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24th anniversary: Srebrenica genocide remembered

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July 11 marks the 24th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide, the worst atrocity on European soil since the World War Two. In July, 1995, Serb forces systematically killed more than 8,000 Bosniak Muslim men and boys in the UN-protected enclave in Srebrenica, Bosnia.

Al Jazeera provides a graphic account of the Srebrenica genocide.

On July 11, 1995 at 16:15 General Ratko Mladic (now a convicted war criminal) entered Srebrenica with Serb forces, including paramilitary units from Serbia, claiming the town for Serbs. Strolling through the streets with the TV cameras rolling, Mladic announced that there will be "revenge against the Turks".

Panicked residents in the enclave fled to the UN Dutch Battalion base only to find that the 400 lightly-armed peacekeepers were unable to defend them. Serb forces had inherited much larger resources of the former Yugoslav army, the fourth largest in the world at the time.

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On that day, thousands of Bosniak men start to make their escape through the woods, forming a column and hiking some 100km in an attempt to reach free territory controlled by the Bosnian army.

The journey was known as the death march, as they were ambushed, shot at and attacked by Serb forces. Less than a quarter of them survived.

Over the course of six days, more than 8,000 Bosniaks were killed. Women and small children were deported.

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In an attempt to conceal the killings, Serb forces transported the dead bodies with bulldozers and trucks and buried them in numerous locations, leaving the victims' remains fragmented and crushed.

Human bones can be found as far as 20km apart, making it difficult for families to give their loved ones a proper burial.

What led to the massacre?

Genocide is not committed by a small group of individuals, rather a large number of people and the state all contribute to genocide.

The idea of a Greater Serbia (including the territories of Bosnia, Kosovo, Croatia, Montenegro and other neighboring countries) dates back to the 19th century, and was revived following the death of Yugoslav leader Josip Broz Tito in 1980.

With the decline of the Communist bloc, Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and Serbian nationalists saw a chance to mobilise the masses in support of establishing a homogenous Serbian state.

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In Milosevic's famous address to a crowd in Belgrade in 1989, he presented himself as the savior of Serbdom and Europe. It enforced the notion of "us [Serbs] vs them".

Bosniaks were typically called Turks, Balije (a slur for a Bosnian Muslim) and branded as terrorists and Islamic "extremists".

A plan to destroy Bosnia and "completely exterminate its Muslim people" was drawn up as early as the 1980s by the General Staff of the Yugoslav People's Army, according to Vladimir Srebrov, a politician who cofounded the SDS party with convicted Bosnian Serb war criminal Radovan Karadzic.

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Abdus-Sattar Ghazali Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
 
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