Even after 25 years, Srebrenica’s importance has not lessened. On the contrary; there are now riots erupting in Belgrade against the proto-fascist government by the same people who still deny the existence of the genocide against the Muslim Bosnian population. The 11th of July has been called into existence to remember those 8372 boys and men who were murdered, and their loved ones forever scarred by the atrocities committed by the Serb population in Bosnia. Together with an annual memorial march, we remember those who were murdered, forcibly displaced, and their culture ripped from them. As the child of a Bosnian refugee this day and the fight against fascism in both former Yugoslavia and where I live in London are a part of my identity and have had a huge influence in making me an anti-fascist.
The relevance of it shows in relation to the ideology that led to the war and genocide in former Yugoslavia, where up until the war, after Tito’s regime, religions and cultures were mixed and often households and families shared and celebrated both Islamic and Christian traditions together. With the fall of Yugoslavia, however, nationalistic ideas and fascist ideology regained a solid foothold. These led to many crimes against humanity and culminated in the massacre of Srebrenica. The wish for an ethnic ‘Greater Serbia’ had driven them to commit a genocide, which they committed by murdering 8372 boys and men, as well as rape women so they could no longer be considered ‘clean’ and bear Muslim children. Hate-fuelled ideologies like these take deep root and it is unsurprising that the people who committed those crimes (who are around 40-70 years old now) still conform to those ideologies and have passed them on to their children, continuing a culture of fascistic ideas and governments.
Organisations like Majke Srebrenice still campaign to get justice from the war criminals and Western powers who failed to aid Bosniaks during the war and in Srebrenica. But little can be achieved through the bureaucratic route as it was not just Serbia and the Serbian population within Bosnia being supported by their ally Russia, but the world and the West who looked on and facilitated the murder and genocide of Bosniaks by both Serbs and Croats. As the years go by, the murderers still live in the region where they committed these crimes. This land was given to them in the Dayton negotiations, brokered by the USA. This can only be described as reward for their actions in this war and the greenlight to continue to discriminate against Muslim Bosnians. The unwillingness of Western states to provide effective aid to Bosniaks, and even enforce an arms embargo on Yugoslavia, meant Bosnia could not arm themselves against the Serbian army and caused them to be defenceless. The quickness with which the UN were to reward the Serbs such large territories after they had just committed a genocide clearly shows that the mass murder of Muslim Bosnians was not enough to deny the ethno-nationalists their land.
Even after the post Second World War promise of “Never again” Europe was quick to apply Islamophobic policies and facilitate a genocide. The UN and Europe became partially responsible for the deaths in Srebrenica even before it had happened as they sought to compromise with leaders of Serbia, and what is wrongfully called Republika Srpska today. The UN, the United Kingdom and other European countries chose to enforce discriminatory arms embargos in support of an ultranationalist, expansionist, fascist movement meaning the Muslim Bosnians were left helpless.
The rewarding of these actions and in extension these ideologies and the lack of persecution of war criminals has led to the survival of these ideas. Not just in the Serbian parts of Bosnia do these survive but in Serbia as well. Nepotism has led to government positions to be passed down to fascist and corrupt politicians, some of which were involved directly in the war, and has led Serbia into a proto-fascist state. The manipulation of elections and the way the Serbian government has reacted in the COVID-19 crisis has enraged people and brought them onto the streets. In fascist tradition protestors and uninvolved bystanders, as well as journalists have been viscously attacked by the Serb police. Their anger being understandable, reports seem to indicate that the protestors have come from all sides; left and right wing releasing their frustrations against their government together. Clashes between left- and right-wing protestors give cause for worry, however, as it is unclear as of yet which side dominates the riots. The left-wing minority has been out on the streets protesting not just the current government but fascism as a whole, which includes many out on the streets who seem to harbour sympathy for their parents’ deeds 25 years ago, as well as their ideologies. The Serb population in former Yugoslavia has barely been held to account and there has been a complete lacking of education and efforts for justice and reconciliation. These things have allowed fascist ideas to prevail and we send out solidarity and support to all anti-fascists in former Yugoslavia and Belgrade fighting so that no one will have to live through another Srebrenica. Fascism and Nationalism must be smashed as soon as it appears to stop the horrific acts that took place 25 years ago from ever happening again.
Nikad nećemo saboraviti.