Srebrenica Memorial Centre Houses Unidentified Genocide Victims’ Remains

8. May 2024.15:19
A facility was opened at the Srebrenica Memorial Centre to store the remains, personal belongings and clothes of victims of the Srebrenica genocide who haven’t been identified – intended as a place of dignified remembrance.

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US ambassador Michael Murphy at the opening ceremony. Photo: BIRN

The new facility to store remains of victims of the July 1995 genocide of Bosniaks by Bosnian Serb forces opened with a ceremony on Wednesday at the Srebrenica Memorial Centre in the village of Potocari.

The US ambassador to Sarajevo, Michael Murphy, said it would serve as a place of memory for those who want to learn from history.

“Hundreds of white bags that do not even have a name are currently lying in Tuzla at the Podrinje Identification Centre. Soon, those bags will be transferred here, where they will receive the honour that was taken from them during their lifetime,” Murphy said at the ceremony.

Bags and boxes containing the partial remains of genocide victims that have not yet been matched to people’s names have long been stored at the Podrinje Identification Centre, along with their personal effects and clothes.

Hague Tribunal verdicts have established that more than 7,000 men and boys from Srebrenica were killed in July 1995. Their bodies were buried in several mass graves and then the remains were dug up again and reburied as Bosnian Serb forces attempted to cover up their crimes. In the process, bodies were broken up and parts of the same person were buried in different locations.

Murphy argued that by giving space to the victims at the new facility, it would be ensured that the genocide is not repeated and not forgotten.

“Currently, unfortunately, we are seeing increasingly strong attempts to rewrite history by those who want evil to be forgotten. They are pushing the false narrative that memorialisation is living in the past, when in fact, honouring the victims and supporting the survivors is the opposite of that,” he said.

Munira Subasic, president of the Mothers of Srebrenica and Zepa association, also hailed the opening of the new facility.

“This is a special day for us. We will protect and look after our bones as best we can,” Subasic said.

The need to build a facility to store the remains illustrates the monstrosity of the crime, says Hamdija Fejzic, chairman of the board of directors of the Memorial Centre.

“We must remember that behind every bone or specific personal artefact there is a life extinguished in the genocide,” he said.

Almasa Salihovic, spokesperson for the Memorial Centre, said the opening of the facility was “a new step in the fight for truth, justice and dignity”.

Denis Džidić

This post is also available in: Bosnian