Monday, July 11, 2005

On the 11th of July 1995, using an attack against a Serb village as a pretext, Bosnian Serb forces lead by General Ratko Maladic attacked and over ran their UN protected safe area of Srebrenica in Eastern Bosnia. In the days that followed up to 8,000 men and boys, innocent civilians were murdered.

Entering Srebrenica the Serb army separated the men from the women. Maladic informed the women captives that they were safe and that the would soon be reunited with their men folk. The women from Srebrenica, were placed in coaches and bussed back to Bosnian Government front lines. A far more gruesome fate awaited the men.

Under the terms of Srebrenica becoming a safe area, the town’s defenders were disarmed and a UN force sent to protect them. At the time of the attack on July 11th the UN force consisted of 110 lightly armed Dutch soldiers. These 110 soldiers were quickly out maneuvered and disarmed by superior Serb forces. With its saviors, the UN, nullified the local population of Srebrenica were easy pickings for a rampaging Serb army.

Those not captured initially were continually hunted by the Serb army. Many had to walk for days through the searing heat of the Bosnian summer in order to get to safety. In some cases the Serb army lured many out of hiding to their death by wearing UN uniforms captured from the Dutch peacekeepers. In some instances those civilians captured by the Serbs were forced to dig a trench then shot where they stood. In another reported instance a group of men was buried alive.

In total over 40,000 people were displaced in the region of Srebrenica.

Many of those who survived now suffer from what is called survivor syndrome. An all-pervading feeling of guilt that they survived while so many members of their family, friends and neighbors perished exists. Survivors also suffer from trauma and flashbacks resulting from their experiences in Srebrenica.

Dutch peacekeepers have also suffered after effects due to their impotency in Srebrenica. Former soldiers families have suffered an above average rate of marital breakdown and soldiers often complain of feelings of guilt and depression.

Convictions for those involved in the Srebrenica massacre have been few and far between, and only one big name has thus far received a conviction. On August 2nd 2001 General Radolav Krstic commander of the Drina Wolves Unit of the Bosnian Serb Army was sentenced by the UN War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague to 46 years in prison for his part in the murder of 8,00 men and boys in July 1995.

A report published by the Netherlands Institute for War Documentation in 2002 investigating the events in Srebrenica concluded that Dutch troops were naïve, ill prepared, under armed and assigned under a flawed pretext. As a result the entire Dutch government took responsibility for the massacre and resigned.

Ratko Maladic commander of the Bosnian Serb army wanted by the UN War Crimes Tribunal is currently in hiding in Serbia. Likewise the political leader of the Bosnian Serbs, Radovan Karazic, also wanted by The War Crimes Tribunal is also on the run.

The survivors who survived the massacre in Srebrenica and an organisation called the Mothers of Srebrenica continue their search for justice.

The massacre of 8,000 civilians in Srebrenica began 10 years ago today.

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