As details of the Nazi campaign to systematically eradicate the world’s Jewish population emerged after World War II, the world cried out “Never again!”
But in 1995, genocide occurred once again (and not for the first time since the Shoah), this time while the international community and a United Nations peacekeeping force watched.
The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) describes the war that ravaged Bosnia and Herzegovina between 1992 and 1995 as the deadliest of all the conflicts that surrounded the breakup of Yugoslavia. During the conflict, persons of all ethnicities were subject to atrocities committed by all sides struggling for power. However, the Srebrenica Genocide stands out not only as a symbol of the failure (others say betrayal) of the international community, but of humanity as well.
(The Srebrenica Genocide is also called the Srebrenica Massacre. However, I will continue to refer to the events as the Srebrenica Genocide, because I believe in the power of words. For me at least, substituting the word “massacre” for “genocide” only minimizes the events that occurred there, allowing revisionists to deny the truth.)
The circumstances of the war in Bosnia that ultimately led to the Srebrenica Genocide are exceedingly complex and difficult to decipher. In 1992, Bosnia and Herzegovina declared its independence from Yugolsavia. Serbia responded with military action and, mobilizing the Bosnian Serb community, occupied 70% of the country by April of that year. In its attempt to solidify “Greater Serbia,” Serb forces targeted Bosniaks, or Bosnian Muslims. Soon, Bosnian Croats turned on their Muslim neighbors and the conflict becomes three-sided.
In 1993, with the passage of UN Security Council Resolution 819, Srebrenica was officially declared a “safe area” for civilians. However, this did not stop Serb aggression. Humanitarian aid was prevented from reaching the enclave and in 1995, forces began laying siege upon Srebrenica. Bosniaks fled to the UN base at Potocari for protection, where they found none. Witnesses describe the Dutch peacekeeping force stationed there as at best, allowing Serb forces to “slaughter them,” and at worst, helping them to do so. Survivors are even suing the Dutch government and the UN for failing to protect them (For more information on the actions of the Dutchbat at Srebrenica and the lawsuit of victims, see http://srebrenica-genocide.blogspot.com/2007/06/un-dutch-cowards-on-trial-analysis.html). Ultimately, 8,000 Bosniak men and boys were murdered and many Bosniak women brutally raped.
On the 14th anniversary of the Srebrenica Genocide, once again, the world cries out, this time “Never Forget!”
I had intended on attending the Peace March and the commemorative events with my fellow Advocacy Project Fellows Alison and Kelsey of Bosfam and Simran and Donna of Women and Black. However, due to political reasons, I am not permitted to travel through Serbia, which is necessary for me to get to Bosnia. Instead, I took the opportunity to speak with women here in Kosovo on the Srebrenica Genocide.
This is what they had to say:
Posted By Tiffany Ommundsen
Posted Jul 13th, 2009