I had been in high school in 2004 when Dragan Čavić, president of the Bosnian Serb entity in Bosnia and Herzegovina, addressed the nation live on tv. Reading out of a newspaper, seated on a seat together with the Serb tricolour behind himhe finished his address by taking a look at the camera and saying:”…after all this, initially as a man and also a Serb, then as a dad, brother, and son, and just then as the president of Republika Srpska, I must mention these nine days of July, of the Srebrenica tragedy, signify a shameful page in the history of the Serb men and women.”
Bosniak victims were pretty much fulfilled. A high heeled Serb leader had openly recognised and apologised to the biggest massacre in Europe after the Holocaust. We believed we could proceed, and a brighter, more optimistic potential appeared near at hand. No one guessed that 16 years after, denial of the Srebrenica genocide will be bolder and more pervasive than ever before. Čavić didn’t disclose that the genocide on live tv on his own initiative, but but instead has been convinced to do this by British politician and diplomat, Paddy Ashdown and therefore, Serb nationalists never forgave him.
In 2002, the victims’ families registered a total of 49 appeals to the Human Rights Chamber, all which were associated with the disappearance of Bosniak men and boys in Srebrenica in July 1995. The Human Rights Chamber has been an Global hybrid in Sarajevo which functioned as a precursor to the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The families required that the Chamber order the Bosnian Serb authorities to give details regarding the fate of the nearest and dearest as well as the places of mass graves.
The households understood their loved ones were dead, but they desired to know the whole truth about the circumstances of their deaths and exactly what happened afterward. The Chamber found that the Republika Srpska’s failure to disclose this data to the victims’ families was a human rights violation. Because of this, the Bosnian Serbs formed a commission that was to generate a report on”the events in and around Srebrenica in July 1995.” The Chamber also ordered the payment of two million BAM ($1 million) into the Srebrenica-Potočari Memorial Centre as reimbursement.
The allure came a few months after the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) had detained Serb general Radislav Krstić to the genocide committed in Srebrenica and sentenced him 46 years’ imprisonment in 2001.
Paddy Ashdown, the High Representative of the global community for Bosnia and Herzegovina at the time, was a former associate British parliamentarian and had served at the elite Royal Marines. During the Bosnian War, Ashdown was a strong critic of Western non-intervention. As somebody who’d witnessed firsthand the mass atrocities which had been committed in the nation, he was decided to eliminate anyone who blocked the implementation of the Dayton Peace Accords.
Therefore, if the Bosnian Serb authorities started to waver in its construction of this report, Ashdown along with other members of the global community became mad. The first version of this report, authored by self-proclaimed terrorism specialist, Darko Trifunović, said that genocide hadn’t been committed in Srebrenica. The analysis went on to estimate the amount of Bosniak victims”at under 100,” and insisted that these victims were implemented by fictitious contingents of Bosnian Serb forces who were acting”for private revenge or from simple ignorance of global law.”
Ashdown dissolved the commission and ordered that a fresh one be shaped. With the backing of Western authorities, he gained a reputation for eliminating politicians from workplace and bypassing the parliaments by imposing legislation they couldn’t – or wouldn’t adopt. Therefore, in the wake of the rulings from the ICTY, obvious refusal of the Srebrenica genocide wasn’t accepted.
About Ashdown’s insistence, a fresh investigative commission has been formed. The Bosnian Serb police were made to create lists of all members of the Bosnian Serb army and police forces that participate in the genocide. In addition they supplied locations of possible mass graves in which the stays of Srebrenica’s victims were assumed to be concealed, though the majority of these places later been shown to be untrue.
Nonetheless, this report has been deemed appropriate by the Office of the High Representative and the surviving sufferers. Coming two years prior to the tv address by President Čavićit had been the very first time that the Bosnian Serbs had confessed the crimes committed in Srebrenica, to some extent, in a formal capacity. Sadly, this positive growth was short lived. Ashdown’s mandate expired in 2006, along with his successors proved indolent and inefficient by comparison.
That same year, Montenegro declared liberty, waking Serb nationalism throughout the area. Furthermore, general elections were held in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Wartime political pioneer, Haris Silajdžić has been chosen as the Bosniak member of the tripartite national presidency, while Milorad Dodik became prime minister of the Republika Srpska. Silajdžić campaigned to abolish the Serb thing while Dodik campaigned for liberty. Čavić along with his party, meanwhile, have been punished by Republicans.
Fast-forward 14 decades and Dodik remains in power; now since the Serb member of the federal presidency. Dodik’s goal is, and still is, to unveil the story of the Bosnian genocide.
On his initiative, the Bosnian Serb National Assembly, on August 14, 2018, annulled the 2004 report on Srebrenica which confessed the genocide. The meeting called for the establishment of a new commission to reinvestigate the events of July 1995 from Srebrenica and also to print a revised report. Back in February 2019, the Bosnian Serb government, at the initiative of Dodik and his Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD) party, declared the establishment of the Independent International Commission for bettering the Sufferings of Peoples from the Srebrenica Region at the Stage from 1992 into 1995, in Addition to the other commission with a mandate to investigate the wartime suffering of Serbs in Sarajevo.
On the past 14 decades, Dodik, together with the aid of his allies and mentors in Belgrade, has managed to make an intricate network of historical revisionists and genocide deniers. Nearly all global actors have stayed quiet as denial has increased. This system is big, powerful, well-organised, and it illuminates all sections of society – like the political, academic, and entertainment industries.
All these revisionist actors refuse genocide, warrant war crimes, and glorify war criminals. They peddle conspiracy theories and counter-narratives without a foundation in historical truth or objective reality. Within Bosnia and Herzegovina, the chance provided by Čavić’s 2004 instant could be gone indefinitely. Even more worryingly, Dodik’s deniers are gaining support and friends out the Balkans.
The 2019 Christchurch massacre must function as a wake-up telephone. Since the gunman belonged to the Al Noor Mosque he had been enjoying with a Serb nationalist wartime tune entitled”Karadžić, Lead Your Serbs” — the movie for which, includes footage of Bosniaks interned at Serb concentration camps. In the same way, Anders Breivik, the far-right terrorist who murdered 77 civilians at Norway in 2011, was prompted by Serb nationalism.
These events certainly demonstrate the prospect of the genocide committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina to function as an inspiration for far-right extremists around the world. The refusal and glorification of genocide in Srebrenica is not only a problem for Bosniaks but also a worldwide threat.
- _Hikmet Karčic is a human rights activist and a genocide scholar located in Sarajevo_
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