July 11. Remembering Srebrenica. Irina Marcovic, my dedicated student/orphan at the orphanage born in 1997 growing up at Dom Bjelave in the aftermath of war has quietly said on her Facebook page yesterday in English: “Remember Srebrenica. Never, never forget.” So Irina has inspired me to reach out to a small group of people in the hopes that you will take the time to read this and remember.
Even if you have zero interest in Bosnia, it gives you pause to think what can happen in a modern society. And gratitude for the life we have in America.
The attached article is thought provoking, considering the date, August 1995, a month after the Srebrenica, Bosnia massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys. Nick Wood from Political Tours (May 2012) told me to read this journalist’s (David Rohde) book as we sat quietly in the once “spa town” of Srebrenica, with former U.S. State Department tour leader Louis Sell and guests walking away from the memorial there in tears.
This eyewitness reporting is before Dayton Peace Accord, November 1995 which ended the 3-1/2 year Bosnia war. (After the war ended, there were numerous deaths and traumatic injuries from the presence of land mines throughout Bosnia. Why you are told even today to “walk on pavement.” Kosovo was never mined like this.)
When I was in Belgrade, Serbia following the tour stop in Srebrenica, there was a major exhibit in a city park about Srebrenica massacre. Photos of mass graves. Only no admitting who was responsible.
The new (2012) president of Serbia (a nationalist, elected a year ago) essentially denies Srebrenica. Recently there has been a soft apology. I’ve rarely met a Serb – in Bosnia or Serbia (except General Divjak) who will admit to it. They say, “oh its just war.” “Or, The Hague is poisoned against Serbs.” Or, “Srebrenica was a set up so the U.S. would get involved and help the Muslims.” When you read about the atrocities that journalist David Rohde describes here, its obvious this was not just war. In war, you don’t proceed to bury the bodies. Or commingle the remains in mass graves across the country to hide the crime, now proven by DNA identification, now classified by The Hague as genocide.
One of my Muslim friends in Sarajevo says today, “That’s OK. We don’t understand why they hate us so much. We don’t hate them as much as they hate us.”
This denial of Srebrenica is a stark example of why the situation in Bosnia is often described as a “frozen conflict.” Until the Serbs take responsibility for what occurred, its hard to move forward. After the U.S. discovered signs of Srebrenica mass graves via satellite photography in mid 1995, they (Albright/Clinton) and Britain rushed in to stop the war in November of that year. The Dayton peace treaty gave 49% of Bosnia to the Bosnian Serbs (who at this point were now losing the war which Muslims are very bitter about) and 51% to the Federation of Bosnian Muslims and Croats. Today there are 3 presidents in Bosnia – one Muslim, one Croat, one Serb, with no action going forward unless all three agree, which is nearly unachievable given the unresolved nature of what occurred. The beauty of Bosnia is its multi-ethnicity; the difficulty of Bosnia is its strategic location between Croatia and Serbia.
(On my recent trip in May 2013, a Bosnian infant died because the bureaucracy of too much inefficient government is late in assigning I.D. numbers to newborns, like our social security numbers. This prevented the parents from getting her prompt medical care because the infant couldn’t get a passport without an I.D. number for medical treatment in another country. Peaceful protests, mostly led by students, are ongoing.)
Regarding war crimes trials: the Nuremberg trials were held in Germany 2-3 years after WWII. In Bosnia, Srebrenica is just now coming to justice with Bosnian Serb General Mladic on trial at The Hague – which began 17 years after this event. Women from Srebrenica poured into the lobby (where I was sitting) to witness that first day. The trial is ongoing.
Mladic and former Bosnian Serb president Radovan Karadzic both hid in Serbia until 2011 and 2010 when they were given up in order that Serbia gain candidacy status for entry into the European Union. Serbia now has this. Bosnia does not. Croatia entered the EU this month, – it took them 10 years from candidacy status to entry.
July 11: Remembering Srebrenica. read 1995 article.