At a ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of the massacre of Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica by Christian Serbs, the crowd turned its anger at the 1995 genocide against Serbia’s prime minister, driving him from the event with rocks and bottles.
Aleksandar Vucic was one of several foreign dignitaries, including former U.S. President Bill Clinton, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Britain’s Princess Anne and Jordon’s Queen Noor, who attended the event at the Potocari memorial complex to remember the massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys, a crime later designated as genocide by international courts.
A spokeswoman for Vucic is quoted by The Associated Press as saying the premier, who apparently fled the stadium, was hit in the face with a stone and had broken his glasses.
At the time of the genocide, Vucic had been secretary-general of the far-right nationalist Serbian Radical Party (SRS), which openly pushed the campaign of terror against Bosnia’s Muslims.
The AP reports:
“As Vucic entered the cemetery to lay flowers, thousands booed and whistled. A group of women from Belgrade, Serbia, who for years [have been] demanding Serbia to admit [its] role in the slaughter, yelled “responsibility!” and “genocide!”
“Someone threw a shoe at him, others threw water bottles and other objects. The crowd eventually chased Vucic away from the ceremony. A few people carried banners with his own wartime quote: ‘For every killed Serb, we will kill 100 Bosniaks.’ ”
The events in Srebrenica of 11-14 July 1995 occurred in an area designated a “safe haven” for refugees by United Nations peacekeeping troops who ultimately failed to defend it.
The Guardian writes: “The only survivors were those who hid under dead bodies and crept away, once night had fallen. Later the killers returned to dig up bodies from the mass graves and scatter them in an effort to hide their crime. To this day, forensic experts are still identifying human remains, pieces of limbs and skulls, and Bosnian families struggle to come to terms with their loss.”
Foreign Policy calls Srebrenica “the worst atrocity in Europe since World War II, one that occurred while U.N. peacekeepers stood by fecklessly and NATO refused to intervene.”
FP says: “Srebrenica became a brutal symbol of the price of inaction. Had the United States and its allies intervened sooner, the tragedy could have been prevented. As a stunningly self-critical 1999 report by then-U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan concluded, “The cardinal lesson of Srebrenica is that a deliberate and systematic attempt to terrorize, expel or murder an entire people must be met decisively with all necessary means.”
Earlier this week, long-time Serbian ally Russia voted against a U.N. Security Council resolution to recognize Srebrenica as a “crime of genocide.”