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Bosnian Serbs reject imposed ban on Srebrenica genocide denial

  • 30 Jul 2021

The move reflects Serb opposition to the Bosnian law amendments imposed last week by Valentin Inzko, the outgoing High Representative in Bosnia. The amendments aimed to outlaw attempts at minimizing the scope of the 1995 massacre in Srebrenica.

An aerial view of the Srebrenica-Potocari Genocide Memorial Center in Potocari, Bosnia and Herzegovina on June 8, 2021. ( Reuters )

The Bosnian Serb entity in Bosnia has decided to defy the recent decision of the international peace overseer in the Balkan country to ban the denial of the 1995 Srebrenica genocide.

The parliament of the Serb Republic unanimously adopted amendments to its own criminal law aimed against the decree by outgoing High Representative Valentin Inzko and decided not to cooperate with central authorities in its implementation.

Last week, Inzko introduced jail terms for denying or justifying the Srebrenica genocide or war crimes committed during Bosnia's 1992-95 conflict.

The Bosnian Serb amendments envision jail terms of up to five years for those who "disparage or label the Serb Republic or its people as genocidal or aggressor," and 15 years for acts against its "constitution, integrity and independence," the parliament said in a statement.

"The institutions of the Serb Republic will not cooperate with ... bodies of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the implementation of the decision of the High Representative," it said.

In July 1995, Bosnian Serb forces seized the UN-protected enclave of Srebrenica in the country's east and killed about 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys they took prisoner.

READ MORE: Serbs in Bosnia boycott institutions over genocide denial ban

Two opposite reactions

The atrocity was judged an act of genocide by two international courts, something Serb nationalists vehemently deny.

While Bosnian officials hailed Inzko's move, Serb officials said it could further divide the country.

"He (Inzko) brought the country to the biggest crisis since the end of the war," the statement quoted Nedeljko Cubrilovic, the Serb republic's parliament speaker, as saying.

Inzko, whose 12 years in office end on August 1 and who will be replaced by Germany's Christian Schmidt, can impose laws and fire officials.

His powers stem from the Dayton peace treaty, which ended the war in which 100,000 people died.

The Dayton accord left Bosnia divided between Bosniak-Croat Federation and the Serb Republic, linked by a relatively weak central government and tripartite inter-ethnic presidency.

READ MORE: What HBO's ‘Oslo’ teaches us about the Dayton Peace Agreement

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