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Europe commemorates 26th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre: What you need to know

Picture courtesy: AP News

Thousands of people in Bosnia have gathered to commemorate the 26th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide. Nineteen recently identified victims were honored and buried Sunday in Bosnia as thousands gathered to commemorate the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, Europe's only acknowledged genocide since WWII.

The slaughter of more than 8000 Muslim Bosniaks, most of the men and children by Bosnian Serb forces, was commemorated in speeches and prayers followed by the reburial of victims whose remains were found in mass graves and newly identified via DNA analysis.

The genocide happened on July 11, 1995, in the final stages of Bosnia's 1990's war and it marked the worst atrocity committed on European soil since WWII and was deemed genocide by international justice, though most ethnic Serbs and their leaders in both Bosnia and Serbia reject the label.

A UN court sentenced both Bosnian Serb wartime political leader Radovan Karadzic and his army chief Ratko Mladic to life in prison, mainly for Srebrenica.

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and the bloc's enlargement commissioner Oliver Varhelyi encouraged Balkan political leaders to face the past and recognize the genocide for what it is. They then added in a joint statement "There is no place in Europe for genocide denial, revisionism or glorification of war criminals". The Bosnian government earlier this week failed to proclaim July 11 the national mourning day since ethnic Serb ministers opposed the move.

President Charles Michel
Picture courtesy: Anadolu Agency

In a Twitter video, President of the European Council Charles Michel said "Today we commemorate twenty-six years since the genocide in Srebrenica. The worst act of mass killing in Europe since the Second World War. Today is a solemn day. A day to remember. Today we pay our respects to the families and the loved ones of the victims. We are united in our sorrow. But also in our hope to never see such atrocities in Europe again. That is exactly what our European Union stands for. Shared values. Democratic principles. Freedoms. Reconciliation. And building lasting peace on our continent. And building a better future for all our children. And doing it together. The European Union stands by you, Bosnia and Herzegovina. You can always count on our support and on our friendship".

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