SREBRENICA: Some 30,000 Muslims from across Bosnia yesterday gathered to remember the 1995 Srebrenica massacre and bury the remains of more than 300 newly identified victims.
The sombre funeral ceremony for the 308 Muslims, who were among 8,000 killed in Europe’s worst atrocity since World War II, was held at a memorial site just outside the eastern town.
The remains of the victims, aged between 15 and 84, were exhumed from mass graves after the end of Bosnia’s 1992-1995 war and identified by DNA analysis.
After leading mourners in prayer, Bosnia’s Islamic leader Mustafa Ceric called on the European parliament to proclaim July 11 a day of mourning across the continent.
“On that day in all capitals, events should be organised at which nations of Europe would make a vow to each other that genocide and the Holocaust will never happen again,” Ceric said in a speech.
In Belgrade, President Boris Tadic vowed Serbia’s new West-leaning government would do its utmost to “arrest” former Bosnian Serb general Ratko Mladic, still wanted on genocide charges in relation to the massacre.
Mladic and the other main accused, his former political leader Radovan Karadzic, remain at large and are thought to be hiding in Serb-run parts of the Balkans.
The Srebrenica massacre happened near the end of Bosnia’s war, after Serb forces overran the then UN-protected enclave, summarily killing some 8,000 Muslim men and boys.
At yesterday’s ceremony, survivors and victims’ relatives were joined by diplomats and local leaders led by the Croat and Muslim members of Bosnia’s tripartite presidency — Zeljko Komsic and Haris Silajdzic.
“Today, when we remember with sadness this crime, I want to stress that we will never give up the search for justice and those who are responsible for genocide,” said Miroslav Lajcak, the top international envoy to Bosnia.
The International Court of Justice and the UN war crimes tribunal, both based in The Hague, have ruled that the Srebrenica massacre was an act of genocide.
“It’s a shame that … Karadzic and Mladic are not arrested,” US war crimes ambassador John Williamson said in a newspaper interview published yesterday, pledging to press for their detention.
His words were echoed by the victims’ relatives.
“We are still fighting to prove to the world what has happened here while those who are the most responsible for the crime are being rewarded with freedom,” said Munira Subasic, head of an association of Srebrenica mothers.
Another mourner, Vanesa Mehmedovic watched on as remains of her father were simultaneously laid in graves along with the 307 other victims. – AFP