Commemorating the victims of Srebenica

2nd Lt. Oliver Rolofs
First published in
SFOR Informer#166, October, 2003

On 20 Sep 2003, more than 20,000 people commemorated the victims of the Serb mass killings within the Muslim population in 1995. In the inauguration ceremony for the memorial the former US President Bill Clinton appealed for the audience to show forgiveness. Members of the Bosnian State Presidium, representatives of the International Community, Republika Srpska and of Serbia-Montenegro attended the ceremony in the town of Potocari, near Srebrenica.
Ex-president Clinton inaugurated the memorial, adjacent to a cemetery for the victims exhumed from mass graves. 107 victims of the massacre were interred during the ceremony.

Srebenica - The beautiful late-summer day could not obscure the fact, that this is a place associated with one of the most brutal acts of genocide in Europe. Emotions reached its peak at the moment when the song "Srebrenica Inferno" sounded across the mournful site with its impressive memorial for the mass killing of Muslim citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). A touching moment that demonstrated the inner turmoil, sorrow and pain suffered by these mourners, recalling what they had experienced during a chaotic wartime in BiH. The obvious despair of the women, men and children, triggered by this touching song, was reflected in the faces of all those present.
In July 1995, Serb troops had seized the UN protection zone Srebrenica. Within the seized ring around the city, 40,000 people were living in cramped conditions, believing they were safe. Once they realized their situation they tried to escape but to no avail. More than 7,000 male Muslims were killed
"Mankind was killed", described the spokeswoman of the victims of Srebrenica, Mrs. Advija Ibrahimovic, the powerlessness people faced with this atrocity: to extinguish the life of human beings whose religion and entity did not comply with the ideology of others.
Bill Clinton, had appealed to the International Community to take action against these atrocities, and was the one who authorised NATO's bombing of the Serb Army, in order to prevent further genocide. In his speech to the mourners he referred to those involved in the past as being "the bad people that killed the good ones", adding.
The former US president also demanded the authorities not to be negligent in tracking down the war criminals. "Those responsible for these crimes, those leaders, are still at large, and we should not stop pursuing these culprits until they are apprehended".
"The massacre of Srebrenica should be a reminder to all people in this world and be considered a memorial to humanity."
Love one’s neighbour
He encoureged the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina to raise their children without hatred but rather with the virtues of trust and tolerance. In addition, he asked the relatives of the victims to forgive and not remain a prisoner of hatred. Clinton concluded his speech by saying both the Bible and the Koran, told people to love one's neighbour and to tolerate him. To quote the words of a prayer used at the ceremony, "A nation is raising out of the ashes of Srebrenica, determined to prevent such atrocities from happening again". This is a message to all the people of the world not to permit such a crime to happen a second time.

Related link: Historic moments

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Photos: LCpl. Frank Klein

Ex US President Bill Clinton joins the mourners at the inauguration.


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Identified victims from the mass graves are interred during the ceremony.


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A woman mourns the loss of a loved one.