Tens of thousands of grieving Bosnian Muslims gathered on Sunday to bury the remains of 755 newly identified victims killed when Bosnian Serbs overran the eastern town of Srebrenica exactly 15 years ago.
In the eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina city, Srebrenica, more than 8 thousand Bosnian Muslim men and boys were killed over several days when Serb forces overran the town in 11 July 1995.
Srebrenica had been declared by a safe zone by the United Nations and many Bosnians had flocked there for protection. But in 11 July 1995, Serb troops led by General Ratko Mladic took over the enclave.
The outnumbered UN troops never fired a shot.
They watched as Mladic's troops rounded up the population of Srebrenica and took the men and boys away for execution.
On Sunday, men passed green-draped coffins from hand to hand towards freshly dug graves. Sobbing women murmured prayers as they kneeled among rows of white marble gravestones.
"I have nothing left to lose," Hatidza Mehmedovic, 58, said through tears. She came to bury her husband and two sons, killed when they were aged 18 and 21.
"Now I can only fight for justice to be served."
A Bosnian Croat man, Rudolf Hren, shared the fate of thousands of his non-Serb neighbours when he was killed in 1995. At the funeral on Sunday, Hren was the only victim who had a Roman Catholic burial ceremony.
"Rudolf is buried among the friends he stayed with until the last day," said his mother Barbara Hren, whose other son was also killed in Srebrenica.
The U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague has indicted Mladic and his political chief Radovan Karadzic for genocide in Srebrenica. Karadzic is on trial for Srebrenica war crimes.
Mladic is believed to be hiding in Serbia. Serbia has still to arrest him.
"We have Karadzic on trial and it is important the trial is completed and justice is done but it is of even greater importance that commander of the forces responsible for these murders is brought to justice," said Stephen Rapp, the United States Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues.
"UN: Pillar of shame"
After the massacre, Serbs dumped the victims' bodies into mass graves. They were later dug out with bulldozers and moved to smaller graves in an attempt to cover up the crime.
More than 3,700 victims have been buried in the special memorial graveyard after being unearthed from hundreds of mass graves and identified.
Authorities are still finding human remains in unmarked graves, such as the one located in June in the nearby Zalazje village, where forensic experts have so far found the remains of six victims.
Above the cemetery, survivors put up a placard reading the "U.N. Pillar of Shame", the site of a future monument designed to highlight the U.N.'s role in the killings.
The monument, spelling out "U.N." in huge letters, will stand eight metres tall and be made of more than 16,000 shoes, representing the victims, and will be pierced by bullet holes.
The German NGO's spokeswoman, Merima Spahic, said it will serve "as a metaphor of the immense betrayal of the U.N. in Bosnia for failing to protect the victims."
The European Parliament in January proclaimed Jul 11 a day of commemoration and urged European countries to support the resolution.
The parliaments in both Croatia and Montenegro passed resolutions marking Jul 11 as a day of remembrance.
The Serbian Parliament "officially condemned" the massacre.
The Srebrenica massacre is the largest mass murder in Europe since World War II. In 2004, the International Court of Justice in the Hague ruled what took place in Srebrenica was a genocide.
However, the Bosnians want the international court to acknowledge that the genocide was carried out in entire Bosnia not only in Srebrenica.
Related news reports:Güncelleme Tarihi: 11 Temmuz 2010, 19:54