SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — Thousands of people joined a peace march on Monday through forests in Bosnia in memory of the worst massacre in Europe since World War II.
The 100-kilomenter (60-mile) march traces a route taken by Bosnian Muslims while they fled the eastern Bosnian town of Srebrenica when it was captured by Bosnian Serbs during the war in the 1990s.
More than 8,000 men and boys were killed in and around the U.N.-protected enclave in July 1995. Although the massacre was branded genocide by international courts, Serbian and Bosnia Serb officials still deny that the worst kind of crime happened.
Many of those fleeing Srebrenica in scorching heat and without food or water were ambushed along the forest routes. They were either shot on the spot, or taken to collective centers where they were executed and thrown into mass graves.
“I took part in this march because I want to feel what they (the victims) felt when they did it,” teenager Zehrudin Bosnjakovic said. “It’s hard for me now, but I’m sure it was much harder for them back then.”
So far, the remains of more than 6,600 people have been found and buried at a memorial center near Srebrenica. The remains of 33 more victims will be put to rest on the 24th anniversary of the massacre next week.
“We have to work more to raise awareness of our people about the importance of this march,” said Mevludin Ibrisevic, a Bosnian refugee from Australia, who was among about 5,000 people taking part. “We have to relive the memories on those who have died while escaping.”