Restricted commemorations for the 25th anniversary of Srebrenica genocide

Temperature check at the entrance of the Srebrenica Memorial Centre on the day of the commemorations Temperature check at the entrance of the Srebrenica Memorial Centre on the day of the commemorations © BIRN

 In Focus by Margherita Curti; Editor: Matteo Consiglio

July 2020 marks the 25th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre, the only declared genocide in Europe since World War II with more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslims killed by the Serbian army during Bosnia’s 1992-95 war. In 1995, Srebrenica was a “safe zone” protected by the United Nations peacekeeping force “UNPROFOR”. However, the Bosnian Serbian troops guided by general Ratko Mladic attacked the city and managed to enter it on July 11, killing thousands of people and dumping their bodies in mass graves where, today, victims are still being identified to receive a proper burial.

This year, a larger version of the commemorative three-day Peace March, taking place every July, was supposed to be held but it was drastically scaled-down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Peace March subcommittee, at least 10,000 people were expected to take part in this year’s commemorations. However, the organizers had to reduce the number of participants to ensure that social distancing measures were respected. Even though the march could not start from the village of Nezuk as usual, due to a rising number of contagions in the area, hundreds of people wearing face masks marched for 85 kilometres to commemorate the massacre.

On July 11, the funerals of nine recently identified victims of the genocide were celebrated with fewer participants than expected, respecting anti-COVID measures as temperature tests at the entrance and mandatory face masks.

Remembering the Srebrenica events is crucial, especially since the denial of the genocide, once supported by far-right fringes only, is increasingly becoming commonplace. European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres sent video messages to the event, reaffirming the need to reject the denial of the genocide as well as the glorification of war criminals. 

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