19th years ago: a genocide

19 years ago, there was a mass killing in Bosnia. Each year there are remains identified using DNA and then given a proper burial. In 2009 three of us drove to Srebrenica to remember the event and experience the memorial.

I made a brief film from that trip. Please click here to share in our experience.

The waffling of diplomats leading the UN effort at a “Safe Zone” is described by journalist Roger Cohen: “Into the night of July 10 he prevaricated, with NATO planes in the air waiting to strike. His attitude showed an extraordinary disregard for his men: he had ordered the Dutch into dangerous, and exposed, “blocking positions” with a pledge of air support in the event of an attack, only to renege on what he had promised. Having talked to General Zdravko Tolimir of the Serb army, the French general still doubted that the Serbs intended to take the town. At one point that evening, in the midst of a meeting of his crisis team called to discuss air attacks at Srebrenica, Janvier took a long telephone call; people at the meeting had the impression the call was from Paris. In the end the NATO planes returned to base; Srebrenica’s fate was sealed.

“The next morning Karremans assumed massive air attacks were on the way. Repeated requests for air support were made as the population of Srebrenica fled to the Dutch camp in a disused battery factory at Potočari, in the northern part of the enclave. It was almost noon, however, before Janvier, in Zagreb, finally signed a written order for an attack, and then it was to be limited to “any forces attacking the blocking UNPROFOR position south of Srebrenica and heavy weapons identified as shelling U. N. positions in Srebrenica town.” Such an order, so late, amounted to holding up an umbrella against a hurricane. That afternoon, one Serb tank was hit before NATO air attacks were called off with the Serbs threatening to kill all the Dutch hostages. The “safe area” of Srebrenica fell at four o’clock that afternoon. About twenty-five thousand Muslims, including over fifteen hundred men of military age, sought protection in or just outside the Dutch camp at Potočari. Another ten to fifteen thousand Muslim men set out northwestward in a desperate bid to walk across more than thirty miles of Serb-held territory into the safety of government-held territory south of Tuzla. (Hearts Grown Brutal: Sagas of Sarajevo
by Roger Cohen)

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Filed under Eastern Europe, experience, from the Balkans, seeking understanding, travel notes

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