Radovan Karadzic verdict: ‘I hope future warlords are taking note: justice will come one day’

The Independent’s Balkans correspondent visited the killing fields nine months after the Srebrenica massacre

Emma Daly
Thursday 24 March 2016 22:29
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A memorial to the 1995 Srebrenica massacre in Potocari, engraved with names of the victims
A memorial to the 1995 Srebrenica massacre in Potocari, engraved with names of the victims

It was just a bolt of pink cotton lying on the floor of a school gym but more than 20 years later, it haunts me still: soldiers tore off strips of that cloth, blindfolded dozens of men, trucked them to a nearby field, shot them and buried all but a handful of survivors in mass graves.

Nine months after the Srebrenica massacre, when Radovan Karadzic’s forces killed more than 7,000 people, I travelled through those killing fields, dazed and horrified to see the evidence all around. Scraps of the same pink cloth tramped into the mud of a mass grave, human bones pushing through the seedling grass. Bullet holes, blood, brains scarring the walls of an agricultural warehouse.

There was no point asking: “What happened here?” Because they would just say “nothing”. But if we asked “Where were you when they shot all those men?” it was different – then people would say: “Oh I wasn’t here that day, I was away when it happened.”

It took years for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia to gather and present the evidence of genocide and crimes against humanity. I hope future warlords are taking note: justice will come one day.

Emma Daly was The Independent’s Balkans correspondent from 1994 to 1996. She is now communications director at Human Rights Watch

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