Denial of the 1995 Srebrenica Genocide has decreased in Bosnia after the former High Representative in the country, Valentin Inzko, imposed the law criminalizing genocide denial and glorification war crimes, an analysis of Twitter posts and media reports conducted by the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Bosnia (BIRN BiH) found.
Only days before his mandate came to an end, former High Representative Valentin Inzko, tasked with overseeing the civilian implementation of the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement in the country, used his special set of powers to introduce amendments to the Criminal Code of Bosnia-Herzegovina sanctioning the glorification of war criminals convicted by final and binding judgments, as well as the denial of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
BIRN BiH said that on that same day, July 23, it recorded more than 70 Twitter posts denying the genocide. The amendments were not yet in force at that time, but the number of such posts decreased significantly in the coming days, according to Detektor.ba.
The Srebrenica Memorial Centre, which has been following cases of genocide denial in the media for years, came to a similar conclusion.
“There is a drastic difference when it comes to denial. We see that the denial is for the most part maintained from Serbia,” said Edin Ikanovic from the Memorial Center.
BIRN BiH has been following Twitter posts containing the words “genocide” or “Srebrenica” and recording those from BiH containing genocide denial from the moment Inzko imposed the amendments.
BIRN BiH journalists also followed the evening news of the three public broadcasters and statements of officials published by some of the top news portals in the country between July 23 and August 1.
The news organisation said that the number of such Twitter posts dropped from 70 on July 23 to four on Sunday, August 1st. The number of statements by officials denying or downplaying the Srebrenica genocide also decreased.
According to an analysis of the Memorial Center, there was a huge number of cases of genocide denial after the law was imposed, but this changed drastically on July 28, when the law came into force.
Ikanovic said that last year the Memorial Centre recorded 236 cases of genocide denial or relativization of genocide, but that a much smaller number of cases is expected this year, arguing that Inzko’s decision has brought results.
On the day the amendments were imposed, genocide denial was broadcast on four occasions in the evening news of all three public TV broadcasters – BHT, RTRS and FTV. Three of those cases were statements by the Serb member of Bosnia’s tripartite Presidency, Milord Dodik, and one case was a statement of Božica Railic, the president of the Association of Women Victims of the War of Republika Srpska (RS), Bosnia’s Serb-majority entity.
Several statements denying the Srebrenica genocide were also recorded on news portals, with, among others, Radio Free Europe reporting on genocide denial by the mayor of Srebrenica Mladen Grujicic, RTVBN reporting such statements from RS National Assembly member, Jelena Trivic, and Al Jazeera Balkans also reporting Dodik's statements containing genocide denial.
A day later, on Saturday, July 24, BIRN BiH journalists recorded half the number of tweets containing genocide denial – 36. Most of the posts that were identified came from the same Twitter users who denied genocide the day before. On Sunday, July 25, the number of such tweets dropped to 29.
This trend continued as the day the law was to come into force was approaching.
That day came on Wednesday, July 28th, when BIRN BiH recorded 19 tweets containing denial of genocide in Srebrenica, one statement broadcast on FTV where a person said they “will not respect the law”, and the publication of the blog of Rajko Vasic, former general secretary of Dodik’s Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD), containing genocide denial.
The same day, Dodik told ATV that the qualification of genocide is “unacceptable” to him.
The number of cases rapidly decreased in the days that followed, dropping to only four tweets on August 1.