71 Srebrenica victims make final journey

28th Jul 2017
71 Srebrenica victims make final journey

People mourn around the convoy carrying corpses of the 71 victims of 1995 Srebrenica genocide, after the convoy arrived in Potočari village of Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina on July 9 2017 (Photo: Samir Yordamoviç/AA)

Talha Ozturk

The remains of 71 newly identified Srebrenica genocide victims were moved aboard a truck laden with flowers from the Bosnian city of Visoko on for their final journey to a cemetery in eastern Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The victims were buried in the village of Potočari , just north-west of the city of Srebrenica, on July 11 to mark the 22nd anniversary of the worst genocide on  European soil since the Second World War. The process to identify each of the victims, initially buried in mass graves and subsequently moved to other sites as officials tried to cover up their crimes, is still ongoing and every year dozens more are laid to rest.

A few hundred people had attended a ceremony in the city of Visoko to bid an emotional farewell to the victims.

The blue truck carrying the coffins was covered with a large flag of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

After passing by a Sarajevo suburb, Vogošća, the truck stopped in front of the Presidency building near a special memorial for children who were killed during the Bosnian War between 1992 and 1995. Around 1,500 children were killed during the 1995 siege of Sarajevo.

A prayer ceremony was followed by numerous officials led by the Bosniak [Bosnian Muslims] member of the tripartite Presidency of Bosnia Herzegovina, Bakir Izetbegović.

President of the Council of Ministers, Denis Zvizdić, Turkish Ambassador in Sarajevo, Haldun Koç, and other officials were also present. Addressing the media Izetbegovic said the Srebrenica genocide is still being denied by some.

“There is a provocation in many quarters such as with [erecting] monuments for those who deny the genocide, [who demand] the release of war criminals, etc. We need to have a positive attitude in order to overcome these issues. There is no other way out for the country in this complex structure,” said Izetbegovic.

Fatima Besic was among those who came to bid farewell to her cousin who was killed during the genocide.

“He died somewhere in the woods and was just found,” Besic said. “His mother died five years ago and did not have the chance to bid farewell.” Despite the fact that 22 years have passed since the Srebrenica genocide,  remains of victims are still being discovered and funeral ceremonies still being carried out in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Srebrenica was besieged by Serb forces between 1992 and 1995 during the Bosnian War. Back then, Serb militias were trying to wrest territory from Bosnian Muslims and Croats to form their own state.

The United Nations Security Council declared Srebrenica a “safe area” in the spring of 1993. However, Serb troops led by General Ratko Mladić – who now faces genocide charges in The Hague – overran the United Nations zone despite the presence of around 450 Dutch soldiers tasked with acting as United Nations peacekeepers.

The Dutch troops failed to act as Serb forces occupied the area, killing about 2,000 men and boys on July 11 alone.

Some 15,000 Srebrenica men fled into the surrounding mountains but Serb troops hunted down and slaughtered 6,000 of them in the forests.

Anadolu Agency

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