Sunday, July 10, 2005
Srebrenica: Ten years later
July 11th is the 10th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre. The worst mass slaughter to take place in Europe since the Second World War. Last year I served with SFOR XV, the last rotation before the mission was handed to the European Union, EUFOR, often mockingly referred to as Euforia by cynical Bosnians. The Europeans were there as peacekeepers during the massacre, specifically Dutch troops at Srebrenica, so needless to say the Muslims were rather suspicious of the whole thing. Fortunately, after 10 years of peacekeeping, the mission was going quite well. Bosnia is still a poor nation, split by ethnic divides and recovering from the destruction of the war, but largely peaceful. I personally spent a lot of time in Srebrenica, so it always posed a special interest for me. Here are a some pictures that I took, along with some relevent comments.
This is the robna kuca, which is roughly a chain of department stores, in Srebrenica. During the seige it was used to hand out humanitarian aid. As you can see, there are a lot of repairs still needing to be done. The international community has helped build new houses and public buildings (including a brand new mosque donated by Malaysia) but there are few jobs, and the population is still only a fraction of its prewar size.
Overlooking the town, including the aforementioned mosque.
Graves of the victims at the Potocari cemetary. Most of the remains have not yet been identified, therfore only a small number of the 7,000 plus dead have been buried. At the time of this picture a little over 900 if I remember right. The gravesites are grouped, so oftentimes you will see all the male members of one family right together.
A more artistic view of the memorial. The covered area is actually an outdoor mosque. Across the road on the left you can see the battery factory where many of the killings took place.
Crni Vrh, a hilltop between Zvornik and Tuzla, site of the largest mass grave found thus far. Over 700 bodies were excavated. To this day it is not uncommon to be driving along and see new sites being worked on.
This isn't from Srebrenica, but I always thought it well represented the impotence of the UN,who stood by and watched all this happen.
If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment, and I will try and answer them as best as possible.
Update: Christopher Hitchens has a great editorial on Srebrenica and genocide on Slate in From Srebrenica to Baghdad