Bosnia marks 30th anniversary of Sarajevo siege with memories still alive

UNITED NATIONS, Apr 07 (APP): Thirty years after the deadly siege of Sarajevo, the UN team in Bosnia and Herzegovina Wednesday reiterated the importance of pursuing justice and reparation for victims, survivors and their family members.

The siege began after Bosnia and Herzegovina declared independence in the wake of the dissolution of the former Yugoslavia.

Bosnian Serbs largely opposed independence, while the other two large ethnic groups, Muslim Bosniaks and Croats, favoured the split from Belgrade.

Bosnian Serb troops started bombarding the capital city in April 1992, a sustained assault which lasted for nearly four years.

This was the longest blockade since the Second World War, with more than 12,000 people killed, and marked a key moment in the Bosnian War.

The UN Resident Coordinator for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ingrid Macdonald, has met with survivors’ associations across the country, the world body’s spokesman Stephane Dujarric said at the regular noon briefing in New York.

Ms. Macdonald continues to spotlight the importance of countering the denial of atrocity crimes and glorification of war criminals, he said

In Sarajevo, she said that such rhetoric perpetuates the suffering of survivors and families of victims and has no place in a democratic society, Mr. Dujarric told journalists.

Ms. Macdonald has also appealed for political leaders to take measures to prevent and act upon all manifestations of hatred and discrimination.

They are also urged to ensure all people there live in an environment of mutual understanding, respect and dignity.

The UN said it has repeatedly spoken out against rising hate speech in the country, and in neighbouring Serbia, decades after the Bosnian War.

The conflict ended in December 1995 and was among the bloodiest fighting to occur in Europe during the last century.

Horrific crimes were committed, including ethnic cleansing campaigns such as the July 1995 massacre of thousands of Muslim men and boys in Srebrnica.

Last June, a UN court upheld the 2017 life sentence imposed on Bosnia Serb military chief Ratko Mladi who commanded the killings.