Religious rites were held by Bosnian Muslim spiritual leader Reiss-ul-Ulema Mustafa Ceric as 613 new victims excavated on various locations since last year’s commemoration were buried in the memorial cemetery in Potocari near Srebrenica.
The event was attended by international dignitaries, local political leaders, Croatian president Ivo Josipovic and Turkish vice-premier Bulent Arinc, who was enthusiastically welcomed by the crowd.
Serbian president Boris Tadic, who attended last year’s ceremonies, was absent this year, but sent a message saying Serbia was determined to punish all war criminals as a precondition to regional reconciliation, but stressed that he expected the same from other countries.
Muslim member of Bosnia’s rotating state presidency Bakir Izetbegovic praised Tadic for keeping his last year’s promise to arrest wartime Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic. But he pointed out that a “greater part of Serbian people still evades facing the truth” and glorify Mladic “as a hero”.
Mladic was arrested in Serbia last May and is currently standing trial before the Hague-based United Nations war crimes tribunal along with Bosnian Serb political leader Radovan Karadzic.
“Srebrenica is the deepest wound on the body of Bosniak (Muslim) people which will never heal,” Izetbegovic said. Obviously referring to the current Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik, Izetbegovic said that there are still people in Bosnia who dream of creating a Serb state in Bosnia, based on Srebrenica genocide.
The high representative of the international community in Bosnia, which still oversees the peace 16 years after the war, Valentin Inzko, said “justice is slow, but in the end comes. Mladic is in the Hague,” Inzko said, adding that the truth will in the end prevail.
Josipovic said that the Srebrenica crime should never be repeated anywhere and that new generations should be educated to be tolerant and praise people for their virtues, not by name, religion and nationality.
Arinc said Srebrenica “genocide will never be forgotten and victims will live forever in human hearts”. Arinc, whose country had occupied Bosnia for 500 years and brought Islam to the region, was adored by the crowd and greeted in Turkish and Arabic.