In the summer of 1995, equipped with a diplomatic passport, I was stationed as an international observer at the border between Serbia and Bosnia. My mission was to report any transport that was not properly controlled by the border guards, in order to prevent Milosevic from providing his Serbian brothers on the other side with weapons.
However, with the warring parties there was no shortage of weapons or hatred. Tito’s slogan of “brotherhood and unity” did no longer occur in people’s vocabulary. On the contrary, enmity and division prevailed. Families were divided, old neighbours turned into enemies and people were willing to kill in order to secure territory for their own ethnic group. Neither international observers nor UN peace forces were able to stop the murders.
On 11 July, under the leadership of General Ratko Mladić, Bosnian-Serbian forces initiated what has later been named the Srebrenica massacre. Around 8,000 Bosnian Muslims (nobody knows the exact number) were murdered in and around the city of Srebrenica. The victims were children and adults, both men and women. Ahead of this, Srebrenica had been declared a “secure zone” by the UN.
The Srebrenica massacre has been designated as the largest genocide in European postwar history. Both the state of Serbia, General Mladić and several other Bosnian-Serbian officers, have been prosecuted for war crimes and genocide by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY).
In 2007, Serbia was acquitted of the genocide charges. At the same time, the UN-tribunal emphasised the fact that Serbia had not done enough to prevent the massacre. The events were recognised as “genocide”, but Serbia could not be held responsible for the actions of the Bosnian-Serbian forces.
On 18 March this year, almost 20 years after the massacre, seven persons were arrested on different places in Serbia, all suspected of having participated in the Srebrenica massacre. The arrested men are likely to be put on trial in Serbia, and not in the ICTY, which has handled the trial of Serbia’s former president Slobodan Milosevic. He is now dead, but the trials of the Bosnian-Serbian leader Radovan Karadzic and General Ratko Mladić are still ongoing.