Learning from the 1995 Srebrenica tragedy could have prevented Gaza genocide: Turkish official

Fahrettin Altun emphasized the importance of teaching Srebrenica as a lesson to prevent future genocides.

Anadolu Agency July 11, 2024
Anadolu Agency

If humanity learned a lesson from the Srebrenica genocide, which took place 29 years ago in eastern Bosnia, the genocide in Gaza would not have happened today, the Turkish communications director said on Thursday.

“If humanity had truly learned from the harrowing events in Srebrenica, where over 8,000 people were killed solely because of their identities and beliefs without making any distinction between the young and the old, the genocide in Gaza would not have taken place today,” Fahrettin Altun said on X.

Amid the “relentless genocide” happening in Gaza, there are valuable lessons for all to learn from Srebrenica, urging people to strive for a livable world where human dignity is cherished and preserved, he said.

He recalled the words of the first President of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Aliya Izetbegovic: "A forgotten genocide is repeated." The July 11 Srebrenica Genocide is "one of the most painful chapters in modern history that has yet to be closed," Altun also said.

He stressed that a “horrifying genocide” unfolded before the eyes of the entire world in an area designated as a "safe zone" by the UN in Srebrenica.

“Ratko Mladic, etched in history as the ‘Butcher of Bosnia,’ like those who perpetuate the genocide in Gaza today, was tragically blinded by ideology and ignored the pleas of reason, common sense, and conscience,” he added.

Underlining that the UN General Assembly adopted the Srebrenica Genocide Resolution with the support of Türkiye in May, he said this resolution mandates that Srebrenica be taught to younger generations worldwide as a lesson.

A circular signed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan designates July 11 in Türkiye as the International Day of Reflection and Commemoration of the Srebrenica Genocide.

“This day aims to share the profound pain and to condemn genocide and crimes against humanity. We hope that this tragic event will deepen humanity’s conscience and awareness and awaken dormant consciences to the genocide unfolding in Gaza before the eyes of the entire world,” he said.

He added that the bodies of 14 more victims will be laid to rest at this year's mass funeral on July 11.

“I pray for Allah's mercy upon the Bosnian War victims who were massacred throughout brotherly Bosnia and Herzegovina, particularly those who endured genocide in Srebrenica, all Bosnian martyrs, and Aliya Izetbegovic, the first President of the Independent Bosnia and Herzegovina, who showed the world that even war has its ethics,” he added.

Every year on July 11, newly identified victims of the 1995 genocide are buried in a memorial cemetery in Potocari in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Newly Identified Victims Laid to Rest

This May, with overwhelming support, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution designating July 11 Srebrenica Genocide Remembrance Day.

The resolution, spearheaded by Germany and co-sponsored by more than 40 countries, calls for July 11 to be declared as the International Day of Reflection and Commemoration of the 1995 Genocide in Srebrenica.

The youngest victim to be buried this year is Beriz Mujic, 17, born in 1978 in Zvornik.

His remains were found 28 years after he was killed and were exhumed in May 2023.

He was killed in July 1995 in the Suceska area near Bratunac, and his remains were discovered and exhumed in the Srebrenica municipality area.

Mujic will be buried next to his brother Hazim, whose remains were laid to rest in 2013.

The body of their father, Omer Mujic, has yet to be found.

The oldest victim to be buried Thursday is Hamed Salic, born in 1927. He was 68 when he went missing in the summer of 1995 in the town of Zepa. His remains were exhumed in May 2014 and recently identified.

Thousands of people from various countries will attend the funerals and burials. Following this year's funeral, the number of victims buried at the cemetery will reach 6,765.

Srebrenica Genocide

In the spring of 1993, the UN Security Council declared the city of Srebrenica a "safe area." However, Serb troops led by Gen. Ratko Mladic, who was later found guilty of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide, overran the zone.

Dutch troops responsible for safeguarding people in the UN zone failed to act when Serb forces occupied it on July 11, killing 2,000 men and boys in a single day.

Approximately 15,000 Bosniaks fled to the surrounding mountains, but Serb troops hunted them down, killing an additional 6,000 people.

Serb forces allowed women and children to reach Bosnian-controlled regions but massacred at least 8,372 Bosnian men in forests, factories, and warehouses. The murdered Bosnians were buried in mass graves, with bodies discovered in 570 different locations across the country, including 77 mass graves.

In 2007, the International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled that genocide had been committed in Srebrenica.

Efforts to locate the missing victims of the genocide have continued, with identified remains buried at the Potocari Memorial Cemetery.

On June 8, 2021, UN tribunal judges upheld a life sentence for Mladic for genocide, persecution, crimes against humanity, extermination, and other war crimes committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina.


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