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19 newly identified victims of Srebrenica genocide to be buried

16th Jul 2021
19 newly identified victims of Srebrenica genocide to be buried

Every year on July 11, newly identified victims of the Srebrenica genocide in 1995 are buried.
(Credit: Paul Katzenberger/WikiCommons)

 

Nadine Osman

The funeral arrangements of 19 newly identified victims of the Srebrenica genocide were organised in time for the 26th anniversary of Europe’s worst genocide since World War II.

Every year on July 11, newly identified victims of the genocide – which claimed the lives of over 8,000 people – are buried in a memorial cemetery in Potočari, eastern Bosnia. Thousands of visitors from various countries will attend the funeral service and burials.

After this year’s funeral, the number of burials in the cemetery will rise to 6,671.

Azmir Osmanović, only 16 when he was killed, will be the youngest victim to be buried this year. Husein Kurbasic, the oldest, was 63.

More than 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were killed after Bosnian Serb forces attacked the UN “safe area” of Srebrenica in July 1995, despite the presence of

Dutch troops tasked with acting as international peacekeepers.

Srebrenica was besieged by Serb forces who were trying to wrest territory from Bosnian Muslims and Croats to form their own state.

The United Nations (UN) Security Council had declared Srebrenica a “safe area” in the spring of 1993. However, Serb troops led by General Ratko Mladić – who was sentenced to life for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide – overran the UN zone.

On July 6, 1995, Bosnian Serb forces attacked Srebrenica in earnest. The UN forces surrendered or retreated into the town, and Nato air strikes, called in to help, did little to slow the advance.

The enclave fell within five days. Mladić walked triumphantly through the town with other generals. Some 20,000 refugees fled to the main Dutch UN base.

The killing began the next day. As Muslim refugees boarded buses for evacuation, Bosnian Serb forces separated men and boys from the crowds and took them away to be shot.

Thousands were executed and then pushed into mass graves with bulldozers. Reports suggest some were buried alive, while some adults were forced to watch their children be killed.

Women and girls, meanwhile, were taken out of the queues of evacuees and raped. Witnesses spoke of streets littered with corpses.

Under-equipped Dutch soldiers witnessing the Serb aggression did nothing and about 5,000 Muslims sheltering at their base were handed over.A UN tribunal in The Hague that investigated the events later spoke of the huge amount of planning that went into the massacre.

“A concerted effort was made to capture all Muslim men of military age,” a judgement against one Bosnian Serb commander read. Buses carrying women and children were systematically searched for males, and often troops took young boys and elderly men who would not have been eligible to serve in the army.

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