Justice must be served and all those responsible for the massacre must face the consequences of their actions, European Enlargement and Neighbourhood Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi said on Friday, addressing the European Parliament, whose members paid tribute to the Srebrenica Genocide victims.
“The massacre in Srebrenica was recognised as an act of genocide by two different international courts: the International Criminal Tribunal for ex-Yugoslavia in 2004 and the International Court of Justice in 2006. These established facts about what happened in Srebrenica, need to be acknowledged. Any attempts at denial and revisionism are unacceptable,” said the Commissioner, as he wore the Srebrenica flower pinned to his coat, the sign of remembrance of the 1995 mass killing.
He urged the political leaders to choose “the truth, justice and cooperation over fear and hate,” in order to overcome the legacies of the past and build a prosperous future for the next generations.
Paulo Rangel, the EP's Special Rapporteur for Bosnia and Herzegovina, opened his address by saying: “Never again, never again, never again.”
He said this message was aimed for all citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina regardless of their ethnicity and beliefs, but also to European citizens who experienced in the past the horrors of genocide.
“The sacrifice of Srebrenica is not only the tragedy of Bosnia and Herzegovina, it is the denial of humanity. Whenever and wherever there is a genocide, a massacre, a mass and systematic killing of innocent people, that is a denial of humanity,” he stressed.
Srebrenica genocide demands truth and justice, Rangel went on, adding that “truth is not compatible with denial and justice is not reconcilable with impunity.”
“On behalf of European citizens, who we represent, I want to show our deepest sorrow and our most profound shame to all the victims of Srebrenica genocide, to all the survivors and families, to all Bosnians, to all humanity,” said the Parliament member, underlining that there were those directly responsible for the massacre but that the failure of the international community and the European Union was “unforgettable.”
This year's commemoration, taking place on Saturday at the Potocari Memorial Centre, is being held under special circumstances due to the coronavirus pandemic. The mass burial will be attended only by close relatives and family members, while the official part of the commemoration will be set up virtually, with speakers conveying their messages via live video link or previously recorded videos.
The youngest victim to be laid to rest this year is Salko Ibisevic, who was 23 when he was killed. The oldest victim is Hasan Pezic, aged 70 at the time of death.