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Džaferović: Thousands of white tombstones, coffins and mothers' tears say it all

Text: Hana Imamović, FENA Photo/Amer Kajmović

POTOČARI, July 11 (FENA) - Member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Šefik Džaferović said today that it is very difficult to speak at the place where the most heinous crime was committed - the crime of genocide in Srebrenica.

Addressing the gathered families of the victims and officials at the former Battery Factory where the commemoration of the murdered Srebrenica residents was held and the 26th anniversary of the crime was marked, Džaferović pointed out that thousands of white tombstones, green coffins and tears of mothers for their children speak for themselves.

"Faced with the scale of genocide, human thought and words show all their helplessness, all their weaknesses. In this place, in the Srebrenica valley of sorrow, one feels that one could be silent forever. That silence would be the only valid answer to the amount of suffering, fear and evil that this day reminds us of," he said.

However, he notes that there is no choice but to remind, warn and repeat the truth because it is an obligation to the victims, who lie in the cold soil in Potočari. It is our obligation to those who have yet to be lowered into their graves.

"These coffins testify to a terrible truth. After the fall of Srebrenica, both old and young were murdered. Thousands of fathers and sons were murdered, thousands of brothers and relatives, thousands of hungry and tortured people were taken out with blindfolds and shot in the back and back of the head, and then buried in pits," he added.

Džaferović recalls that there was only one goal - to destroy one nation, it was the genocidal intention of criminals to kill all men, without exception, formed with a clear awareness of the fatal consequences of the physical elimination of two or three generations of men of Podrinje's Bosniak community.

The planned crime in July 1995 did not end with the horrific killing of more than eight thousand people. The intention was to decapitate and destroy thousands of families with their destruction, to break entire family lineages, to leave exhausted old people, women and children homeless, traumatized and desperate, to expel the Bosniak community in Podrinje, which survived in the Srebrenica enclave so that they would never recover and rebuild again, he said.

As stated in the Hague verdicts, this goal was the result of a fully conscious political decision of the then leadership of  'Republika Srpska', which wanted to implement one of its six strategic goals by permanently eliminating the Srebrenica enclave, connecting two parts of Republika Srpska and erasing the border with Serbia.

"The Bosniaks of Podrinje were not met with some kind of uncontrolled hatred, but by the institutionalized intention to create an ethnically clean space and create a Greater Serbia," Džaferović emphasized in his address.

This is evidenced by the proven role of the political leadership and the General Staff of the Army of the Republika Srpska in ordering, organizing and coordinating the mass executions in the July days of 1995. Everything is known, everything has been revealed.

We know about unequivocal orders not to allow any Srebrenica man to escape. We know about the persistence with which the search through forests around the enclave was carried out. We know about the mobilization of all combat and material-technical means of the Army of the Republika Srpska in the Mid-Podrinje, for the purpose of collecting prisoners and transporting them to the execution sites.

We know about mass executions, which were carried out according to an identical pattern, in different places and kilometers apart. And finally, we know very well about burying the bodies in primary and then in secondary and tertiary mass graves to cover up traces of the crime.

"There is clear material evidence of this whole industry of death, as well as the testimonies of the few survivors who managed to escape death. There are testimonies of the perpetrators themselves, the Serb officers who organized the executions, testimonies of soldiers who shot them, excavators who dug graves. These are all inexorable facts, established before the courts, and there can be no more discussions about that," Džaferović stressed.  

Unfortunately, although many perpetrators of the genocide and the bearers of the policy that led to it have been convicted, the established truth is still not accepted in the Bosnian entity of Republika Srpska, as well as in neighboring Serbia.

Moreover, from the phase of denial, they have entered into the phase of open glorification of genocide and its perpetrators, as evidenced by the decorations awarded to them by the Assembly of the Bosnian entity or murals that are drawn in their honor in some cities.

It even went into the phase of attacks on those who condemn the genocide in Srebrenica with their resolutions, as is the case after the adoption of civilizational resolutions in the parliaments of Montenegro and Kosovo, as well as in cases of earlier resolutions throughout the world.

"This is a phenomenon that the whole world will have to deal with. If someone thinks that this is a problem only for Bosnia and Herzegovina, they are grossly mistaken. The law of evil is such that, if it is not stopped, it will spread and strengthen, until it endangers those communities that believe they are protected from it," he underlined.

He says that after Srebrenica came international military intervention, the judgments of the Hague tribunals, but they came with delay, because innocent people had already been killed, yet all this gave at least a grain of hope that the conscience of mankind has awoken.

However, if one is silent before the denial of these judgments, then there is no reason to believe that this hope is alive, which is why Džaferović called on the international community to protect the courts' judgments from denial, to protect the dignity of the victims and because if those who carry the heritage of evil are continually allowed to cynically insult the victims, there can be no talk about any civilizational values ​.

"The court of conscience and the court of history will have the least mercy for those people who could have stopped the evil, but did not do so. There is no excuse to justify it. I say to the High Representative in BiH Valentine Inzko, no one can bring these people back that we are burying today, but the message that their killers are heroes is a terrible message. You can prevent that. I invite you from this holy place to do so," he said.

"Even 26 years later, after the fall of Srebrenica, we are still searching for the remains of those killed, that are still lying in the primary, secondary and tertiary graves, in unknown locations, which only a small circle of those who witnessed the burial know about," Džaferović reminds.

From this place he urged them to say where the remaining graves are, to remove the burden from their conscience and evil fate from their children, to make it easier for families searching for their loved ones, to enable souls to finally find their lasting peace.

He also remembered the mother of Srebrenica, 570 of them who died without being able to find the bones of their loved ones. It is impossible to forget when one of the mothers said she dreamed of finding only one bone of the two murdered sons and wrapped it in the most beautiful silk so she could die in peace, but she too died before the bones of one of her sons were found.

"It is a frightening feeling when a mother has to bury her murdered child, and it is only worse than that when even that, after his murder, she is not able to do so. I pity those that have mother's tears on their conscience," said Džaferović.

He also called for strength to be gathered today, in spite of everything, to believe that the political, religious and intellectual elites of Bosnia and Herzegovina's neighbors will finally accept the truth and that they will be led by forces that are ready to face the truth.

One can live without it, adds Džaferović, but only in this way it is possible to completely restore trust and for new generations to live in a better society, unencumbered by the legacy of crime.

"While we are waiting for the day when everyone in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the region will face the truth, it is up to us to do everything in our power to build a country in which it will never be possible for anyone to be as unprotected as were the Podrinje Bosniaks in July 1995," Džaferović underlined.

He is convinced, he says, that with the activation of all forces as well as the support of friends in the world, a modern, democratic and prosperous state can be built in which people will be able to peacefully plan the future for themselves and their children.

He announced that he would continue to support the work of the Memorial Center, that the truth about the genocide would be preserved, but the only way to ultimately defeat the criminals' intentions was to ensure the sustainable return and survival of Bosniaks in Podrinje.

"That is why Srebrenica, like all other places in Podrinje where Bosniaks have always lived, must not only be places of death, but also of life. We will do everything for those souls to find peace, but at the same time we will do our best so that every Bosniak of Podrinje, who has returned to his or her home or wants to return, receives adequate support," said Džaferović.

He concluded his address by saying that it is a debt to those who will be lowered into the graves of Potočari today and sent to a better world with the prayer "that sorrow be hope, that revenge be justice, that mother's tears be prayers, that Srebrenica repeats never again to anyone".

The BiH Presidency member Šefik Džaferović was the last to address the commemorative session, after which a religious program followed, and the remains of 19 victims of the July 1995 genocide in Srebrenicaare lowered into the dug out graves at the Potočari cemetery.