The World Bosniak Forum has asked the UN secretary general to commemorate the wartime massacres by declaring July 11 International Srebrenica Genocide Remembrance Day.The United Nations should officially mark the worst killings of the Bosnian conflict, said Mustafa Ceric, president of the World Bosniak Forum, in a letter sent to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon a day after the annual commemoration of International Holocaust Day.
This would show “minimum respect for the victims and for human dignity”, wrote Ceric, who is also the former head of the Islamic community in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Bosnian Serb forces seized the UN-protected ‘safe haven’ of Srebrenica on July 11, 1995, after which more than 7,000 Bosniak men and boys were killed in the surrounding villages and some 30,000 women, children and elderly people fled their homes.
The killings were later recognised as genocide by the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.
Bosnian Serb military and political leaders Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic are currently on trial in The Hague over the Srebrenica massacre and other alleged war crimes.
In his letter, Ceric reminded the UN secretary general that the organisation had published a report on the fall of Srebrenica in 1999, in which it had promised to make efforts to ensure that July 11 was declared to be International Srebrenica Genocide Remembrance Day.
He added that the UN had estimated that around 20,000 Bosniaks were killed in Srebrenica and other ‘safe havens’ during the 1992-95 war.
“The Srebrenica report showed the inadequacies of the UN approach to the Bosnian Serb campaign of ethnic cleansing and mass killings which culminated in Srebrenica. The report highlights that ‘those errors were partly the fault of the neutrality and non-violence philosophy, which was proven to be completely flawed in the Bosnian conflict’,” wrote Ceric.
Ceric also complained about an incident this month at a UN General Assembly concert to mark Orthodox new year, when a song identified with Serb nationalists, ‘March on the Drina’, was performed.
“The recent, unhappy incident with the UN General Assembly concert on January 14 has again reminded us that humanity must be on the lookout and keep warning about the threat of mass killings,” said Ceric.
After the concert, the UN secretary general’s spokesman Martin Nesirky expressed regret over the incident.
Ceric noted that the European Parliament had adopted a resolution in 2009 declaring July 11 to be Srebrenica genocide remembrance day.
“The European Union has taken a stance that institutionalising the remembrance day is the best way to honour genocide victims and send a clear message to future generations,” said Ceric, urging the UN to follow suit.