11 July 2020 18:31
Image copyright Reuters Image caption Memorial events are being held in Bosnia and Herzegovina to mark the anniversary of the massacre Boris Johnson has paid tribute to the victims of Srebrenica to mark the 25th anniversary of the massacre in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Around 8,000 Muslim men and boys were killed in 1995 by Bosnian Serb forces - the worst atrocity on European soil since the end of World War Two. The prime minister said "we owe it to the victims" to remember Srebrenica and "to ensure it never happens again". In a letter from more than 100 Muslim representatives and 30 MPs, Labour's Tony Lloyd said there can be "no excuse for in any way blaming the victims of a genocide for its perpetration". Mr Johnson said in a video posted on Twitter on Saturday: "I want to join with you once more in mourning the victims of those terrible events, and to stand with the families in their fight for justice. Thousands of Muslims sought safety in Srebrenica, which the UN was protecting with Dutch forces, but the area fell in July 1995 during a Serb offensive led by General Ratko Mladic.
Bosnia has marked the 25th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre, the only declared genocide in Europe since the second world war, with a small number of survivors in attendance, due to the coronavirus pandemic. Newly identified victims are buried each year on 11 July, the anniversary of the day the killing began in 1995. In a video shared by Matt Field, the UK's ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Charles said: "The terrible events of July 1995, confirmed as genocide by international courts, are a dreadful stain on our collective conscience. Charles had planned to personally pay his respects at nearby Potocari cemetery and at a memorial centre to the victims, as well as meet family members and survivors to mark the anniversary, but the trip was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Johnson said in a video posted on Twitter: "I want to join with you once more in mourning the victims of those terrible events, and to stand with the families in their fight for justice.
The event marks July 11, 1995, the day when Bosnian Serb forces marched into Srebrenica, a Muslim enclave on Serb territory in Bosnia and Herzegovina that had been under the UN protection. After capturing the ill-fated town, Serb forces killed more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica in a few days. At 11:00 GMT, the remains of nine victims identified over the past year will be laid to rest at the memorial cemetery in Potocari, a village just outside Srebrenica that served as the base for the UN protection force during the conflict. "Since this was a quarter-century anniversary, it was initially planned that this should be a big memorial service honouring the victims but everything had to be scaled down because of the pandemic," said Al Jazeera's Tarik Durmisevic, reporting from the burial site in Srebrenica. The Srebrenica massacre is the only episode of the Bosnian conflict to be described as genocide by the international community.
Bosnian Serb wartime military chief general Ratko Mladic, still revered as a hero by many Serbs, was sentenced to life in prison by a UN court in 2017 over war crimes, including the Srebrenica genocide. While for Bosnian Muslims recognising the scale of the atrocity is a necessity for lasting peace, for most Serbs - leaders and laypeople in both Bosnia and Serbia - the use of the word genocide remains unacceptable. Several thousand Serbs and Bosnians live side by side in impoverished Srebrenica, a small town in eastern Bosnia with just a few shops in its centre. SCOTLAND'S First Minister has paid tribute to the victims and survivors of the Srebrenica genocide 25 years on. On July 11 1995, Bosnian Serb units captured the town of Srebrenica in Bosnia-Herzegovina. In less than two weeks the forces murdered more than 8000 Bosniaks in the worst mass killing on European soil since the end of the Second World War. In 2016, I visited the memorial at Potočari to pay my respects to the victims and survivors of the Srebrenica genocide. Speaking in a video on Twitter, Boris Johnson said: "I want to join with you once more in mourning the victims of those terrible events, and to stand with the families in their fight for justice. "The Prime Minister has, over the last 25 years, consistently condemned the Srebrenica genocide as one of the worst crimes in history."