25th anniversary of Srebrenica massacre

The genocide of Srebrenica was commemorated in Bosnia-Herzegovina and beyond on the weekend. In early July 1995, Bosnian Serb troops surrounded tens of thousands of Bosnian Muslims in the valley of the eastern Bosnian city and then murdered more than 8,000 men and boys while Dutch UN Blue Helmet troops stood by. Commentators take stock and draw lessons for the present.

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Il Fatto Quotidiano (IT) /

Unbearable hypocrisy

Commenting in Il Fatto Quotidiano, author and journalist Leonardo Coen expresses outrage not just at the atrocity itself:

“It is infinitely immoral to forget the genocide, the 8,372 Muslim victims slaughtered by the Serbs, this 'ethnic cleansing' in the very heart of Europe. ... It is even worse to forget the dance of the hypocrites that accompanied the memory of the dirty massacre for years, the manoeuvring and obscene declarations of the deniers, the half-hearted hunt for the executioners. ... But what makes me deeply angry and still upsets me today is that the unspeakable Colonel Thom Karremans has not been brought before the Hague Tribunal, the man who, in that cursed July of 1995, was in charge of the Dutch contingent of the United Nations Protection Force, declared Srebrenica a 'safe area' and allowed [the Serb leaders] Mladić and Arkan to do what they did.”

De Volkskrant (NL) /

A tragedy of good intentions

The failure of the Dutch troops was above all a failure of the UN, De Volkskrant notes:

“The fall of Srebrenica was the final act of a tragedy that played out in the summer of 1995. The Dutch soldiers - including the demonised colonel Karremans - were merely figures in this tragedy of good intentions and bad decisions. The UN peacekeepers presented themselves as Venus in an area where Mars ruled. ... [The Dutch UN contingent] Dutchbat was also a symbol of the failure of the UN. Against this background it's understandable that the Dutch government wants to take responsibility for the failure of the peacekeeping operation, but not the blame.”

Der Standard (AT) /

Hate can lead to genocide

Der Standard warns of continuing hostility towards Muslims:

“The systematic expulsion and murder of people with Muslim names in Bosnia-Herzegovina began as early as 1992 and was the result of years of organised, media-controlled hostility towards Muslims driven by the right-wing radicals who had come to power. The genocide in Srebrenica three years later was foreseeable, yet it was not prevented: a total failure on the part of Europe and the international community. Twenty-five years on, it is appropriate to anchor the events in the pan-European consciousness, precisely because Islamophobia is now spreading in the conservative mainstream. The mass violence in Srebrenica in 1995 shows what a hate campaign can lead to - namely to extermination.”

Sydsvenskan (SE) /

Exactly why we are committed to refugees

Sydsvenskan stresses the need to take in those who are fleeing violence:

“There is still mass murder, civil war and attacks in our proximity. War crimes from which people are fleeing are still being committed today. People are still being forced to leave their home country, and some of them escape to Sweden to find refuge and start a new life. The commemoration of Srebrenica shows how important it is to protect people who are fleeing death and persecution. With genocide in the balance, the talk of 'upper limits' and 'costs' weighs no more than a feather.”