Never for­get Bos­nia geno­cide

The Star Early Edition - - LETTERS - Yas­mina Sadeck

JULY marks the 22nd an­niver­sary of the worst atroc­ity on Euro­pean soil since World War II, the geno­cide in Sre­brenica.

There are har­row­ing tales from the siege of Sara­jevo, the prison camps, photos, and the sys­tem­atic rape as a tool for eth­nic cleans­ing of Mus­lims.

On July 11, 1995, near the end of the war, Bosnian Serb sol­diers swept into a UN-des­ig­nated “safe haven”, tak­ing young men, boys, and some el­derly men. Over the days that fol­lowed, they ex­e­cuted them and dumped their bod­ies in pits. More than 8 000 Bosnian Mus­lim men and boys were mas­sa­cred and buried in mass graves.The ex­e­cu­tions were well-planned, and the Serb army made con­sid­er­able ef­fort to dis­guise its ac­tiv­i­ties. While the killings took place over a few days, the process of find­ing the bod­ies took years, and the task of iden­ti­fy­ing and bury­ing them prop­erly con­tin­ues to this day.

An es­ti­mated 20 000-50 000 women, mostly Bosnian Mus­lim, were sub­jected to sex­ual vi­o­lence in Bos­nia-Herze­gov­ina dur­ing the war. Their sto­ries have largely re­mained un­told, due to stigma, shame and the on­go­ing strug­gle to re­build lives. The rapes in Bos­nia were de­signed to ter­rorise and hu­mil­i­ate – by rap­ing women in pub­lic, the Bosnian Serbs in­tended to drive peo­ple out of their homes per­ma­nently. The bru­tal­ity and the pol­icy of vi­o­lent preg­nancy was also de­signed to pre­vent fur­ther gen­er­a­tions of Mus­lims be­ing born, es­pe­cially when paired with mass mur­der of the male pop­u­la­tion.

There is also the is­sue of UN cul­pa­bil­ity. While the ma­jor­ity of the blame lies with the Serb forces, much is to be said about the UN’s in­ad­e­quate re­sponse to the go­ings-on. The UN made se­ri­ous er­rors of judge­ment and the tragedy of Sre­brenica would haunt its his­tory for­ever.

The mas­sacre was one of the most hor­rific events of the war in the for­mer Balkan States. It re­mains the sin­gle largest mass mur­der in Europe since World War II. Durban

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