Srebrenica: Mass reburials on 1995 massacre anniversary
More than 500 newly identified victims of the Srebrenica massacre have been reburied on the 17th anniversary of the tragedy in the Bosnian town.
Thousands of people – most of them relatives of the victims – attended the sombre ceremony at the Potocari memorial centre.
Some 8,000 Muslim men and boys were killed after the town was overrun by Bosnian Serb forces in July 1995.
The massacre has been recognised as genocide by the UN war crimes tribunal.
It was the worst atrocity in Europe since the end of World War II.
‘Measure of justice’
About 30,000 people gathered for the reburials of 520 people in Potocari on Wednesday.
The coffins, draped in green covers, contained the remains of the newly identified victims, who were exhumed from remote, unmarked graves.
The Bosnian Serb troops had tried to hide the scale of the killings by digging up bodies from mass graves and dumping them in a number of the so-called “secondary” grave sites.
After speeches and prayers, the coffins were passed overhead through the crowd before being lowered into the freshly dug graves.
Nearly 7,000 victims have been identified, but the search goes on.
Among those to be reburied on Wednesday are said to be 48 teenagers.
“It is the pain, an endless pain, and when 11 July arrives, every year, this pain becomes unbearable,” Sevdija Halilovic, whose father’s remains will be laid to rest, told the AFP news agency.
“My two brothers were also killed in the massacre but have not been found yet,” she added.
Flags are flying at half-mast on government buildings on Wednesday as a day of national mourning has been declared in Bosnia.
Two former Bosnian Serb leaders, Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, are currently on trial in at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague over the 1995 massacre and other war crimes charges. They both deny the charges.
“A measure of justice is finally being served for the victims in courts in The Hague and Bosnia-Hercegovina, as the perpetrators of this atrocity, including Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic, are now being called to account for their actions,” US President Barack Obama has said in a statement.
However, some relatives and friends of the victims have voiced anger over the delays of the trials in The Hague.