Bosnians remember their victims

18 years after their death in the Srebenica massacre, 409 newly identified victims were laid. Also on 11 July 2013, Radovan Karadžić’s acquittal for genocide in municipalities of Bosnia and Herzegovina was reversed.

On 11 July 1995, the genocide of over 8 000 Bosnian Muslims, mostly men and boys, was committed by Bosnian Serb forces commanded by Ratko Mladic.

On 11 July 2013, at Srebrenica Genocide Memorial, there was a funeral of 409 newly identified victims from the most violent atrocities in the recent European history. Among these were 44 young boys, all of them under 18 years of age. Up until now, 5 137 victimes are buried at the Memorial.

First step in fostering lost condition

Genocide is one of the worst forms of human rights violations. The massacre in Srebenica was a logistically planned and structured massacre. Establishing facts and acknowledging victims is the first step in fostering lost dignity, violated human rights and reconciliation for the entire region, as many NGOs do throughout the region. 

Conviction of Radovan Karadžić 

The conviction of Radovan Karadžić is another step in that direction. The recognition of the responsability of the genocide and insuring that extremist groups diminishing or relativising the genocide occured in Bosnia and Herzegovina are tried for their hate speech are two further essential components of reconciliation. 

Still no sign of change

The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia on 11 July 2013 unanimously reversed Radovan Karadžić’s acquittal for genocide in the municipalities of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Remembering victims of the worst consequence of ethnical hate also calls upon us to remember each country’s responsability in the region to address hate speech and ethnical division, as reported by the coalition of NGOs around the Human Rights House Sarajevo to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Recently, staff of the Human Rights House Foundation (HRHF) travelled to Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. For Florian Irminger, Head of Advocacy and HRHF Geneva Office, it is time that countries in the region fully address discrimination and hate speech.
-In Bosnia and Herzegovina signs of war are still very visible in people, buildings and organizations: the political organisation of the country has to change. Bosnia and Herzegovina had indeed promised to address discrimination in access to high-level political positions, Florian Irminger says. The schools in Bosnia and Herzegovina are based on the ethnic segregation of children (“two schools under one roof”), which should also be addressed and changed, as called upon by many internationals.

Although one could say that “on the surface, the country’s capital Sarajevo, its ancient mosques and Orthodox churches still pocked with holes from mortar fire, appears to be enjoying a renaissance“, more needs to be done throughout the region to avoid ethnical division.

Today we remember Srebrenica, and pay respect to all victims, to their families and to people who continue to seek justice.

Photo: Rosa Menkman, Creatice Commons. 

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