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In Memory of the 8.376 victims of Srebrenica

Action artists act out the failure of the UN Crisis Management Group in 1995 - Society for Threatened Peoples recalls the rejection of a rescue intervention by the CDU/CSU, the SPD, the Greens and the PDS

Bolzano/Bozen, Göttingen, July 9, 2009

Action in Memory of the 8.376 victims of Srebrenica, Berlin 2009. Action in Memory of the 8.376 victims of Srebrenica, Berlin 2009.

In memory of the at least 8,376 victims of Srebrenica the action artist Philipp Ruch of the "Zentrum für Politische Schönheit" (the Political Beauty Centre) will be acting out at the Brandenburger Tor in Berlin from 8^th to 10^th July 2009 at 8 p.m. the meeting of the Crisis Management Group of the United Nations of 10^th July 1995.That was when it was decided to hand over without resistance the UN Protected Zone of Srebrenica in East Bosnia to the Serb troops and not to employ any UN troops for the defence of the encircled Bosnian town.

During the final memorial service at 12 o'clock midday on Saturday (11^th July), the anniversary of the fall of Srebrenica, supporters of the Society for Threatened Peoples (GfbV) and Bosnian survivors of the genocide will be holding a banner 60 metres long with the names of those murdered. Simultaneously the GfbV will be drawing attention to the fact that all German political parties refused to agree to an intervention to end the genocide. As a result the inhabitants of the European Olympian town of Sarajevo had to suffer a daily bombardment for four years. Tens of thousands of female prisoners suffered unbearable maltreatment in Serb rape camps. The Serb concentration and internment camps with more than 200,000 inmates were not opened by force. Right from the outset of the war it was particularly the British and French governments which supported the policies of the Serb leaders Radovan Karadzic, Ratko Mladic and Slobodan Milosevic.

The joint memorial service of the "Zentrum" and the GfbV will be supported by the Bosniak Islamic Cultural Centre (IKB); the Network for Culture and Science (ZZI) and Südost Europa Kultur e.V. (South-east European Culture Society). The GfbV has asked all chairpersons of the above parties to speak at the memorial service.

Events in memory of Srebrenica in Berlin 2009:

8^th July 8 p.m.: Performance in the presence of the Bosnian ambassador, Brandenburger Tor (Mittelinsel Pariser Platz)

9th and 10th July, 8 p.m. Performance at the Brandenburger Tor

11^th July, 12 midday Performance in front of the German Parliament and final Memorial address (Scheidemannstrasse, Hohe Simonsweg)


The Massacre of Srebrenica 1995

On 11^th July 1995 troops of the Serb war criminal General Ratko Mladic on the order of the then president of the Serb occupied part of Bosnia, Radovan Karadžic', occupied the East Bosnian town, which was cut off from the world. Tens of thousand Bosnian civilians had fled there from the outlying villages. Under the eyes of the Blue Helmets stationed in Srebrenica the soldiers murdered tens of thousands of unarmed Bosnian Moslem boys and men who had been separated from the women and children. Their corpses were thrown into mass graves. To hide the traces they were often dug up again and buried in graves for two or three.

275 mass graves have so far been discovered in the East-Bosnian Drina Valley with the mortal remains of about 7000 Srebrenica victims. About 6,200 of them have so far been identified. 3,307 identified victims were initially buried at the cemetery of the Memorial Site in Potocari near Srebrenica, because after the systematic destruction of the mass graves only parts of the bodies were found. On 11^th July 2009 520 further identified bodies were buried at Potocari.

The massacre of Srebrenica, which has been recognized as genocide, is seen as the worst mass murder in Europe since the end of the Second World War and the crimes following it. The surviving widows, mothers, daughters and sisters of the murdered people live today scattered throughout the world or in poverty in Bosnia.

Srebrenica 2009 - a town in abject poverty

Of 37,211 inhabitants of the town of Srebrenica in 1991 72.88% were Moslem Bosnians, 25.21% Serb-Orthodox and 1.91% other Bosnians, mostly Roma. Today Srebrenica is a town in abject poverty, dominated by the Serb criminals in the "ethnically cleansed" Serb-controlled half of Bosnia. At least 810 persons suspected of being war criminals occupy today, without let or hindrance, public offices in the "Republika Srpska", which is managed by Serbs. Ratko Mladic is still at large.

Only about 4,500 Moslem Bosnians - mostly widows and their children - have returned to Srebrenica and the outlying 56 villages. Many of them have to make do in tumbledown shacks, cellars or ruins. Only about 1,700 of the approximately 6,500 houses of the Bosnians have been rebuilt. The streets and the supplies of electricity and water are destroyed. Many villages are practically inaccessible in winter. The quality of the water from the wells has not been tested to the present day. The medical care of those who have returned is totally inadequate. There is in Srebrenica only mobile medical aid - and that must be paid for. International aid agencies have been withdrawn. Many children have to walk for miles to get to school.

Four mothers' organisations of the survivors of Srebrenica try to mobilise assistance for those who have returned. The chairperson of the society "Srebrenica Mothers", Hatidza Mehmedovic, also returned there in October 2002. She is the co-ordinator for the GfbV. Her two teenage sons, her husband and other male members of the family were victims of the massacre.

If you want to help the Srebrenica survivors - e.g. in form of a sponsorship or training endowment - we shall be glad to put you in contact with the German-speaking colleagues at the Sarajevo office of the GfbV for Bosnia and Herzegovina. Just ring us up at ++49 (0)551 499 0616 or mail us at bosnien@gfbv.de.

The GfbV calls on the German government to:

- Declare the11th July as the Day of Remembrance of the Massacre of Srebrenica
- Exercise pressure on Serbia to hand over the chief war criminal Ratko Mladic to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) at The Hague.
- Support the attempts of the Bosnians to achieve a political special status for the district of Srebrenica on the pattern of the district of Brcko and assistance for persons returning and for reconstruction projects.