The Permanent Representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the United Nations in New York, Ambassador Dr. Zlatko Lagumdžija, attended the commemoration of the 28th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide and the raising of the flag of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Bowling Greens Park, organized by the American-Bosnian community in New York. The event was also attended by the Mayor of New York City, Eric Adams.
In his address, Ambassador Lagumdžija stated the following:
Dear friends, Ladies and Gentleman
I see us here be a part of common struggle: remembering the victims, punishing the criminals at large and ultimately fighting with ideologies based on hating and exterminating people who they consider being guilty only by being different.
As a short reminder – 28 years after the Srebrenica genocide and 20 years after the first funeral was organized in Potočari when initial 600 out of 8372 victims were found, identified and buried in Srebrenica – the youngest victim buried was newborn baby Muhic, there was no time to give a first name, and the oldest Ms. Saha Izmirlic was 94 years old when brutally killed.
During July 1995, in a ruthless killing operation, with clear intent, well organized, and following a precisely defined plan and pattern, executions ensued in the most horrific way possible. Among those killed were more than 800 children. This was deliberately done in order to physically and biologically destroy Bosniaks as an ethnic group.
The political and military authorities of that time the so-called Republika Srpska planned the crime of genocide and provided logistical support for the criminals. The authorities then covered up crimes by digging up and concealing mass graves, which, I emphasize, was confirmed by the decisions of the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia in The Hague.
For the crime of genocide against Bosniaks in and around Srebrenica, The Hague Tribunal sentenced the first president of the self-proclaimed RS, Radovan Karadzic to life imprisonment, as well as the other highest political and military officials.
They have been convicted, but their project and politic is not dead.
Unfortunately, the current president of that entity, Milorad Dodik did not learn any lessons from the verdicts of the international courts. On the contrary, similar to the war criminal Radovan Karadzic, Dodik denies the genocide ever being committed, insults the victims and their families and makes moves that pose a serious threat to the preservation of peace and security in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in the region.
The United Nations and vast majority of the countries have acknowledged the mistakes made towards Bosnia and Herzegovina.
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan confessed the guilt of the international community by saying that “Srebrenica represents the greatest disgrace in the history of the United Nations.”
Mistakes committed can no longer be corrected, but we have obligation to stop them being repeated. Together.
Therefore, it is necessary to urgently and decisively stop the pro-Russian president of the entity Republika Srpska before he destabilizes state of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Western Balkans region and the entire Euro-Atlantic space.
This is the right place and the right time to call the European Union to wake up and to join the sanctions imposed by the United Kingdom and the United States against genocide deniers and destroyers of the Dayton Peace Agreement.
Let me conclude with a reminder of a great hero of our time, whose words and deeds resonate today in both of our countries and in so many troubled parts of the world.
55 years ago US Senator Robert F. Kennedy of NY delivered a spontaneous speech in Indianapolis, several hours after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Speech that offers a stark lesson in what has changed – and what remains the same.
Whenever RFK mentions the US, black, white, you can just place the words Bosnia and Herzegovina instead of the US, Bosniaks/Muslim instead of black, Serb/Christian instead of white, and you will clearly see immortality of RFK vision of the world we need – either in USA or in Bosnia and Herzegovina or any place in the world.
“What we need in the US is not division; what we need in the US is not hatred; what we need in the US is not violence or lawlessness, but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or they be black…
We can do well in this country. We will have difficult times; we’ve had difficult times in the past; we will have difficult times in the future. It is not the end of violence; it is not the end of lawlessness; it is not the end of disorder.
But the vast majority of white people and then vast majority of black people in this country want to live together, want to improve the quality of our life, and want justice for all human beings who abide in our land.”
So as long as we remember Srebrenica, today and in the future, we place yet another building block to our efforts towards genocide prevention and reconciliation based on truth and justice, not only in our country and the region, but throughout the world as well.
And by spreading the truth about Srebrenica, you are giving hope that new generations will live in sustainable and better world and society than the one we share today.
With Srebrenica in our prayers, hearts and minds, God bless USA and Bosnia and Herzegovina.