The Denial Of Genocide: Srebrenica Massacre
Bosnia has a turbulent and disturbing history of ethnic cleansing and the period of 1992-1995 was a particular period of unrest. Bosnian Serb forces committed mass killings of Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) and Bosnian Croats, as well as thousands of other unjust deaths. The Srebrenica genocide consists of the killings of over 8,000 Muslim men and boys in a period of 5 days. The latter is considered a genocide by many historians and scholars, as well as the International Court of Justice in Europe.
History is complex and certain events are often forgotten. Sometimes this isn’t on purpose but it is up to us ordinary people to remind the world of events that occurred. The Balkans aren’t talked about as much in the western media compared to other areas of the world. Once again, this is not intentional all the time. The Srebrenica genocide was one of the most catastrophic and deadliest events of its time since the mass extermination of over 6 million Jews by Nazi Germans. Yet, some still deny the event ever occurring, known as ‘genocide denial’.
Bosnian Serb forces targeted Srebrenica and the 40,000 strong Muslim population within the area. Families were torn apart, men and boys were separated from their mothers, wives and daughters. The women of Srebrenica were left to face the despicable and heinous acts of rape and torture. It is an understatement to say this was a disturbing and inhumane crime against humanity. Those who caused this deeply traumatic massacre and wreaked havoc upon the citizens of Bosnia will never understand the severity of what they had done.
The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) estimated the number of Serb soldiers who participated in war crimes and the figure is around 20,000. Only 500 have been convicted. Let that sink in. This genocide is not talked about enough. Today, families are still recovering from the deaths of their dearest. Bodies are still being dug out and re-examined, so families gain a sense of closure. A nation cannot forget and simply brush these events under the carpet. Loved ones are still haunted by the destruction spread by Serb forces 22 years ago. The Guardian states that the nation is suffering from dire poverty, and intermarriages are lower than ever between Bosniaks, Catholic Croatians and Orthodox Serbs. Though the effects are never mentioned, a visit to Bosnia is palpable evidence of the clear sense of the conflict, the hatred, the sense of heavy hearts and grief in the air. From an outsider’s perspective, I cannot do justice on this piece to show how much the victims experienced, what they saw, what they witnessed.
Education systems at secondary school within the UK are failing to teach the events of history. It is selective based on what our country has achieved. We focus on industrialisation, Britain and how it conquered the world, but we do not focus on international history with enough depth. We don’t speak of the genocides of the world, post WW2 era and Nazi Germany, the barbaric exiles of populations, empires which shaped history. How many people are aware that 11th July is supposed to commemorate the genocide of 1995? The European parliament passed this with a strong 556 to 9. Why do we forget this, and why are we not taught about this?
“History is written by the victors”
History has always focused on certain events in the spotlight and forgotten others. To grow and ensure past mistakes are not repeated, we need to inform and educate about crimes against humanity. History cannot be hidden.