“Some of those I saw lying by the water I now see in coffins,” he said.
Serbian President Boris Tadic was the first dignitary to arrive Sunday, saying he was coming in an “act of reconciliation.” Some in the crowd yelled “Bravo, Boris!” while others asked “Where is Mladic?” — a reference to former Bosnian Serb general Ratko Mladic, who led the Serb troops into Srebrenica.
“I wish to welcome you, we are receiving you in peace,” Kada Hotic, a representative of the Srebrenica widows, told Mr. Tadic while he held her hands.
Mladic and former Bosnian Serb president Radovan Karadzic were indicted on charges of genocide for the Srebrenica massacre by the U.N. war-crimes tribunal in 1995. Mr. Karadzic is now on trial at the tribunal in The Hague while Mladic is still a fugitive, presumably hiding in Serbia.
Mr. Tadic said he “will do everything” to apprehend all war-crimes suspects in Serbia.
Other guests included Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Slovenian President Danilo Tuerk, Montenegrin President Filip Vujanovic, Austrian diplomat and Bosnian administrator Valentin Inzko, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and representatives of the European Union.
The U.S. ambassador to Bosnia, Charles English, read a message from President Obama that urged “governments to redouble their efforts” and arrest those responsible for the war crimes at Srebrenica.
Mr. Obama called the Srebrenica genocide a “stain on our collective consciousness” that occurred even after decades of pledges of “never again” after Nazi atrocities during World War II.
The Bosnian Serbs were represented at the ceremony by a low-level delegation, headed by the deputy president of their ministate within Bosnia. In a deliberate snub, Karadzic’s Serb Democratic Party honored him Saturday at a ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of the party’s founding.
All but one of the victims buried Sunday were Muslims. Rudolf Hren’s grave will so far be the only one marked with a Catholic cross.
“They asked me if I wanted him to be buried elsewhere because this is mainly a Muslim graveyard,” said his mother, Barbara Hren. “He died with them. Let him rest with them.”