Daily World News Digest, 21 May 2015

Serbian President will not attend Srebrenica anniversary

BalkanInsight reported on 20 May that Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic’s decision not to attend the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide has been strongly criticized by rights campaigners in Serbia and Bosnia & Herzegovina. Nikolic was accused of genocide denial on Wednesday after a media report said he has decided not to attend the commemoration in July. The report published by Serbia’s Danas news portal on Tuesday gave no further explanation of Nikolic’s decision not to attend. Sonja Biserko from the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia said she was not surprised by Nikolic’s decision because, she said, the Serbian president believes the killings were a crime but did not amount to genocide. Biserko also said that the behavior of Serbian politicians, including Nikolic, shows “how deeply Serbia was involved and responsible for what was happening [during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina]”. “Denial [of the genocide] itself shows Serbia is responsible,” she said. Munira Subasic, the president of the Mothers of the Srebrenica and Zepa Enclaves association, told BIRN that Nikolic’s decision hindered the prospects for post-war reconciliation. http://bit.ly/1FDFrRv

Asia migrants: Malaysia orders search and rescue for boats

The BBC reports today that Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has said his country will conduct search and rescue missions for Rohingya migrant boats in the Andaman Sea. Humanitarian aid would also be delivered by land and sea, he said. His announcement comes after weeks of authorities rejecting migrant boats and towing them out of Malaysian waters. Malaysia and Indonesia’s foreign ministers are in Myanmar for talks on the migrant crisis. About 7,000 people are believed to be stranded at sea. Most of the migrants are Rohingya Muslims fleeing persecution in Myanmar, but some are Bangladeshis thought to be economic migrants. Malaysia and Indonesia have said they will temporarily shelter those that land on their territory, but need the international community’s help with resettling them. Thailand says it will no longer push back boat people from its territorial waters. http://bbc.in/1eh7Xwm

EU: Don’t endanger lives at sea or deny protection

Human Rights Watch today called on the European Union to ensure that military action against human smuggling networks does not put the lives and rights of migrants and asylum seekers in jeopardy. The Council of the European Union agreed on 18 May to create a naval operation, dubbed EUNAVFOR Med, to identify, capture, and destroy boats used by smugglers in the Mediterranean.“Smugglers and traffickers often show a complete disregard for human life and dignity, and they should be held to account for that, but military action against them could also expose migrants and asylum seekers to serious risks,” said Judith Sunderland, acting deputy director of the Europe and Central Asia Division at Human Rights Watch. “Saving lives at sea and bringing people at risk in the Mediterranean safely to EU shores should be the top priority.” HRW says the EU should assess carefully the short and long term human rights implications of this military operation, including the risk that it will increase the dangers of boat migration in the Mediterranean and of trapping migrants and asylum seekers in Libya, where they are often subject to violence and abuse and have no possibility for lodging asylum claims. http://bit.ly/1Lo6H5r

Azerbaijan: EU leaders should insist on prisoner releases

Human Rights Watch issued a statement today calling on European leaders to use a high-level gathering with “Eastern partners” to insist that the Azerbaijan government unconditionally release anyone held on politically motivated charges. Azerbaijan has detained dozens of journalists, human rights defenders, and other critics of the government, HRW says. Top European Union officials and leaders of the 28 EU member states are meeting in Riga, Latvia, on 21 and 22 May with senior leaders from several neighboring countries, including Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov of Azerbaijan, at the EU’s Eastern Partnership Summit. The Riga summit is the last high-level meeting between the EU and Azerbaijan before Baku hosts the first European Games from 12 to 28 June. http://bit.ly/1ehwLnU

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.