Rus­sia nixes move to la­bel Sre­brenica mas­sacre a geno­cide

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - WORLD -

Rus­sia ve­toed a UN res­o­lu­tion Wed­nes­day that would have con­demned the 1995 mas­sacre of Mus­lims at Sre­brenica dur­ing the Bos­nian war as a “crime of geno­cide,” say­ing that sin­gling out the Bos­nian Serbs for a war crime would cre­ate greater di­vi­sion in the Balkans.

Two in­ter­na­tional courts have called the slaugh­ter by Bos­nian Serbs of some 8,000 Mus­lim men and boys who had sought refuge at what was sup­posed to be a UN-pro­tected site geno­cide.

But Rus­sia’s UN Am­bas­sador Vi­taly Churkin ob­jected to fo­cus­ing only on Sre­brenica, call­ing the res­o­lu­tion “con­fronta­tional and po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated” and stress­ing that Bos­nian Serbs and Croats had also suf­fered dur­ing the 1992-95 war that killed at least 100,000 peo­ple.

Bri­tain drafted the res­o­lu­tion to mark the 20th an­niver­sary of the Sre­brenica mas­sacre on Tues­day, but the vote was de­layed to ad­dress Rus­sian con­cerns.

The de­feated res­o­lu­tion states that ac­cep­tance of “the tragic events at Sre­brenica as geno­cide is a pre­req­ui­site for rec­on­cil­i­a­tion” and “con­demns de­nial of this geno­cide as hin­der­ing ef­forts to­wards rec­on­cil­i­a­tion.”

Bri­tain’s UN deputy am­bas­sador Peter Wil­son stressed that the res­o­lu­tion “did not point fin­gers of blame, score po­lit­i­cal points nor seek to re­open po­lit­i­cal di­vi­sions.” It also didn’t link the crimes at Sre­brenica to the Serb peo­ple and rec­og­nized there were vic­tims on all sides, he said.

The vote was 10 coun­tries in favour, Rus­sia cast­ing a veto, and four ab­sten­tions — China, Nige­ria, An­gola and Venezuela.

Lead­ers of the Bos­nian Serbs and Ser­bia, who have close re­li­gious and cul­tural ties to Rus­sia, have lob­bied Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin to vote “no.’

Ser­bia’s pro-Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Tomis­lav Nikolic said Rus­sia’s veto “not only pre­vented the throw­ing of guilt against the whole Ser­bian na­tion, try­ing to show it as geno­ci­dal, but it also proved that Rus­sia is a real and sin­cere friend.”

Wil­son said Bri­tain was “out­raged” by Rus­sia’s veto.

“Rus­sia’s ac­tions tar­nish the mem­ory of all those who died in the Sre­brenica geno­cide,” he said.

“Rus­sia will have to jus­tify its be­hav­iour to the fam­i­lies of over 8,000 peo­ple mur­dered in the worst atroc­ity in Europe since the Sec­ond World War.”

Bos­ni­ans re­acted bit­terly to the veto.

“This is a de­feat of jus­tice,” said Camil Du­rakovic, the mayor of Sre­brenica.

“The world has lost. The world —and es­pe­cially Ser­bia —will have to face the truth sooner or later,” he said.

Rus­sia’s Churkin be­gan his speech be­fore the vote ask­ing for a minute of si­lence in mem­ory of the vic­tims of Sre­brenica and ev­ery­one in the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil stood, many bow­ing their heads.

AP FILE PHOTO

Sre­brenica mas­sacre sur­vivor Nedzad Avdic , 37, touches the en­graved names of those killed in the 1995 mas­sacre.

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