SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — Hundreds of people turned out in Sarajevo’s main street on Wednesday to pay respect to 175 victims of the Srebrenica massacre — Europe’s worst since World War II — as a truck carried their coffins to a final resting place.
The remains of the men and boys, found in mass graves and identified through DNA analysis, will be buried in Srebrenica on Friday, the 19th anniversary of the massacre, next to 6,066 previously found victims.
As the coffins passed by, shielded by a canvas cloth, some tucked flowers in or caressed the canvas. Others silently prayed as the truck stopped briefly in front of Bosnia’s presidency.
The eastern town of Srebrenica was a United Nations-protected area that was besieged by Serb forces throughout the 1992-95 war for Serb domination in Bosnia. But U.N. troops offered no resistance when the Serbs overran the majority Muslim town on July 11, 1995, rounding up Srebrenica’s Muslims and killing over 8,000 men and boys. An international court later labeled the killings as genocide.
Workers are still excavating the victims’ bodies from hidden mass graves, and their job is made harder because those responsible often retrieved the bodies and relocated them elsewhere to hide the crimes. Many of the remains were torn apart or mixed up by bulldozers, and experts have had to use DNA analysis to put a body together from bones found in locations miles from each other.
Dzevada Halilovic, 45, came from Australia to bury her father’s remains, which were found in three different mass graves.
The day Srebrenica fell, she ran with her baby in her arms but the soldiers caught up with her family and separated men from women.
“I screamed. They pushed me with rifles into a bus. Then I became quiet because I remembered I was carrying my baby and it was a boy,” Halilovic remembers.
She never again saw her father, brother and five uncles. Fortunately, her husband was taken to a prison and was released after six months.
“Since then we were wandering the world for years and finally settled in Australia,” she said.
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