The latest move by the President of Republika Srpska (RS), Bosnia's Serb-dominated part, who requested the RS Parliament to consider annulling a report a previous RS government has put together about the 1995 Srebrenica atrocities, is nothing more than a populist move and a part of his election campaign, Bosniak politicians said.
The 2004 report, which was put together by the RS government founded Commission for Srebrenica, acknowledged that thousands of Muslim Bosniaks were killed after the eastern Bosnian town was overrun by Bosnian Serb forces and that the executions represented a serious violation of humanitarian law.
However, RS President Milorad Dodik and his party, the Association of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD), have for years been claiming that what happened in Srebrenica was not genocide but propaganda placed by Bosniaks and the international community.
He said the 2004 report, containing the names of the victims and called the ‘Information of the Commission on the events in Srebrenica in the period July 10-19, 1995’, should have been annulled a long time ago so that the manipulations with it could finally stop.
“I think that this is just clear populism,” said RS Bosniak politician Admir Cavka, commenting Dodik’s request. “We all know very well what happened there.”
“This is nothing else but a classic start of an election campaign, in the worst way, because we are always occupied by the same issues while witnessing how our numbers here are decreasing, how the youth is leaving these areas exactly because of those issues which have caused our divisions,” he said.
On July 11, 1995, Bosnian Serb forces overran the eastern Bosnian enclave and rounded up the town’s Muslim Bosniaks, separated men from women and little children and systematically executed some 8,000 men and boys. The bodies of the victims were buried in a large number of mass graves.
Forensic experts excavated them and identified the bones through DNA analysis before returning the bodies to the families for interment on July 11 at the Memorial Centre’s cemetery.
The International Criminal Tribunal (ICTY) for the Former Yugoslavia and the International Court of Justice later ruled that the massacre was an act of genocide.
After Dodik’s request, RS National Assembly Speaker, Nedeljko Cubrilovic, scheduled the RS Parliament Board session for July 23, at which the date and the agenda of this special session can be set.
Cavka, who is a lawmaker in the RS National Assembly, said he was called to attend the session.
He commented on the speculation that the underlying reason for Dodik's move was another list of 22,000 suspects of the Srebrenica atrocities which the head of an association of families of the victims had recently handed over to a German prosecutor with the request to check whether any of them are hiding in Germany and if so, to make them face justice there.
“I don't know if the list is relevant or not, but I want to point out that this is not the time to draw politics into the matter. We have competent prosecutor's offices and courts that need to do the jobs and not politics or any kind of association,” Cavka said.
According to RS Vice-President, Ramiz Salkic, Dodik's behaviour is “dangerous and worrying”. Salkic said that Dodik, “facing increasing dissatisfaction among citizens is turning back to his already tested out recipe, insulting Islamic sanctities and continuing to pour salt on the Bosniak’s biggest wound.”
“We could not have expected anything else from those who awarded the people who were convicted of genocide and of being part of a joint criminal operation with the highest honours in the RS. It shows that the current government is persistent in releasing the strategic goals of January 9, 1992 (the day when the RS was established), which resulted in the genocide over Bosniaks,” he said.
The SNSD's Bosnian Serb opposition, the Alliance for Changes, said that they will attend the session and try to, “together with other parties, rationally and responsibly make a decision that will be in the best interest of the RS.”
The 2004 report was adopted by the RS Government due to a ruling by the Human Rights Chamber and not the RS National Assembly, the Alliance for Changes said.
Considering the fact that the RS National Assembly can, because of this, not annul the report, which the RS President announced several days ago, “we are requesting that before the meeting of the Parliament Board the RS Government first annuls its decision from 2004 in which it endorsed the Report of the Commission for Srebrenica and to put together an information about the reasons for annulment,” the Alliance said in a statement.
A Parliament session can be scheduled only after the previous government's endorsement is withdrawn, it said.
“We are warning that this is a very serious subject in the RS and that such subjects should not be discussed under the pressure of pre-election activities but rationally and based on solid arguments,” the statement said.