As many as 35 more victims of the Srebrenica genocide were identified ahead of the 23rd anniversary of Europe's worst genocide since World War II.
The victims' bodies were exhumed from mass graves in eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina's village of Potocari, 6 kilometers northwest of the city of Srebrenica, the Missing Persons Institute (MPI) of Bosnia and Herzegovina said in a statement.The MPI is an independent state-level institution whose mandate is to search for missing persons from the armed conflict relevant to Bosnia and Herzegovina and the region. The statement said that no more than 35 victims were identified ahead of this year's anniversary.
Nermin Alivukovic, head of the Organizing Committee for Memorial Activities of the Srebrenica Genocide, told the Anadolu Agency (AA) that some criticize them for spreading information about what has happened in Srebrenica.
"These days on the eve of the 23rd anniversary of the genocide, we are criticized as if the persecution in Srebrenica should no longer be talked about. They should know that as long as the relatives of the victims are alive, the sad experiences will continue to be told," he said.
Alivukovic said that everybody was invited to the commemoration ceremonies and they are expecting 20,000-30,000 people to attend the collective funeral prayer at Potocari Monument Cemetery.
Even after 23 years, remains of victims are still being discovered and funeral ceremonies still being held in Bosnia-Herzegovina. A total of 6,575 victims lie buried at the Srebrenica Genocide Memorial in Potocari.Remzija Dudic, who was brutally murdered by Serb troops, despite being six months pregnant while fleeing the forest road with her husband, is among the victims set to be buried at this year's ceremony.The youngest victim of the genocide to be buried this year is Vesid Ibric, 16, born in 1979, while the oldest is Sahin Halilovic, 71, born in 1924. Nearly 170 identified victims are in the Podrinje identification center in Tuzla, but largely due to incomplete remains of the victims have not yet been buried.
If the families of previously identified victims had allowed the institute to complete the process, more victims would have been buried this year.
Most of the bodies exhumed from mass graves after years of search and excavation work are incomplete. Thus, some families are hoping more remains may be found before their loved ones are laid to rest.
Srebrenica was besieged by Serb forces between 1992 and 1995 during the Bosnian War. Back then, Serb militias were trying to wrest territory from Bosnian Muslims and Croats to form their own state.The United Nations Security Council declared Srebrenica a "safe area" in the spring of 1993. However, Serbian troops led by Gen. Ratko Mladic, who now faces genocide charges in The Hague, overran the U.N. zone despite the presence of around 450 Dutch soldiers tasked with acting as U.N. peacekeepers.
The Dutch troops failed to act as Serbian forces occupied the area, killing about 2,000 men and boys on July 11 alone. Some 15,000 men of Srebrenica fled into the surrounding mountains, but Serbian troops hunted down and slaughtered 6,000 of them in the forest.