Tens of thousands of people from Bosnia and other countries gathered in Srebrenica on Tuesday for the annual commemoration of the 1995 massacre and to give dignified burial to victims dug up from mass graves and newly identified through DNA analysis.
Twenty-eight years after his murder in the only European-recognized genocide since the Holocaust, 27 men and three teenagers were buried in the huge and sprawling memorial cemetery on the outskirts of Srebrenica in eastern Bosnia, where the graves of more than 6,000 victims.
The relatives of the victims can only bury some partial remains of their loved ones, distributed in different common graves, sometimes separated by several kilometers.
Mirsada Merdzic buried some of her father’s remains yesterday, Tuesday.
just a few bones
“Just a few bones were recovered because they found it (in a mass grave) near the Drina river,” she said, huddled next to a coffin covered in green cloth. “Maybe the river took it away.”
Selma Ramic buried a handful of her father’s bones several years ago, but she returns on anniversaries to commemorate others who suffered her fate.
“The only thing I have left of my father is a single photo, but I feel love for him in my heart,” Ramic said, adding: “He lives in us. He will live as long as we are alive.
The Srebrenica massacres occurred at the crescendo of the 1992-95 Bosnian war. The breakup of Yugoslavia unleashed nationalist passions and territorial ambitions that pitted Bosnian Serbs against the country’s two other main ethnic groups, Croats and Bosniaks.
massacre of 8,000 men
On July 11, 1995, the Bosnian Serbs occupied an area of Srebrenica that was under UN protection. They separated at least 8,000 Bosnian men of all ages and massacred them. Those who tried to escape were pursued through the forests and mountains that surround the ill-fated city.
The perpetrators of the massacre dumped the bodies into mass graves and later dug them up to disperse them in order to hide the evidence of the crimes.
Bosnian Serb political leader Radovan Karadzic and his military commander Ratko Mladic were convicted of genocide by a special UN court in The Hague. The same court and others in the Balkans have sentenced fifty Bosnian Serbs to more than 700 years in prison for the massacres.