US House marks 20th anniversary of Srebrenica genocide

US House of Representatives passes resolution to mark 20th anniversary of July 1995 Srebrenica genocide, seeks justice for perpetrators, offers condolences for family and friends of victims

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

The US House of Representatives passed a resolution on July 8 marking the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide of July 1995.

On the 10th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre in 2005, the House passed a resolution, listing atrocities committed by Serb forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1995 - “the displacement of more than 2,000,000 people, an estimated 200,000 killed, tens of thousands raped or otherwise tortured and abused, and the innocent civilians of Sarajevo and other urban centres repeatedly subjected to shelling and sniper attacks” - as meeting the definition of genocide defined by the United Nations in 1948 (The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide).

Wednesday’s resolution reaffirms the 2005 resolution and “condemns statements that deny or question that the massacre at Srebrenica constituted a genocide.”

Helsinki Commission Chair Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) who sponsored the resolution called on the international community ahead of the vote to “recommit itself to bringing to justice once and for all those who perpetrated these heinous crimes.”

“These brutal killings were not committed in battle. They were committed against people who were unarmed and helpless and who had been repeatedly assured by Dutch peacekeepers that they would not be harmed if they surrendered,” he said.

“The evidence is overwhelming that the executions were committed with the specific intention of destroying the Bosnian Muslim population of the area. This intention is the central element in the crime of genocide,” he emphasised.

Considered to be Europe’s worst atrocity since World War II, the mass murder of 8,000 Muslim men and boys by Bosnian Serb forces in July 1995 has deeply scarred survivors and provoked near unanimous condemnation of its perpetrators by the international community.

On the same day as the House resolution vote, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) voted on a draft resolution submitted by Britain to recognise the 1995 mass murder as genocide.

Russia, who had postponed the UNSC vote from Tuesday to Wednesday by threatening to veto, voted against the resolution regardless despite 10 members of the council voting in favor and four abstaining.

Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s ambassador to the UN, said the UNSC resolution was “not constructive, confrontational and politically motivated.”

While the UNSC vote means the council did not recognise the massacre as a genocide, a UN war crimes tribunal in the Hague already ruled in 2004 that it was.

The White House announced on Wednesday that former US president Bill Clinton will lead the US delegation to Bosnia on Saturday.

The bipartisan 10-member delegation whose members include Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Senators Roger Wicker and Jeanne Shaheen and Representatives Eliot Engel and Peter King, will attend the commemoration of the Srebrenica genocide.

TRTWorld and agencies