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A Bosnian Muslim woman mourns by the caskets of 33 newly identified bodies of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre before their inhumation A Bosnian Muslim woman mourns by the caskets of 33 newly identified bodies of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre before their inhumation   (AFP or licensors)

Thousands mourn In Bosnia on 24th anniversary of Srebrenica massacre

Thousands of mourners have gathered in Bosnia-Herzegovina to commemorate the 24th anniversary of what became known as the Srebrenica massacre, the worst mass killing in Europe since World War II. Among them the many relatives of the thousands of Muslim victims.

By Stefan J. Bos

Prayers reverberated throughout the area where survivors and relatives of the 8,000 Muslim men and boys killed by Bosnian Serb troops gathered to attend a ceremony at a memorial site on the outskirts of the Bosnian town of Srebrenica. 

They remembered the 24th anniversary of Europe's worst massacre since World War Two. The mourners also paid their respect during the burial of 33 newly identified victims of the massacre which happened in July 1995 after 
Bosnian Serb forces overran the town.  

Listen to Stefan Bos' report

Relatives of those who died recalled how many victims were ambushed along forest routes while fleeing Srebrenica in scorching heat without food or water.  They were either shot on the spot or taken to collective centers where they were executed and thrown into mass graves.

Eventually, the war ended after the international community finally intervened. 

International prosecution

Jamie Shea was the spokesman of the NATO military alliance at the time. 

He noted that several key figures behind the massacre have faced justice. "The Srebrenica massacre did lead to the first ever international prosecution for the crime of genocide, even though the UN Convention on Genocide has been in existence since 1948. So to that extent, yes it was a significant step forward for international law and the notion of accountability," he said. 

"It was not just General Mladic, it was his deputy General Krstic who was also in command on that day, who was the first person to be convicted for genocide- and of course the political mastermind, Radovan Karadzic has also now finally faced justice," Shea explained in an interview with Euronews television. 

Although the mass killings were branded genocide by international courts, Serbian and Bosnia Serb officials refuse to use the term. They did not even send an official delegation to the commemoration on Thursday.

A joint statement by European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and EU enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn described the "genocide" in Srebrenica as "one of the darkest moments of humanity in modern European history."

"There is no place for inflammatory rhetoric, for denial, revisionism or the glorification of war criminals," they stressed. "Attempts to rewrite history in Bosnia and Herzegovina or anywhere are unacceptable."

And while thousands have been buried in recent years, more than 1,000 victims are still considered missing from the mass slaughter during the Bosnian civil war. Therefore, many more ceremonies are expected, as the wounds of the Balkan's recent history take time to heal.

11 July 2019, 16:59