Bosnian Serb MPs adopt a report denying the Srebrenica genocide

By Thomson Reuters Apr 18, 2024 | 11:30 AM

SARAJEVO (Reuters) – The parliament of Bosnia´s autonomous Serb Republic adopted a report on Thursday stating that the killing of 8,000 Muslims in Srebrenica during the Bosnian war did not constitute genocide, contravening the rulings of international courts.

The massacre in 1995, which happened in the week after the U.N. safe zone of Srebrenica was attacked by the Bosnian Serb forces, was seen as Europe’s worst atrocity since World War Two.

The parliamentary step came as Serbia and the Serb Republic campaign against a resolution to commemorate the Srebrenica genocide that is being debated in the United Nations and should be voted on in the General Assembly in early May.

“Genocide did not happen, such a qualification must be dismissed,” Serb Republic nationalist President Milorad Dodik told the lawmakers. “The Serb people did not commit genocide.”

Serbia´s President Aleksandar Vucic said last week that Serbia will fight against the adoption of the U.N. resolution which would put blame on Serbs, fearing it may form a basis for Bosnia to demand war reparations from Serbia, the Bosnian Serbs´ wartime ally.

Authorities in the Serb Republic also called on the citizens to attend a mass meeting in the region´s de facto capital of Banja Luka later on Thursday to protest against the U.N. resolution, which they said they will never accept.

The Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) established in a series of verdicts over the past two decades that the massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica constituted genocide.

The International Court of Justice confirmed in 2007 such a declaration, stating in addition that Serbia failed to prevent the genocide from occurring.

The men, most of them unarmed, were executed while trying to escape the eastern enclave after it fell into hands of the Bosnian Serb forces on July 11, 1995. They were killed en masse and their remains were dug out years later from primary and secondary mass graves.

The Serb forces were commanded by General Ratko Mladic, who was jailed for life in 2017 after being convicted by the ICTY of genocide and crimes against humanity for orchestrating massacres and ethnic cleansing during Bosnia’s war.

A 2021 report by a group of foreign experts, commissioned by the Serb Republic government, concluded however that crimes took place at Srebrenica but not genocide, halving the number of the dead and saying most of the dead men were killed in combat.

The draft U.N. resolution, initiated by Germany, Rwanda and co-sponsored by the United States, Bosnia and Herzegovina and other countries, calls for July 11 to be an official International Day of Remembrance of the victims of the Srebrenica genocide.

It also calls for the condemnation of any denial of the genocide in Srebrenica.

(Reporting by Daria Sito-Sucic; Editing by Frances Kerry)