Srebrenica survivors demand special status, not to be under Serbian rule

Thousands of survivors of Europe's worst massacre since World War II protested Monday in Sarajevo, demanding a special administrative status for the town of Srebrenica and saying it should not be run by Bosnian Serb authorities who were responsible for ge

Srebrenica survivors demand special status, not to be under Serbian rule
Thousands of survivors of Europe's worst massacre since World War II protested Monday in Sarajevo, demanding a special administrative status for the town of Srebrenica and saying it should not be run by Bosnian Serb authorities who were responsible for genocide there.

Protesters carried banners saying "Justice for all," and demanded Srebrenica no longer be part of the Bosnian Serb ministate, Republika Srpska, but to become an independent district within the state of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

"We are waiting for 12 years for the problem of Republika Srpska to be solved, for this criminal organization to be dismantled," said Kada Hotic, a Srebrenica survivor who lost her husband and son in the massacre.

During the Bosnian war, Bosnian Serb troops overran the Muslim enclave of Srebrenica in June 1995 and slaughtered up to 8,000 Muslim men and boys. The peace agreement that ended the 1992-95 war left the country divided into a Serb republic and a federation of Bosnian Muslims and Croats. Srebrenica ended up in the Serb ministate.

After the war, thousands of Muslims returned to Srebrenica but describe life there as hard and humiliating. At the beginning of March, the returnees called for a change in the Bosnian constitution to erase the ethnic division of the country, saying it was impossible to live in a town that offers few jobs and where perpetrators of genocide still live.

The International Court of Justice in The Hague declared in February that Bosnian Serb troops committed genocide in Srebrenica. The survivors base their claim for exemption of Srebrenica from Republika Srpska on this verdict.

Bosnian Serb authorities oppose any change of the status of the town fearing they might loose the ministate. They said they were ready to invest in the town to improve living conditions for the Muslim returnees, but will not allow any change of its administrative status or constitution.

But the idea of changing the constitution is supported by forces in the federation of Muslim Bosniaks and Catholic Croats, who seek to unify the entire country.

International officials have underlined that a change of the constitution can only be achieved through an agreement among all three ethnic groups.

This dispute is blocking the country on its path toward European Union membership.

Bosnian PM Haris Silajdzic personally took part in Monday's protest.

Last Mod: 11 Haziran 2007, 16:18
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