By M.A. Saki

Srebrenica is a ‘big black spot’ in UN history: ambassador  

July 10, 2020 - 22:22

TEHRAN – The ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina to Iran blames the United Nations for failing to prevent the massacre in Srebrenica in July 1995, telling the Tehran Times that the tragedy “is a big black spot in the history of the United Nations Organization” that took place “in the heart of Europe”.

TEHRAN – The ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina to Iran blames the United Nations for failing to prevent the massacre in Srebrenica in July 1995, telling the Tehran Times that the tragedy “is a big black spot in the history of the United Nations Organization” that took place “in the heart of Europe”.

The interview with Ambassador Samir Veladzic was conducted as Bosnia and Herzegovina is commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide.

The diplomat also says, “The Bosnian people who survived from this carnage, have never shown that they want to take revenge on the executioners, on the contrary, they have given always the message of peace and patience.”

Following is the text of the interview:

Question: Genocide in Srebrenica took place despite the fact that the city had been declared a UN safe area. Based on this inaction, can we draw this conclusion that the United Nations failed not only in the Balkan war, it also failed in other cases in the years before after the Srebrenica massacre? For example, failure by the UN to protect Palestinians against Israel, Rohingya against extremists in Myanmar, etc.

Answer: Generally speaking, the Bosnian War, in fact, was an invasion to Bosnia and Herzegovina by the Army of the former Yugoslavia and it took place when the international community knew what was happening there. At that time, Bosnia and Herzegovina declared independence from Yugoslavia and it happened after the declarations of independence of the Republic of Slovenia and the Republic of Croatia. Although the international community was informed about all happening there, they banned the imports of weapons to the new independent country, the Army of which had already been formed. In that situation, the United Nations Organization just sent peacekeepers and created some safe areas in Bosnia and Herzegovina to protect the people.

“The carnage in Srebrenica teaches us that such a genocide should not happen anymore, anywhere, and to anyone all over the world.” 

One of these safe areas was Srebrenica. This city was different from other safe areas because it was declared as a non-military area too. Therefore, many people from the cities around Srebrenica went there and gathered in this small city. When the enemy forces attacked Srebrenica, the peacekeepers didn’t protect the unarmed people, most of whom were women and children. As a result, the enemy forces killed thousands of people just in a few days. The Peacekeepers were there in order to protect the unarmed people, but they failed and this is a big Black Spot in the history of the UN. Considering this experience, the Bosnian people can understand very well the other people living in bad situations.  

Q: Srebrenica is a deep wound that history will never forget. It happed before the eyes of the entire world, especially in proximity of Europeans who consider themselves defenders of human rights? What is your assessment of the Europeans’ performance at the time?

A: Srebrenica, of course, is a deep wound that Bosnian people can never forget. As we said before, Srebrenica is a Black Spot that took place in the heart of Europe and on the other hand, we would like all nations and civilizations to learn from this tragedy in order not to happen anymore and anywhere.  

Q: How can this wound be healed?

A: There are some things that make people sad, for example, some politician claim that what happened in Srebrenica was not a genocide; or some executioners have not been sentenced yet. Moreover, some people who were killed in Srebrenica have not been found yet, because those who did genocide, buried the bodies of the killed people in mass graves in different places and their families can’t find even their bones in order to bury them as they deserve. 

I would like to avail myself of this opportunity to thank the Iranian government and people for supporting Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Bosnian people in that terrible situation. All supports provided by Iran helped a lot in order that less people be killed.”Q: What lessons can the world learn from this horrendous carnage in Srebrenica?

A: The carnage in Srebrenica teaches us that such a genocide should not happen anymore, anywhere, and to anyone all over the world. But unfortunately, the same is happening in some places in the world and innocent people are dying every day. Those who commit this crime should be sentenced in order to be an example for all people in the world. 

Q: What is your description of the psychological trauma of the massacre, especially for those who lost sons, husbands, and fathers?

A: It is not possible to describe the psychological trauma of the massacre, because many people from Srebrenica lost their families and unfortunately in many cases, all members of a family were killed and nobody was left, so, today, when we find the bones of the killed people, there is no one to give DNA test in order to identify the found bones. Moreover, a great number of women were raped during this executions and they cannot have their normal life. Especially for this part of the tragedy and its psychological trauma we cannot find any appropriate word to describe how they feel. 

Q: The UN war crimes tribunal for former Yugoslavia in The Hague has put the number of those killed in and around Srebrenica in July 1995 at around 8,000, but Bosniak officials and war victims’ associations say the number is higher. Do you have any comments on the number of victims?

A: As I said before, Srebrenica, as a UN safe area, was a place where many people gathered to survive. Before the Bosnian War, this city was one of the smallest one in Bosnia and Herzegovina with a population of 35,000, and during wartime, according to the official sources, around 60,000 people were gathered there. Many of them managed to escape through forest and it took them few days to find a safe area, but on the way from Srebrenica to the new destination, many people were killed. There is a great number of people who were lost in this tragedy and as we have not found all bones yet, we don’t know exactly how many people died.  

Q: In your view, what steps are needed to be taken at national and international level to prevent genocides such as the one in Srebrenica, Rwanda, and the one against Rohingya in Myanmar?

A: The international community must take severe action when such a massacre like this happens. 

Q: Don’t you think that such tragedies are the consequences of hatred, excessive nationalism, and intolerance of other communities?

A: Some countries in Europe and other parts of the world have adopted Resolution which condemns the genocide in Srebrenica. Such a Resolution should be adopted by all Parliaments in the world. It would be a good message to all nationalists and intolerant communities. The massacre in Srebrenica should be considered as a good lesson to all people in the world and not as an inspiration for more nationalism and intolerance in Bosnia and Herzegovina and other countries. The Bosnian people who survived this carnage, have never shown that they want to take revenge on the executioners, on the contrary, they have given always the message of peace and patience. The victims just insist on justice, that is, all executioners, inside or outside the country, must be sentenced. Many of them, around 50 people, were sentenced to 700 years in prison just for the Srebrenica genocide, but unfortunately, not all of them for now. 

Q: There is some evidence suggesting that during the Srebrenica massacre U.S. spy planes were monitoring and registering the event without doing anything. Such inactions also happened when Daesh (ISIS) was committing crimes in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. was just looking from the sky. However, later it tried to depict itself as the main force against Daesh. In view of this, how some Muslims succeeded to survive the Balkan war, especially the Srebrenica carnage?

A: A couple of years after the Srebrenica genocide and the Bosnian War, some satellite images appeared in the media, about the massacre and carnage especially in the Srebrenica area. Unfortunately, we could use these images just to find the mass graves and the hidden bodies of the killed people. We have been witness to many details about the Srebrenica massacre during the wartime in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in national and international media. In general, all helpful information we have should be used in order to protect the people’s life and health. Finally, I would like to avail myself of this opportunity to thank the Iranian Government and people for supporting Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Bosnian people in that terrible situation. All supports provided by Iran helped a lot in order that less people to be killed. 
    

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