Sorrow in Srebrenica; Bosnians bury 520 victims
Srebrenica: The pain that erupted 17 years ago in Srebrenica ripped open again on Wednesday as tens of thousands of Bosnian Muslims came to bury their dead in the town whose name is now synonymous with genocide.
In a ceremony broadcast live on television across the country, 520 coffins were placed in the ground as tears flowed like water from family and friends.
On the anniversary of Europe`s worst massacre since World War II, 30,000 Muslims travelled to a memorial centre in Srebrenica to honour the thousands of Muslim men and boys slaughtered in July 1995 by Serb forces.
Izabela Hasanovic, 27, sobbed over one of the coffins before it was lowered into a freshly dug pit.
"My father, my father is here," she sobbed. "I cannot believe that my father is in this coffin. I cannot accept it!"
Another woman dropped on her knees next to a coffin, pressing her lips against the green cloth covering the wood.
"It`s your sister kissing you. It`s me," she whispered, caressing the coffin with both hands until others lowered it.
Then the valley echoed with the sound of dirt landing on the coffins from thousands of shovels, as a voice read out the names of the victims and their ages from loudspeakers.
Among them were 48 teenagers as well as 94-year-old Saha Izmirlic, who was buried next to her son who also died in the massacre. On the other side of her grave, an empty space is waiting for her grandson who has not yet been found.
Srebrenica was a UN-protected Muslim town in Bosnia besieged by Serb forces throughout Bosnia`s 1992-95 war. Serb troops led by General Ratko Mladic overran the enclave in July 1995, separated men from women and executed 8,372 men and boys within days. Dutch troops stationed in Srebrenica as UN peacekeepers were undermanned and outgunned and failed to stop the slaughter.
The bodies of the victims are still being found in mass graves throughout eastern Bosnia. The task has been made even more difficult by the fact that the perpetrators dug up mass graves and reburied remains in other areas to try to cover their tracks.
The victims have been identified through DNA analysis and newly identified ones are buried at the Srebrenica memorial centre every year.
So far 5,325 Srebrenica massacre victims found this way have been laid to rest.
In Washington, President Barack Obama issued a statement honouring the memory of the "8,000 innocent men and boys" massacred in Srebrenica.
"The name Srebrenica will forever be associated with some of the darkest acts of the 20th century," Obama said, adding that the US "rejects efforts to distort the scope of this atrocity, rationalise the motivations behind it, blame the victims, and deny the indisputable fact that it was genocide."
In London, Prime Minister David Cameron said Srebrenica should never be forgotten or denied and called on the world to "prevent such atrocities from taking place”.
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