Why we must not forget a shameful massacre

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The Independent Online
Srebrenica has not been forgotten. The dark hills around the small Balkan town, where between three and eight thousand people were killed by Bosnian Serb troops a year ago this week, are being painstakingly excavated by war crimes investigators.

Evidence is being accumulated at The Hague as the war crimes tribunal puts together its cases against the Bosnian Serb leader, Radovan Karadzic, and his military commander, General Ratko Mladic. There will also be memorial services across Europe to commemorate the bloodshed a year ago.

The Hague tribunal has been hearing the evidence of witnesses of atrocities allegedly carried out for Karadzic and Mladic. Today, it is possible that the tribunal will issue international warrants for them.

The name of Srebrenica is, and should be, imprinted on the European consciousness, because the killings were, as one of the tribunal indictments put it, "the most horrendous, unimaginable war crimes committed in Europe since the end of World War II". Srebrenica's Muslim population "was virtually eliminated" overnight.

But what makes this worse is that this was an avoidable catastrophe. The Dutch United Nations troops were outgunned, and the mission that they were supposed to be carrying out - protecting the people of Srebenica - soon proved impossible. The UN and Nato, despite all the firepower and authority that they should have been able to muster, were apparently able to do anything to stop the terrible carnage.

Many Muslims around the world cannot help but wonder if the reason why the massacre at Srebrenica happened, and was not stopped, was because its inhabitants were Muslims. It is hard to disagree.

Justice must now be done. So the diggers must keep digging, the lawyers must keep working, and none of us should forget what happened in those dark forests a year ago.

Andrew Marshall