TEPSA Commentary: “Genocide in Srebrenica: 28 years later”, Larisa Spahić

On July 11 each year, thousands come to the Srebrenica Memorial Centre to commemorate the 1995 Srebrenica genocide, one of the worst crimes committed on European territory since the Holocaust. This year marks its 28th anniversary. Although many verdicts of international and domestic courts have recognised this horrific crime as genocide, it is still largely denied and convicted war criminals are glorified.

On 16 April 1993, the United Nations (UN) Security Council adopted Resolution no. 819 which demands that all parties to the conflict in the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina consider Srebrenica and the area around it as a ‘protected zone’, in which there will be no armed attacks or hostilities. About 400 poorly armed Dutch UN peacekeepers (Dutchbat III) were stationed there and tasked with protecting refugees arriving in the town. When Bosnian Serb units attacked the UN safe area at the beginning of July 1995, the commander of the Dutch battalion, Thomas Karremens, called for NATO military air support – which arrived too late and was too little to stop the Serbian advance. On 11 July 1995, the Bosnian Serb troops under the command of Ratko Mladić marched into the safe area and into the city of Srebrenica, where Dutch troops offered no resistance, handing over all observation posts and guarded barriers. But what was particularly incriminating is that they assisted with the deportation of over 300 Muslim boys and men who had sought sanctuary from the Serbs in the Dutch military compound. The genocide of Srebrenica took the lives of more than 8,000 human beings, mostly Bosniak men and boys, and displaced 30,000 people. This mission is considered one of the greatest failures of the UN Peacekeeping and the international community.