|Bosnia & Herzegovina|
In 1991, the breakup of the former Yugoslavia began, leading to war and the violent targeting of minority ethnic groups. The worst massacre in Europe since the Holocaust took place in a small town in eastern Bosnia called Srebrenica, where 8,000 Muslim men and boys were murdered by Serb forces in July 1995. In 2004, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) located in The Hague ruled that genocide took place in Srebrenica.
In April 2009, organizations in Bosnia, including the Society for Threatened Peoples, will work with us to stage an event in Sarajevo to commemorate those lost and honor those who survived ethnic cleansing.
Find out more about our partner organizations working in Bosnia & Herzegovina:
Background on the Conflict
The former Yugoslavia was comprised of historically rival ethnic groups: Serbs (Orthodox Christians), Croats (Catholics), Bosniacs (Muslims) and ethnic Albanians (Muslims). After the 1980 death of Josip Tito, the leader who united Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Kosovo and Vojvodina into Yugoslavia, the country spiraled into chaos. A new leader Slobodan Milosevic, a Serbian, came into power.
In June 1991, Slovenia and Croatia both declared independence from Yugoslavia. In July 1991, the Yugoslavian army composed of Serbs controlled by Milosevic invaded Croatia, justifying the act as a means to protect the Serbian minority. The city of Vukovar fell and the Serbs began the first mass executions of the war by killing hundreds of Croat men and burying them in mass graves.
In April 1992, Bosnia declared its independence and was recognized by the U.S. and Europe. Bosnia’s population is mostly Muslim, with a 32 percent Serb minority. Milosevic waged an attack on Sarajevo, systematically rounding-up Muslims and Croats, subjecting them to mass shootings, forced repopulation, confinement in concentration camps, and rape. Particularly at the beginning of the war, both Croat and Muslim detainees were inhumanly treated in concentration camps and some 10,000 prisoners perished.
Six Muslim towns were declared safe havens by May 1993 and were under the supervision of the United Nations. Serb armies attacked the safe havens and the UN peacekeepers guarding them. In July 1995, Serbs under the command of General Ratko Mladic systematically murdered around 8,000 Muslim men and boys at the UN safe haven of Srebrenica while deporting, displacing, and raping Muslim women and girls from the area. Dutch peacekeeping forces have been severely criticized for failing to try to protect the victims. The attack on Srebrenica was the largest massacre in Europe in 50 years.
By the end of the fighting, over 200,000 Muslim civilians were murdered, more than 20,000 were missing and believed to be dead, and 2 million had become refugees
The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) has ruled the 1995 Srebrenica massacre was genocide. In 2007, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) determined that Serbia violated the Genocide Convention by not doing enough to prevent genocide in Srebrenica and by refusing to hand over Ratko Mladic.
Background on the conflict
Justice: End Impunity for Bosnian Serb War Crimes Suspects
Reconciliation and rebuilding society: Center for Balkan Development