Serbian nationalists took to the streets of Bosnia armed with flaming torches and threatened to embark on another genocide.
The harrowing event took place on January 9th to “commemorate” an autonomous national holiday that celebrates the day Bosnian-Serbs declared their own state in Bosnia and Herzegovina. However, it was recently declared illegal after a top court ruled that it “discriminates” against ethnic minorities in the country due to the events that unfolded during a war that took place immediately after it was marked.
A devastating 4-year battle saw 100,000 civilians, primarily form the Muslim faith, slaughtered in the name of independence in what has been described as “the worst act of mass killing on European soil since the end of World War II.”
The most shocking day on record took place on July 11th, 1995, when members of the Bosnian-Serb army captured the town of Srebrenica and within a week, systematically slaughtered more than 8,000 Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) in the area. Their motivation? To create a “greater Serbia.” Oh gee, I wonder where we’ve heard that one before…
Orthodox Serbs and Catholic Croats were also targeted during this time.
Each year, the tradition continued to be celebrated until it was finally banned this year. However, that didn’t stop Bosnian-Serb nationalists from defying the court order on Sunday. In gangs that included war veterans and students, they took to the streets of cities like Novi Pazar to re-create the frightening image of chaos that occurred 2 decades earlier. Approximately 800 armed police officers marched alongside the group.
Disturbing footage from marches were shared on social media, leaving thousands of people horrified.
“Imagine being a genocide survivor this evening, listening to this, having to put your kids to bed with this going on outside your window. Europe failed Bosnia in the 1990’s and its failing Bosnian all over again,” wrote one user.
“Useful tip: If you ever find yourself in a mob with flaming torches you might want to reconsider your position,” another added.
Spectators watched the event unfold, waving flags and cheering as the sky turned to flames. While the event was considered a celebration to some, others were left terrified.
Liljana Smiljanic of Al Jazeera reported from the scene: “They [Bosnian Serbs] say it [the holiday] guarantees liberty for them, and the best conditions to live in Bosnia and Herzegovina. On the other hand for Bosniaks… It is the start of the war horrors that they endured during the 90s, and later on war crimes and genocide in Srebrenica.”
According to the outlet, the celebrations and other related ceremonies were attended by the top officials of neighbouring Serbia, including Prime Minister Ana Brnabic and Parliament Speaker Ivica Dacic. Russian and Chinese diplomats in Bosnia and several officials of France’s far-right National Rally party were also there.
Bosnian-Serb leader Milorad Dodik has been reprimanded for his words during the event after he claimed that “there is no freedom for the Serb people without the state.”
He was also slapped with sanctions by the United States for “corrupt activities and continued threats to the stability and territorial integrity” of Bosnia.
In a press release by the US Department of the Treasury, officials stated: “Dodik has used his official BiH position to accumulate personal wealth through graft, bribery, and other forms of corruption. His divisive ethno-nationalistic rhetoric reflects his efforts to advance these political goals and distract attention from his corrupt activities. Cumulatively, these actions threaten the stability, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of BiH and undermine the Dayton Peace Accords, thereby risking wider regional instability.”
This is extremely disturbing behaviour on display by nationalists and needs to be stopped immediately. Who in their right minds thinks it’s acceptable to parade around the streets with flaming torches and threatening to start another genocide? How can this be happening in 2022? But then again, Europe is the breeding ground of neo-Nazism as well as Islamophobia so are we really surprised?
What a mess.