Photograph: Tom Stoddart
The Bosnian Genocide culminated in the town of Srebrenica on the 11th of July 1995, where in just over a week, thousands of Bosniak (Muslim), predominantly men and boys (including one Catholic), were systematically executed and over 25,000 women, children, and elderly forcibly deported by nationalist Bosnian-Serb forces, Serbian paramilitaries and their foreign “volunteers”. Victims were buried in primary, secondary and in some cases tertiary mass graves, in order to conceal their crime while women and young girls were exposed to a different form of genocide through sexual violence and rape.
The killings in Srebrenica (July 1995) have been ruled as genocide by two international courts – the UN’s International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Court of Justice (ICJ). However, Germany’s courts have established and concluded that genocide occurred in both Northern and Eastern Bosnia as early as 1992, and an appeal against a conviction for genocide on this basis was dismissed by a third international court—the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). Therefore, Srebrenica was the culmination and final act of an extensive and systematic genocidal operation of destruction, mass murder, and rape across Bosnia and Herzegovina. In three and a half years of aggression against Bosnia, more than a 100,000 people were killed, tens of thousands women and young girls were raped, more than 2 million people displaced or became refugees, as well as endless destruction of the built environment and cultural heritage. At the signing of the Dayton Peace Agreement in 1995, 31,500 people were reported missing. Since then, the remains of 25,000 victims have been exhumed from hundreds of mass graves across the country. There are still nearly 7000 missing people.
This campaign of extermination of Bosniak (Muslims) was labelled “ethnic cleansing” by perpetrators so as to normalize their actions. Sadly, it is a term which was quickly adopted by the international community and observers to circumvent less morally, legally, and politically ambiguous terminology.
Although the war finished with the signing of the Dayton Peace Agreement in 1995, the post war period has been categorised by rampant genocide denial, triumphalism and lack of justice as majority of perpetrators are still living in the same communities they once terrorised.
Source: A Case Study in Underachievement: The International Courts and Genocide in Bosnia-Herzegovina Marko Attila Hoare
“The Court concludes that the acts committed at Srebrenica … were committed with the specific intent to destroy in part the group of the Muslims of Bosnia and Herzegovina as such; and accordingly, that these were acts of genocide.”
International Court of Justice