Srebrenica genocide: the UN creates a Day of Commemoration, denounced by the Serbs

Srebrenica genocide: the UN creates a Day of Commemoration, denounced by the Serbs
Srebrenica genocide: the UN creates a Day of Commemoration, denounced by the Serbs

A text to “encourage reconciliation”. The UN General Assembly on Thursday created an International Day of Commemoration of the Srebrenica Genocide, in Bosnia-Herzegovina, despite the anger of Belgrade and the leader of the Bosnian Serbs who still refuses to recognize it.

This vote is, “for the survivors, yet another proof that we are not alone in our mission to preserve the truth,” Almasa Salihovic, spokesperson for the city’s Memorial Center, told Srebrenica. “We have to send this message that we can live together, but sometimes we have to accept the more bitter sides of history, which is that genocide was committed in the name of one people against another people. We must accept this so that this society can heal,” she insisted.

“Persistent revisionism”

The resolution, prepared by Germany and Rwanda, two countries marked by other genocides in the 20th century, received 84 votes for, 19 votes against and 68 abstentions. “This resolution seeks to encourage reconciliation, today and for the future,” justified German Ambassador Ante Leendertse, insisting on the role of the UN in ensuring that the crimes of the past are not repeated.

One year before the 30th anniversary of the massacre, the resolution proclaims July 11 as the “International Day of Reflection and Commemoration of the Genocide Committed in Srebrenica in 1995”. The text also condemns “without reservation any denial of the historicity of the genocide committed in Srebrenica” and “acts which glorify the people who have been found guilty” of these crimes.

This resolution is “all the more important given the persistent revisionism (…) and hate speech” of certain political leaders in the region, commented the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk .

8,000 dead

On July 11, 1995, a few months before the end of the intercommunal conflict that had raged in Bosnia for three years, Bosnian Serb forces commanded by General Ratko Mladic took the town of Srebrenica. In the following days, around 8,000 Muslim men and teenagers were executed. The massacre, the worst killing perpetrated in Europe since the Second World War, was described as genocide by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Court of Justice (ICJ). It is therefore an indisputable “fact”, insist the supporters of the resolution.

However, it is contested. “There was no genocide,” Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik insisted from Srebrenica on Thursday, warning the international community in advance that he would reject the resolution. “We are telling you right now that we will not accept it. It will not be included in school curricula and we will not commemorate July 11.”

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic traveled to New York and denounced a “highly political” resolution. It “will open old wounds and cause political havoc, not only in our region, but also here” at the UN, he said, assuring that he paid tribute to “all the victims of the conflicts in Bosnia , Serbs and Bosniaks (Muslims, Editor’s note).”

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