Genocide in Srebrenica: The Netherlands apologizes to veterans

Status: 06/18/2022 18:57

Almost 27 years after the Srebrenica genocide, the Dutch government asked the forgiveness of its own soldiers to protect the Bosnian enclave in 1995: they were asked to be “almost impossible”.

Almost 27 years after the Srebrenica genocide, the Dutch government has apologized to UN peacekeepers based there to protect Bosnian Muslims. In July, Dutchbat III troops attacked heavily armed troops of Bosnian Serb General Ratko Mladic, who later killed 8,000 people – targeting men and boys.

At a memorial event with hundreds of battalion veterans, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said that after almost 27 years, “still a few words have not been said.” “Today, on behalf of the Dutch government, I apologize to all the women and men in Dutchbat III, including you and those who cannot be here today,” Rutte said. “With the utmost recognition and respect for how Duchbat III tried to do good in difficult circumstances, even if it was no longer possible.”

Study-supported assessment

The ceremony followed the publication of last year’s study of the experience of approximately 850 Dutchbat III members. She recommended a “collective gesture” for “a perceived lack of recognition and gratitude given the extraordinary circumstances in which the almost impossible was demanded (by the Dutch peacekeeping force)”.

The Netherlands has long struggled with the burden of the Srebrenica genocide. In 2002, then-Prime Minister Wim Kok resigned after a report sharply criticized the Netherlands for sending troops to the danger zone without an adequate mandate and without the equipment needed to protect some 30,000 Bosnian Muslim refugees.

For years, soldiers have been accused of cowardice and failure. In addition, veterans’ post-traumatic disorders were not identified. Many of them felt disappointed.

The court granted the Netherlands complicity

In 2019, the Supreme Court ruled that the Netherlands was partly responsible for the deaths of approximately 350 Muslim men. The men were evacuated from their base by the Dutch on July 13, 1995, even though they knew they were “in serious danger of ill-treatment (by Bosnian Serbs) and murder.”

The United Nations has also been criticized for not allowing NATO airstrikes in support of the lightly armed Dutch peacekeeping force.

The Srebrenica genocide is considered the worst war crime committed on European soil since World War II. Bosnian Serb youth and leader Radovan Karadzic was sentenced to life in prison as war criminals.

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