On the 14th August, the Government of the Republika Srpska voted in favour of annulling a historic report acknowledging the genocide at Srebrenica, wherein 8,372 men and boys were murdered by Bosnian-Serb forces in the largest singular act of genocide in Europe, since WWII.
This vote came after a motion was tabled by the leader of the assembly, Milorad Dodik, to revoke the 2004 report (compiled by a previous Republika Srpska government) which he labelled “biased” and “untrue”. According to Dodik, the “Srebrenica crime is a staged tragedy with an aim to Satanize the Serbs” and place collective guilt on Serbia for the crimes committed during the Bosnian Civil War. The intent is clear, to downgrade the events of Srebrenica in July 1995 to just another act of war. We should all remember that the final stage of any genocide is denial and it is in the ignorance that denial produces that the seeds of future atrocities are sown.
Dodik’s motion comes in the wake of a list, devised by the ‘Mothers of Srebrenica’ and presented to German authorities, to help pinpoint the locations of Serbs alleged to have participated in the Srebrenica massacre.
This most recent expression of vitriolic denial (yes, Dodik has a history of denying the genocide at Srebrenica) flies in the face of an overwhelming amount of forensic evidence and witness testimony conducted by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), as well as declarations by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).
It is imperative that we denounce this act for what it is: a flagrant attempt by pro-Serbian politicians at rewriting history and denying Bosnian-Muslim survivors the legitimacy of their experience. It is, as UN Special Adviser Adama Dieng (commenting after the vote) said, “a step backwards for Bosnia and Herzegovina … undermin[ing] the rule of law and national and international efforts to achieve justice for victims of crimes committed against people of all ethnicities during the 1992-1995 Bosnian War.”
Dodik and all those who deny the genocide at Srebrenica are on the wrong side of history. Their propagandist attempts at denying the reality of what the atrocities committed at Srebrenica prevents proper reconciliation and widens the rifts between already fragmented communities. Acknowledgement of the genocide, and acceptance of responsibility, is one of the many necessary steps towards healing the rifts between the survivors of the Bosnian genocide and its perpetrators. This process has been (and must continue to be) supported by other communities on the regional, national and international levels. We must not allow the cynical manipulations of individuals, such as Dodik, to alter history and reopen the wounds caused by the war.
For more information about the genocide at Srebrenica and the Bosnian War please refer to http://www.srebrenica.org.uk/.
If you want to help raise awareness of the atrocity and bring your community together to stand against genocide denial please visit Remembering Srebrenica’s website on community action: http://www.srebrenica.org.uk/information/supporting-community-action/.
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Photo: Milorad Dodik, the President of Republika Srpska