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Old Sep 20th, 2003, 01:05 PM   #1
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Arrow Memorial

Former US President Bill Clinton has paid tribute to victims of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia - Europe's worst atrocity since World War II.
Mr Clinton, who was US president when the Bosnian war finally ended in 1995, was unveiling a memorial cemetery for more than 7,000 Muslim men and boys who died in Srebrenica.

They were executed by Bosnian Serb forces who overran the town, despite its designation as a United Nations "safe haven".

"We must pay tribute to the innocent lives, many of them children, snuffed out in what must be called genocidal madness," Mr Clinton told thousands of victims' relatives at the memorial.

"Srebrenica shattered the illusion that the end of the Cold War would sweep away such madness."

At the ceremony on Saturday, a large crowd heard a choir dressed in white sing solemnly on a hillside.

The new memorial - which took a year to build and cost about $5m - lies just across the road from the old UN base where thousands of Bosnian Muslims sought sanctuary in vain.

"Let us who still live remember our obligation to them, to establish a lasting and just peace", Mr Clinton said.

Children should be taught to trust, not to hate, he added - "to choose the open hand over the clenched fist."

The massacre galvanised the West and Mr Clinton's administration to intervene militarily to stop the war.

The BBC's Nick Hawton says many locals have mixed feelings about Mr Clinton's presence. They are grateful that US intervention helped to end the war, but many ask why Washington did not take action sooner.

Mr Clinton said the massacre was "the beginning of the end of genocide in Europe" because it enabled him to secure Nato support for the bombing that pushed back the Bosnian Serbs and led to peace.

Srebrenica was the worst massacre to take place during three years of bloody ethnic conflict between Bosnian Muslims, Croats and Serbs as part of the break-up of Yugoslavia.

More than 250,000 people were killed during the war.


Fathers and sons

The Srebrenica memorial site is shaped like the petals of a flower.

Ten thousand white tombstones will eventually stand there.

Widows of those who died wanted Mr Clinton to be the person to open the new memorial site, with one telling the BBC: "He is the only man with the moral authority to do so".

Families at the ceremony were burying a further 107 victims alongside 882 already laid to rest at the cemetery.

The victims included three Delic brothers and their father - the youngest 17 and the oldest 75.


Reconciliation

On Friday during a visit to Kosovo, Mr Clinton urged Kosovan Albanians to seek reconciliation with their Serbian neighbours.

"No outsider, including me, could force you to forgive anyone," he told a crowd at Pristina University.

"But you should try. Not for them, but for you. I want you to be free."

Despite an international outcry over the Srebrenica massacre, only two people have ever been convicted for involvement in it.

Our correspondent says many feel reconciliation can only occur when the two former Bosnian Serb leaders, Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, face justice.

Both men, who are charged with genocide at Srebrenica, have been on the run for the past eight years.



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Old Sep 20th, 2003, 01:16 PM   #2
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SREBRENICA, Bosnia-Herzegovina - Former President Bill Clinton joined thousands of survivors of Europe's worst massacre since World War II in a ceremony Saturday to open a memorial center dedicated to thousands of Muslims killed here.

The slaughter in Srebrenica, where as many as 8,000 Muslims may have been killed, has become a symbol for the brutality of Bosnia's 1992-1995 war, which pitted the country's Muslims, Serbs and Croats against each other. The war killed 260,000 and left 1.8 million people displaced.

Srebrenica, 50 miles northeast of Sarajevo, had been declared a "safe zone" by the United Nations when it was overrun by Bosnian Serb soldiers in July 1995. The soldiers then began executing Muslims, most of them men and boys. Women were sent away in buses before the killings began.

Survivors invited Clinton to preside over the official opening of a memorial center honoring the Srebrenica victims because of his crucial role in ending the war. Clinton's administration led NATO to bomb Bosnian Serb artillery positions and later brought together the leaders of the warring parties in Dayton, Ohio, to negotiate the peace deal that ended the bloodshed.

"Among all the world leaders, Clinton has the biggest moral right to open this memorial center," said Amor Masovic, the head of the Muslim Commission for Missing Persons.

Local police, NATO-led peacekeepers, European Union Police Mission officers and 300 civilians were providing security for the memorial. Four U.S. Apache helicopters cruised over the skies over Potocari, a village near Srebrenica where the memorial center is located.

Other officials attending included British diplomat Paddy Ashdown, who administers Bosnia; U.S. Ambassador to Bosnia Clifford Bond; Bosnian Presidency member Sulejman Tihic; and Bosnian Serb prime minister Dragan Mikerevic.

The ceremony opened with the Bosnian anthem and the raising of the Bosnian flag followed by a choir singing a specially written song that envisions the victims talking to the survivors.

"Mother, I am looking for you. Sister, I love you. I can't find you, where are you," the choir sang. Women in the crowd wept as they heard the sorrowful song.

Srebrenica survivor Advija Ibrahimovic, 22, told the audience about her feelings in July 1995.

"I was scared to death. Numerous frightened children, sad women and broken old men stood next to me, and all of us watched the hatred killing human beings. I still remember the moment when they took my father away, and his last glance cast at my interrupted childhood," she said.

After the opening speeches, 107 victims are to be buried in the Potocari cemetery that surrounds the memorial center. Of them, four were under 18. The oldest victim was 75. Their bodies have exhumed from mass graves where the Serb soldiers dumped the victims.

Earlier this year, 882 victims were buried in two separate ceremonies.

So far, 5,000 bodies have been exhumed from mass graves near Srebrenica. Of those, 1,083 have been identified so far, using DNA technology.

The $5.8 million memorial-cemetery complex has been constructed in phases, financed by private and government donations, including the U.S. government, which last year donated $1million for the center.

The complex consists of burial fields plotted out in petal-like array around a central area that features an open-air prayer room, a crypt with a garden and a memorial room.
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Old Sep 20th, 2003, 01:20 PM   #3
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Old Sep 20th, 2003, 02:09 PM   #4
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Oh, how my heart aches. How can we, as humans, do this kind of shit to one another...and continue to do it over and over again.
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Old Sep 20th, 2003, 02:31 PM   #5
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Old Sep 20th, 2003, 02:33 PM   #6
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Old Sep 20th, 2003, 02:40 PM   #7
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Old Sep 20th, 2003, 02:43 PM   #8
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Hopefully this memorial site will remind everyone of us how cruel war is and maybe, just maybe, we might think twice before we take up the weapons.
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Old Sep 20th, 2003, 02:46 PM   #9
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Hopefully this memorial site will remind everyone of us how cruel war is and maybe, just maybe, we might think twice before we take up the weapons.
Seriously. I do hope that's the case.
But sometimes I'm so disappointed by humanity. We don't seem to learn from our mistakes...we don't seem to admit that we make mistakes maybe. And then we make them over and over.
What's going on?!
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Old Sep 20th, 2003, 02:49 PM   #10
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Making the same mistakes over and over again is what makes us human I suppose....
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Old Sep 20th, 2003, 02:54 PM   #11
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Hi to all of you...

This is really a sad day for me and for all Bosnian people who have lost someone. I can't express how I feel, I just want to cry. I just hope that we and all the world will never forget...
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Old Sep 20th, 2003, 03:52 PM   #12
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