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Bosnians mark Srebrenica anniversary
Tens of thousands commemorate 16th anniversary of Srebrenica massacre with burial of 613 victims.
Last Modified: 11 Jul 2011 10:09
Bosnian Muslim women mourn over the casket of a victim of the Srebrenica massacre [EPA]

Tens of thousands of Bosnia Muslims gathered on Monday to bury the remains of 613 people at Srebrenica to commemorate the 16th anniversary of the 1995 killings of thousands of Muslims in and around the town.

The massacre is the worst single atrocity on European soil since World War II and the only episode of the 1992-95 Bosnian war that international courts have called a genocide.

The remains of the 613 victims, who will be buried in Monday's service in Potocari near Srebrenica, were recovered from mass graves during the past year and identified through DNA tests.

Forensic experts painstakingly assembled complete skeletons and checked each bone against the DNA from blood samples of survivors of the massacre.

The dead were among more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys from the eastern enclave who were systematically killed after Serbian forces besieged the town on July 11, 1995, in the climax to the 1992-95 Bosnian war that claimed a total of 100,000 lives.

Ahmed Sehic, who came to bury his father who was killed with two of Ahmed's uncles while trying to flee through the woods to Muslim-held territory during the Bosnian war, said: "I hope it will be easier for me now, I will know where he is, where I can come to visit his grave."

'Celebrated as heroes'

A Muslim member of Bosnia's presidency said on Sunday that many Serbs were not facing the truth about the Srebrenica massacre.

Bakir Izetbegovic, whose father Alija Izetbegovic was Bosnia's wartime Muslim leader, said the wartime Bosnian Serb leaders Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic were still "celebrated as heroes" by a large number of Serbs.

"Time is needed for these things to heal and to find their place," he said. "It takes too long for things to improve. We still face provocations from people who consider Ratko Mladic a hero."

Mladic is being tried at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslovia (ICTY) on 11 war crime charges, including genocide, for allegedly masterminding atrocities during the Bosnian war.

Munira Subasic, who lost her husband, two brothers, and many men in her wider family in the 1995 massacre, said that though the arrest of Mladic had brought some comfort, "there is no justice that can make any mother happy".

Al Jazeera's Andrew Simmons, reporting from the Memorial Centre in Potocari, said Monday's commemorations were "an active way of perpetual grief, as the whole cemetary is emotionally charged because Ratko Mladic is now behind bars, now facing justice in a defiant fashion".

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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