Bosnia-Herzegovina on Monday, June 14, commemorated the massacre of more than 3,000 Bosniaks during the war between 1992 and 1995.
Bosnian news agency provided a graphic account of the massacre. On June 14, 1992, more than 70 civilians were burned alive by Bosnian Serb forces in the eastern Bosnian city of Visegrad, where soldiers locked up Muslim Bosniak women, children and elderly people into a house and set it ablaze. The youngest victim was two days old and died in the arms of its mother.
Soldiers threw a hand-grenade on the house and then, from outside, shot anyone who tried to escape through the windows.
Most of the victims were from the nearby village of Koritnik, where soldiers had rounded them up, told them they were taking them to Kladanj, a town held by the Bosnian Army, and ordered them to board busses. Instead, the victims ended up in a house in Visegrad, where they were brutally killed.
The associations “Women, victims of war,” and “Visegrad 92,” commemorate the victims every year by throwing white roses from the historic Ottoman-era bridge into the river Drina.
According to documents of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), based on the victims reports, some 3,000 Bosniaks were murdered during the violence in Višegrad and its surroundings, including some 600 women and 119 children. According to the ICTY, Višegrad was subjected to “one of the most comprehensive and ruthless campaigns of ethnic cleansing in the Bosnian conflict”.
Remembering the victims of genocide in Bosnia, Rep. John W. Olver of Massachusetts told the house on February 7, 2008:
The viciousness of the crimes of violence committed by the Bosnian Serbs in the Višegrad massacres and the effectiveness with which the town’s entire Bosniak population was either killed or deported by Serb forces in 1992, long before similar events in Srebrenica, have been described as epitomising the genocide of the Bosniak population of eastern Bosnia carried out on orders from the Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadžić and his military counterpart General Ratko Mladić.
The head of the “Women, Victims of War” association, Bakira Hasecic, told the Bosnia’s FENA news agency that on that June 14, several of her neighbors were burned to death.
However, one woman survived the massacre and Hasecic welcomed her in her home.
Sumbula Zeba was not looking like a human being, Hasecic remembered. Her account was part of the testimony in the UN court in The Hague, Netherlands.
What Zeba then said was so horrific that nobody believed her at first.
“For at least two hours she was constantly repeating that everybody in that house was burned alive, including her child and other family members. We tended to her wounds and even today I have her image in front of my eyes,” Hasecic said, asking herself how anyone could do such a thing.
Hasecic said that Zeba’s image haunted her for a very long time and she initiated the renovation of the house in Pionirska street because of it and managed to preserve it, although authorities in Visegrad had planned to knock it down.
Tellingly, the remains of at least two victims of the Bosnian war were exhumed on Monday at the Pilakusa Muslim cemetery in the northeastern town of Bijeljina.
According to the BiH Institute for Missing Persons, it is believed that the victims are Bosniak killed in 1992.
The remains of these victims were found under the remains of people who were recently laid to rest at the site.
The skeletal remains that were exhumed will be transferred to the city of Tuzla for further forensic processing to determine the identity of the victims through DNA analysis.