22nd anniversary of the massacre of Srebrenica (July 11, 1995)
High Representative for Bosnia must remove politicians who are trying to obstruct accounting for war crimes (Press Release)
On the occasion of the 22nd anniversary of the massacre of Srebrenica (July 11, 1995), the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) demands more commitment for Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH), which is still ethnically divided. “Bosnian politicians must be urged to take responsibility for the past and for the future of the country. Those who are trying to obstruct the coming to terms with the war crimes and who are spreading hatred – such as the President of the Serbian part of the country, Milorad Dodik, and the Serbian mayor of Srebrenica, Mladen Gruji?i? – must be dismissed,” the STP wrote to the UN High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Valentin Inzko, on Monday. The human rights organization emphasized that it is unacceptable that, especially in the Republika Srpska, even condemned war criminals are glorified, that facts are denied, and that judgments of the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague are ignored. For example, there are attempts to deny the fact that at least 8,372 Bosniaks – especially men and boys – were murdered by Serbian troops in Srebrenica in 1995, and that about 30,000 women, children and old people from the region were expelled from the so-called UN protection zone in the east of the country. The international community has chosen to remain idle although the politicians and the military are not willing to take responsibility for any of the crimes.
On Tuesday, the mortal remains of 70 Srebrenica victims will be buried at the cemetery of Poto?ari near Srebrenica, among them seven minors. The youngest of them, Damir Sulji?, was only 15 years old on July 11, 1995. A total number of 6,504 victims of the massacre have been buried already – and the remains of about 7,400 victims were exhumed. More than 7,000 of them were identified based on DNA samples. The identification center in Tuzla is still working on the remains of about 800 victims who have not yet been identified – mostly very small skeletal parts – and relatives are still waiting for more mass graves to be opened, so that more of the remains can be matched.
“There are still hundreds of suspected war criminals living in the region around Srebrenica. They are a threat to the returnees,” the STP warned. When the Serb Mladen Gruji?i? was elected mayor of the city in October 2016, many returnees left Srebrenica again – for fear of open attacks. Since then, the security situation there has deteriorated significantly. Gruji?i? is a supporter of the Serb leaders Radovan Karadži? and Ratko Mladic, who were responsible for the Srebrenica massacre, and Gruji?i? is denying the genocide and the crimes against the Bosniaks in Srebrenica almost every day.
According to the STP, there are currently – 22 years after the end of the war – still about 98,000 internally displaced persons living in 121 centers, and about 6,800 to 8,000 people are still missing. The situation of the 60,000 to 80,000 Roma, who are the largest minority in Bosnia, is very difficult. The Roma, especially those who are not registered, are discriminated against – for example regarding the aspects of finding jobs, of social benefits, health insurance, questions of settlement and accommodation, access to personnel documents, and nationality issues.
Headerphoto: SPC Sara Hering via Wikimedia Commons