Bosnia and Herzegovina on Saturday marked the 25th anniversary of the Srebrenica Genocide, the worst atrocity on European soil since World War II.
Every year on July 11, newly identified victims of the genocide are laid to rest at a memorial cemetery in Potocari, eastern Bosnia. On Saturday, nine Bosnian men and boys were laid to rest, 25 years after they were killed.
July 11 is marked as the remembrance day for the victims of the genocide the youngest one was a newborn baby while the oldest is believed to have been 94.
Thousands of visitors from various countries attend the service. At this year's ceremony, world leaders sent video messages on the anniversary of the genocide being marked under the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in his message said that although a quarter of a century has passed since the genocide, our pain is still fresh.
"Although I am not physically among you because of the coronavirus, my feelings and thoughts are always in Bosnia, always with you," he said adding: "We will never forget our martyrs nor the genocide in Srebrenica."
Sefik Dzaferovic, the Bosniak member of the Presidency of Bosnia, said that Srebrenica has become synonymous with the suffering of innocent people, and the crime committed was called by the only real name -- genocide.
"Today, we are here in the Potocari valley of sorrow and pain to see off together the remains of nine innocent victims, some of whom were young men, killed only because they were Bosniaks," Dzaferovic said.
Slovenian President Borut Pahor in his video message said the key for the future of Bosnia "is truth and not denial." "We cannot change the past, but we can change the future. For the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the key is truth and not denial, respect and not hatred, open dialogue and not quarrel," Pahor said.
Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic said the Srebrenica Genocide is a common shame for all those who did not prevent it. "It is a testimony to the terrible reality of a bloody war, an eternal warning and reminder to all our people that without the truth of the past there is no peaceful or secure future," said Djukanovic.
Bakir Izetbegovic, leader of the main Bosnian Muslim political party, the SDA, and son of Alija Izetbegovic, the Bosnian president at the time of the conflict, called on the world to push back against the massacre deniers. "The international community did not defend Srebrenica 25 years ago, but it has the opportunity to defend the truth that is being challenged," Izetbegovic said.
The Associated Press recalled the massacre. "In July 1995, the Bosnian Serb army under the command of notorious Gen. Ratko Mladic attacked Srebrenica. The shelling started first and soon enough the troops moved in, swiftly overtaking the town whose Dutch U.N. peacekeepers stood no chance.
"The Serbs then separated the men and boys from the women, with Mladic promising nothing would happen to anyone and handing out candies to the children. Within the next 10 days, however, Bosnian Serb troops killed the male prisoners and hunted down many of those who tried to escape through the surrounding hills.
"Soon, chilling reports of brutal executions started to emerge. In an attempt to hide the massacre, the Bosnian Serbs buried the bodies in mass graves, only to dig them out and move later. The victims were executed by firearms, their throats were slashed or they were locked in a warehouse, their hands often tied behind their backs, and explosives set off."
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