UN's Ban honours Srebrenica massacre dead

2012-07-26 12:01


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Srebrenica - UN Chief Ban Ki-moon on Thursday laid flowers at the Potocari cemetery, near Srebrenica, where more than 6 500 victims of Europe's worst atrocity since World War II are buried.

He is due to meet the survivors of the massacre later on Thursday.

Ban is the first UN secretary-general to visit Srebrenica since the 1995 massacre, in which Bosnian Serb troops killed around 8 000 Muslim men and boys in the days after they captured the UN-protected enclave on 11 July 1995.

The Bosnian Serbs brushed aside lightly armed Dutch peacekeepers in the UN "safe area" where thousands of Muslims from surrounding villages had gathered for protection.

Ban told the Bosnian parliament on Wednesday that the UN at the time had not lived up to its responsibility.

"The international community failed in preventing the genocide that unfolded. But we have learned from the horror and we are learning still," he told lawmakers.

Too little, too late

His visit has received a mixed reaction from victims.

Some have praised it, saying they hope it will keep the UN from looking on as genocide is carried out in the future.

Others however have dismissed it as too little, too late.

"The fact that Ban is coming today doesn't really say much because the UN did nothing when the Srebrenica massacre happened," Hajra Catic, who lost her husband and son in the slaughter, told journalists.

"There will be no justice as long as ... the UN hides behind its immunity," she said, looking out over the vast Potocari cemetery dotted with thousands of white columns marking the graves of the victims.

"Maybe Ban's conscience will be roused and he will do something when he has seen all these graves."

The Srebrenica massacre has been ruled a genocide by two international courts.

Two men accused of masterminding the slaughter, former Bosnian Serb political leader Radovan Karadzic and his army chief Ratko Mladic, are on trial at the UN's Yugoslav war crimes tribunal in the Hague after years on the run.

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