Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Massacre of Muslims: A town still in denial

Once every year, the Mothers of Srebrenica host a ceremony to remember their fathers, sons, husbands and brothers who were hunted down and systematically murdered by Serbian forces on 11 July 1995. They were killed because they were Muslim.
This intensely moving event is held in the Potocari cemetery, where some of the 8,000 victims whose bodies have been found are buried. Many more are thought to remain undiscovered in the surrounding mountains.
The graveyard is opposite the United Nations base which was fatally abandoned by Dutch peacekeepers, a decision which gave the green light for the Srebenica genocide to take place.

Usually the mayor of Srebenica plays a major role in organising the ceremony. Not this year. Camil Durakovic, President of the Organising Committee and himself a former mayor, told us that "the mayor was not invited because he denies the genocide". 
Munira Subasic, president of the Mothers of Srebrenica, told us that "anybody who denies genocide is not welcome in the memorial centre".
Subasic, 67, lost her son Nermin and husband Hilmo in the genocide. She said: "In a town where genocide was committed, having a genocide denier as a mayor is unacceptable."
Her organisation speaks for an estimated 6,000 women who lost loved ones on 11 July 1995.

The denial of genocide

How can it be that Srebenica has elected a genocide denier just two decades after the deliberate, cold-blooded massacre of more than 8,000 Muslims in this once sleepy Bosnian town?
It is as if Buchenwald or Belsen had elected a Holocaust denier as mayor in the aftermath of World War Two.
The answer is grim. The massacre of Bosnian Muslims (so-called “Bosniaks”) in 1995 worked only too well.
Srebrenica is located in the Bosnian Republika Srpska, hard by the border with neighbouring Serbia. The Serbs ethnically cleansed the area – today a largely autonomous Serb majority statelet within Bosnia -  during the civil war, and Bosnian Muslims who return have not been made welcome.
Most of the town's former Muslim residents are either dead or have emigrated. Srebrenica is now controlled by Bosnian Serbs, many of whom refuse to accept that a genocide took place.
Nedzad Avdic, a survivor of the genocide, told us: "Our first child is starting at the local school. They are being taught that the genocide never happened.
“You turn on the TV and it is like the war never ended."
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