More than 40,000 people have gathered to commemorate the 16th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre. Bosnian and foreign dignitaries joined relatives of some 8,000 Muslim victims of the massacre at the Potocari cemetery. 11th July 2011
More than 40,000 people have gathered to commemorate the 16th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre, just weeks after the arrest of the alleged mastermind of the killings, General Ratko Mladic.
Relatives of some 8,000 Muslim victims of the massacre headed to the cemetery where more than 4,000 victims are buried.
Six hundred and thirteen more bodies of victims were due to be buried during the July 11 commemoration service.
"We remember what was done and what the world failed to do 16 years ago," U.S. Ambassador to Bosnia Patrick Moon said at a memorial service in Potocari, near Srebrenica.
"Those who deny this genocide or attempt to minimize it add immensely to the grief of those gathered here today," he added. "Each time they deny what really happened here, they deny their own compassion and humanity."
The Bosnian member of the tripartite Bosnian Presidency, Bakir Izetbegovic, said at the service in Potocari that the head of Bosnia's Serbian entity, Milorad Dodik, "is talking about a referendum that may represent a threat to unity of Bosnia-Herzegovina and separate Srebrenica from its [Bosnian] territory."
"The international community is closing its eyes and is undecided about facing such anti-Dayton [peace agreement, which ended Bosnia's civil war] rhetoric and behavior," he added.
This year's anniversary of the July 11, 1995, massacre in Srebrenica -- the worst mass killing in Europe since World War II -- comes only weeks after the arrest of wartime Bosnian Serb army chief Mladic in Serbia.
Both Mladic and his political chief, Radovan Karadzic, who was arrested in 2008, are charged by a UN war crimes tribunal with genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes for their roles in the Srebrenica massacre.
"Each of the three Bosnian peoples must face a process of catharsis and that process has to come from within [society]," said Bosnian Interior Minister Sadik Ahmetovic. "Each of the three Bosnian peoples have to give up on the people who committed the war crimes on their behalf. Bosnian society has to find strength to face its past."
"Maybe there are people who insist that the killers are not killers, that victims are not victims, that dead people are not dead. But that sick and persistent denial of facts will disappear when facing the truth," said Valentin Inzko, the international high representative. "And the truth will prevail even among those people who are hiding from it now."
Croatian President Ivo Josipovic, said: "In building the future, we are responsible to make sure that a neighbor will never fight his neighbor. We have to use all our strength, knowledge, and honor in teaching our children to respect and love other people, no matter what their national or religious identity."