Daily World News Digest, 10 July 2015

Why we are excavating the dead of Srebrenica

The Guardian carried a story on 9 July saying that Kathryne Bomberger, director general of the International Commission on Missing Persons stated that on Saturday, world attention will focus for a few hours on the town of Srebrenica in eastern Bosnia. The systematic killing that took place 20 years ago constitutes the only recognized genocide on European soil since the second world war. “For nearly two decades, the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), of which I am director general, has worked with families of the missing, local Bosnian authorities and domestic and international courts to locate and identify the victims of Srebrenica. This has made it possible for families to bury their dead with dignity, and it has made it possible to piece together what happened and to prosecute some of those who were responsible for the murders,” Bomberger said. She added: “Beyond Srebrenica, in Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as other countries in the region of the western Balkans, including Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro, Kosovo and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, more than 40,000 persons went missing during the brutal conflicts between 1991 and 2001. Today, more than 70% of those persons have been accounted for.” http://bit.ly/1Ct6BcT

Russia’s Srebrenica veto “an insult to victims”

Balkan Insight reported on 9 July that Bosniak politicians said Russia’s decision to veto a UN Security Council resolution condemning the Srebrenica massacres as genocide was an insult to the thousands who were killed. The mayor of Srebrenica, Camil Durakovic, told BIRN on Thursday that the decision by Serbia’s ally Russia to vote down the resolution was a “slap in the face of the victims”. Russia on Wednesday vetoed the British-drafted resolution intended to mark the 20th anniversary of the July 1995 massacres of more than 7,000 Bosniaks by Bosnian Serb forces, saying it was anti-Serb and would cause more divisions in Bosnian society. But Durakovic said that the resolution would have helped people in Bosnia and Herzegovina to face up to the past. “Everyone is talking about reconciliation, but without truth we cannot have reconciliation,” said Durakovic. http://bit.ly/1Ct7iD9

EP passes resolution on Srebrenica

b92, news portal from Serbia, reported on 9 July that Members of the European Parliament (EP) have adopted a resolution on Srebrenica, which strongly condemns the crime in Srebrenica. The resolution marks the crime in Srebrenica, in accordance with the judgments of the ICTY and the International Court of Justice, as genocide. As responsible for the mass execution of more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys from Srebrenica are marked “Bosnian Serb forces under the command of General Ratko Mladic, with the participation of paramilitary and irregular units.” The resolution recalls that some 1,200 residents of Srebrenica are still missing, and that thousands of women and children were deported, and many women were raped. http://bit.ly/1LVwJPE

More than five thousand bodies found in Colombian mass graves

Prensa Latina carried a story on 9 July saying that groups of experts were able to find until today four thousand 332 mass graves in Colombia, in sites where more than five thousand bodies were exhumed during the past six years, the general attorney Eduardo Montealegre confirmed. These efforts are part of the missing persons search mechanisms, implemented by the research body to clarify crimes that have occurred in the context of the armed conflict. The research body also seeks to return the victims’ bodies to their families, the official said. According to estimates, some 45,000 Colombian were target of the phenomenon known as enforced disappearance during the confrontation, which has lasted more than 50 years. The general victims figure is around 6.8 million, mostly of them were displaced from their places of origin because of the violence. http://bit.ly/1dPMjhD

Guinea: ex-coup leader charged in 2009 massacre

Human Rights Watch reported on 9 July that Guinea’s domestic panel of judges investigating the 2009 stadium massacre and rapes took a major step on 8 July 2015, by charging former self-proclaimed President Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, Human Rights Watch said today. On 28 September 2009, several hundred members of Guinea’s security forces burst into a stadium in Guinea’s capital, Conakry, and opened fire on tens of thousands of opposition supporters peacefully gathered there. At least 150 people died and dozens of women were raped or suffered other sexual violence. A United Nations-supported International Commission of Inquiry, as well as Human Rights Watch and other independent human rights organizations, said that Dadis Camara’s possible role in the killings, rapes, and other abuses should be investigated. “Fairly prosecuting all those responsible for the 2009 killings and rapes is essential to ensure redress for the victims and to signal that such crimes will not be tolerated in Guinea,” said Corinne Dufka, West Africa director at Human Rights Watch. http://bit.ly/1HjFJL4

Accountability in South Sudan cannot wait for peace – but could foster it

Amnesty International carried a story on 9 July saying that South Sudan observes its fourth anniversary as a state. I say “observe” because there is nothing to celebrate. Since conflict broke out in mid-December 2013, South Sudan has become one of the neediest, most tragic places on earth. Tens of thousands of people have been killed, in schools and hospitals, churches and mosques, even in guarded UN camps for already displaced persons. On 30 June, the UN reported grave acts of brutality against civilians by government forces in Unity State, including burning people alive in their houses. UNICEF recently concluded that “violence against children in South Sudan has reached new levels of brutality”, citing the gang rape and the murder of girls as young as eight and the castration of boys left to die. Although the UN and international community have repeatedly voiced “outrage” and called for an end to the conflict, peace efforts to date, led by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, have failed. http://bit.ly/1eJG1RI

Thailand: 100 ethnic Turks forcibly sent to China

Human Rights Watch issued a statement of 9 July saying that the government of Thailand should stop forcibly sending people of Turkic ethnicity to China, where they face persecution, Human Rights Watch said today. The Thai government announced that on July 9, 2015, it had returned about 100 “Uighur immigrants” to China, while at least 65 other people of Turkic ethnicity remain in immigration detention. “The risks to Uighurs forcibly returned to China are grim and well established, so it’s urgent to protect anyone in Thailand who the Chinese claims is a Uighur against forced expulsion or return, ” said Sophie Richardson, China director. On July 9, Thai authorities transferred approximately 100 alleged Uighurs – an ethnically Turkic, predominantly Muslim minority in China – from several immigration detention centers in Bangkok to the Don Mueang military airport. Credible sources said they were placed on two airplanes, which then departed, presumably to China. Their current whereabouts and well-being are not known. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) stated that it was “shocked by this deportation of some 100 people and consider it a flagrant violation of international law.” http://bit.ly/1Hom6hW

Items in Daily World News Digest are summaries of published reports relevant to the issue of missing persons, compiled by ICMP staff.  These items do not necessarily reflect the position of ICMP.