Bosnian mom buries 2 sons 19 years after massacre

After 19 years, Hajrija Selimovic will finally have a place to mourn her family on Friday.

PTI| Updated: Jul 11, 2014, 17:17 PM IST

Sarajevo: After 19 years, Hajrija Selimovic will finally have a place to mourn her family on Friday.

Selimovic was reburying her husband and two sons under white tombstones in a cemetery for victims of the Europe`s worst massacre since World War II.

The three were among the 8,000 Muslim men and boys killed when Serb forces overran the eastern Bosnian town of Srebrenica on July 11, 1995. Samir was 23 and Nermin was 19 when the execution squad shot them.
The remains of Srebrenica victims are still being found in mass graves and identified using DNA technology. Every July 11, more are buried at a memorial center near the town.

This year, Selimovic`s two sons will be among the 175 newly identified victims laid to rest, joining 6,066 others including their father Hasan, who was found in 2001 but buried only last year.

"I didn`t want to bury him because they found only his head and a few little bones," Selimovic said. "I waited, thinking the rest will be found and then everything can be buried at once ... But there was nothing else and we buried what we had."

The eastern, Muslim-majority town of Srebrenica was a UN-protected area besieged by Serb forces throughout Bosnia`s 1992-95 war.
But UN troops offered no resistance when the Serbs overran the town, rounding up the Muslims and killing the males. An international court later labelled the slayings as genocide.

After the massacre, then-US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright waved satellite photos of mass graves at the UN Security Council. Washington knew where the mass graves were, she told them.

That`s when Serb troops rushed to the sites with bulldozers and moved the remains to other locations.

As the machines ploughed up bodies they ripped them apart, and now fragments of the same person can be scattered among several different sites.

"The perpetrators had every hope that these people would be wiped out and never found again," said Kathryne Bomberger, head of the International Commission for Missing Persons, a Bosnia-based DNA identification project.

The commission, established in 1996, has collected almost 100,000 blood samples from relatives of the missing in the Yugoslav wars.

It has analysed their DNA profiles and is now matching them with profiles extracted from the estimated 50,000 bone samples that have been exhumed.

The group grew into the world`s largest DNA-assisted identification program. It has identified 14,600 sets of remains in Bosnia, including those of some 7,000 Srebrenica victims.