Email
Password
Remember meForgot password?
    Log in with Twitter

article imageThousands march to remember Srebrenica victims

By Rusmir Smajilhodzic, Calin Neacsu (AFP)     Jul 8, 2015 in World

Survivors of the Srebrenica massacre set out with thousands of others Wednesday on a solemn 105-kilometre march ahead of the 20th anniversary of the killing of nearly 8,000 Muslims near the UN-protected enclave.

Their route across Bosnia retraces the one taken by the men and boys fleeing Bosnian Serb forces who later overran Srebrenica, setting the stage for what many describe as a genocide.

At the United Nations on Wednesday, Russia vetoed a draft resolution recognising the massacre as genocide.

Within days of the July 11, 1995 assault by the Serb troops nearly 8,000 of those men and boys were massacred in what was Europe's worst atrocity since World War II.

In total some 10,000 to 15,000 Muslim men and boys tried to escape on foot through the forests to Muslim-controlled territory in the hours before the Serbs arrived.

Map and description of the events that led to the 1995 Srebrenica massacre
Map and description of the events that led to the 1995 Srebrenica massacre
, Graphics/AFP

The lucky ones reached Muslim territory within five days, although some took over a month to reach safety.

Some survivors have joined in the three-day memorial march along the 105-kilometre (65-mile) route, heading from the eastern town of Nezuk to Srebrenica.

The marchers were walking in the opposite direction taken by the fleeing Muslims, who arrived in Nezuk after escaping Srebrenica.

"It took me seven days to reach Nezuk. It was horrible... dead people, blood everywhere. I saw my neighbours, friends, relatives, but they couldn't be helped," one participant, Nedzad Mujic, 46, told AFP.

"We were all fighting for our own lives. Some people even left their own children behind," said Mujic, struggling not to cry.

The marchers are due to arrive at a Srebrenica memorial centre in Potocari on the eve of a commemoration of the massacre's 20th anniversary on Saturday.

-'Never forget'-

On Wednesday, some marching at the front of the column carried wartime-era Bosnian flags and many wore white T-shirts that read "I survived".

Coffins of some of the victims of the Srebrenica massacre at the Srebrenica memorial center  northea...
Coffins of some of the victims of the Srebrenica massacre at the Srebrenica memorial center, northeast of Sarajevo
Koca Sulejmanovic, AFP/File

"I take part in this march every year so that what we went through is not forgotten," Mujic said.

"The world should never forget a genocide was committed here," he said, recalling the atrocity in which he lost his father, a brother and several other male members of his family.

Mujic recalled the last day he saw them, July 10.

"That July 10 for me meant separation from my family... It was goodbye. I never saw them again."

The remains of his loved ones were found, identified and buried at a Srebrenica memorial in 2006.

Only parts of most victims' remains have been found. In many cases their bones were moved from mass graves to so-called "secondary" graves in an effort to hide the true extent of the massacre.

Bosnian women weep at the grave of a victim of the Srebrenica massacre at a memorial cemetery in Pot...
Bosnian women weep at the grave of a victim of the Srebrenica massacre at a memorial cemetery in Potocari, near Srebrenica, on March 31, 2003
Koca Sulejmanovic, AFP

So far the remains of more than 6,000 Srebrenica victims have been found, painstakingly identified and reburied.

Although the massacre occurred two decades ago, Bosnian Serb and Serbian leaders have persistently refused to describe it as genocide as defined by international courts.

Another survivor Suad Pasalic, who is now living in the Netherlands, remembered that in the forests they were "hunted like rabbits."

The 53-year-old recalled that when he finally arrived in the Muslim-controlled territory "at first I was happy, but then miserable, waiting in vain for the arrival of my cousins, neighbours, friends.

"But 80 percent of them never arrived," he said in a trembling voice.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic of Serbia said would attend the 20th anniversary commemoration of the Srebrenica massacre this weekend in a bid to forge reconciliation.

"It is time to show that we are ready for reconciliation and that we are ready to bow our head before other peoples' victims," Vucic told reporters.

Four other countries at the Security Council -- Angola, China, Nigeria and Venezuela -- abstained from the vote condemning the mass killing 20 years ago as an act of genocide.

But Serbia has been upset with the British attempt to have the UN Security Council pass a resolution saying recognition of genocide "is a prerequisite for reconciliation."

Bosnia's 1992-1995 war between its Croats, Muslims and Serbs claimed some 100,000 lives.

Four other countries at the UN Security Council -- Angola, China, Nigeria and Venezuela -- abstained from the vote Wednesday condemning the mass killing as an act of genocide.

More about Bosnia, Conflict, Srebrenica, Anniversary, March
More news from
Latest News
Top News