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Former President Clinton speaks at the opening of the memorial center dedicated to the more than 7,500 Bosnian Muslims killed after Bosnian Serbian military forces overran the U.N.-protected haven of Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, on July 11, 1995. Next to Clinton is Advija Ibrahimovic, representative of the surviving families, who was only 10 years old when she lost most of her family. Mothers of Srebrenica, an association of survivors, invited Clinton to open the memorial that serves as a place for survivors to pray for their loved ones who were killed more than eight years ago, when the war in Bosnia was raging.

Former President Clinton speaks at the opening of the memorial center dedicated to the more than 7,500 Bosnian Muslims killed after Bosnian Serbian military forces overran the U.N.-protected haven of Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, on July 11, 1995. Next to Clinton is Advija Ibrahimovic, representative of the surviving families, who was only 10 years old when she lost most of her family. Mothers of Srebrenica, an association of survivors, invited Clinton to open the memorial that serves as a place for survivors to pray for their loved ones who were killed more than eight years ago, when the war in Bosnia was raging. (Ivana Avramovic / S&S)

Former President Clinton speaks at the opening of the memorial center dedicated to the more than 7,500 Bosnian Muslims killed after Bosnian Serbian military forces overran the U.N.-protected haven of Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, on July 11, 1995. Next to Clinton is Advija Ibrahimovic, representative of the surviving families, who was only 10 years old when she lost most of her family. Mothers of Srebrenica, an association of survivors, invited Clinton to open the memorial that serves as a place for survivors to pray for their loved ones who were killed more than eight years ago, when the war in Bosnia was raging.

Former President Clinton speaks at the opening of the memorial center dedicated to the more than 7,500 Bosnian Muslims killed after Bosnian Serbian military forces overran the U.N.-protected haven of Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, on July 11, 1995. Next to Clinton is Advija Ibrahimovic, representative of the surviving families, who was only 10 years old when she lost most of her family. Mothers of Srebrenica, an association of survivors, invited Clinton to open the memorial that serves as a place for survivors to pray for their loved ones who were killed more than eight years ago, when the war in Bosnia was raging. (Ivana Avramovic / S&S)

Family members of Muharem Masic weep as a woman hugs the headstone at his burial in Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Masic and 106 other identified victims of the Srebrenica massacre were buried Saturday.

Family members of Muharem Masic weep as a woman hugs the headstone at his burial in Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Masic and 106 other identified victims of the Srebrenica massacre were buried Saturday. (Ivana Avramovic / S&S)

SREBRENICA, Bosnia and Herzegovina — Former President Clinton opened a memorial site dedicated to victims of a massacre in Potocari, near Srebrenica, on Saturday. Afterward, about 30,000 people gathered at the petal-shaped memorial complex and burial site.

“Bad people who lusted for power killed those good people simply because of who they were,” Clinton said. “They sought power through genocide.”

Clinton, credited by many for ending the 3½-year Bosnian war, was invited by the Srebrenica survivors to open the memorial that will be the final resting place for more than 7,500 victims.

Including the 107 victims buried Friday, the memorial holds the bodies of some 1,000 identified victims of the July 1995 massacre. There have been three burials since March.

Advija Ibrahimovic, who was only 11 years old at the time of the atrocities, addressed the gathering Saturday.

“Your arrival today to Srebrenica is a proof that you have not forgotten this town, but also that you will not forget the reasons that bring you to this small place, which used to be a happy place, whom, unfortunately, history has assigned the role of a witness of human hatred and crime committed by the human being,” said Ibrahimovic, who lost most of her family.

Bosnian Muslims from the U.N.-protected safe haven rushed to the U.N. compound in Potocari after Bosnian Serbian forces took over the area on July 11, 1995. But instead of finding refuge, men and women were separated by the Serbian forces; the women were sent by bus to Tuzla and the men were taken away on trucks.

The identified bodies, almost all of them men, have been recovered from mass graves.

The two most-wanted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia — the wartime Bosnian Serbian president, Radovan Karadzic, and the military leader, Ratko Mladic — are still at large.

“Those most responsible for the atrocities, the leaders, have not been apprehended,” Clinton said. “The search for them must continue until they are.”

The Mothers of Srebrenica Association fought for years for a memorial site that would testify to the atrocities and would be a place where they could pray for their loved ones.

“Had we not demanded for our missing to be found, one day it would turn out like nothing had ever happened here,” said Hatidza Mehmedovic who waits for the day when her husband, two sons, two brothers and two cousins will be found.

“I have no one left,” she said. “I don’t have any more children. But still, this is a great day for me.”

The memorial complex is estimated to have cost around $5.8 million. But the surroundings still look grave.

“There is no life in Srebrenica, not just for the Muslims, but for the Serbs and everyone else too,” said Mehmedovic. “Instead of waiting for my sons to come knock on my door, I wait in Potocari for them to arrive in caskets.”

Long lines of vehicles snailed into the area, secured by the regular and special police force with Stabilization Force reinforcement. But their involvement was not necessary. The tears and cries of the families were the only disruptions in the peaceful event.


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