnly read out the names of the victims being buried.
That took 64 minutes.

What happened

On that fateful day in 1995, some 30 000 Bosnian Muslims had flocked to the UN military base in the town's suburb of Potocari for refuge.

But when Serb forces came, they forced outnumbered Dutch peacekeepers to open the gates. The Serbs then separated out the Muslim men and boys, putting them on trucks and carting them away, the vast majority never to be seen again. The Dutch peacekeepers lived.

The Srebrenica memorial centre now stands across the road from that former UN base.

Andrew Gilmour, the special representative of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in neighbouring Serbia, represented the UN at the event, and other UN officials also attended, said Nick Birnback, spokesperson for the UN Peacekeeping department.

Ban plans to reaffirm the United Nations' sorrow over what took place in Srebrenica at a commemorative event on Monday, a spokesperson said.

The youngest victim buried on Sunday was 14, the oldest 78, joining nearly 4 000 already buried at the memorial centre. All the bodies had been excavated from mass graves and identified through DNA tests.

Another 1 844 victims have been identified, but their skeletons consist only of a few bones and relatives are refusing to bury them before more fragments are found.

Broken bones

Several months after the massacre, Serb troops excavated the original mass graves with bulldozers and moved victims to other locations in a futile effort to conceal the evidence of war crimes.

As the machines ploughed up bodies, they ripped them apart and fragments of the same person can be scattered among several sites.

Before the funeral, Muslim prayers and weeping mixed with the speeches of dignitaries condemning the crimes and calling for the perpetrators to be punished - something victims' families noted would not change the suffering they have endured.

Ahmet Cesko, 58, managed to evade being killed at Srebrenica by fleeing to government territory through the woods amid a manhunt by Serb troops. He came to pay his respect to comrades who did not survive the dangerous five-day hike.

Serb ambushes were set mainly next to creeks, he recalled, "like when you hunt animals, you wait next to water holes".

"Some of those I saw lying by the water I now see in coffins," he said.

Calls for Mladic

Serbian President Boris Tadic was the first dignitary to arrive on Sunday, saying he was coming in an "act of reconciliation". Some in the crowd yelled "Bravo, Boris!" while others asked "Where is Mladic?" - a reference to former Bosnian Serb general Ratko Mladic, who led the Serb troops into Srebrenica.

"I wish to welcome you, we are receiving you in peace," Kada Hotic, a representative of the Srebrenica widows, told Tadic while he held her hands.

Mladic and former Bosnian Serb president Radovan Karadzic were indicted with genocide for the Srebrenica massacre by the UN war crimes tribunal in 1995. Karadzic is now on trial at the tribunal in The Hague while Mladic is still a fugitive, presumably hiding in Serbia.

Tadic said he "will do everything" to apprehend all war crimes suspects in Serbia.

Other guests included Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Slovenian President Danilo Tuerk, Montenegrin President Filip Vujanovic, Austrian diplomat and Bosnia's administrator, Valentin Inzko, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and representatives of the European Union.

The US ambassador to Bosnia, Charles English, read a message from President Barack Obama that urged "governments to redouble their efforts" and arrest those responsible for the war crimes at Srebrenica.

Obama called the Srebrenica genocide a "stain on our collective consciousness" that occurred even after decades of pledges of "never again" after Nazi atrocities during World War II.

The Bosnian Serbs were represented at the ceremony by a low-level delegation, headed by the deputy president of their ministate within Bosnia. In a deliberate snub, Karadzic's Serb Democratic Party honoured him Saturday at a ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of the party's founding.

All but one of the victims buried on Sunday were Muslims. Rudolf Hren's grave will so far be the only one marked with a Catholic cross.

"They asked me if I wanted him to be buried elsewhere because this is mainly a Muslim graveyard," said his mother, Barbara Hren. "He died with them. Let him rest with them."

- AP

Read more on:    bosnia  |  war crimes

SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

 

Inside News24

 
/News
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Monday Welgemoed - 11:58 AM
    Road name: Jip De Jager Drive
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Kommissaris Street
  • Monday Milnerton - 11:51 AM
    Road name: Koeberg Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bosmansdam Road - expect delays
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

2 TV Series for R250

Get 2 TV Series box sets for R250 and save up to R148! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing deals on beauty & fragrances

Save up to 30% off beauty and fragrances. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 50% off hair care products!

Save up to 50% on professional hair care products at kalahari.com. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off academic books

Score a mind blowing 30% off academic books! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing deals on electronics!

Save up to 35% on electronics. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Samsung Galaxy Tab P7500 10.1" Tablet With WiFi & 3G

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 gives you a better experience for...

From R4999.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

There is a strong emphasis on relationships. Obsession, emotional disputes, retaliation or competitive actions are highlighted....read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.