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Netherlands apologises for Srebrenica genocide 27 years later 

July 13, 2022 at 11:27 am

A woman mourns near a gravestone as funeral ceremony for 19 victims of the Srebrenica Genocide on July 11, 2021 [Elman Omic/Anadolu Agency]

The Dutch government on Monday issued “deepest apologies’ for the role played by Dutch peacekeepers in Bosnia when an estimated 8,000 Bosniak Muslims were massacred by Serb forces, Anadolu reported.

Dutch Defence Minister Kajsa Ollongren offered the apology on the 27th commemoration of the genocide at the cemetery in Potocari in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“Only one party is to blame for the horrific genocide: the Bosnian Serb army,” Ollongren said.

“But let me be clear. The international community failed to offer adequate protection to the people of Srebrenica and as part of that community the Dutch government shares responsibility for the situation in which that failure occurred. And for this we offer our deepest apologies,” Ollongren said, putting her hand to her heart.

In 2007, relatives of the victims filed a lawsuit to the Hague District Court against the Dutch government. The court found the Netherlands guilty of handing over 300 Bosniak civilians who took refuge with Dutch soldiers and the UN during the occupation of Srebrenica to the Serbs.

More than 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were killed when Serb forces attacked the eastern town of Srebrenica in July 1995, despite the presence of Dutch peacekeeping troops.

The UN Security Council had declared Srebrenica a “safe area” in the spring of 1993. However, troops led by General Ratko Mladic overran the UN zone.

READ: ‘We will not forget’, Turkish first lady says on 27th anniversary of Srebrenica genocide

Dutch troops failed to act as Serb forces occupied the area, killing some 2,000 men and boys on 11 July alone.

Around 15,000 residents of Srebrenica fled to the surrounding mountains, but Serb troops hunted down and killed 6,000 more people.

The bodies of victims have been found in 570 places across the country.

In 2007, the International Court of Justice in the Hague ruled that genocide had been committed in Srebrenica.

On 8 June 2021, UN tribunal judges upheld in a second-instance trial a verdict sentencing Mladic to life in prison for the genocide, persecution, crimes against humanity, extermination and other war crimes in Bosnia-Herzegovina.