Organisers did not permit politicians to hold speeches at the 2012 Srebrenica Commemoration.
By Drazen Remikovic for Southeast European Times in Sarajevo -- 12/07/12
Bosnian Muslims pray near coffins in the Memorial Centre at Potocari during a mass burial, near Srebrenica. [Reuters]
One month after new Serbia President Tomislav Nikolic enraged many by denying the genocide in Srebrenica, observers on Wednesday (July 11th) buried another 520 victims whose bodies had been exhumed from mass graves and identified.
More than 80 bodies of boys younger than 15 were identified among the victims and buried on the 17th anniversary of the genocide in Srebrenica in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), where the Republika Srpska army led by General Ratko Mladic killed about 8,000 Muslim men and boys in July 1995.
Suhra Sinanovic, president of the Association of Mothers of Drina Valley, said that the wounds have not healed even after 17 years. Her nephew, Avdo Sinanovic, was among those reburied on Wednesday.
"They found him after 17 years. I lost 23 family members in July 1995. The soldiers simply didn't choose whom to kill. They killed boys, old men, the wounded, the sick ... It is enough to see that the vast field is covered with graves. There is no word that can appropriately describe these monsters," Sinanovic told SETimes.
The service was attended by BiH officials, representatives of diplomatic corps, families of the victims, and guests from around the world. Because of Nikolic's statements, politicians were prohibited from giving speeches at the funeral.
Camil Durakovic, president of the municipality of Srebrenica and the main organiser of the commemoration, noted that given Nikolic's comment that "genocide didn't happen in Srebrenica," there was no need for him to attend. Nikolic had said he had no plans to attend the ceremony.
"No politician was allowed to make a speech [this year], because of the protest and revolt that the victims of Srebrenica are manipulated for political purposes," Durakovic told SETimes. "We heard what Nikolic said, and Serbia, in fact, revealed its true face. This is the most important event for all those who survived Srebrenica and we will not allow anyone to mar the memory of Srebrenica victims."
The killings were declared genocide by the International Court of Justice and the UN. Several Bosnian Serbs were convicted at the war crimes court for the crimes committed in Srebrenica. Nikolic, just days after being elected president of Serbia last month, dismissed the deaths as being committed by some Serbs who he said, "should be found, prosecuted and punished."
The victims' families and organisers of the commemoration were also upset that Serbs from nearby town of Bratunac organised Petrovdanski Days, when the RS marks the death of Serb soldiers in BiH's conflict, in conflict with the Srebrenica memorial.
Mirsad Sikma, 48, from Srebrenica, said that the organisation of the Petrovdanski Days is a provocation by Serb officials.
"I cannot imagine that someone will play loud music and organise entertainment, tournaments, while nearby goes a procession with the bones of killed fathers, brothers, sons of their neighbours: terrible, " Sikma told SETimes.
Mladen Bosic, president of the Serbian Democratic Party, has no problem with the two commemorations coinciding.
"Bosniaks are not the only ones whose family members were killed, but everyone else's too. Official Sarajevo [government] wants to get political favour and use the victims of Srebrenica for their political goals. All victims must be respected. Only that way we can reach a reconciliation and coexistence in BiH," Bosic told SETimes.