While thousands of Bosnians gathered to commemorate the victims of the Srebrenica massacre on July 11, many Bosnian Serbs including top politicians still deny that this was the bloodiest massacre since the Holocaust. The genocide was not marked by officials in Republika Srpska – the Serb-dominated smaller entity that makes up Bosnia & Herzegovina together with the Muslim-Croat Federation.
Over 7,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were killed and 25,000 women and children were deported from the UN-designated ‘safe area’ of Srebrenica in July 1995. The killings were ordered by Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and conducted under the command of his military chief, General Ratko Mladic. Karadzic was sentenced to 40 years in jail by the UN war crimes tribunal in March after he was found guilty of ten of 11 charges, including genocide in Srebrenica. Mladic is still awaiting his verdict.
“I don’t want to forget all this. What will happen if we all forget? Who will remember,” lawyer Dzemail Dzeme Becirevic, one of the survivors of the Srebrenica massacre, told daily Avaz during the peace march to the village of Potocari near Srebrenica.
“Tonight we shall commemorate the genocide in Srebrenica, the scariest and most painful wound of BiH, the saddest and most terrible event in the history of BiH… We shall never forget Srebrenica, but we can start the process of talking, of reconciliation but only after those who ordered and committed those war crimes… are shown in the face of truth,” Bosnia’s state-level Prime Minister Denis Zvizdic said at commemoration ceremony in London.
While thousands mourned and buried the bodies of 127 more victims of Srebrenica in Potocari, Milorad Dodik, the controversial president of Republika Srpska, was quoted by daily Nezavisne Novine as saying that there had been no genocide in Srebrenica.
“… There will be no reconciliation until the Serbs admit the genocide. I tell you that we will not recognise a genocide. Genocide has not happened. It all began with a false story about 8,700 casualties, then the Hague tribunal reduced [their number] to 5,000 and it is reduced to 4,000. We don’t know what is the truth. We don’t run away from this but want the truth,” Dodik was quoted as saying.
Dodik is a long-time defender of Karadzic, claiming that he was a hero. He also claims that Bosnia cannot exist as a state and that Republika Srpska should become independent.
On the other hand, the leader of the Serb Democratic Party Mladen Bosic said that Serbs in the autonomous Brcko district want to live in peace with the Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims).
“May those who deny and remain silent about the genocide in Srebrenica think over what has been done and reconcile with the darkest stain in their history. They must know one thing – acceptance and admission of truth is the first step to true reconciliation,” the chairman of Bosnia’s tripartite presidency Bakir Izetbegovic said at the Srebrenica commemoration.