A Step Toward Accountability for Genocide
Friends in Peace:
July 11th 2010 is the 15th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia-Herzegovina. In 1995, Bosnian-Serb troops massacred more than 8,000 Bosniak men/boys in the alleged UN “safe-area.” UN troops stood-by and the broader international community stood mute. The ICTY labeled this act Genocide per the 1948 UN Genocide Convention.
For over a decade, on the 11th of each month, Serbia’s Women in Black hold a silent vigil for Srebrenica, culminating in a massive annual July 10th demonstration on Belgrade’s Republic Square. They stand in memory of the victims. They stand in solidarity with the survivors. They stand in defiance of Serbia’s vehement denial. They demand public/political acknowledgement of Serbia’s culpability, and declare July 11th A Day of Remembrance for Srebrenica.
In years past, police allowed counter-demonstrators to attack the activists verbally and physically. Today, as Serbia strives for social, political and economic normalization, police protect the demonstrators. Yet, even in 2009, the mass of supporters standing in solidarity on July 10th faced intimidating opposition. Armed with signs praising Ratko Mladic & Radovan Karadzic, the counter-demonstrators chanted ethno-chauvinist invectives, sexist insults, and physical threats.
On March 31st 2010, the Serbian Parliament adopted a Declaration on Srebrenica. While this may seem like a step toward accountability, just 127 of 250 parliament members voted for the resolution. Further, the declaration falls short of calling Srebrenica Genocide, despite multiple ICTY judgments (including the Krstic, Jokic, Blagojevic, Popovic and Beara cases), which declare Serbia’s Genocidal intent beyond reasonable doubt. Serbia’s political and public position still largely downplays the atrocities and denies Serbian complicity.
Still, globally, many do acknowledge Srebrenica as Genocide - recognizing Serbia’s role and the UN’s failures. Annually, tens-of-thousands from around the world travel to BiH for the Srebrenica commemoration. The victims buried each year, amid prayers, commemorative addresses, and calls for justice are a cathartic rallying point for reclaiming Bosniak identity from the ashes of ethnic cleansing.
With all of this in mind, on this important anniversary, Serbia’s Women in Black (in a regional network of activists, artists, and victims’ organizations) are planning a commemorative action on July 7th. Entitled One pair of shoes–One life, it entails the collection and display of hundreds-of-thousands of shoes symbolizing the flight of Srebrenica’s Bosniaks, and the empty shoes left by the victims. Some of the shoes will become part of a permanent Belgrade memorial. Others will be sent to the Srebrenica Memorial Center to be used along with shoes collected from around the world.
We invite you to be a part of this action in any of the following ways…
1st –Send your responses to any/all the following questions… (to be used in the action and presented to the victims’ families)…
*** Send your responses in any language
1) In light of the 1948 Genocide Convention, and the post-Holocaust promise of “NEVER AGAIN,” in what ways should the international community be held accountable for Srebrenica?
2) What is the obligation of your government and the international community to Srebrenica’s survivors?
3) What is your personal responsibility to uphold the promise “NEVER AGAIN!”?
4) What is your message of support for Srebrenica’s victims and survivors?
2nd –Join us in Belgrade on July 7th. Bring your own shoes, and your messages of solidarity. AND travel to the July 11th commemoration in BiH.
PLEASE SEND YOUR RESPONSES AND ANY INQUIRIES ABOUT PARTICIPATION TO: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for taking the time to consider our request.
In peace & solidarity,
Christina M. Morus, on behalf of Women in Black, Serbia