Nadina Ronc - LONDON
The war in Bosnia-Herzegovina was characterized by ethnic cleansing, rape, looting and the burning of villages but on July 11, 1995, it also became characterized by genocide.
As part of a meticulously planned and executed genocide, Serbs from Serbia along with Bosnian Serbs, under the command of General Ratko Mladic, separated men and boys from their female relatives.
What would follow would be unimaginable because it had already once befallen Jews during World War II, so it could not and should not have been repeated -- but it did.
In a matter of a few days, in the worst atrocity in Europe since World War II, Serbian death squads butchered over 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica.
To cover their crimes, they buried, dug up and reburied those bodies, making it difficult for families to find even the remains of their loved ones.
Some families have only had parts of their relatives’ remains identified. Some were told they might never find any remains, and others are still waiting.
They are identified by DNA and recognized by the clothes they were wearing at the time of their killings.
This year, 22 years later, the identified remains of 71 more Bosnian Muslim victims were buried yesterday at the Potocari Memorial Centre.
When the news broke that Dutch UN peacekeepers stood by and watched as Serbs separated men and boys from women and that a genocide was taking place in Srebrenica, the world stood by and simply let it unfold.
Bosnia, a country located in South-Eastern Europe and the Central Western Balkans, was burning and was slowly dying, yet no one came to its rescue.
The fact that the war in Bosnia -- a country that is geographically, historically and culturally part of Europe -- was allowed to last for more than three years, is primarily a disgrace for Europe and then the world.
It is hard to understand how a society (Europe in this case) that stands for human rights and freedoms could condone a genocide in its own backyard.
Yesterday, we marked the 22nd anniversary of the genocide committed in Srebrenica. The world, as usual, remembered it for a couple of minutes but they will never apologize for not preventing it.
They will refuse to remember when Elie Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor, talked about Bosnia during a speech at the opening of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1993.
Wiesel turned around to the newly elected President Bill Clinton and said: “We must do something to stop the bloodshed in that country.”
But Europe kept telling President Clinton that Bosnia was in their backyard and they would deal with it. But they did not; they refused to step in to help.
Between the time Elie Wiesel made that speech in 1993 and the genocide in Srebrenica in July 1995, almost 250,000 people were killed and 50,000 women and young girls were raped, but it was not in Europe’s interest to stop it.
Eventually, the U.S. stepped in and ended it, although only after the Bosnian Army began to win back its territory.
Over one million people were made refugees by the war in Bosnia and scattered around the world. My family and I were also among the refugees of that war.
While we must move on, we must never forget our history and what happened to us, because forgetting it is tantamount to denying that it happened.
We will continue to remember it and also remind the world of the lessons it keeps ignoring:
Never Forget Srebrenica - July 11, 1995
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