Time of truth
by Sejad Luckin
International officials in Bosnia-Herzegovina can now comfortably and (self)-contentedly applaud the fact that the ceremony of laying the foundation stone for a Memorial Centre at Potocari took place without any (serious) incidents. So the curtain has come down and the sorrowing women of Srebrenica can now go home - to refugee centres across the Federation, Europe and the world. They won’t be going to their pre-war homes, nor do they have any more information since yesterday about the thousands of their relatives who, in crude statistics, are registered as ‘missing’. They only have tears and despair, while the big words are for those wise international heads. Wolfgang Petritsch thus concludes that ‘it is shameful that, after six years, some of those who committed war crimes are still at large’, while Thomas Miller hopes that the people of Srebrenica ‘will one day come here as human beings, in freedom, without any special security measures’. How cynical those words of (self)-praise are. What is shameful is not just that Karadzic and Mladic are still at large. What is really shameful is that the whole ceremony was protected by 2,300 police, and that no prominent person was present from Republika Srpska, the Federation or even the State of B-H. This merely goes to prove that no conviction of the true dimensions of the Srebrenica massacre has yet percolated into their consciousness; that the crimes are still talked about shamefacedly, as if not to offend the torturers. It is also shameful that state television did not feel it necessary to broadcast the event at Potocari. Many more items could be added to the list, including the bogus enthusiasm for the attachment of a monumental canvas entitled ‘Srebrenica’, by French painter Francois Tanteau, to the French cultural centre building in Sarajevo. Why didn’t they take that canvas to Srebrenica and hang it before the eyes of the people who committed the crimes? If even Zoran Djindjic had enough courage to send Milosevic to The Hague, no one can any longer convince the public of Bosnia-Herzegovina that Mladen Ivanic could not do the same with Karadzic and Mladic. He could, but if he doesn’t want to, it is up to Petritsch and Miller to make him. It is time to face the truth, and for international officials to take on their share of responsibility for the future of B-H.
This comment has been translated from Oslobodjenje (Sarajevo), 12 July 2001