UN will vote on commemorating the 1995 Srebrenica genocide annually — which Serbs vehemently oppose

UNITED NATIONS — The UN will vote Thursday on establishing an annual day to commemorate the genocide of more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslims by Bosnian Serbs in 1995, a prospect that has drawn fierce opposition from Serbs who fear it will brand them all as “genocidal.” ” supporters of the UN. mass murder.

The General Assembly resolution, backed by Germany and Rwanda, does not name Serbia as to blame, but that has not stopped the intensive lobbying campaign for a “no” vote by Bosnian Serb President Milorad Dodik and the populist president of neighboring Serbia . Aleksandar Vucic.

The 193-member assembly is expected to vote Thursday morning on the resolution that would designate July 11 as the “International Day of Reflection and Remembrance of the 1995 Srebrenica Genocide,” to be celebrated annually in two months.

On July 11, 1995, Bosnian Serbs captured a UN-protected safe area in Srebrenica. They separated at least 8,000 Muslim Bosnian men and boys from their wives, mothers and sisters and slaughtered them. Those who tried to escape were chased through the forests and over the mountains surrounding the city.

The Srebrenica killings were the bloody crescendo of the 1992-95 Bosnian war, which came after the collapse of the then Yugoslav nation unleashed nationalist passions and territorial ambitions that pitted Bosnian Serbs against the country’s two other main ethnic populations, the Croats and the Muslim Bosnians, stated.

Both Serbia and the Bosnian Serbs have denied that genocide took place in Srebrenica, although this has been found by two UN courts.

Dodik, who is president of Republika Srpska, the Serb part of Bosnia that covers about half of its territory, said on the social media platform will split. the country.

“Bosnia and Herzegovina has reached its end, or to be more precise, it has been put to an end by those who swore it,” Dodik said on to be neighbors. and say goodbye in peace.”

Dodik has made several such threats in the past to have Serb-controlled areas secede from Bosnia and join neighboring Serbia. He and several other Bosnian Serb officials are under US and British sanctions, in part for jeopardizing a US peace plan that ended the Bosnian war.

The final draft of the resolution added a statement reiterating the General Assembly’s “unwavering commitment to maintaining stability and promoting unity in diversity in Bosnia and Herzegovina.”

The 2007 finding by the International Court of Justice, the UN’s highest tribunal, that the acts committed in Srebrenica constituted genocide is included in the draft resolution. It was the first genocide in Europe since the Nazi Holocaust in World War II, which killed an estimated six million Jews and people from other minorities.

German UN Ambassador Antje Leendertse said last week that there is an official UN commemoration of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda every year on April 7 – the day the Hutu-led government began killing members of the Tutsi minority and their supporters. The draft resolution aims to “bridge the gap” by creating a separate UN day “to commemorate the victims of Srebrenica,” she said.

Menachem Rosensaft, the son of Holocaust survivors and an adjunct professor at Cornell Law School, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that designating July 11 as the official day of remembrance for the Srebrenica genocide “is a moral and legal obligation.”

The slain Muslim Bosnians deserve to have their deaths remembered and the manner of their deaths remembered. Srebrenica was supposed to be a safe area, but was abandoned by Dutch UN peacekeepers, causing the Bosniaks who sought refuge there to be “murdered under UN supervision.” Rosensaft said.

Richard Gowan, U.N. director of the International Crisis Group, called the timing of the vote “unfortunate, given accusations that Israel is pursuing genocide in Gaza.”

“The vote will be an opportunity for more political theater,” he told AP. “I expect Russia and China will make a good point when they question why the American and European governments are focusing on a massacre in the 1990s rather than killings in Gaza today.”

Russia and China, which have close ties with Serbia, will almost certainly oppose the resolution and Hungary has announced it will vote “no.”

Germany’s Leendertse said that “the resolution has the support of a large interregional group.”

Gowan said: “If the level of support is limited, this will be a blow to Bosniaks.”

Serbian President Vucic and his government have campaigned both at the UN and among developing countries to win support for a ‘no’ vote. A majority vote is required for approval.

In arguing against the resolution, Vucic and Dodik have raised the possibility that it will open the door to war damage payments if passed. Local analysts say Serbian leaders, including Vucic, also fear they could face trial for active participation in the Bosnian bloodshed.

The draft resolution condemns “without reservation any denial of the genocide in Srebrenica as a historical event.” It “also unreservedly condemns actions that glorify those convicted of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide by international courts, including those responsible for the Srebrenica genocide.”

Wartime Bosnian Serb political leader Radovan Karadzic and his military commander, Ratko Mladic, were both convicted of genocide in Srebrenica by a special UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands. In total, the tribunal and the courts in the Balkans have sentenced almost fifty Bosnian Serb war officials to long prison terms.


AP writers Eldar Emric in Srebrenica and Jovana Gec and Dusan Stojanovic contributed to this report from Belgrade, Serbia.