Bosnian Serb leader says Srebrenica atrocity a 'myth'

Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Milorad Dodik, pictured in March, accuses the Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Milorad Dodik, pictured in March, accuses the country’s Muslim community and the wider world of propagating a “myth” in viewing the 1995 killings in Srebrenica as genocide AFP/EMMANUEL DUNAND

SARAJEVO: Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik on Friday (Apr 12) accused the country’s Muslim community and the wider world of propagating a “myth” in viewing the 1995 killings in Srebrenica as genocide.

“Every people needs a myth – and the Bosnians didn’t have any. They tried to construct the myth of Srebrenica. It is a false myth – this myth doesn’t exist,” Dodik told broadcaster RTRS.

Bosnia has comprised two entities – Serb-run Republika Srpska and the Muslim-Croat Federation – since the 1992-1995 war ended.

But Srebrenica remains emblematic of the worst excesses of that conflict with more than 8,000 men and young boys massacred by Bosnian Serb forces.

Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic earlier this year had a 2016 life sentence confirmed for war crimes and the killings in the enclave, the worst bloodshed in Europe since World War II.

While most Serbian leaders both in Serbia itself and Bosnia do not deny a massacre occurred some do call into question the death toll at Srebrenica and reject that what happened there was genocide.

Dodik, elected last year as the Serbian member in the tripartite Bosnian presidency alongside Bosnian and Croatian counterparts, was speaking Friday at a conference entitled “Srebrenica, reality and manipulations” organised in the Bosnian Serb capital of Banja Luka.

Despite his critical comments, he did acknowledge, however, that what happened at Srebrenica comprised “terrible suffering which showed all the agony and the cruelty of the war,” which left around 100,000 people dead.

The Bosnian Serb government in February set up an international commission of enquiry into wartime crimes in and around Srebrenica, including by Bosnians against Serbs.