By Danijel Kovacevic
Parliament in Bosnia’s Serb-dominated Republika Srpska entity voted to annul a report on the Srebrenica massacres that accepted that Bosnian Serb forces violated humanitarian law by killing thousands of Bosniaks.
At a special session on Tuesday, the National Assembly of Republika Srpska annulled a report on the 1995 Srebrenica massacres and ordered the Serb-dominated entity’s government to draw up a new one, sparking anger among Bosniak politicians.
The report, which the entity government and a special commission for Srebrenica put together 14 years ago, acknowledged that Bosnian Serb forces killed thousands of Bosniaks from the eastern Bosnian town in July 1995, and said the executions represented a serious violation of humanitarian law.
But Republika Srpska President Milorad Dodik, who initiated the special parliamentary session, said that the document contained “false data” and was created under pressure from the international community’s High Representative in Bosnia at the time, Paddy Ashdown.
“The Srebrenica crime is an agreed-on tragedy, with the intention of satanising Serbs,” Dodik said in a one-hour introductory address to the assembly.
But the former vice-president of the Srebrenica Commission, Smail Cekic, said it was not true that Ashdown put pressure on its members.
“It is clear that Dodik’s destructive policy is directed against the state of Bosnia with the intention of joining Republika Srpska to Serbia, and this is not possible if the Republika Srpska government itself acknowledged that genocide was committed by adopting the report of the Srebrenica Commission,” Cekic told Deutsche Welle.
Dodik said that his intention was to have an objective approach to the Srebrenica events, bearing in mind that the 2004 commission report did not include crimes against Serbs.
“We have no intention of denying the killings and the crimes that had happened, but it is impossible to accept wrongful behaviour,” he said.
“By launching an initiative with the Republika Srpska parliament, we do not intend to hide any information about the suffering of Bosniaks,” he added.
The move will contribute to reconciliation in Bosnia, he insisted.
The assembly ordered the Republika Srpska government to form a new, international and impartial commission, which should produce a new report within a year on the crimes in Srebrenica from 1992-95, and “illuminate all the uncertainties from the first report, but also include in the report the suffering of Serbs in and around Srebrenica”.
The decision – which was not backed by Bosniak and Croat members of the Republika Srpska Assembly – sparked negative reactions from Bosniak politicians who condemned the move as a populist gesture intended to boost Dodik’s campaign for upcoming elections in October.
“Milorad Dodik cannot cancel the truth about Srebrenica,” the head of the Bosniak caucus in the Republika Srpska House of Peoples, Mujo Hadzimerovic, told Bosnian media.
Bosnian state-level parliament MP Sadik Ahmetovic meanwhile called on the Office of the High Representative, Bosnia’s representatives to the Council of Europe and the presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina to react to the Republika Srpska Assembly’s decision.
“This is the final phase of the genocide. It is your duty and obligation to do everything in your power to do something for Srebrenica now, when genocide enters its final phase – complete denial,” Ahmetovic told Bosnian media.
Verdicts handed down by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and Bosnia’s state court have confirmed that Bosnian Serb forces killed more than 7,000 men and boys from Srebrenica in July 1995, classifying the slaughter as genocide.
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