By Zuleikha Ahmed
A United Nations Court, on June 8, upheld the conviction of the Bosnian Serb military chief and war criminal Ratko Mladic for crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide, committed during the Bosnian war.
The International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals at The Hague rejected Mladic’s appeal, confirming his life sentence.
Since World War II, the slaughter and the worst single atrocities in Europe led media globally to call Ratko Mladic the ‘Butcher of Bosnia’. He monitored the siege of Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia, for more than three years, and his snipers and shells killed thousands of men, women and children in the streets and homes. The notorious 1995 massacre of about 8,000 Muslim boys and men in Srebrenica is his legacy.
Alma Begic spoke to Radio Islam International about the response to Mladic’s life sentence.
Although Mladic has received a life sentence, his ideology lives on. During his time in prison recently, he was allowed to propagate the same through his writings and other platforms available to him. This has been curtailed; however, he still has the time and means to produce his opus, which will be read and consumed for generations to come.
She explains how the war has affected people, particularly those who lived through the atrocities. Many are still living close to their rapists and murderers of their family members. And for the younger generations, whose memories may not be as vivid, they have inherited the state’s social, political and economic stagnation, impacting their daily lives.
Even those who have left Bosnia still grapple with what the future may hold for them, their country and their family members left behind.
On the topic of whether younger Serbs show remorse and accept responsibility for the crimes against humanity, genocide and atrocities committed against the Bosnians – the short answer was no.
Those few brave souls who did try to hold the government accountable were forced to keep quiet or exiled.
Begic says that although progress has been made in highlighting the Bosnians’ plight, most people are only just learning how to mobilise. She added that the younger generation is not taught about the genocide, as many parents choose not to talk to their children about the genocide. This means that the youth are growing up in a vacuum, as their family members don’t relive the horrors.
For Bosnians living abroad, there is a broken link between the diaspora and the homeland. Begic says organisations are trying to find solutions to fix this, but the divide is vast and will take time to mend.
Listen to the interview here