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Those Dark Days…

Thousands gathered in Srebrenica on July 11 to commemorate the 1995 massacre, and to bury 19 newly identified victims. It may be noted that more than 8,000 Bosniak Muslims were killed by the Bosniak Serb Forces in Srebrenica, a town located in the easternmost part of Republika Srpska, an entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in just 11 days (July 11-22, 1995). The 1995 Srebrenica Massacre is Europe’s only acknowledged Genocide since the Second World War.

Twenty-six years ago, the Serb Forces had executed 8,372 Bosniak Muslims, mainly men and boys, in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The local authorities recently found remains of 19 victims, including 16 men, two teenage boys and a woman, in mass graves and identified them through DNA analysis. Those remains were reburied this year at a memorial cemetery, where more than 6,600 other victims had already been reburied. A senior Government official confirmed the news, saying that Sarajevo gives a dignified burial to newly identified victims each year on July 11.

A Bosniak survivor of the genocide prays at the memorial cemetery

Kadefa Rizvanovic, who had lost 20 male relatives in the genocide, has said that she still has not found the remains of them. “As soon as I got up and had coffee, I came to visit the graves of my husband and his brother, to offer a prayer. My paternal and maternal uncles are also buried here. I offered a prayer for them and for all the victims of Srebrenica,” she stressed.

So far, approximately 6,700 victims have been buried at the memorial cemetery. Although the concerned authorities have identified more than 1,000 partial remains, their families are reluctant to bury them. They hope that the authorities will find more remains. Nearly 1,000 victims are still considered missing.

The Serb Forces had executed the victims when they tried to flee into nearby forest after Srebrenica was occupied by the former on July 11, 1995, just before the end of Bosnia’s 1992-95 Fratricidal War. Later, the Forces ploughed those bodies into hastily dug mass graves before excavating with bulldozers in an attempt to hide evidence of the crimes. The Srebrenica Genocide was the outcome of the bloody Civil War between the country’s three main ethnic factions – Serbs, Croats and Bosnians – after the break-up of Yugoslavia. More than 100,000 people were killed in the conflict, before a peace deal was struck in 1995.

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