ICTY President Carmel Agius and ICTY Registrar John Hocking attend the 22nd commemoration of the Srebrenica genocide – held at the Potočari Memorial in Bosnia and Herzegovina - and pay their respects to the victims and their families. Following the commemoration, the remains of 71 persons were laid to rest at a memorial service.
During his address as one of the keynote speakers, President Agius recalled the crucial role of the ICTY in determining that the crimes committed at Srebrenica in July 1995 constituted genocide, where thousands of Bosniak men and boys were brutally killed and thrown into mass graves. He noted that the International Court of Justice concurred with the Tribunal’s determination that these crimes amounted to genocide. He stressed that these judgments were supported by the largest DNA-identification project in history, which provided “unprecedented proof of the slaughter at Srebrenica and the places nearby.”
“Despite all this, as you have heard this morning, too many still deny the full scale of what this population experienced in July 1995,” said President Agius, who then delivered three messages: to the deniers of the genocide; to the victims and their families; and to the leaders of the country.
Addressing the deniers, President Agius warned that “the denial or distortion of history is an intentional assault on truth.” President Agius, added that genocide in Srebrenica “is so well documented, established by two UN international courts, including the International Court of Justice, and scientifically supported in even the minutest details. Dear revisionists, deniers, you will never succeed in hiding the true nature of this genocide. Your children, your grandchildren will one day realize that the truth of what happened here does not lie in the homes where it has been distorted but outside where it is readily available.”
In his message to the victims and their families, President Agius stated that: “History and time, as well as the international community, stand with you on the side of the truth. But you too must champion reconciliation when it is there and bury the hatred that may sometimes still engulf you.”
President Agius then spoke to the leaders of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and reminded them that: “the future of this country, that has suffered too much already, is in your hands. You have been elected to deliver peace and progress, and you are responsible for ensuring that you can move ahead together.”
President Agius concluded that: “We are standing on what I believe and consider to be sacred land commemorating a dark event in the history of this nation, of Europe, and of the entire world. What happened in Srebrenica and its surroundings in July 1995 cannot be allowed to be a source of division forever. Rather, the truth should serve as a catalyst uniting the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina in their shared goal of reconciliation. It is not easy but, with good will and determination, it is a goal that I know you can achieve together. ”