The following text originally appeared in Al Jazeera Balkans.
Those who deny the Srebrenica genocide become moral accomplices of the worst crime committed on the territory of Europe since the Holocaust, said Menachem Rosensaft, General Counsel and Executive Vice President of the World Jewish Congress.
We spoke with the descendant of the survivors of the Nazi camps Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen before his arrival in Srebrenica, where he is leading a World Jewish Congress delegation commemorating the anniversary of the genocide.
Killed only because they are Muslims
Rosensaft is a vocal critic of the international community, which he openly says betrayed Srebrenica, and uses every opportunity to point out the extent of the crimes committed by the forces of the Republika Srpska Army and other units in Srebrenica, where more than 8,000 people were killed in July 1995.
"Srebrenica is the site of the worst crime committed in Europe since the Holocaust. It is also the place where the United Nations and the international community betrayed and abandoned the Bosniaks they had promised to protect,” Rosensaft said. “By coming to Srebrenica, by honoring the dead buried in Potočari, we stand with the victims and survivors. We want to tell them that they are not alone in their grief and that they are certainly not alone in reminding the world that what really happened there was genocide”.
He points out that there are numerous verdicts that stipulate that there was genocide in Srebrenica, and that it can no longer be a subject of discussion, either by lawyers or some other intellectuals.
"Those who deny the Srebrenica genocide, by doing so, become moral accomplices - intentionally or not - in that genocide. They seek to deny Bosniak men and boys, who were killed solely because they are Muslims, their identity as victims of genocide and try to defend or minimize the weight of the indefensible” Rosensaft reasoned.”
"The intention and impact of denying the genocide in Srebrenica, I say again whether it was intentional or not, is to rehabilitate and glorify the Chetnik killers who trampled on every norm, not only of war, but of civilized life and behavior. It is simply the fact that a whole series of trials and appeals at the International Criminal Court for the former Yugoslavia, as well as at the International Court of Justice, confirmed without any doubt and unanimously that what happened in Srebrenica was genocide,” he continued. “It has been decided by law and is not the subject of any intellectual debate," Rosensaft said.
Politicians rarely risk their lives
"It is important to remember that genocide is a legal term in accordance with the Convention on Genocide, and according to the charters of the ICTY and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, as well as according to the Treaty of Rome on the basis of which the International Criminal Court was established. And it is the courts, not politicians or winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature, who make legal decisions."
We asked him to comment on, despite many statements and attitudes of "never again", whether it was said after the Second World War, the Holocaust, and Srebrenica, if crimes are repeated, as can be seen from the events in Ukraine and elsewhere.
"Unfortunately, people have a short memory, and this is especially evident when talking about unpleasant events, let alone horrifying ones. And, also unfortunately, the crimes of today replace those of the past - people faced with new bodies, new mass graves tend to draw attention to it and forget the bodies and mass graves of the past," he answers.
Rosensaft therefore emphasizes the importance of educating people around the world about what happened in Srebrenica in the summer of 1995.
"That is why it is the absolute and undoubted obligation of the international community to make Srebrenica a permanent part of the world's consciousness, just as Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen became a permanent and inseparable part of the world's consciousness. This must be done through the support and strengthening of the tremendous work of the Memorial Center in Potočari and its director Emir Suljagić, as well as through the maximum effort to study the human tragedy of the Srebrenica genocide in schools around the world."
Despite everything, those who advocate violence, blood and war are once again loud in the Balkans. Most of them are among politicians of all nationalities. "We must do everything in our collective power to prevent the Balkans from falling into war ambitions again. The Dayton Accords of November 1995 were certainly not perfect, we all know that, but they stopped the bloodshed and saved lives."
He concludes by pointing out the bigger picture of the conflict. "It is important to remember the fact that when politicians choose the path of armed conflict, they very rarely risk their own lives - the biggest victims of wars are always civilians, men, women and children who go through unspeakable suffering. It is precisely because of them that the international community must dedicate itself and do everything possible to prevent a new armed conflict in the Balkans," said Rosensaft.