SREBRENICA, Bosnia-Herzegovina — Virtually joined by world leaders, the survivors of Bosnia’s 1995 Srebrenica massacre on Saturday remembered the victims of Europe’s only acknowledged genocide since World War II and warned of the perpetrators’ persistent refusal to fully acknowledge their responsibility.
Speaking at a commemoration ceremony for the thousands of massacre victims, held in the memorial center and cemetery just outside Srebrenica, a top Bosnian official warned that the extent of the 1995 slaughter is still being systematically denied despite irrefutable evidence of what happened.
“I am calling on our friends from around the world to show, not just with words but also with actions, that they will not accept the denial of genocide and celebration of its perpetrators,” said Sefik Dzaferovic, the Bosnian Muslim member of the country’s tripartite presidency.
“The Srebrenica genocide is being denied [by Serb leaders] just as systematically and meticulously as it was executed in 1995. . . . We owe it not just to Srebrenica, but to humanity, to oppose that,” he added.
In July 1995, at least 8,000 mostly Muslim men and boys were separated by Serb troops from their wives, mothers, and sisters, chased through woods around Srebrenica and killed by those forces in what is considered the worst massacre on European soil since the Third Reich.
The killing spree was the most brutal episode of the 1992-95 war in Bosnia, which began after the breakup of Yugoslavia. More than 100,000 people, an overwhelming majority of them Bosnian Muslim civilians, were killed in the war between Bosnian Serbs, Croats, and Muslims before a peace deal was brokered in 1995.
After murdering their victims in Srebrenica a quarter of a century ago, Bosnian Serb soldiers dumped their bodies in numerous mass graves scattered around the town.
Dozens of world leaders, who were prevented by the coronavirus pandemic from attending the commemoration service in person, sent video messages Saturday in which they urged tolerance and reconciliation in Bosnia, a nation that remains deeply ethnically divided.
They included Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Prince Charles.