Remembering Srebrenica

By: Dan Bergin

Source: VIS/RS

Thousands of people are gathering in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica to remember the victims of Europe's worst massacre since World War Two.

In July 1995, around 8,000 Muslim men and boys were killed by Bosnian Serb forces after they overran the town during the Balkan bloodshed. Some 70 new coffins will join 6,504 white gravestones of Srebrenica men and boys already buried at the Srebrenica-Potocari Memorial.

Ahead of today's ceremony, thousands of people marched across Bosnia-Herzegovina to the memorial site to remember those who died 22 years ago.

Prosecutors at The Hague war crimes tribunal have called for a life sentence to be imposed on the Bosnian Serb military commander, Ratko Mladic, for genocide and crimes against humanity committed by his forces during the 1992-1995 Bosnian war.

But Natasa Kandic, a Serbian peace activist, has her doubts saying many Serbs regard him as a hero. She told Vatican Radio: "Mladic will be sentenced for genocide, but it will not change the picture of ordinary people about what happened in Srebrenica," she said.

"For them, Ratko Mladic is a hero. They will celebrate Ratko Mladic. They will not mention and they will not talk about the victims, they will talk about Ratko Mladic," Kandic added.

The 22nd anniversary of the massacre has also re-opened wounds in the Netherlands. Last month, a Dutch appeals court largely upheld a 2014 ruling finding the Netherlands responsible for the deaths of at least 350 Bosnian Muslim men in the Srebrenica massacre. It said that the Dutch state acted unlawfully in July 1995 as peacekeepers handed the men over knowing the dangers they faced.

Some 5,000 people had sought shelter from Bosnian Serb soldiers in a United Nations base, which was defended by the lightly-armed Dutch peacekeepers - known as Dutchbat. Thousands more had sought protection outside the base. But after the base was overrun, the Muslim men and boys were told by the Dutch peacekeepers they would be safe and handed over to the Bosnian Serb army. They never returned.

The UK based campaign group Remembering Srebrenica have launched a new video to encourage people to come together and unite against hatred. They say: Now is the time to build bridges in our communities and foster understanding between people no matter what their age, race, religion, sexual orientation or political views are.

See the video on Youtube here:

For more information on Remembering Srebrenica, see:

Share this story