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Bosnia Remembers Srebrenica Massacre Victims


In Bosnia, commemorations are under way to mark the 10th anniversary of the massacre of about 8,000 Muslim men and boys by Serb forces, who overran the U.N.-protected enclave of Srebrenica. Participants of a Sarajevo conference believe Serbs are now more willing to confront their role in the most brutal atrocity in Europe since World War II.

In June, a videotape was released showing members of a Serbian paramilitary unit as they carried out executions following the Serb capture of Srebrenica. Serbian President Boris Tadic called the video proof of a monstrous crime committed against persons of a different religion.

Participants at the Sarajevo conference, aimed at facilitating reconciliation between Bosnian Muslims and Serbs, say the video has had an impact in Serbia.

Michael Johnson, an American prosecutor advising Bosnians of all ethnic groups on prospective war crimes trials, detects a significant change of attitude within the Serbian government. Serbia, he believes, is now seeking to find the former Bosnian Serb commander, Ratko Mladic, who is charged with war crimes. He and Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic, are still at large.

Mr. Johnson says Serbia wants to put the past behind it.

"It [Serbia] has isolated itself in some respects from the world community because of its treatment of people like Ratko Mladic," said Michael Johnson. "Ratko Mladic represents Serbia's past. It is my belief that that past needs to be put behind the Serbian people. And I think they recognize that."

Tom Emmert, an historian at Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota, says reconciliation with be harder for Bosnian Muslims than for Serbs.

"They [the Serbs] have not had to deal directly for the last 10 years with the reality of digging up bodies," he said. "And trying to come to terms with the reality of the horror with which every day these people in Bosnia had to live."

Ten years after the Srebrenica massacre, say most analysts, the real work of reconciliation has yet to begin.

On the streets of Sarajevo Saturday, thousands of people assembled to pay their final respects to Muslim victims of Srebrenica, as a funeral convoy passed carrying bodies discovered in mass graves. They are to be buried Monday at a memorial cemetery on the outskirts of Srebrenica. Serbian President Tadic and his Bosnian Serb counterpart, Dragan Cavic, are expected to attend the ceremonies.

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