The continued humiliation and mistreatment of genocide survivors

Hatidža Mehmedović
Hatidža Mehmedović

This article appeared on Al Jazeera Balkans 14/04/ 2014

President of the Victims Association “Mothers of Srebrenica” Hatidža Mehmedović received a letter today demanding that she show up at the local police station in Srebrenica on today, Tuesday because she entered the premises of the Agricultural Cooperative in the village of Kravica on July 13 last year together with other members of the association in order to pay respect to the victims of genocide.

According to Mehmedović: “The letter says that what I did was a criminal offence, and that they need me to come to the station and make a statement. That is the very height of arrogance, the way victims are being treated. They killed everyone I had and I am guilty because I survived and bear witness to what happened. If it´s a crime to lay flowers on a scene of a crime, then I don´t know what a crime is”

She also feels that the Office of the Prosecutor and the courts are to blame for rewarding criminals and criminals and punishing the victims. “We victims are punished while we live,” she added, stating that “if need be, I´ll to go to jail,”

“I´ll always fight for the truth, for justice and equality as no mother should need to go from execution site to execution site to mark the anniversary of the suffering of their loved ones. I have nothing left to lose, many more mothers have nothing to lose and will fight for truth and justice. We will not give up,”

Mehmedović has already been questioned by the police once before, where she was held for three hours. Members of several victims associations entered the cooperative in Kravica last year in order to mark the anniversary of the murder of over 1000 Bosniaks from Srebrenica. They were executed in Kravica. They did however not receive permission from the owners. The local police tried, as they have done in previous years to stop the members from entering but were not successful

After members from various associations entered the cooperative, the entity judiciary said that they had broken into private property and initiated proceedings against the members.

“The war criminals have all the rights they need; they are even rewarded, while the victims are humiliated. It´s a bigger crime to go to the scene of the war crime then it is to commit one. This is worrying because we have been sending the requests so that we can peacefully mark the anniversary of the executions. According to law, we have that right, yet we constantly encounter various obstacles.”

Aside from Hatidža Mehmedović, who lost her sons husband and about ten relatives in the Srebrenica genocide, Aiša Omerović will also be questioned by the police. The hanger in the cooperative in Kravica was one of the biggest execution sites after the fall of Srebrenica. Accoriding to testimony of survivors in July 1995 members of Bosnian Serb military and police forces killed over 1000 Bosniak men and boys.

Bodies of the murdered Bosniaks in Kravica were caught on film by cameraman  Zoran Petrovic
Bodies of the murdered Bosniaks in Kravica were caught on film by cameraman Zoran Petrovic

My Note:  On december 12th 2012 the ICTY convicted Zdravko Tolimir for genocide in Srebrenica, Tolimir was assistant Commander of Intelligence and Security for the Bosnian Serb army and reported directly to the commander, General Ratko Mladic. He was Mladic right hand man. The judgement mentioned the massacre in Kravica:

 

In the late afternoon of 13 July, hundreds of Bosnian Muslim men were transported from a meadow in Sandići by bus, and some directed by foot, to a one storey building known as the Kravica Warehouse, in the Bratunac area. When the warehouse was packed full, Bosnian Serb Forces started firing at the men inside, using machineguns as well as hand and rocket propelled grenades. They fired for hours, with intermittent lulls in the shooting in which the wounded moaned and called out names. These executions continued into the morning of 14 July. The Accused’s immediate subordinate, Beara, was directly involved in the burial operation of between 600 and 1,000 Bosnian Muslim men who the Chamber found had been murdered at the warehouse between 13 and 14 July 1995.

On the evening of 13, and morning of 14 July, hundreds of Bosnian Muslim men were transported by bus to a school in Grbavci located near Orahovac. There, they were crammed into the gymnasium of the school building. In the afternoon of 14 July, they were transported by bus to two separate killings sites nearby. Upon disembarking, they were shot by Bosnian Serb Forces. Some of the wounded prisoners were cursed, and left to suffer in agony before they were finally killed. One of the groups of prisoners included a boy of approximately five to six years old, who, after being shot at, stood up from the pile of bodies and called out for his father. Up to 2,500 Bosnian Muslim men were murdered at Grbavci school on this day. They, too, were buried in a mass grave.

 

Prior to the Zdravko Tolimir verdict, Ljubisa Beara who had been Tolimir´s direct subordinate and was present during the executions in Kravica was found guilty by the Trial Chamber, on the basis of individual criminal responsibility, of genocide, crimes against humanity, violations of laws or customs of war and was convicted to life imprisonment. Beara was sentenced togheter with Vujadin Popović, the Chief of Security of the Drina Corps, Drago Nikolić, the Chief of Security in the Zvornik Brigade who was found guilty of aiding and abetting genocide, extermination, murder and persecution. Ljubomir Borovčanin, Deputy Commander of the Special Police Brigade of the police forces was convicted of aiding and abetting extermination, murder, persecution and forcible transfer. The men were tried togheter with three other high ranking Bosnian Serb officers: Radivoje Miletić, Milan Gvero, and Vinko Pandurević. The trial was known as :The Srebrenica Seven.

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