Denial of the Srebrenica genocide, in which more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslims were murdered by Bosnian Serb forces, continues in the region to this day, according to a new report released this week.
“Genocide denial, including the glorification of war crimes and criminals, remains widespread in both Bosnia and Herzegovina and neighboring countries,” said the Srebrenica Genocide Denial Report 2021, published by the Srebrenica Memorial Center on Friday.
According to the report, there were 234 instances of genocide denial in the regional public and media discourse over the past year – 142 in Serbia, 60 in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and 19 in Montenegro.
“The three most common rhetorical tactics used in genocide denial remain disputing the number and identity of victims, conspiracy theories which challenge the rulings and integrity of international courts, and nationalist historical revisionism,” said the report, which included data from between May 1, 2020 and April 30, 2021.
“Attempts to silence or disparage public discourse about the genocide” and “portraying the recognition and memorialization of the genocide as an attack on the Serbian people” were among the common practices used for denial, the report said.
“Obstruction of the adoption of legislation banning genocide denial” and “opposition to the official recognition or condemnation of the genocide by states, local governments, and institutions” were also used to deny the atrocity, it added.
More than 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were killed when Bosnian Serb forces attacked Srebrenica in July 1995, despite the presence of Dutch peacekeeping troops.
The Serb forces were trying to wrest territory from Bosnian Muslims and Croats to form a state.
The UN Security Council had declared Srebrenica a “safe area” in the spring of 1993. However, troops led by Gen. Ratko Mladic, who was later found guilty of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide, overran the UN zone.
Dutch troops failed to act as Serb forces occupied the area, killing some 2,000 men and boys on July 11 alone.
About 15,000 residents of Srebrenica fled to the surrounding mountains, but Serb troops hunted down and killed 6,000 more people.
Bodies of victims have been found in 570 different places in the country.
In 2007, the International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled that a genocide had been committed in Srebrenica.
On June 8, 2021, UN tribunal judges upheld in a second-instance trial a verdict sentencing Mladic to life in prison for the genocide, persecution, crimes against humanity, extermination, and other war crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina.