On July 11, 1995, a massacre began in Srebrenica, Bosnia, that would become the worst genocide on European soil since World War II. A total of 8,372 civilians were brutally murdered in a period of just five days, and the United Nations was complicit in covering up the horrific atrocities.
Srebrenica was once remembered as a safe haven. In fact, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution in April 1993—one year after the Bosnian War began—that specifically required all parties to treat “Srebrenica and its surroundings as a safe area which should be free from any armed attacks or any other hostile act.”
The UN sent a Dutch battalion to Srebrenica to protect the Muslim communities in the region in March 1994. This held up until July 5, 1995, when the Bosnian Serb Army began shelling Dutch positions in the region.
22 years ago today Europe's last genocide occurred in #Srebrenica.
8372 European Muslims were brutally butchered because of their faith. pic.twitter.com/CwpXHI9JrG
— Rula Jebreal (@rulajebreal) July 11, 2017
Srebrenica fell on July 11, and the Bosnian Serbs went straight for the Dutch base at Potočari, which caused over 20,000 people—mostly Muslim men and boys—to flee. After around 5,000 were able to take refuge in local factories and fields, the 15,000 remaining refugees waited until midnight, and then began the 63-mile journey to the closest Muslim area in Tuzla.
Remembering Srebrenica detailed the horrific scene, in which the Serbs opened heavy gunfire on the refugees, killing hundreds on the spot, and causing thousands to flee into the woods.
“Aware that thousands of men were now hiding in the woods and without any means of contacting each other, the Serbian Military used stolen UN equipment to pose as peacekeepers, and coax the men out from hiding. Those who took the bait were encouraged to call out to their relatives- their sons, brothers, and fathers to reveal themselves. Among them, were Ramo and Nermin Osmanović. Along with several others who surrendered, Ramo and Nermin were rounded up and executed.”
The massacre continued for five days until the total number of innocent civilians who were executed reached 8,372.
“I thought they might kill one, 10 or even 100 people. But kill all of us? I thought that was impossible,” said Nedzad Avdic, a survivor of the massacre, who sustained gunshot wounds and was left for dead among a pile of bodies. “In the end, they would kill thousands… But they made the mistake of leaving people like me alive, to keep talking about their crimes.”
Despite the fact that they were supposed to be on opposing sides of the conflict, Remembering Srebrenica reported that Bosnian Serb General Ratko Mladić and Dutch Colonel Thom Karremans acted as allies when they negotiated a treaty for Dutch troops to leave the area on July 21, 1995.
In fact, even after watching another army slaughter the region his army was instructed to protect, Karremans went on to refer to the Srebrenica Massacre as “an excellently planned military operation,” with no mention of the horrific atrocities.
Yasushi Akashi, head of the UN mission in Bosnia, also failed to report any evidence of the massacre. However, the massive slaughter of Bosnian Muslims became impossible to deny after several mass graves were discovered around Srebrenica, and the United States advised the Bosnian Serbs to cover their tracks.
“Several months after the Srebrenica massacre, the US Secretary of State released a statement, which alluded to the US being aware of the mass gravesites the Bosnian Serb Army had erected from satellite photos the US had taken. To hide the remains again, a division of the Bosnian Serb Army issued an organized effort to dig up primary mass graves using heavy equipment. This ‘reburial’ of graves was carried out during the night, with several gravesites in Srebrenica being dug up, and remains moved to secondary, sometimes tertiary sites.”