The Auschwitz Institute for the Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Srebrenica Genocide on Saturday, July 11, 2020. One quarter-century ago, an estimated 8,373 members of the Bosnian Muslim community lost their lives in an event that would come to be recognized as the worst European mass killing since the conclusion of the Second World War. Former Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon has described the event as one that “will forever weigh on the collective conscience of the international community.”
On July 11 in 1995, elements of the Vojska Republike Srpske (VRS) entered the town of Srebrenica, which had official been designated as a “safe haven” by the United Nations Security Council just two months prior. Upon arrival, the VRS quickly overran the poorly equipped international peacekeeping force put in place to protect Srebrenica’s residents. In the ensuing chaos, thousands of the city’s Muslim boys and men were rounded up and systematically executed, with their bodies cruelly deposited into mass graves. For their part, tens of thousands of women, children, and elderly members of the Bosniak community in Srebrenica were forcibly displaced from their homes and communities with many also subjected to a host of other abuses.
On February 26, 2007, the International Court of Justice ruled that the atrocities committed at Srebrenica constituted genocide. The court reasoned that, while other atrocities that occurred during the Bosnian War lacked evidence to prove the existence of the necessary element of intent, the VRS perpetrators of the July 1995 massacre possessed the specific intent required to qualify the event as genocide.
Last July, the Auschwitz Institute joined with activist-artist Aida Šehović to construct her annual nomadic monument entitled ŠTO TE NEMA [lit. “Why are you not here?”] in Venice, Italy, as part of AIPG’s exhibition entitled Artivism: The Artocity Prevention Pavilion. The project, which has commemorated the 8,373 Bosnian Muslims killed in Srebrenica in a new city around the world on July 11 for more than a decade, features thousands of “fildžani” (traditional Bosnian coffee cups) that are assembled, filled with Bosnian coffee, and left undrunk in memory of those who perished in Srebrenica.
This year, ŠTO TE NEMA will mark its 15th anniversary alongside the 25th anniversary of the Srebrenica Genocide. The 2020 monument will be presented, for the first time, at the burial site of the Genocide’s victims alongside other commemoration events and gatherings in collaboration with the Memorial Center Srebrenica-Potočari and Post-Conflict Research Center. In recognition of the circumstances, the 2020 edition of ŠTO TE NEMA will be the last year that it travels to a new location. The previously nomadic monument’s final iteration will remain in Potočari/Srebrenica, the site of the Genocide, on a permanent basis. For more information, please visit www.stotenema.com.
Additionally, the Auschwitz Institute is honored to participate in the commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Srebrenica Genocide by contributing to the digital roundtable event organized by the Srebrenica Memorial, the University of Sarajevo’s Faculty of Political Science, and the Institute for Islamic Tradition of Bosniaks. The interdisciplinary conference will bring together international experts on genocide studies and explore the phenomenon of genocide denial in Bosnia and Herzegovina through a focus on memory, denial, prevention, and accountability.
During the virtual event, Dr. James Waller, AIPG’s Director of Academic Programs, will deliver a series of remarks entitled “Srebrenica as a Call to Action: Fighting Denial and Impunity through Prevention.” Dr. Waller will be joined by Dr. Gabriela Ghindea, the Director of AIPG’s Mediterranean Basin Programs, who will give a talk entitled “A Shared Desire: Regional Efforts to Prevent Genocide.” For more information on this event and access to the live stream, which begins at 10:00 am CEST, please visit www.srebrenica25.ba.
This July 11, AIPG commemorates the 25th anniversary of the Srebrenica Genocide amidst a climate of unprecedented global volatility. During these challenging times, full of division and historical revisionism, we remember the victims of Srebrenica and their families. In recognizing that prevention is continued responsibility, we reaffirm our commitment to them by using the important legacy of the Srebrenica Genocide to fight against mass atrocities around the world and continuing to seek justice for those affected.