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July 9, 2019

Victims of 1995 Srebrenica genocide remembered

Islamabad

July 9, 2019

Islamabad: Thousands of Muslim men and boys killed by Bosnian Serb forces after the capture of the Bosnian enclave of Srebrenica in July 1995 were remembered during a seminar here at a hotel on Monday.

At the event titled ‘Remembering Srebrenica 1995-2019’ and organised by the Center for Global and Strategic Studies in collaboration with the Embassy of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the speakers informed participants about the genocide declared the worst on European soil since World War II, while a short video was screened on the mass murder.

The participants, including diplomats, politicians, civil society members, and journalists, observed a minute’s silence and offered fateha for more than 8,000 Muslims killed in Srebrenica.

Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Interior Rehman Malik, who was the chief guest on the occasion, showed solidarity with the families of Srebrenica Muslims, who suffered during the Bosnian war, and said innocent people were killed for claiming the right to live in towns, which belonged to them.

He saluted Bosnian Muslims for putting up a courageous movement to claim rights. “Many Bosnians haven’t recovered from this tragedy yet and many who went into exile didn’t return and perhaps they will never return. Ethnic tensions still exist in the region and have even become stronger than ever.

“Each ethnic group is represented by their own leader, which means Bosnia has three presidents: a Bosniak, a Serb and a Croat, who hardly agree on anything and have never been on the same page said. Though Bosnia is recovering, it still has a long way to go,” he said.

Senator Rehman Malik also praised Kashmiri Muslims for fighting for the right to self-determination in the India-occupied Kashmir despite facing mass killings. “Like Bosnians, Kashmiris are facing brutalities. The Modi doctrine has led to atrocities against people of Kashmir wanting the right to self-determination. For the sake of humanity, we all need to act against crimes being committed against humanity,” he said.

Ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina Sakib Foric said the Srebrenica genocide would never be forgotten by humanity and that it would remain in the people’s minds forever. He praised Pakistan for hosting Bosnian Muslim refugees during the time of war and said the people from his country found Pakistanis to be very hospitable and said they’re treated like respected guests and not refugees.

Minister for Federal Education and Professional Training Shafqat Mahmood said the Srebrenica carnage continued to pain Pakistanis. “The atrocities committed against Bosnian Muslims were distressing. All that showed the intense violent hate the criminals had in their hearts for Muslims,” he said.

The minister said he wished more would have been done to protect Bosnian Muslims against war crimes. He called for global efforts to prevent atrocities based on hatred. “We have to agree on the minimum possible thing that we will never tolerate this kind of butchery, barbarism, and genocide again,” he said.

The minister regretted that like Kashmir, the international community was silent about Bosnian issue. Major-General (r) Qasim Qureshi, the former commanding officer of Pakistan Army’s contingent in UNPROFOR Mission for Bosnia and Herzegovina, highlighted Pakistan Army’s UN peacekeeping efforts in the war-ravaged country.

He said Pakistan supported UN peacekeeping missions with a key interest to support the beleaguered Bosnian Muslims. “Pakistan’s contingent comprised 3,000 personnel. While ensuring strict neutrality, the Pakistan Army monitored the activities of both warring factions along the confrontation lines and facilitated the UN High Commission for Refugees and other affiliated relief agencies in providing humanitarian assistance to the affected population,” he said.

Former Pakistani envoy to Bosnia and Herzegovina and CGSS president Major General (r) Major General Syed Khalid Amir Jaffery said violence began under the Ottoman Empire when hate generated among the people.

“The Bosnian Serb military commander orchestrated the genocide and the crime against humanity. Around 11,400 people were killed and 8,800 young men and women were butchered. There were no food, water, and electricity at the time of genocide. The people made 840m long tunnel for own survival. The Bosnian people struggle hard to reshape the country and come through severe hardships to push the country towards prosperity,” he said.

Dr. Susic Sejo, assistant professor at the Department of Law in the International Islamic University, Islamabad, said the Bosnian Serb forces seized Srebrenica on July 11, 1995, and in the next one week, they executed more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslims.

“Long before July 1995, there were numerous indications that Bosnian Serb forces were planning a summer offensive against the ‘safe area’. The access for UN convoys was increasingly restricted by Bosnian Serb forces. The largest group of Bosnians from the column was captured on July 13, 1995,” he said.

'The News' editor Amir Ghauri said he visited Bosnia and witnessed atrocities committed against Muslims in the war. He highlighted the Srebrenica mass murder by reciting his poem.

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