800px-Srebrenica_massacre_memorial_gravestones_2009_1Tens of thousands attended Thursday at the Potorica cemetery in Srebrenica,  the funeral and burial of 409 identified by DNA victims of the genocide on its 18th anniversary. They were only a few of the up to 8,000 killed by the Bosnian Serbs forces commanded by Ratko Mladic who took over that city the 11th of July of 1995 despite it  was supposed to be protected by the UN.

So many years after, thousands of victims, men and teenagers, remain unidentified and some have not been found. Among the buried during the funeral were 43 minors and one newborn baby, the youngest victim of the massacre.

Srebrenica is crying 18 years after and has many tears to pour for many years. The wound is too big and deep. It’s a massive disaster of war, known and documented.

When the fall of Srebrenica happened I was in Spain. I remember watching a report in TV with some correspondents with a Serbian translator trying to interview a group of women from Srebrenica that were in a sort of refugee camp. They were crying and saying to the reporters (because I could understand them):

— Don’t stay with us, go to Srebrenica and report about what’s happening there!

The translator said

— They are hysterical and  worried because they don’t know where are their husbands.

Those women knew what was happening and the importance to have independent witnesses once the UN keepers had failed to protect the city. The reporters probably couldn’t to go near Srebrenica because of the Bosnian Serb Forces. What they didn’t know and the women either was the misinformation by the official translator.

Now, if they have survived, those women are crying for their slaughtered husbands, fathers and sons. Some of them have been able to identify them and buried them and many are still waiting for more than 2,000 bodies. Waiting for their loved ones to rest in peace and for justice.

There are other disasters not so known and not documented around the world, genocides, massacres, are the disasters of war. We have wars all over the world hat begin suddenly after times of tensions and conflicts but  don’t stop so easily. Look at Syria and how the situation there is complicating the situation in Lebanon, or the intermittent wars in Africa, or the violence in Afghanistan and Iraq, technically not in war but not going out of it either, among others. In all of these places there are people suffering and crying claiming for justice they will probably never see.

After war there is never complete justice, but the rule of the winners or a very low international judicial system, sometimes politicized, sometimes used by war criminals as showtime to their own propaganda. It was the case of Slobodan Milosevic who defended himself and died in custody. It’s now the case of Radovan Karadzic, who is also defending himself and called 300 witnesses to cross-examine in a very long process that will last until 2015 as they say.

Precisely on Thursday, coinciding with the fall of Srebrenica’s anniversary,  judges at the United Nations’ Yugoslav war crimes tribunal in The Hague reinstated a genocide charge against Karadzic linked to a campaign of killing, torturing and deporting non-Serbs during Bosnia’s bloody war that had a death toll of 100,000. The decision on Thursday reversed the former Bosnian Serb leader’s acquittal last year on one of the two genocide charges he faces.

Do these processes justice to the victims of the war? At this moment I doubt it. There is no possible justice after a war so enormous is the damage done. I think people with responsibilities have to pay, of course, but I think the system is far from doing justice to the victims. Maybe when the process finishes I’ll change my mind but I doubt it.

About Olga Brajnović

Journalist. In my fifties. I've worked for 26 years in a newspaper in Spain. I worked for two years as a stringer and correspondent in the US, and went as a special envoy to other places like the Balkans. Sea lover. Avid reader. Classic Music enthusiast.


Europe, World and Politics


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