Srebrenica’s pain is great
During the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina 8,372 Bosniac Muslims were killed. They were murdered for being Bosniac and for being Muslims. In video footage from the time, Serbian killers in soldiers’ clothes can be seen firing their guns and can be heard saying “you already had this coming” to their innocent, unarmed civilian victims as bodies fall one by one.
Such is war. Some get to be victims while others get to be killers. Yet no one deserves to be a victim or a killer. In Srebrenica Bosniac faced death one by one, one after another. They did not cry or shiver. They did not try to run away. The documents are clear, photos many, footage long and witnesses numberless. The genocide in Srebrenica was actually the beginning of the defeat of the tormentor by the victim, of darkness by light and a harbinger of victory in a very painful war for Bosniacs and for humanity. For Bosniacs who previously feared the outbreak of war and massacres by Serbs during the war learned, with each death, not to be afraid of violence, barbarism, massacres and genocide. Srebrenica was where Bosniacs suffered a genocide and where the Serbs lost the war. As the genocide in Srebrenica happened, another break in European history occurred. The genocide was caused by wilful negligence on the part of Europe, which then claimed to be a peace and civilisation project. Long years later, long time after the war ended Europe legally decided that what had happened amounted to genocide, but it could not legally determine the perpetrators of the genocide. Who could it have been? Only ten percent of the Bosniacs who were forced to leave their homes have returned home to Srebrenica after 18 years have passed. Many stay in a camp near Tuzla in Turkey. Aside from the violence which took place in Srebrenica, this mess remains. Perhaps one cannot take back time and make up for great sins in the past. But this particular mess may be cleared up.The genocide and themes probably hurt Bosniacs a lot. But when the same things hurt in the Netherlands, then we might have one less reason to be ashamed of humanity.Had Dutch soldiers not been there, the Serbs would not have been able to carry out the greatest massacre in Europe, a genocide, since the Second World War. Had Dutch soldiers not been deployed in Srebrenica at all, 8,372 Bosniacs might have stayed alive. During the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina Srebrenica was under the control of Dutch soldiers serving for the United Nations. On the 11th of July 1995, the Dutch soldiers unarmed the Bosniacs who had taken refuge with them and withdrew, effectively handing them over to the Serbs. The Serbs carried out a genocide, hacked bodies to pieces to prevent them from being identified and buried them in 64 identified mass graves. This has been proven by witness accounts, written records and video footage.Following this unbelievable disaster, the Wim Kok government in the Netherlands fell. It was replaced by a coalition in which the far right was effective. The Netherlands denied any responsibility for the genocide and awarded the soldiers who had served there medals. The Netherlands did not cut its links with Srebrenica. The Netherlands has so far contributed EUR 120 million for the reconstruction and economic development of Srebrenica. In line with a decision of parliament, the Dutch government gives unconditional aid of EUR 5 million every year to Srebrenica. Some of the victims of the genocide could be identified using funds from the Netherlands. But this transfer of funds from the Netherlands to Srebrenica has recently become a subject of corruption rather than rebuilding and economic development. The mayor of Srebrenica, Camil Durakovic has said in a television broadcast aired in the Netherlands the the millions of Euros being sent from the Netherlands to Srebrenica do not reach those in need because of corruption and bribery. What will happen now ? The Netherlands will be much ashamed, as it is in times of need. Perhaps the government will fall. But even better things could happen. The Netherlands could award its bankers and aid workers medals. Beatrix should get one too. What happened in Srebrenica?The genocide took place during the 1991-1995 Yugoslavian Civil War (the Croatian War and the Bosnian War) when the Serbian Republic Army went on the Krivaya ’95 assault directed at Srebrenica in July 1995. At least 8,372 Bosniacs were killed by the Bosnian Serb army armed with heavy weapons under the command of Ratko Mladic. That a number of women and infants were also killed in the massacre has been documented. The Serbian special security units known as “Scorpions” also took place in the massacre besides the Bosnian Serb Army. The United Nations had declared Srebrenica to be a safe zone but 400 armed Dutch soldiers did not prevent the massacre. The Srebrenica massacre is also significant in being the first legally documented genocide in Europe. Among the six safe zones declared by the UN which intervened unwillingly in the area after the 1992 genocide began by Serbian forces in Bosnia was Srebrenica. The population of the town, which had been around 24 thousand before the war, had swelled to around 60 thousand with refugees fleeing neighbouring areas. The arms of the Muslim population were confiscated by the UN Peace Force for security reasons. When the Serbs under Ratko Mladic intensified their assault on Srebrenica, the demands of Bosniacs to get their weapons back were denied by the Dutch commander in charge Thom Karremans. Dutch troops withdrew from the city overnight. Thom Karremans, who was responsible for the safety of the city in wartime turned over the city and the 25 thousand refugees in it to the Serbs. Later footage of the Serbian general giving a gift to the Dutch commander who withdrew from the city emerged. Much later The Hague Court of Justice ruled that the weeklong massacre amounted to genocide. It also ruled that Serbia could not be held responsible. The perpetrators remain unidentified.