Confronting Srebrenica Genocide Denial: Serbia, Russia and China Against the World

This month, the world should unite to recognize July 11 as the "International Day of Remembrance of the Genocide in Srebrenica 1995", where 8,372 Bosniak civilians were systematically and organized killed in 3-4 days

by Sededin Dedovic
Confronting Srebrenica Genocide Denial: Serbia, Russia and China Against the World
© Pool / Getty Images

The world should unite this month to recognize July 11th as the "International Day of Reflection and Remembrance of the Genocide in Srebrenica in 1995." However, this resolution of the UN General Assembly has faced opposition from Serbia, supported by Russia and other allies.

The genocide was legally judged at the international court in the Hague, and it is the most documented genocide in history. An interesting fact is that Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) are the only autochthonous, European, white Muslims.

Jasminko Halilović, the founder of the War Childhood Museum in Sarajevo, points out in an article for Politico that the idea of ​​passing a UN resolution on the genocide in Srebrenica is not new, and that in 2015, the UN Security Council failed to adopt a similar resolution.

"But the need for it should not be controversial, especially since the International Court of Justice confirmed that the mass murder of 8,372 people during the summer of 1995 did indeed constitute genocide. Today, the effort to officially mark the genocide in Srebrenica is more relevant than ever, with divisions wider, louder, and deeper than before.

From Europe to the Middle East, this period of global upheaval raises fundamental questions about our way of life, our common future, and how we treat each other, offering a chance for significant social transformation. Yet, this opportunity is slipping away as politicians fail to confront the past and process it responsibly, prioritizing narrow self-interests over collective well-being.

For example, Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić has launched a diplomatic offensive, meeting with representatives of more than 100 countries to persuade them to reject the UN resolution, in what appears to be a clear - and rare - case of genocide denial as a diplomatic strategy.

Two young Bosniak women weep over one of 613 coffins of victims of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre in a hall at the Potocari cemete© Sean Gallup / Getty Images

Meanwhile, young Serbian activists from the Youth Initiative for Human Rights have launched a campaign urging their government to support the resolution and recognize the genocide, showing that the current policy does not reflect the views of all Serbs.

But Vučić's efforts are not isolated. Milorad Dodik - the notorious politician of the Bosnian Serbs currently serving as the president of Republika Srpska - has threatened to initiate the secession of the entity from Bosnia and Herzegovina if the UN resolution is adopted.

This is hypocritical, as he himself acknowledged the crimes against the Bosniaks in Srebrenica as genocide in 2008. Since then, Dodik has become the main threat to peace in the Western Balkans, embracing extreme right-wing nationalism, facing US sanctions, and regularly denying genocide.

These provocative statements now together fuel fear of renewed conflict. "Will there be a new war?" is a question often asked today in Sarajevo, a city that endured one of the longest sieges in modern history. And although nationalist politicians have long dominated the political landscape in Bosnia and Herzegovina, this is now culminating in institutionalized genocide denial.

Meanwhile, survivors of the atrocities receive far less attention than they deserve. That's why I founded the War Childhood Museum - to allow survivors to tell their stories in their own words. I believe museums can play a crucial role in educating the public, establishing emotional connections, and promoting dialogue, tolerance, and reconciliation.

Since its inception, the museum has documented over 6,000 stories and testimonies from Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as 20 other conflicts, becoming an international platform for all those whose childhood was affected by war.

I am particularly proud that in partnership with the Srebrenica Memorial Center, the museum led the first systematic documentation of the Srebrenica genocide from the perspective of children - reports that vividly illustrate the enduring human cost of attempted population extermination.

Among these stories is Ermina's, born in 1993, whose father was killed in the genocide. "Without my father, we could never take a family photo. My mom was still pregnant when they said goodbye, so my sister never got to meet him.

Originally, it was just photos of my mom, my sister, and me put together using Photoshop. To complete our family portrait, we added the only photo of my father we had. His remains were found in 2010," she says. This poignant collection of over 100 testimonies of children survivors, like Ermina's, underscores the importance of supporting this UN resolution.

Denying genocide inflicts deep wounds. Refusing to acknowledge historical crimes obstructs the path to reconciliation. I reject arguments against the resolution claiming it would be "counterproductive" or "fuel conflict." These words come from those who denied genocide at rallies in Banja Luka, while stoking hatred and sowing fear and distrust.

Denying genocide will never lead to peace. And every nation, regardless of its size or proximity to Bosnia and Herzegovina, has a responsibility to support the decisions of international courts that ensure justice for survivors.

This is a universal duty, consistent with the very principles that led to the establishment of the UN. Take a moment to read the stories of those who survived genocide as children. Their voices remind us why ending genocide denial is not just a moral obligation but vital for a peaceful future. Their stories call us to action - for them and for ourselves," writes Halilović.

Russia China