The funerals of nine people killed in the July 1995 genocide will be held on Saturday at the Srebrenica Memorial Centre as the 25th anniversary of the massacres of more than 7,000 Bosniak men and boys is commemorated.
The commemoration, which was initially expected to be attended by tens of thousands of mourners, has been scaled down amid a sharp rise in coronavirus infections in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The organisers have appealed to people to watch the commemoration live on BH Television rather than attending in person.
Salko Ibisevic, the youngest victim who will be buried, was 23 years old when he was killed by Bosnian Serb forces amid a series of massacres in July 1995.
His father Ahmo Ibisevic told BIRN that some of his son’s remains were found in 2011, but he had wanted to wait to bury him until the rest of his body was discovered.
But he said that because he is getting older, he could not wait any longer.
“I said right away, ‘I want to bury him this year, I won’t wait because I don’t know how long I will live, neither I nor my wife will want to leave anyone else to think what to do about our children,” he explained.
Ibisevic, whose second son was also killed in 1995 and remains missing, said it is difficult for him to have the funeral this year because close relatives will not be able to attend the funeral due to restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the virus.
In the Serbian capital Belgrade on Friday evening, a group of activists from the peace group Women in Black, the Youth Initiative for Human Rights and the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights gathered in the central Republic Square to commemorate the 25th anniversary and draw attention to Serbia’s support for the Bosnian Serbs during the 1992-95 war.
Like politicians in Bosnia’s Serb-dominated entity Republika Srpska, Serbia refuses to accept that the massacres constituted genocide despite the rulings of international courts.
“It is a shameful and devastating fact that none of the officials of the Republic of Serbia have characterised Srebrenica as genocide since 1995,” the Belgrade-based Humanitarian Law Centre said in a statement to mark the anniversary, N1 TV reported.
So far, 47 people have been sentenced by the Hague Tribunal and courts in the former Yugoslavia to more than 700 years in prison, plus four life sentences, for Srebrenica-related crimes, including a genocide conviction for former Bosnian Serb political leader Radovan Karadzic.
Former Bosnian Serb military chief Ratko Mladic is currently appealing against his life sentence for the Srebrenica genocide and other crimes. Appeals hearings in his case have been postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic, however.
No convictions for Srebrenica crimes have been handed down in the past 12 months, but five more Srebrenica-related trials are underway at the Bosnian state court.
A BIRN investigation this week found that despite survivors’ testimonies, official documents and Hague Tribunal verdicts stating that three Bosnian Serb military police units were involved in capturing Bosniaks from Srebrenica and escorting them to mass execution sites, their commanders have never been charged.
The Bosnian prosecutor’s office has told BIRN that it is currently investigating 17 Srebrenica-related cases with a total of 67 suspects.
“According to working data, nine of the 67 suspects are in Serbia,” the prosecution said.