A review of parallel dark moments gone to Muslims in Myanmar and Syria would demand an answer to the question: How many events like March mira should be held so that the international bodies take action against Mladic and his fellow criminals throughout history?
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In 1991 following the fall of Berlin Wall, collapse of the then Soviet Union and declaration of independence by Slovania and Croatia erupted a war which led to the worst massacre in history of human after World War II. In April and May 1992, Yugoslav army, paramilitary groups from Serbia and the Bosnian Serb army started massive ethnic cleansing of non-Serbians using forced evictions, razing of religious sites, concentration camps, torture and rape.
Following the 1993 UN resolution Srebrenica and its immediate surroundings were announced as safe haven to remain “free from any armed attack or any other hostile acts” though the history has witnessed quite opposite.
With thousands of civilians taking refuge in the so-called enclave, the siege continued and as the supplies ran low for the civilians and some Dutch soldiers operating as UN peace keepers, the Bosniaks began to die of hunger.
On July 6 1995 Bosnian Serb forces attacked Srebrenica with UN forces retreating to the town and NATO forces doing little to slow the advance.
The town was taken just before the people fleeing to the main Dutch UN base on 10th July. The next day was the beginning of one of the bloodiest massacres in history as Bosnian soldiers swept into the UN-designated “safe haven” taking men between 16-50, boys and the elderly men to execute and bury more some 8,000 Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) in a systematic murder which has remained as one of the darkest instances in world history.
According to survivors, some of whom fathers watching their sons being killed in front of their eyes, “The soil was soaked with blood.”
The tragedy continued for women and girls as they were singled out of the queues of evacuees and raped with the Dutch soldiers witnessing the aggression did nothing but handing over the 5,000 Muslims taking shelter at their base.
The bodies of men were buried in huge pits in the surrounding forests and the bodies of more than 1’000 are still missing.
Former UN secretary general, Kofi Anan (1938-2018) later declared Srebrenica massacre as the tragedy which “will forever haunt the history of United Nations.”
International tribunals have made a number of convictions and Russia voted a UN resolution that would condemn the massacre as “crime of genocide.”
25 years after the massacre the mass graves are still being discovered. A 2002 report blamed the Dutch government for failing to prevent the massacre and in 2017 a UN tribunal in The Hague convicted Mladic of genocide and other atrocities.
377 witnesses appeared in Mladić’s original trial, some of them victims of war crimes who aim to contribute to public knowledge and accountability, to publicly denounce the wrongs that were committed against them and others, to bear witness on behalf of those who did not survive, and to receive reparations, public acknowledgement or apologies.
They may wish to confront the accused, to find out the truth about what happened to their loved ones, to contribute to peace goals or to help prevent the perpetration of further abuse.
For survivors “scenes from hell” are recalled as the bodies of those massacred are gradually recovered and handed to their family members but they do not miss the great commemoration held for their loved ones killed in the massacre.
In memory of the victims and as an effort to promote peace, Mars mira or the March of Peace is annually held in the same route which was taken by refugees back in 1995. It gathers thousands of Bosnians and foreigners from across the globe in a three-day march covering 100 kilometers from Tuzla to the Srebrenica Genocide Memorial-Cemetery. The ceremony culminates in a funeral held for the bodies which have been recovered since last anniversary.
A review of parallel dark moments gone to Muslims in Myanmar and Palestine would demand an answer to the question: How many events like March mira should be held so that the international bodies take action against Mladic and his fellow criminals throughout history?