annual march of peace in commemoration of the victims of the march of death

Mars Mira - Photos from the March of Peace in Bosnia Herzegowina

In commemoration of the 1995 Srebrenica genocide

The Marš Mira (Bosnian: March of Peace) is an annual peace walk held from 8th to 10th July in Bosnia and Herzegovina organized by veterans in memory of the victims of the 1995 Srebrenica genocide. The first march was held in 2005, to mark the tenth anniversary of the genocide. The campaign lasts three days and from the village Nezuk near Sapna follows in backward direction the original exodus route of about 15.000 (some sources assume a number of over 20.000) bosniak men and boys who, after the fall of Srebrenica, in a forced march of 120km tried to reach the free territory of the Bosnian Free Army near Tuzla. While members of the Bosnian army were mostly able to pass without being attacked by the Serbian paramilitarian troups under the command of Ratko Mladic, the Serbs waylayed the civilians on many places, shot them or took them as prisoners, just to execute them later in surrounding villages. Many participants also capitulated out of hunger or exhaustion. The first men (mostly Bosnian army members) reached the free territory after three days, while the last survivors only arrived in the winter of 1995. From the 15.000 men and boys (some estimates go up to 20.000) who had fled from Srebrenica only about 4000 reached the free territory.

March of Peace commemorating the 1995 March of Death

The Mars Mira -March of Peace is leading through hilly area with dense vegetation, passing villages with destroyed houses and a considerable number of primary and secundary mass graves. Each day after about 40km march in brutal humid heat all the participants camp at a marked area out in the open. On the third day (July 10th) the march culminates with the arrival to the village Potocari, where the Srebrenica Genocide Memorial-Cemetery is located. There the male participants carry the coffins of the victims, who have been identified the year before, from the morgue to the cemetery. The annual funeral takes place the next day on July 11th.

The Mars Mira - Peace March became an international event since it was first initiated in 2005. Not only veterans and relatives of the victims participate, but a large number of people from around the world joined the March to pay their respect for the victims. In 2015, marking the 20th anniversary of the fall of Srebrenica, there were about 10000 participants.
Despite these high numbers of participants it is a sad fact that survivors of the Srebrenica genocide and their relatives after 22 years are still fighting for recognition and justice.
This quote of Amir Kulaglic, survivor and now advisor to the mayor of Srebrenica gets to the heart of it: “I thought that men could die just once, but after a genocide, you can die again. First, when your life is taken away. Again when your bones are transferred, but denial of victims is the last phase of genocide. Every day we spend in silence. It is a denial that you have existed as a human being.”

The Srecrenica Massacre

The Srebrenica massacre, also known as the Srebrenica genocide, was the genocidal killing, in July 1995, of more than 8,000 Muslim Bosniaks, mainly men and boys, in and around the town of Srebrenica during the Bosnian War.

The killings were perpetrated by units of the Bosnian Serb Army of Republika Srpska (VRS) under the command of General Ratko Mladic. The Scorpions, a paramilitary unit from Serbia, who had been part of the Serbian Interior Ministry until 1991, also participated in the massacre. In April 1993 the United Nations had declared the besieged enclave of Srebrenica—in the Drina Valley of northeastern Bosnia—a "safe area" under UN protection. However, in July 1995, UNPROFOR's 370 Dutchbat soldiers in Srebrenica failed to prevent the town's capture by the VRS — and the subsequent massacre.

Ruling of International Criminal Court in the Hague

In 2004, in a unanimous ruling on the case the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), located in the Hague, ruled that the massacre of the enclave's male inhabitants constituted genocide, a crime under international law. The ruling was also upheld by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 2007. The forcible transfer of between 25,000 and 30,000 Bosniak women, children and elderly which accompanied the massacre was found to constitute genocide, when accompanied with the killings and separation of the men.

In 2005, Kofi Annan, then Secretary-General of the United Nations described the mass murder as the worst crime on European soil since the Second World War, and in a message to the tenth anniversary commemoration of the massacre, he wrote that, while blame lay "first and foremost with those who planned and carried out the massacre and those who assisted and harboured them", the UN had "made serious errors of judgement, rooted in a philosophy of impartiality", describing Srebrenica as a tragedy that would haunt the history of the UN forever.

In 2006, in the Bosnian Genocide case held before the International Court of Justice, Serbia and Montenegro was cleared of direct responsibility for, or complicity in, the massacre, but was found responsible for not doing enough to prevent the genocide and not prosecuting those responsible, in breach of the Genocide Convention. The Preliminary List of People Missing or Killed in Srebrenica compiled by the Bosnian Federal Commission of Missing Persons contains 8,373 names. As of July 2012, 6,838 genocide victims have been identified through DNA analysis of body parts recovered from mass graves; as of July 2013, 6,066 victims have been buried at the Memorial Centre of Potocari.

In April 2013, Serbian President Tomislav Nikoli officially apologised for the massacre, although he stopped short of calling it genocide. In 2013 and 2014, the Netherlands was found liable in its own supreme court and in the Hague district court of failing in its duty to prevent more than 300 of the deaths. On 8 July 2015, Russia vetoed, by request of the Republika Srpska and Serbia, a UN resolution condemning the Srebrenica massacre as genocide, Serbia calling the resolution "anti-Serb". On 9 July 2015, both Members of the European Parliament (EP) and House of Representatives of the U.S. Congress adopted resolutions on Srebrenica reaffirming the description of the crime as genocide.