DID YOU KNOW?  -- Three years before the 1995 Srebrenica Genocide, Serbs torched Bosniak villages and killed at least 3,166 Bosniaks around Srebrenica. In 1993, the UN described the besieged situation in Srebrenica as a "slow-motion process of genocide." In July 1995, Serbs forcibly expelled 25,000 Bosniaks, brutally raped many women and girls, and systematically killed 8,000+ men and boys (DNA confirmed).

04 December, 2010


By Daniel Toljaga
[republished with permission]

In May of this year, I wrote about dangerously provocative actions by extremist elements among the Serb population of the municipality of Srebrenica and their misuse of Christian religious symbols as “territorial markers” of Serb nationalist domination in this once predominantly Bosniak municipality (see: Serb Crosses Over Srebrenica). The situation has not improved. In today's edition of the Sarajevo-based daily Dnevni Avaz, Munir Habibović, a member of the Srebrenica Municipal Assembly, spoke of preparations for a prospective mass exodus of Bosniaks if construction of an Orthodox church -- without a building permit -- goes ahead. New church is provocatively located in the Muslim village of Potočari (Dugo Polje), steps away from a mass grave at Budak and on a hill overlooking the Srebrenica Genocide memorial. The following is translated from the article published in Dnevni Avaz (30 November 2010, Issue # 5475, p.12):

PROVOCATION: Church construction in the vicinity of Srebrenica’s Budak mass grave

‘Dugo Polje’ Residents sign petition and announce exodus

Residents of the Srebrenica village of Dugo Polje in the Muslim commune of Potočari are busy gathering signatures on a petition to halt construction of the Serbian Orthodox church. The church is located only a few meters from the Budak mass grave on a hill overlooking the Srebrenica genocide memorial. Thirty-five local Bosniak families have said they plan to leave if construction of the church goes ahead.

They claim that the church is being built on property belonging to Dušan Ilić and the person behind the project is his son Stevo. Until recently, Stevo was suspended from the local police force under suspicion of having participated in the 1995 Srebrenica genocide.

‘I'm prepared to make a one-off lump sum contribution

For the Bosniaks living in Dugo Polje and in the area of the local commune of Potočari, construction of this church in the vicinity of a mass grave at Budak represents a provocation from individual Serbs suspected of taking part in the genocide.

“This same person [Stevo Ilić] told me that he’s going to set fire to my house because I made a statement [to the media] about the matter. I told him to go ahead, because he’s already set my house on fire once before, when they expelled us from our homes [in July 1995]."

"The man who is building this church owns another plot of land in a field over on the opposite side of my house. He can build the church there, I'm prepared to make a one-off lump sum contribution to help him with the construction costs, so he can stop with these sorts of provocations,” says Munir Habibović, a member of the Srebrenica Municipal Assembly and a resident of Dugo Polje.

Where are the NGOs?

For Šehida Abdurahmanović this latest provocation comes as the last straw.

“Where are the human rights activists and all the non-governmental organizations who make millions of dollars every year out of the Srebrenica genocide? The construction of this church just steps away from the mass grave has got to be the work of the genocidal individuals who took part in the ethnic cleansing and execution of our loved ones,” Šehida declares.

She is urging the United States Embassy and the Office of the High Representative in Bosnia-Herzegovina to take action to halt the continuing humiliation of the victims of Srebrenica.

No official building approval

Mirsad Mustafić, head of [Srebrenica's] municipal department for urban planning and housing affairs, says that he only recently learned about the construction of the property, but had no idea it was a church.

“We sent a building inspector to investigate. No applications have been received for permission to construct any sort of building, let alone a church, and no permits have been issued. If this church is being built, then it’s being done illegally,” said Mustafić. (M. SMAJIĆ)