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after the genocide

The first person to provide a hint of the extent of the killings was an American reporter, who risked his life to look for evidence and indeed was eventually arrested. (He was awarded a Pulitzer prize for his Bosnian journalism.) He was at risk not only from the Serbs but also from NATO, who resumed their air attacks (begun earlier in 1995 when the Serbs ignored a ceasefire ultimatum) in response to the tragic events at Srebrenica.

Peace negotiations were held in Dayton, Ohio, and an agreement was signed in December 1995. Bosnia was now divided into a Croat-Muslim Federation (acknowledged reluctantly by Croat nationalists) and Republika Srpska. A NATO peace-keeping 'Implementation Force' of 60,000 was deployed. It was later replaced by a NATO 'Stabilisation Force", S-For, which is still there, still facing intractable social and administrative problems. In 1996, elections produced a three-man presidency representing the main Bosnian groups.

Meanwhile Srebrenica was re-inhabited: Serbs moved in to occupy the Muslims' homes. These Serbs were mostly refugees themselves, driven from other parts of Bosnia by Muslims and Croats. Many came from Sarajevo. None had much hope: there were no jobs, not much water, few supplies. 'But we have nowhere else to go.' The Serbian project in Bosnia had brought about a huge internal displacement of the population from which the people have not yet recovered.

In 1999 the UN completed its own enquiry into the fall of Srebrenica, and faced its shame. 'Through error, misjudgement, and an inability to recognise the scope of the evil confronting us, we failed to do our part to save the people of Srebrenica from the Serb campaign of mass murder.' The severest criticism was directed at the then Secretary-General, Boutros Boutros Ghali, at his senior commander General Janvier (the general whom the Dutch had begged for air support), and the UN envoy in Bosnia (who had insisted there'd been no large-scale atrocity). In 2000, after a good deal of pressure (much of it from the charity Médecins Sans Frontières), the French set up a parliamentary inquiry into General Janvier's role, about which there has been much controversy; but the press and public were not allowed to hear what he had to say.

Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic have both been declared war criminals. Radoslav Krstic, a commander working for Mladic, was arrested by NATO troops in December 1998 and charged with genocide for his part in the atrocities at Srebrenica. 'This is a case about the triumph of evil, professional soldiers who organised, planned and willingly participated in the genocide, or stood silent in the face of it,' said the prosecution at the Hague (where the International War Crimes Tribunal for former Yugoslavia is held). In August 2001 Krstic was sentenced to 46 years imprisonment. 'His story is one of a respected professional soldier who could not balk his superiors' insane desire to forever rid the Srebrenica area of Muslim civilians and who fully participated in the unlawful realisation of this hideous design,' said the 255-page judgement on him.

As his trial ended, another began: a second Bosnian Serb military commander was charged with participating in 'a criminal plan and enterprise, the common purpose of which was to detain, capture, summarily execute by firing squad, and bury over 5,000 Muslim men and boys from the Srebrenica enclave, including the exhumation of the victims' bodies and reburial in hidden locations.'

On July 11, 2000, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan issued a statement: 'The tragedy of Srebrenica will forever haunt the history of the United Nations. This day commemorates a massacre on a scale unprecedented in Europe since the second world war - a massacre of people who had been led to believe that the UN would ensure their safety. We cannot undo this tragedy, but it is vitally important that the right lessons be learned and applied in the future. We must not forget that the architects of the killings in Srebrenica and elsewhere in Bosnia, although indicted by the international criminal tribunal, are still at large. This fact alone suggests that the most important lesson of Srebrenica - that we must recognise evil for what it is and confront it not with expediency and compromise but with implacable resistance - has yet to be fully learned and applied. As we mark the anniversary of the death of thousands of disarmed and defenceless men and boys, I wish to express once again to their families and friends my deepest regret and remorse. Their grief cannot be assuaged and must not be forgotten.'

On the same day, 3,000 Bosnian Muslims, mainly women, were taken in 60 buses to Srebrenica for a short memorial ceremony. They were the grieving relatives, revisiting the scene of their loss, and they went heavily protected by S-For troops. Serbs watched, whistled and shouted abuse; some threw stones. The mourners found the Dutch HQ just as they had last seen it, with its 'UN' markings still visible. ('We thought they'd have the decency to hide that. We want the UN commanders tried for war crimes. They abandoned us.') In 2001 the women came once again, this time to see the unveiling of a monument to their dead.

Some of the bodies have been found and some of the mass graves opened. Identification has proved almost impossible - just a few hundred have been given names. There are still 20,000 people listed as missing in Bosnia. Hope now lies in the science of DNA, which can match profiles taken from remains with others taken from living relatives. A pathologist working on the exhumations says, 'I can stand the discoveries in the graves, I can even stand the stench. The worst part is meeting families and people in despair.'

[Kosovo background]

Unlike those buried here not all the victims have known graves. Mass graves continue to be unearthed.

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