A memorial march and ceremony was held to commemorate the 26th anniversary of the massacre of 116 civilians by Croatian Defence Council fighters in the Bosnian village of Ahmici.
Tributes were paid in Ahmici in Bosnia’s Vitez municipality on Tuesday to the victims of the massacre on April 16, 1993, when 116 civilians including elderly people and children were killed by Croatian Defence Council fighters.
The youngest victim of the massacre was three months old and the oldest was 82. Six people have so far been convicted of involvement in the killings.
The marking of the anniversary of the murders began with a march entitled ‘The Path of Truth and Remembrance’ from Vitez to Ahmici, followed by a commemoration and religious ceremony at the Muslim cemetery in Stari Vitez. Flowers were also laid at the memorial to the victims in Ahmici.
The April 16 Association said that the bodies of 29 victims from Ahmici have still not been found, and not all of those responsible for the crime have been punished.
“As for finding victims’ bodies, there has been no progress in recent years. We constantly send out appeals, but receive no feedback,” said association member Hazrudin Bilic.
Sefik Dzaferovic, the Bosniak member of the tripartite Bosnian state presidency, said at the ceremony that truth and justice were crucial for the restoration of trust.
“We shall not give up until the last organiser and perpetrator of the crime in Ahmici has been brought to justice. Only six people have stood trial for the horrible crime in Ahmici, but there were many more of those who planned and committed the crime,” Dzaferovic said.
An interactive film called ‘Ahmici: 48 Hours of Ashes and Blood’, produced by the SENSE Centre for Transitional Justice, was shown at the local elementary school in Ahmici and was also to be screened at the Historical Museum in Sarajevo on Tuesday evening.
The Hague Tribunal convicted five of the six people found guilty of involvement in the crime, including the former military commander of the Croatian Defence Council, Dario Kordic, who was sentenced to 25 years in jail.
Kordic was released in 2014 after serving two-thirds of his sentence.
Earlier this month, he gave a speech at a student residence in Zagreb about his years in prison and his religious beliefs, although some protesters tried to disrupt the event by chanting that he was a war criminal.
The Croatian branch of the Youth Initiative for Human Rights NGO said on Tuesday that Kordic should be stripped of the medals he was given by the Croatian state and that parliament should hold a minute’s silence for victims of the massacre in Ahmici at its next session.
It also said that “in order to build a society based on respect for human rights and to treat the victims responsibly and fairly”, Croatia’s president and prime minister should apologise to all victims of crimes committed by members of the Croatian Defence Council, and that the Croatian government should affirm the rights of victims to compensation.