Srebrenica: 18 years after the genocide - REPORTING - PHOTOSESSION

Srebrenica: 18 years after the genocide - <span style="color: red;">REPORTING  - <span style="color: red;">PHOTOSESSION
# 28 March 2013 11:49 (UTC +04:00)

The Srebrenica Genocide is one of the bloodiest and painful events of the war in Yugoslavia, 1991-1995. Srebrenica enclave proclaimed by the UN Security Council as "safety zone" in April 1993 has been occupied by the Bosnian Serb Army. In 1995, more than 8,300 Bosnian Muslims were killed there.

The Srebrenica Genocide Memorial

The Srebrenica Genocide Memorial, officially known as the Srebrenica-Potočari Memorial and Cemetery for the Victims of the 1995 Genocide was erected in 2003. The names of 8372 victims were engraved on the gravestones at the memorial-cemetery complex. The victims also include men at the age of 13-77. “May revenge become justice. May mothers' tears become prayers. That Srebrenica never happens again. To no one and nowhere!” were inscribed on the memorial.

The bodies of 500-600 victims, who were identified, are buried at the cemetery every year. During the war, in order to cover the crime the Bosniaks’ bodies were buried in different places. So the opening of mass graves and identification of remains of the bodies are still being continued. Unidentified remains are being kept in a morgue in Tuzla city.

High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina Valentin Inzko believes that the burial of the remains of corpses is very important for the relatives of genocide victims: “A woman who has lost her children and husband in Srebrenica told me that she could sleep better after her family had been buried.”

Srebrenica Today

Totally 7000 people are living in Srebrenica, where the population was 36666 before the war. The city mayor said that unemployment rate is 43 % in Srebrenica. Thus young people are leaving the city. The local economy had based on the extraction of natural resources before the war. However, the war has destroyed the industrial zone.

"There is no incentive for people to live here," Camil Durakovic said.

Some of the Bosniaks returned Srebrenica and the surrounding areas after the events in 1995. 78% of the population of Srebrenica had been the Bosniaks, 9% - the Serbs before the war. About 4 000 Bosniaks are living in the city now, the rest of the population are the Serbs. The mayor said that the Muslims begun to return the city in 2003 and since then no incidents have been recorded between the Bosniaks and the Serbs.

“Those who committed the atrocities no longer live here and we have no problem with innocent Serbs. We only regret for this genocide and the fact that it resulted in hostility among the people. The war can change nothing. All parties have the same tragedy, because both sides suffered losses.

“The people in Srebrenica have good individual relations, because they have a tradition of coexistence,” – said Dragana Jovanovic, the director of the Friends of Srebrenica non-governmental organization. He notes that politicians take advantage of the Srebrenica events for additional votes. In order to hide any conflict or problem, they raise this problem.

According to Camil Durakovic, today, a Bosniak Muslim woman, who lost her husband and four children in the war, can quietly drink coffee with her Serb neighbor: “Of course, it took time to understand how to coexist. Once, first buses returning to Srebrenica after the war were stoned.”

Issues on punishment for culprits, compensation and property

According to Srebrenica Mayor, the main problem is that most perpetrators of the genocide would never be punished: “The number of perpetrators was large and proving it in the court is difficult. Some commanders signing decrees on murder have been brought to justice, others’ trials are going on, and some of the perpetrators have not been arrested yet.”

Bosniak resident of Priedor city of which Muslim population have mostly suffered during the war Zinaida Khosic considers that the punishment of a perpetrator is important for each victim of the crime: “Not all culprits in murder have been judged. I believe that most of them would not be judged in the Hague.”

International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia recognized the crime committed by the Serbs in Srebrenica as genocide in January, 2012.

The leadership of Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina has been found guilty of manslaughter in Srebrenica in 2003. However, the Serbs are still calling it as “serious war crime” and rarely use the phrase genocide.

The Serbian Parliament condemned the slaughters in Srebrenica and apologized to the relatives of the victims.

“Compensation has not been considered for the relatives of the Srebrenica victims and the issue on returning properties of the persons displaced due to Bosnia and Herzegovina conflict has been solved,” the city mayor said. Bosniak Fatima Orlovic displaced from Srebrenica is still suing for her lands. A church was constructed on her lands. Fatima Orlovic refuses to live in other place and demands restoration of her property right.

Srebrenica has managed to overcome hostility resulted with the killing of thousands of civilians and confrontation between the two communities. The city continues to bury its killed residents and still hopes the real perpetrators will be punished.

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