The remains of 19 more victims of the Srebrenica genocide have been sent for burial in the village of Potocari on the eve of the 26th anniversary of the 1995 genocide. Scores of people came out in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the nearby town of Visoko to bid a final farewell to the recently identified victims. Every year on July 11, newly identified victims of the genocide are buried in a memorial cemetery in Potocari in the eastern part of the country.
After passing by Vogosca, a Sarajevo suburb, the truck carrying the coffins, draped with a large flag of Bosnia and Herzegovina, stopped in front of the presidency near a memorial for children killed in the Bosnian War between 1992 and 1995.
Around 1,500 children were massacred during the brutal 1995 siege of Sarajevo by Bosnian Serb forces.
Husein Kavazovic, grand mufti of Bosnia and Herzegovina, led people in prayers for the departed. There were emotional scenes as the truck passed through the streets, with large crowds of people, including women and children, seen crying and praying for the victims.
Sefik Dzaferovic, a Bosnian member of the country’s presidency council, Croat member Zeljko Komsic, and Montenegro’s Deputy Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic attended the ceremony in Sarajevo. Dzaferovic said it was critical that the parliaments of Kosovo and Montenegro passed bills against the Srebrenica genocide.
“I will not forget the victims of the genocide until Judgment Day. This pain is too great,” he said.
Montenegro’s parliament last week adopted a resolution banning public denial of the atrocity and said Serbs in general should not be blamed for genocide, but only those individuals who committed the war crime.
Kosovo lawmakers backed a resolution earlier this week condemning the genocide.
After Sunday’s burials in Potocari, the number of genocide victims laid to rest in the memorial cemetery will rise to 6,671.
More than 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were killed when Bosnian Serb forces attacked Srebrenica in July 1995, despite the presence of Dutch peacekeeping troops.
The Serb forces were trying to wrest territory from Bosnian Muslims and Croats to form a state. The UN Security Council had declared Srebrenica a “safe area” in the spring of 1993. However, troops led by General Ratko Mladic, who was later found guilty of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide, overran the UN zone.
Dutch troops failed to act as Serb forces occupied the area, killing some 2,000 men and boys on July 11 alone.
About 15,000 residents of Srebrenica fled to the surrounding mountains, but Serb troops hunted down and killed 6,000 more people. Bodies of victims have been found in 570 different places in the country.
In 2007, the International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled that a genocide had been committed in Srebrenica. On June 8, 2021, UN tribunal judges upheld in a second-instance trial a verdict sentencing Mladic to life in prison for the genocide, persecution, crimes against humanity, extermination, and other war crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina.