20 Years after Srebrenica, what have we learnt?
Si vous ne pouvez lire correctement cet email,lisez-le dans votre navigateur
20 Years after Srebrenica, what have we learnt?
Saturday, July 11th will mark the 20th anniversary of the genocide of Srebrenica.
Below you will find the Open editorial “20 years after Srebrenica, what have we learnt?” written by EGAM President Benjamin Abtan, who is currently in Bosnia and Herzegovina to participate in the official and civil society commemorations.
It is published in numerous prominent European newspapers : Huffington Post (France), Expresso (Portugal), Tribune de Geneve (Switzerland), Kathimerini (Greece), IOnline (Portugal), Nepszabadsag (Hungary) and Le Nouvelliste (Switzerland) Le Soir (Belgium), Dnevik (Macedonia),...
Activists from the EGAM members in the region (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro,...) will take part or organise commemorations and actions so that the truth is recognised and those responsible for committing war crimes and crimes against humanity are rightly condemned.
EGAM - European Grassroots Antiracist Movement
+33 1 72 60 91 49
Created in 2010, EGAM – European Grassroots Antiracist Movement is a network that gathers the main antiracist NGOs from 30 countries. Our goal is to work for a more integrated and more active European civil society against racism, antisemitism, racial discrimination and Genocide denial.
Faîtes un don pour soutenir les actions de l'EGAM - Mouvement Antiraciste Européen :
avec un soutien offert par Mots-Clés, agence de conseil en communication
20 years after Srebrenica, what have
by Benjamin Abtan, President of the European Grassroots Antiracist Movement - EGAM
Twenty years ago, on the 11th of July 1995, Bosnian Serb nationalist forces led by General Ratko Mladić carried out the systematic massacre of more than 8,000 Bosniak boys and men. The Sre-brenica genocide, as it was classified by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugo-slavia, unfolded over three days in the heart of Europe, in a “safe zone” guaranteed by the UN.
20 years after Srebrenica, what have learnt?
From one genocide to the next
One genocide always leads to another. The highest French political and military leaders, who sup-ported the Serbian nationalists until the election of Jacques Chirac in May 1995, are those same leaders who collaborated with the genocidal regime in Rwanda before, during, and after the 1994 genocide against the Tutsis. For certain individuals in these ranks of the French state, the Vichy regime provided a link as discreet as it was powerful. The United States had for a long time kept Bosnia at an arm's length, just as they had done with Rwanda. While, the UN, having left Rwanda when the genocide exploded, didn't ensure efforts to prevent ethnic cleansing and the siege of Sara-jevo. Dutch blue helmets even turned away Bosniak refugees from a UN camp as they sought asy-lum from certain death in Srebrenica, not batting an eyelid as death squadrons separated women from men and adolescents —the last step before execution.
Today, as thousands of Syrians are being massacred, as the Tamils have been exterminated in Sri Lanka, as Boko Haram steps up its slaughter in Nigeria, and as ISIS carries out ethnic and religious cleansing, we know that these mass crimes are not only unacceptable in themselves, but that more-over, they foreshadow those to come.
What, if anything, have we learned from Srebrenica if we let these massacres unfold without doing everything in our power to stop them?
The indifference that permitted this ethnic cleansing in the heart of Europe, claiming Srebrenica at its peak, continues to prevail.
Each year, tens of thousands of people risk their lives, and often lose them, notably in the Mediter-ranean, in an effort to escape dictatorial regimes, persecutions, misery, and to join our continent in hope of building a better life.
The attitude of European states in this regard, is criminal: they continue to pursue policies in full knowledge of the fact that they will undoubtedly result in thousands of deaths.
What have we learned from Srebrenica if we let selfishness and indifference prevail, if we allow slaughter to continue a few hundred kilometers, sometimes even meters, away from us?
To ensure that the words inevitably pronounced at commemorations do not ring hollow, we must fight this indifference and open our borders to refugees.
The ghost of the “European Civil War”
The support given to the Serbian nationalists 20 years ago was in part owed to the fact that they would have represented the last bastion of the Christian West fighting the Muslim offensive, which Bosnia would have spearheaded. The idea of a “European Civil War”, founded in the Bosnian con-flict, has since not ceased from developing.
This idea is today supported by two objectively allied political groups: the nationalist extreme right, whose parties have adopted a unifying anti-Muslim racist rhetoric, and the Islamists, notably Salafists and Jihadists, who attack above all Jews, women, free thought and democracy. The unusu-al alliance of these groups was demonstrated by the sight of Islamists supporting the Utoya shooter as he attempted to reason his worldview in court.
The frontline of this political battle does not rest between Muslims and the West but, in the Muslim World and in Europe, between supporters of Islamist totalitarianism and upholders of freedom, and between nationalists and democrats.
What have we learned from Srebrenica if we do not vigorously support those democrats in the Arab and Muslim world who, in the name of liberty, struggle against Islamist totalitarianism in Tunisia, Turkey, Iran and elsewhere? And, if, in Europe, we do not steadfastly fight racism and antisemitism to bring about a more just and democratic society?
Finally, it is a certain idea of Europe that died in the Bosnian War; that of a unified Europe, a guardian of peace built upon the rejection of mortal nationalism and the subjection of national inter-est to a shared democratic future.
Today, as it was twenty years ago, Europe abandons this hopeful ideal as she leaves aside its most fervent believers: the Ukrainians who gathered in Maidan for their European dream, that of an in-dependent state rid of corruption and protected by the rule of law; the Hungarian democrats who resist daily the destruction of democracy led by Victor Orbán; and, those young Bosnians that dream of removing a corrupt and stagnant system, enacted by the Dayton accords whose institution-al arrangement continues to promote ethnic divisions.
Twenty years after Srebrenica, the solitude of Bosnia-Herzegovina harks back to her isolation suf-fered during the war. To integrate her into the European Union, which already includes Croatia, and awaits Serbian membership, would allow us to finally bring to an end the logic of war and ethnic cleansing.
What have we learned from Srebrenica, if we do not accompany the measures brought about by the Dayton Accords with a non-ethnic constitution, and if we do not offer a European hand to Bosnia-Herzegovina?
There, as elsewhere, the past shapes the present. Europe has — and we have — the duty to learn from Srebrenica and to act so that current and future generations may construct a future under-pinned by liberty.