Bosnian mom buries 2 sons 19 years after massacre


SREBRENICA, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — After 19 years, Hajrija Selimovic finally has a place to mourn her
buried her two sons Friday next to her husband’s white tombstone in a
cemetery for the victims of Srebrenica, Europe’s worst massacre since
World War II.
The three were among the 8,000 Muslim men and boys
killed when Serb forces overran the eastern Bosnian town on July 11,
1995. Samir was 23 and Nermin 19 when they were shot by an execution
The remains of Srebrenica victims are still being found in
mass graves to this day and are being identified using DNA technology.
Every July 11, more are buried at a memorial center near the town.
"They were victims of monstrous nationalism,"
Camil Durakovic, Srebrenica’s mayor, said Friday.
two sons were among the 175 newly identified victims laid to rest this
year, joining 6,066 others including their father Hasan, who was found
in 2001 but buried only last year.
"I didn’t want to bury him
because they found only his head and a few little bones," Selimovic
said. "I waited, thinking the rest will be found and then everything can
be buried at once … but there was nothing else and we buried what we
The eastern, Muslim-majority town of Srebrenica was a
U.N.-protected area besieged by Serb forces throughout Bosnia’s 1992-95
war. But U.N. troops offered no resistance when the Serbs overran the
town, rounded up Muslims and killed the males. An international court
later labeled the slayings as genocide.
After the massacre,
then-U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright waved satellite photos
of mass graves at the U.N. Security Council, saying Washington knew
where the mass graves were.
That’s when Serb troops rushed to the
sites with bulldozers and moved the remains to other locations. As the
machines ploughed up bodies they ripped them apart, and now fragments of
the same person can be scattered among several different sites.
perpetrators had every hope that these people would be wiped out and
never found again," said Kathryne Bomberger, head of the International
Commission for Missing Persons, a Bosnia-based DNA identification
The commission, established in 1996, has collected almost
100,000 blood samples from relatives of the missing in the Yugoslav
wars. It has analyzed their DNA profiles and is now matching them with
profiles extracted from the estimated 50,000 bone samples that have been
The group grew into the world’s largest DNA-assisted
identification program. It has identified 14,600 sets of remains in
Bosnia, including those of some 7,000 Srebrenica victims. The
commission, which also helped identify victims of Hurricane Katrina and
the 2004 Asian tsunami, is now identifying missing people in Libya,
Iraq, Colombia, Kuwait, Philippines and South Africa.
Bosnia remains its biggest operation.
DNA, we would have never been able to identify anyone," Bomberger said
Thursday. "However, this means that the families have to make the
difficult decision on when to bury a person. And many of the women from
Srebrenica want to bury their sons, their family members, the way they
remember them when they were alive."
So thousands of traumatized
mothers and widows are faced with a dilemma — whether to either bury
just a fragment, or wait until more bones are found.
This year,
the families of about 500 identified victims have decided not to accept
just two or three bones. Those will remain stored in a mortuary in the
northern city of Tuzla until more remains are found — or until the
families get tired of waiting.
"We calculate that there are still
about 1,000 persons missing. … In addition, there are probably
thousands of pieces of bodies" still to find, Bomberger said. "This is
an extremely complex process that has taken a long time, just simply
because of the efforts the perpetrators went to to hide the bodies."
Selimovic, who made a hard decision last year regarding her husband, said this year’s decision was
"Now I am burying two sons," she said. "They are complete. Just the younger one is missing
a few fingers."
Cerkez reported from Sarajevo.

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