Srebrenica Genocide Memorial
Memorijalni centar Srebrenica–Potočari
The gravestones at the Memorial Center
|Established||20 September 2003|
|Country||Bosnia and Herzegovina|
|Size||central area and graves:|
~ 5 hectares (12 acres);
total: > 10 ha (25 acres)
|No. of graves||6,504|
(of 8,372 carved names)
|Find a Grave||Srebrenica-Potocari Memorial and Cemetery (ID: 2503812)|
|Founded after Srebrenica massacre|
The Srebrenica Genocide Memorial, officially known as the Srebrenica–Potočari Memorial and Cemetery for the Victims of the 1995 Genocide, is the memorial-cemetery complex in Srebrenica set up to honour the victims of the 1995 Srebrenica genocide. The victims—at least 8,372 of them—were mainly males, mostly Bosniaks and some Croats.
As of May 2017[update], 6,938 genocide victims have been identified through DNA analysis (conducted by the International Commission on Missing Persons) of human remains recovered from mass graves and 6,504 (as of July 2017[update]) victims have been buried.
The massacre in Srebrenica began in Potočari, where some 25,000 Bosniak Muslim refugees had desperately gathered awaiting evacuation. After entering the city on 11 July 1995, Bosnian Serb forces, led by Ratko Mladić, moved into Potočari and separated many Bosnian men and teenage boys from the rest of the crowd before killing them; some women and girls were raped and killed as well. The Dutch UN peacekeepers stationed in Srebrenica (Dutchbat) were unable to stop the massacre, despite having their headquarters in the town. In all, about 1,200 innocent people were murdered at Potočari before the survivors were evacuated to Tuzla.
In October 2000 Wolfgang Petritsch, the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, declared that the land in Potočari would be turned into a memorial and cemetery for the victims of the genocide. In May 2001, a foundation was established to oversee and finance construction of the Srebrenica Genocide Memorial. Two months later, around the time of the sixth anniversary of the massacre, a foundation stone was laid for the memorial in front of a crowd of 15,000 people. The first memorial was held in July 2002 with about 20,000 attendees. The first 600 victims were buried in the new cemetery in March 2003.
The $5.8 million memorial-cemetery complex paid for with donations from private groups and governments. The United States provided $1 million toward the project. The memorial was opened by the former United States President, Bill Clinton, on 20 September 2003, when he told thousands of relatives of the Srebrenica massacre victims:
Bad people who lusted for power killed these good people simply because of who they were. But Srebrenica was the beginning of the end of genocide in Europe. [...] We remember this terrible crime because we dare not forget, because we must pay tribute to the innocent lives, many of them children, snuffed out in what must be called genocidal madness. [...] I hope the very mention of the name "Srebrenica" will remind every child in the world that pride in our own religious and ethnic heritage does not require or permit us to dehumanize or kill those who are different. I hope and pray that Srebrenica will be for all the world a sober reminder of our common humanity. [...] May God bless the men and boys of Srebrenica and this sacred land their remains grace.
On 5 July 2005, Bosnian Serb police found two bombs at the memorial site, just days ahead of a ceremony to mark the massacre's 10th anniversary, when 580 identified victims were to be buried during the ceremony, and more than 50,000 people, including international politicians and diplomats, were expected to attend. The bombs would have caused widespread loss of life and injury had they exploded, and were probably aimed at plunging the region into further bloodshed.
On 11 July 2007, 30,000 gathered to the 12th anniversary. Carla del Ponte, the chief prosecutor of International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, also attended. On 12 July 2007, a day after the 12th anniversary of the massacre and the burial of a further 465 victims, a group of men dressed in Chetnik uniforms marched the streets of Srebrenica. They all wore badges of military units which committed the massacre in July 1995.
On 11 July 2009, marking the 14th anniversary, some 40,000 Bosniak mourners, a number of western diplomats and civic associations from across the region attended the burial ceremony on Saturday for 534 newly identified victims. Among the victims were 44 teenagers. No Bosnian Serb high-level officials were present at the ceremony. Ethnically related incidents such as graffiti containing threats on a mosque and the vandalism of Bosnia and Herzegovina's national flag torn from the Bratunac town-hall building occurred. Members of the Ravna Gora Chetnik movement desecrated the flag of Bosnia and Herzegovina, marched in the streets wearing T-shirts with the face of Ratko Mladić and sang Chetnik songs. A group of men and women associated with Obraz "chanted insults directed towards the victims and in support of the Chetnik movement, calling for eradication of Islam". A full report of the incident was submitted to the local District Prosecutor's Office but no one has been prosecuted. Bosnia and Herzegovina does not have a law banning fascist organizations and similar groups and the police there considered it "freedom of association".
On 11 July 2010, the 15th anniversary, 775 coffins of Bosnian Muslims and Croats which included one Roman Catholic Bosnian Croat. Serbian President Boris Tadić attended the ceremony. A statement by the US president Barack Obama was read:
On the occasion of the 15th anniversary of the genocide at Srebrenica, and on behalf of the United States, I join my voice with those who are gathered to mourn a great loss and to reflect on an unimaginable tragedy.
Fifteen years ago today, despite decades of pledges of "never again," 8,000 men and boys were murdered in these fields and hills. They were brothers, sons, husbands, and fathers, and they all became victims of genocide. I have said, and I believe, that the horror of Srebrenica was a stain on our collective conscience. We honor their memories and mourn with their families, as many of them are laid to rest here today. They were people who sought to live in peace and had relied on the promise of international protection, but in their hour of greatest need, they were left to fend for themselves. Only those of you who suffered through those days, who lost loved ones, can comprehend the unspeakable horror. You have carried this burden and live with pain and loss every moment of your lives.
This atrocity galvanized the international community to act to end the slaughter of civilians, and the name Srebrenica has since served as a stark reminder of the need for the world to respond resolutely in the face of evil. For fifteen years, the United States has joined with you to foster peace and reconciliation in this troubled land. We recognize that there can be no lasting peace without justice, and we know that we will all be judged by the efforts we make in pursuit of justice for Srebrenica's victims and those who mourn them. Justice must include a full accounting of the crimes that occurred, full identification and return of all those who were lost, and prosecution and punishment of those who carried out the genocide. This includes Ratko Mladic, who presided over the killings and remains at large. The United States calls on all governments to redouble their efforts to find those responsible, to arrest them, and to bring them to justice. In so doing, we will honor Srebrenica's victims and fulfill our moral and legal commitments to end impunity for crimes of such awful magnitude.
We have a sacred duty to remember the cruelty that occurred here, and to prevent such atrocities from happening again. We have an obligation to victims and to their surviving family members. And we have a responsibility to future generations all over the globe to agree that we must refuse to be bystanders to evil; whenever and wherever it occurs, we must be prepared to stand up for human dignity.
May God bless you all, and may God bless the memory of all those who rest here.
On 11 July 2012, the 17th anniversary, about 30,000 people attended the ceremony and 520 newly identified victims were buried. About 7,000 individuals, including some survivors, embarked on a three-day and 110 kilometer long march in order to commemorate the march made by 15,000 Bosniaks who fled after the town fell to the Bosnian Serb Army. Rabbi Arthur Schneier of the Park East Synagogue in New York gave a speech at the Memorial. In Croatia, the Croatian parliament held a minute of silence and a speech was given by Nedžad Hodžić, a representative of the Bosniak community in Croatia. In Montenegro, the Montenegrin parliament, a Bosniak NGO forum, and the Alliance of World War II Veterans and Antifascists held a commemoration in Podgorica's Pobrežje Memorial Park. The Serbian NGO Women in Black gathered in Belgrade for a performance called "We will never forget the genocide in Srebrenica" in remembrance. US President Barack Obama stated that "the name Srebrenica will forever be associated with some of the darkest acts of the 20th century." He added that the U.S. "rejects efforts to distort the scope of this atrocity, rationalize the motivations behind it, blame the victims, and deny the indisputable fact that it was genocide." UK Prime Minister David Cameron said that the genocide should never be forgotten or denied and urged that the world "prevent such atrocities from taking place."
Collective burials have been annually held also since 2012, same as before; twenty-second one is the last to date, commemoration of 11 July 2017 when remains of newly identified 71 victims were buried in the Memorial Center.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Srebrenica Genocide Memorial.|
- Memorial Center (in Bosnian, English, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Norwegian, Spanish, Swedish, and Turkish)
- Srebrenica360.com (in Bosnian, English, Turkish, and Arabic)
- Partial list of child victims of the Srebrenica massacre