by: Emin Kajevic
Terms to know
Genocide: A deliberate killing of a large number of people from a particular nation or ethnic group with the aim of destroying that nation or group.
Ethnic cleansing: The mass expulsion or killing of members of an ethnic or religious group in society.
Mass graves: A pit dug in the ground to receive a large number of corpses.
Bosniak: Bosnian Muslims
Bosnian Serbs: Orthodox Bosnians/ Serbs
Importance of this event
The Srebrenica genocide is considered to be the worst massacre since the Holocaust in WWII. After the break-up of former Yugoslavia, in 1992 the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina voted in a referendum to declare independence. Unhappy with the results, one ethnic group, Bosnian Serbs started a brutal war and a campaign of ethnic cleansing of all non-Serbs. Srebrenica geocide was one of the most brutal crimes in this war, with Bosnian Serb forces targeting Srebrenica in a campaign to seize control of a block of territory in eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina. This effort was commanded by the leader of the Bosnian Serb army Ratko Mladic. The Srebrenica genocide led to the death of more than 8,000 Bosniak boys and men within five days, July 11th to July 16th. More than 30,000 people were forcefully kicked out of Srebrenica to complete the act of ethnic cleansing. Many of these people were the wives and daughters of those who were slaughtered and executed in Srebrenica.
Those who committed the massacres and war crimes have been sentenced in the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY), where many of them denied that these events happened. The tribunal was also where Bosnian Serb army leader Ratko Mladic, was sentenced to life in prison. Today, twenty years after the genocide in Srebrenica, only a handful Bosniaks live in Srebrenica.
Question and task
Question: What happened in this genocide and what happened to those held responsible for this genocide?
Task: You are the Genocide Studies teacher at Moscrop Secondary school, and you are doing a unit on the war in the Balkans. Your class is about to start the lesson on the Srebrenica genocide and you don’t have much previous knowledge on the topic. Do the research and make a presentation about the event and a video clip or documentary to show to your class.
Here are a few links that may help:
Geography of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina is located in the Balkan peninsula. It is geographically bordered by Croatia on the west and with Montenegro and Serbia on the east. Bosnia is a small but mountainous country with thriving wildlife. It is home to the last jungle in Europe, Perućica. This jungle is located in Bosnia in the national park Sutjetska in the municipality of Foca, close to the Montenegro border.
Due to the Dayton peace agreement in 1995, Bosnia was split into two entities. Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Republika Srpska. The Republika Srpska or RS acquired 49 percent of the land in Bosnia. Srebrenica was one of the cities that now falls into the territory of RS. Srebrenica is located on the eastern side of Bosnia and is surrounded by mountains, much like the other cities in Bosnia.
Watch this video clip about Bosnia’s geography to learn more about Bosnia as a whole.
Modern-day Bosnia is a very complex country with very confusing politics. Because of the Dayton peace agreement Bosnia was split into Federacija BIH and Republika Srpska or RS. Cities in Federacija BIH are majority Bosniaks where RS is mainly the Orthodox Christian population. Interestingly, Srebrenica is a city in RS. During the events that transpired in Srebrenica, Bosniaks were ethnically cleansed from the city, and Srebrenica became a Bosnian Serb city. Every year on July 11, people of from all over the region travel to Srebrenica to pray for those who have passed and to pay respects to the families of the deceased. At the same time, the authorities in Republika Srpska continue work on denying this event as a genocide.
The current relations between the main three people group in Bosnia is complex. The Balkan is an area of extreme tension politically. Since Bosnia has three presidents on rotation every 10 months (due to the Dayton peace agreement), each leader tries to do what is best for their people, the Bosniaks, the Bosnian Serbs, and the Bosnian Croatians.
Aiding you in your research
Congratulations on completing your web quest, and hope you have a greater understanding of what transpired during this event. I hope this information sticks with you, and that you decide to visit Srebrenica and visit other historical Bosnian landmarks and cities.
Vulliamy, Ed, Ratko Mladić will die in jail. But go to Bosnia: you’ll see that he won, Wednsday, Nov, 22, 2017, accessed Nov, 2, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/nov/22/ratko-mladic-bosnia-camps-mass-murder-torture-rape-serbian
Accesed Nov, 3, 2020, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Srebrenica_massacre
Smith Jeffery, Srebrenica massacre, Nov, 22, 2017, accessed Nov, 3, 2020, https://www.britannica.com/event/Srebrenica-massacre
YouTube: Geography Now! Bosnia and Herzegovina