Newspaper article International New York Times

20 Years after Thousands Died, Srebrenica Massacre Casts Long Shadow

Newspaper article International New York Times

20 Years after Thousands Died, Srebrenica Massacre Casts Long Shadow

Article excerpt

Remains are still being unearthed from the killing of about 8,000 men and boys in 1995 in the worst atrocity committed in Europe since World War II.

As Europe marks the 20th anniversary of the massacre of about 8,000 Muslim men and boys at the Bosnian town of Srebrenica, the remains of victims -- arms, legs and heads hidden by Bosnian Serb forces -- are still being discovered.

The atrocity was the worst in Europe since World War II, and the exhumations are a vivid reminder that while the brutal violence of the Islamic State and Boko Haram has dominated the headlines recently, a mass killing took place on European soil on July 11, 1995, while the world looked the other way.

A few months before the end of the Bosnian war, Bosnian Serb forces under Gen. Ratko Mladic took over a United Nations "safe haven" in eastern Srebrenica, separated the men and boys from the women, bound their hands, led them to killing fields and shot them.

The bodies were later dumped in mass graves and then scattered to conceal the evidence. Some among the handful that survived did so by pretending to be dead and hiding under corpses.

On Saturday, a remembrance of the massacre will be held at the Srebrenica-Potocari Memorial in Bosnia, where rows of tombstones testify to the cruelty of the war. Past and present world leaders, including the presidents of Croatia, Montenegro and Slovenia, are expected to gather at a commemoration for the victims. News reports said former President Bill Clinton, whose administration brokered the accords that ended the war, would also attend, although that has not been confirmed.

Paddy Ashdown, who was the European Union's high representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina from 2002 to 2006, said at a ceremony in Westminster Abbey in London this week that the world must never again stand silent in the face of genocide.

"We could have prevented this horror," he said. "We chose not to. We should therefore remember Srebrenica, not just to bear witness to those who suffered, but also as a warning to us all of what happens when we turn our back."

Yet in a region still haunted by the past, reconciliation has been halting and deep wounds remain.

In a sign of the challenges, Russia on Wednesday vetoed a draft United Nations Security Council resolution that condemned the massacre as a "crime of genocide." Serbia, Bosnian Serbs in Bosnia and Russia, which is a close ally of Serbia, had criticized the British-drafted resolution as being one-sided, divisive and "anti- Serb." The Hague-based war crimes tribunal has ruled that the massacre constitutes a genocide.

The Serbian news media reported that Tomislav Nikolic, the Serbian president, who has previously apologized for Srebrenica but has declined to call it a genocide, would not attend the ceremony on Saturday in Bosnia. …

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