10 July 2005: Almost 600 victims of the 1995 fall of Srebrenica, recovered from mass graves across eastern Bosnia, will be buried on Monday, July 11, their identities established by the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP).The memorial ceremony marking the tenth anniversary of the fall of Srebrenica will allow family members to bury their dead with dignity, the fate of their missing loved ones finally resolved. Of the 7,789 Srebrenica victims registered on the ICMP database, for whom family members have come forward and given a blood sample for DNA identification, 2,079 have so far been identified. Most have already been buried at the Potocari Cemetery, where they will be joined on Monday by the most recent victims to be identified.
The joint burial will include 581 victims of the 1995 fall of Srebrenica identified by ICMP, as well as some close relatives of those victims who were killed in other events during the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH).
For the families whose missing loved ones have not yet been identified, the anguish of uncertainty continues. But the painstaking work of finding and exhuming mass graves, of piecing together victims whose mortal remains have been spread over several grave sites by perpetrators trying to hide the bodies, of gathering blood samples from family members and extracting DNA profiles from bones to find the identities of the thousands of missing, is important for the society as a whole, as well as for the families.
“It is crucially important to establish the truth about what happened to the tens of thousands of persons missing from the conflicts in Bosnia and Herzegovina, especially because there is still a great deal of denial regarding these disappearances, including the approximately 8,500 persons missing from Srebrenica,” said ICMP Chief of Staff, Kathryne Bomberger. “As long as the governments and society here cannot address the fact that these horrors were committed during the conflict, the future reconciliation of this country will be severely hampered.”
Along with its pioneering scientific work in identification of the missing, ICMP is working with governments, local missing persons institutions, family members and other stakeholders, helping to build the political will to find comprehensive and sustainable national solutions to the missing persons issue in Bosnia-Herzegovina. One major ICMP initiative has been the establishment of the Missing Persons Institute (MPI), which will be launched by the BiH Government as a state-level institution, allowing the State to assume responsibility from the current entity structures. The MPI will help to eliminate disagreement about numbers of missing from different ethnic groups and will search for missing citizens of Bosnia-Herzegovina regardless of their ethnic, religious or national origin.