The President and Chief Prosecutor of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, Carmel Agius and Serge Brammertz both noted that the Srebrenica genocide was the darkest moment in world's history since the WWII, noting that genocide denial must stop once for all.
"During the course of the trial, I heard every detail of those infamous events. I listened to the stories of survivors whose courage and strength still astounded me. I watched video footage of helpless, unarmed Bosnian Muslim civilians being summarily executed. I saw pictures of piles of bodies outside the warehouse in Kravica, I can never forget the expressions on the faces of those who knew they would die," judge Carmelo Agius said in his address.
"In addition, I visited the killing sites where sometimes the blood and tissue remains of the victims could still be seen on the floor and on the walls. I also viewed mass graves and saw for myself the efforts made by the murderers to hide their despicable actions. I realize now how deeply this case has affected me and that the trauma of these memories will stay with me for life.
And yet, what I and the other judges experienced was barely a shadow of the excruciating pain and loss that the victims and the families endured and continue to endure. It is hard to believe that a quarter of a century has passed since the genocide but I can imagine that for the victims it feels like an eternity without their loved ones.
While the ICTY and the Mechanism have delivered justice on an international scale, thousands of alleged perpetrators are yet to be tried domestically, while their victims continue to be tormented by those who attempt to deny their lived experiences, and thereby their very existence. The revisionists seek to bury the truth with the same ruthlessness that saw almost 8000 men and boys cut down in cold blood and thrown into shallow pits.
Despite this, I trust we will see better days. 25 years is not only a significant period of time, it represents the maturation of an entire generation and as the possibility of change. It is your children, the voices of the present and the future who have the capacity and the determination to create a different reality – if they choose," Agius noted
IRMCT’s Chief Prosecutor noted that the Srebrenica genocide was one of the darkest moments in recent history. Another genocide in the heart of Europe just 2 generations after the Holocaust.
“The world saw senior leaders use propaganda to ignite ethnic hatred and to dehumanize the neighbours. Men at the epics of power used then that power to terrorize and destroy simply because the victims were Muslims.
My first visit to Srebrenica in 2010 marked me deeply. I spent many hours with the victims and survivors. They told me their stories and showed me the last photographs of their loved ones. We talked about the discrimination and fear returnees still face today and they told me of their fears for the future for their grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Through all of our time together the mothers of Srebrenica taught me an important lesson – for most of the world Srebrenica is something that happened 25 years ago, but for the victims and survivors their lives stopped 25 years ago, and the genocide remains at the centre of their reality today
In the courtroom, I've seen survivors of the genocide confront those who tried to kill them. I've seen mothers relive their darkest moments so that the world will know their pain, and I've seen how even the most powerful of men can be brought low by the voices of their victims.
Through all the testimonies of the victims and survivors, the ICTY concluded beyond any reasonable doubt that genocide was committed in Srebrenica. International judges have confirmed that genocide was planned at the highest levels of political and military leadership with the aim to eliminate the Bosniak Muslim population of Srebrenica.
Dear friends, this commemoration should not only be about the past. To truly honour the memory of those lost 25 years ago and to recognize the victims and survivors with us today, it is our responsibility to keep fighting for justice and the truth. 5 years ago, I spoke at the United Nations on the 20th anniversary of the genocide. My message was in part, a call to confront genocide denial.
As I said then, to respect the past, we must call Srebrenica by its name – a genocide. To build the future we must speak out with one voice when it is denied. Unfortunately, genocide denial and glorification of convicted war criminals are even more rampant today than they were 5 years ago.
For too long the international community has hoped that this problem will simply go away. It will not. By continuing to tolerate genocide denial in any form we are failing the victims of Srebrenica again as we did 25 years ago.
So, in conclusion, let us mark this 25th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide not only with words but action that would be a truly fitting tribute to the victims and survivors and the memory of Srebrenica,” Serge Brammertz said in his video message.