SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — Thousands lined Sarajevo’s main street on Thursday as a huge truck bearing 136 coffins passed on its way to Srebrenica, where newly identified victims of Europe’s worst massacre since World War II will be buried on the 20th anniversary of the crime.
As the truck covered with a huge Bosnian flag and with hundreds of flowers tucked into the canvas rolled down the street covered with white rose petals, the sobbing of mothers, sisters and wives of the victims broke the silence.
It stopped in front of Bosnia’s presidency where the weeping crowd tucked more flowers into the canvas or simply approached it to touch it or caress the canvas that was hiding the remains of the victims found in mass graves and identified through DNA analysis.
On July 11, 1995, Serb troops overran the eastern Bosnian Muslim enclave of Srebrenica and executed some 8,000 Muslim men and boys. International courts labeled the crime an act of genocide.
The remains of Srebrenica victims are still being found in mass graves. So far some 7,000 victims have been excavated from 93 graves or collected from 314 on-surface locations and identified through DNA technology.
Edin Nuhic, who lost numerous male relatives in the massacre, has not yet found the remains of all of them. “All we can do is to think about them, to remember them and to hope that one day this country will find a way to move on,” he said.
Among the 136 victims to be laid to rest on Saturday are 18 minors. The oldest victim, Jusuf Smajlovic, was 75 when he was executed and he will be laid to rest together with his 29-year-old grandson, Hebib.
The truck also carried the coffins of father Ismet Mehmedovic and his three sons Fikret, 20, Rifet, 18, and Salih, 16.
Dozens of people walked next to the truck that was slowly passing through the capital, with more and more people tucking flowers in the canvas, the wheels and anywhere else they could reach.
In Srebrenica, organizers expect some 50,000 people to attend the funeral along with international delegations.
The United States, which led the military intervention and brokered Bosnia’s peace agreement that ended the country’s war after it claimed 100,000 victims, will be represented by a delegation led by former President Bill Clinton.
Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.