Thousands walk to honour Srebrenica massacre victims

On 20th anniversary of Srebrenica massacre, thousands participate in Peace March, walking 105 kilometres from Nezuk to Potocari

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Around 12,000 people from different countries are marching to honour the victims - those who died and those who survived - of the Srebrenica massacre, which took place in the last year of the Bosnian War in 1995.

This year is the 11th “Peace March Nezuk - Potocari 2015” in which people walk 105 kilometres to Potocari near Srebrenica, where more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslims were killed by Serbian forces in Republika Srpska.

Some survivors have also joined The Nezuk – Potocari memorial march carrying Bosnia-Herzegovina flags and wearing T-shirts saying “I survived,” commemorating on the three-day walk by Bosniaks who tried desperately to save their own lives from Serbian forces.

The volunteer marchers walked along the path taken by the massacre victims who fled from Srebrenica and arrived in Nezuk after escaping.

In 1995, around 15,000 Muslim Bosniak people tried to escape to the Muslim-controlled region before the arrival of Serb forces.

Aleksandar Vucic, the Prime Minister of Serbia, on Tuesday, said that he would attend the 20th anniversary commemoration of the Srebrenica massacre that will held on July 11, aiming to reconcile relations with Bosnia-Herzegovina.

"It is time to show that we are ready for reconciliation and that we are ready to bow our head before other people’s victims," Vucic told reporters.

A survivor of the Srebrenica massacre, 46-year-old Nedzad Mujic said, "It took me seven days to reach Nezuk. It was horrible... dead people, blood everywhere. I saw my neighbours, friends, relatives, but they couldn't be helped."

Struggling not to cry, Mujic added, "We were all fighting for our own lives. Some people even left their own children behind," AFP reported.

A young girl, Lejla Jusic, explained her reason for marching as “I wanted to take part in this march to feel it with my heart and soul, and to pay my last respects to the victims.”

Meanwhile, Nermin Hadzic, 17, a participant in the Peace March, was fasting in the hot weather, without water and food, while marching for three days, to better understand those who escaped in 1995.

To join the memorial march, participant Charles Wilcox arrived with his wife from the United States.

"It's not just about Srebrenica, it's about how mankind treats one another. It's a world-wide event, this happens to be one of the events where massacre has taken place. We need to keep reminding ourselves of these terrible tragedies so that we can take the appropriate action to make sure they don't happen in the future," Wilcox said.

Another survivor, Resid Dervisevic, said that participated the march, said “Everything that happened here was a result of a project, nothing happened without reason. There was a project creating great Serbia; but they failed to fulfil it.”

“I want to send a message to all the countries to condemn massacre, regardless of where it happened and which nation was victim, so that it does not keep happening over again,” said Dervisevic, referring to  a proposed resolution in the UN to condemn and honour victims of Srebrenica massacre.

Russia vetos UK resolution

Russia vetoed, on Wednesday, a British-authored resolution that honours victims and condemns as a "crime of genocide" the Srebrenica massacre which occurred in the last year of the 1992-1995 Bosnian War.

Fifteen members of UN Security Council voted for the Srebrenica resolution.

The Russian Federation voted against; China, Nigeria, Angola, and Venezuela abstained; while the United States, Britain, France, Spain, Lithuania, New Zealand, Chad, Jordan, Malaysia, and Chile voted in favour.

The US ambassador to the UN Samantha Power, an ex-journalist who was working in Bosnia-Herzegovina during the war, condemned the Russian veto.

"Why would Russia vote to deny recognition of the Srebrenica genocide? Today’s vote mattered. It mattered hugely to the families of the victims of the Srebrenica genocide. Russia's veto is heartbreaking for those families; and it as a further stain on this Council's record," Power said.

Ambassador Vitaly Churkin of Russian Federation to the UN at the Security Council explained that Russia voted against the resolution it considered as being one-sided, divisive and politically motivated.

“The draft submitted by the United Kingdom turned out to be not constructive, confrontational and politically motivated. It contained distortions, as a result of which, the blame for the past is placed basically on one people.”

Churkin also said that Russia’s own drafted resolution was balanced but it was ignored and delayed by Council members, stressing that Russia had tried to reach a compromise.

Deputy Ambassador Peter Wilson of the UK Mission to the UN at the Security Council accused Russia of siding "with those who are unwilling to accept the facts today."

“It is denial, and not this draft resolution, that will cause division. Denial is the final insult to the victims. It undermines the prospects for a secure, peaceful future for Bosnia and Herzegovina - a future that all of its citizens deserve,” Wilson said.

Amnesty International, a non-governmental organisation, also criticised Russian Federation’s veto on UNSC.

"Russia’s veto of a UN Security Council resolution on the Srebrenica genocide is an affront to the families of the victims of the massacre and will hinder attempts at reconciliation between the communities of Bosnia and Herzegovina,” John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe and Central Asia said in a press release on Wednesday.

TRTWorld and agencies