Dignitaries from around the world joined tens of thousands of mourners this week to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Serb massacre of 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica. European and U.N. leaders apologized Monday for their failure to protect the enclave of Srebrenica, designated as the world’s first civilian “safe area.” In July 1995, Bosnian Serb forces overwhelmed 370 lightly armed Dutch U.N. peacekeepers and killed every Muslim man and boy they captured.
Dutch journalist Stefan Bos, of Dutch BNR Radio and director of Bos-News Life, covered the wars in the former Yugoslavia. Speaking with host Judith Latham of VOA News Now’s International Press Club, Mr. Bos said that within The Netherlands there is a “clear sense” that the Dutch had “failed” in Srebrenica to protect the Muslim residents. Furthermore, the Dutch government of the time has been strongly criticized for taking 6 years to “come up with a report” on the matter. Stefan Bos added that the massacre took place in Europe’s “backyard” and no one did anything.
In neighboring Croatia, according to Croatian journalist Barry Brkic, many people view the massacre in Srebrenica as a “crime against humanity” and think justice has not yet been done. He noted that Serbian President Boris Tadic went to Monday’s ceremony “personally” – without the blessing of the Serbian Parliament.
But Mr. Brkic said there are individual Serbs whose actions have been admirable. One such person, he said, is Natasha Kandic, director of the Humanitarian Law Center in Belgrade, who a few weeks ago “exposed irrefutable proof” of the massacre.
Aleksandar Timofejev, host and editor at Serbia’s independent television station B-92 in Belgrade, said that despite the film recording the slaughter of six Muslim boys by Serb paramilitary forces that Ms. Kandic provided to Serbian television, many Serbs are still in “denial” of what happened a decade ago in Bosnia. And he criticized the Serbian Parliament for its failure to condemn the “crime.”
According to the former wartime editor of the Bosnian daily Oslobodjena, the only paper continuing to publish throughout the war, the sight on Monday of the “loneliness” of the women of Srebrenica in their search for their loved ones – and for justice – poses a fundamental question.
Kemal Kurspahic said he asks himself whether the international community has really learned anything from the genocide in Srebrenica. Had they done so, he said, those most responsible for the crime would not still be at large. Making Srebrenica a “living memory” to its dead and Bosnia a functional state is more important than “issuing statements of being ashamed,” Mr. Kurspahic said.
To listen to all of the comments, click on the audio link above.