Thursday, October 18, 2007


SREBRENICA, Bosnia (October 18,2007) - Twelve years after the genocide against Bosnians was committed by the Serbian aggressor in the eastern Bosnian town of Srebrenica,the genocide survivors met yesterday with former Dutch soldiers who served as peacekeepers in Srebrenica during the 1992-1995 Serbian aggression against Bosnia.

In July 1995, a Dutch battalion assigned to protect Srebrenica (a U.N.-declared "safe haven" in eastern Bosnia) did absolutely nothing and stood by as the genocida; Serbian aggressor mass murdered thousands of Bosnian civilians.

"Shame on you for coming back here," Sabra Kolenovic, who lost her husband and son in the 1995 massacre, whispered as the soldiers walked into the former factory that served as the Dutch compound during the genocide.

Questions and accusations accompanied tears as the Bosnian widows confronted the Dutch soldiers about what happened that July.

The genocidal Serbian aggressor had overrun the Bosnian town of Srebrenica in July 1995, which had been declared a safe haven by the United Nations two years earlier. The Dutch peacekeepers did not fire a single shot in defense, and the UN did not respond to the Dutch commander's calls for air support.

The Bosnian civilians from Srebrenica fled to the UN compound seeking protection, but most of them were not allowed in. The genocidal Serbian aggressor's soldiers later separated the Bosnian men and boys from the women and murdered them as the Dutch UN soldiers stood by.

Recriminations, tears and despondency marked the meeting of the two groups in the Bosnian town.

"Today I feel the same helplessness I felt in those days," said a tearful Monique Bergman, who was 20 when she served as a peacekeeper at Srebrenica in 1995. "Not being able to do anything is a horrible feeling, which haunted me for years. For years I have been mentally ill because of what happened here."

"I am trying to understand the pain and anger of the survivors and to show respect to the women and victims."

Earlier this year, the genocide survivors sued the Dutch troops for participating in the genocide by failing to prevent it. But they lost the case after the Dutch government denied liability, saying its troops had been abandoned by the United Nations.

After reviewing the events, the Dutch Government resigned - but not before decorating the soldiers for their experience.

"Did you really receive decorations for what you did here?" yelled Munira Subasic, head of the association Mothers of Srebrenica.

"Here, parents are still searching for the bones of their children. Why did you not at least try to save at least one life?"

"They allowed them to slaughter us.I have nobody any more because of them," said Aisa Omerovic, 57, who lost her husband, two brothers and many other male relatives in the genocide.

The Dutch soldiers told the Bosnian widows they did what they could with their lives also under threat and no support from the United Nations. One former soldier acknowledged that mistakes were made. He said some of them were not prepared for the task and could not cope with it.

"I have great respect for you. I came here to pay respect and to talk to you," said Boudewijn Kok, who was in Srebrenica during the genocide.

One former sergeant named Rob said he managed to save a few Bosnian civilians when the genocidal Serbian aggressor began their separation process.

"Even though 12 years have passed, we have not forgotten that genocide happened here," he told the Bosnian women.

"Our arrival is the proof that we have been thinking about it since," he said.

No comments: