1992 victims finally laid to rest in Visegrad
Author: Reuters/Agence France-Presse
Uploaded: Monday, 09 July, 2012
Two press reports on the burial of 66 Bosnians murdered in 1992 during the ethnic cleansing of Visegrad by Karadzic's Serb nationalist forces
Muslims buried in Bosnia town, Serb veterans march
The bodies of 66 Bosnian Muslims, murdered and dumped in the Drina river 20 years ago, were buried in Visegrad in eastern Bosnia on Saturday, 26 May, hours after a march through the town by Serb veterans of the 1992-95 war.
Nestled in the river valley, Visegrad is indicative of Bosnia's unhealed wounds. Muslims made up two-thirds of the town's 21,000 population before the war, but were driven out by Bosnian Serb forces. Just a few hundred have returned to live there.
Several thousand flocked to the town on Saturday and gathered in the rain at the joint burial of the 66 victims, whose remains were recovered from the nearby Perucac reservoir two years ago. The bodies had floated downstream and into the pumps of the Bajina Basta power plant, where they were discovered during repair work. They included five children, the youngest killed at the age of three.
Coffins draped in green cloth were lowered into graves in the local cemetery, before mourners threw 3,000 roses - one for every Muslim from Visegrad killed during the war - into the Drina from the town's 16th century Ottoman bridge. ‘I'm burying my nephew, who was only eight when he was killed,’ said Bahrija Hodzic, who said her father was also killed in the town.
They were victims of a wave of ethnic cleansing in villages and towns near Bosnia's eastern border with Serbia in spring 1992, as Bosnian Serb forces under General Ratko Mladic seized 70 percent of the country. Arrested a year ago in Serbia after 16 years as a fugitive, Mladic went on trial in The Hague this month accused of genocide.
Hours before the ceremony in Visegrad, Serb veterans of the war marched through the town to mark 20 years since the formation of the local brigade of the Bosnian Serb army. ‘It is so difficult and disturbing to watch them,’ Hodzic said.
Drazen Perendija, a leader of the veterans, said they had gathered to pay tribute to Mladic and Bosnian Serb wartime political leader Radovan Karadzic, who is also being tried on genocide charges in The Hague. ‘We are just the proud soldiers of General Mladic, who was sent as a gift from God to lead us through the war with dignity,’ Perendija told Reuters.
About 100,000 people died in the war and 2 million were displaced. A 1995 peace deal split the country into two, ethnically-based regions, joined by a weak central government in an unwieldy, dysfunctional joint state.
Report by Reuters, Visegrad, Bosnia, 26 May 2012 (writing by Daria Sito-Sucic and Maja Zuvela; editing by Matt Robinson and Pravin Char).
Bosnia buries 66 Muslim war victims in Visegrad
Thousands of Bosnians attend funeral of 66 Muslims killed at beginning of 1992-1995 war with Serbia
Several thousand people gathered Saturday, 26 May in Visegrad to attend a collective funeral of 66 Muslims killed in the eastern Bosnian town at the beginning of the 1992-1995 war. Under light rain, several imams prayed for the dead before the bodies, found in a reservoir lake five years after the end of the war, were buried.
‘In first months of the conflict, Serb forces killed my son, my husband, my two sisters, my brother and several other relatives, 13 in total,’ said Meva Ahmetagic. One of her sisters and brother-in-law were buried on Saturday.
The remains of 66 victims had been found in 2010 during a search of Lake Perucac, a reservoir on the Drina river which marks the frontier between Serbia and Bosnia. The search was conducted when water levels had dropped to an historic low due to repairs being carried out on a dam. ‘The youngest buried victim is a boy who was three and a half-year old at the time. He was killed together with his mother, whose body unfortunately has not been found yet,’ said Hedija Kasapovic, president of an association of families of victims missing from Visegrad. ‘My only wish remains to find my son Samir. He was 17 at the time. I cannot even think of dying before finding him,’ the 60-year-old woman said, bursting into tears.
Between April and June 1992 the Serb forces killed more than 1,500 civilians in Visegrad and surrounding areas, according to the Bosnian Institute for Missing Persons. Some 600 people are still unaccounted for. The inter-ethnic war in Bosnia left some 100,000 dead and more than two million refugees and displaced people, almost a half of country's pre-war population.
Report by AFP, Visegrad, Bosnia, 26 May 2012.