“You survived, and you realized, in fact, how much you died…”, with these words the doctor Ilijaz Pilav explained the feelings of people who, like him, survived the Srebrenica genocide and the Death March, on which from Srebrenica, immediately before its conquest by Ratko Mladić and the Army of Republika Srpska Army (ARS) on 11 July 1995, about 15,000 bare-handed civilians and poorly armed soldiers marched. Starving, exhausted, attacked and shot along the way by the ARS, it is believed that only three to four thousand people survived the march of about 100 km, the so-called ghost army, as foreign journalists who were in Tuzla called it.
Today, we are marking the 27th anniversary of the genocide in Srebrenica, the most massive crime committed on European soil after the Second World War. Members of the Army of the Republika Srpska (ARS) from 11 to 19 July 1995, systematically killed over eight thousand unarmed Bosniaks aged 14 to 70. More than six hundred children were killed, and the youngest victim was a baby, born on 13 July 1995, exhumed from a mass grave near Srebrenica in 2012.
This crime is determined by the judgments of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (the so-called Hague Tribunal) and the judgment of the International Court of Justice. The national courts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the Netherlands also found that genocide and other war crimes were committed in Srebrenica.
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, 25 people have been convicted of crimes in Srebrenica, 13 of them for genocide, while in Serbia, five people are convicted of war crimes in Srebrenica. On the other hand, the court in the Netherlands also found in 2017 that the Netherlands bears partial responsibility for the death of 300 Bosniaks killed in Srebrenica, who were inside the UN-protected zone at the UN base in Potočari, because its soldiers in the UN did not prevent them from being killed. On 18 June of this year, the Dutch government officially apologized to the Dutch soldiers who were sent as part of the UN peacekeeping force to defend the Bosnian enclave of Srebrenica with insufficient weapons and manpower to keep the peace.
The Parliament of Montenegro adopted two parliamentary acts on the genocide in Srebrenica – the Declaration on the acceptance of the resolution of the European Parliament (EP) on Srebrenica in 2009 and the Resolution on the genocide in Srebrenica in 2021. The Parliament also dismissed the Minister of Justice, Human and Minority Rights, Vladimir Leposavić, due to the relativization of that genocide. The resolution on the condemnation of the genocide in Srebrenica was recently adopted by the parliaments of Kosovo and Albania.
HRA, ANIMA and CCE appeal to the Parliament and the Government of Montenegro to ensure that 11 July is officially declared the day of remembrance for the victims of the genocide in Srebrenica by next year, as envisaged by Article 5 of the Resolution.
We hope that, first of all, out of respect for the families of those killed, as well as with the aim to establish a peaceful environment for life in the Balkans, all political actors in Montenegro and the region will stop denying the facts established by the court and glorifying the convicted war criminals, and that they will try with their messages to suppress division and hate speech.
“The greatest tragedy of Srebrenica, in fact, is no longer with the dead, because their suffering is over. However, we cannot forget the families they left behind. These people are condemned to live their lives without fathers, husbands, brothers, without their relatives, neighbors, without their community…” (Peter McCloskey, prosecutor in the “Srebrenica” cases before the Hague Tribunal).
Human Rights Action (HRA)
Center for Women’s and Peace Education (ANIMA)
Centre for Civic education (CCE)