The U.S. ambassador to Bosnia-Herzegovina has issued a scathing condemnation of longtime Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik’s latest denial of a genocide in the massacre of 8,000 men and boys at Srebrenica in eastern Bosnia in 1995, calling such efforts “reprehensible,” illegal, and destabilizing.
Ambassador Michael Murphy said in a video statement via Twitter on February 22 that Dodik’s “repeated attempts to deny the genocide at Srebrenica, as he did again yesterday, cannot change the facts and it cannot change the truth.”
He called such efforts by the secessionist head of the majority Serb part of Bosnia and the glorification of war criminals from the brutal Balkan conflicts of the 1990s are “irresponsible and deserve condemnation.”
“Denial of genocide and war crimes, and the glorification of war criminals are reprehensible and irresponsible,” Murphy said.
The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the UN’s top judicial authority, the International Court of Justice, have each recognized the killings by Bosnian Serb forces commanded by Ratko Mladic at Srebrenica late in the 1992-95 Bosnian War as a genocide.
Some Serbs cite violence and injustices committed against Serbs during that and other conflicts and refuse to acknowledge Srebrenica as anything but another major tragedy in the brutal wars that followed Yugoslavia’s breakup.
“Genocide took place in Srebrenica in 1995,” Murphy said.
“The guilt for the Srebrenica genocide is individual and is borne by those who committed these atrocious acts,” Murphy said, “But society, political leaders, and institutions have a moral obligation to address the harm done.”
Dodik was quoted a day earlier criticizing the international community’s overseer of civil and other aspects of the 1995 Dayton agreements that still govern Bosnia after High Representative Christian Schultz used his UN-backed authority to amend legislation to ensure ongoing operations at the Srebrenica-Potocari Memorial Center dedicated to the victims, their families, and survivors.
Dodik was declared the winner after a recount of the election on October 2 to the presidency of Republika Srpska, which is part of Bosnia along with a Bosniak and Croat Federation.
The United States has targeted Dodik with multiple rounds of sanctions over perceived destabilization efforts and alleged corruption.
Dodik has long threatened to seek Republika Srpska’s independence from the rest of Bosnia, and rejects the authority of the Office of the High Representative in matters including a controversial ban on genocide denial and the glorification of war criminals.
“There is no high representative. He is all illegitimate and illegal,” Dodik was quoted as saying on February 21 before adding, “Genocide did not happen there. We all know that, but they keep trying to insist on it violently.”
Murphy said in his video message that the denial of genocide and glorification of war criminals “tears at the fabric of the society of Bosnia-Herzegovina, threatening [its] stability.”
“It is also illegal under [Bosnian-Herzegovinian] law,” he added.