We have all heard about the genocide of Srebrenica which is considered the greatest atrocity in Europe since the Second World War. This terrible event consisted of five days of killing in July 1995, in which about 8,000 Muslim men and boys were exterminated at Srebrenica.
For a long time i had planned to visit Srebrenica and the Potočari memorial but for so many reasons I did not do it before. Anyway I thought that after attending the training course in Sarajevo we could actually travel from Sarajevo to Srebrenica before coming back to Tirana.
It’s hard to describe the emotions you feel during the jorney to Srebrenica. You will find a really sad and cold place which makes you feel weirdly not welcome. When you arrive in Srebrenica you will be aware of a coldness and a sense of foreboding and immediately perceive the effects of war. The damaged buildings, the intimidating atmosphere, the low population of the city, which passed from 45 000 inhabitants before the massacre to less than 9 000 people nowadays, are all consequences of the black past of this place. This added to the extreme cold, and to the fact that was Sunday and anyone was walking in the street, made the city even more empty and silent.
The populations of Srebrenica and some other villages near ran towards Potočari in order to take refuge where were installed the UN Dutch contingent, however the massacre carried out by the Serbian intense attacks took place under the weak “protection” of the slightly armed Dutch peacekeeping forces. This action was later described by the court of the UN war crimes as “the triumph of evil”, and what happened there was later described by a judge of the court in The Hague as ” one of the most macabre happenings of human history.”
Potočari is just a small taxi run away from Srebrenica. A memorial was built there to honour the victims of the massacre. The grandiosity and the opulence of the memorial make go back to the day where women and children were separated from the men and placed on buses, while Men and boys were taken “for questioning on suspicion of war crimes.”
After that, was time to avenge the ‘Turks’ (derogatory name for Bosnian Muslims), as said Mladic while recorded by radio and television reporters. The ethnic cleansing took place and no Muslim as left. Thousands of men and boys aged 10 to 77 years were surrounded and killed. Those who tried to hide in their homes were, according to the evidence presented in the trial of Serb general Radislav Krstic in The Hague in 2000, “hunted down and slaughtered like dogs as “Gifts” to Srebrenica Serbs to the Serbian people.
More than 60 truckloads of refugees out of Srebrenica to execution sites where they were blindfolded, had their hands tied and were killed by shots from automatic rifles. Some of the runs were made at night under the light reflectors. Later, Bulldozers covered the bodies with earth in mass graves.
After visiting Srebrenica you cannot remain aloof about what happened there because it’s written on every wall, on everyone’s face, on every street corner of the city. It is enough to say that this village used to be 100% Muslim and now is 100% Serb. This is Srebrenica.