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Srebrenica will rename the streets ignoring the genocide

Srebrenica will rename the streets ignoring the genocide

Serb members of the Srebrenica Municipal Council have voted to rename many of the city's streets to honor the Serb victims of the war, while ignoring the massacre of 8,000 Bosniak men and boys in 1995.

Despite international demands to reconsider the plan and after a boycott by Bosniak members of the council, the proposal to rename 25 streets in Srebrenica and the neighboring village of Skelani was approved on April 15.

This decision has been described by critics as another attempt to erase the history of the greatest atrocity in Europe since the Second World War.

According to the plan, a square and part of a street have been renamed "Republika Srpska", in honor of the name of the Serbian entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Another street will be renamed after a controversial Serbian commander from the First World War.

The July 1995 massacre, which was carried out by Bosnian Serb forces, has been declared genocide by the former International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the International Court of Justice.

So far, more than 50 people have been sentenced to over 700 years in prison for genocide and other crimes in Srebrenica.

Radovan Karadzic, the first president of the Republika Srpska [1992/1995], the predominantly Serb entity that together with the Bosnian and Croat federations make up Bosnia, was sentenced to life in prison for genocide and other crimes, including at Srebrenica.

The Republika Srpska army commander at the time, Ratlko Mlladić, is serving a life sentence for genocide as well.

The controversial proposal was approved despite the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) calling for a "transparent and comprehensive solution" to the naming of streets in Srebrenica.

Last month, the OSCE mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina welcomed the Streets for Peace Project, an initiative by the city's youth to rename streets using inclusive and neutral names, such as "Street of the Future", "Street of Tolerance" and "Children of Srebrenica".

The decision comes ahead of a UN General Assembly debate on April 17, where a UN resolution to declare July 11 as the International Day of Remembrance of the 1995 Srebrenica Genocide will be discussed, which it is expected to be voted on May 2.

The resolution is partly similar to the resolution on the Rwandan genocide, where around 800,000 Tutsis and Hutus were killed. Its draft was developed by a group of countries, including Rwanda, Germany, France and the United States.

The resolution was opposed by Milorad Dodik, the pro-Russian leader of the Republika Srpska, who threatened that, if the resolution is approved, "the Republika Srpska will withdraw from the decision-making process in Bosnia."

Under the new plan, Srebrenica City Park will be renamed "Kosta Todorovic Park", in honor of the Chetnik commander from World War I.

The Chetniks were Serbian paramilitary and transnationalist groups who first fought against the Ottoman Empire during the Balkan Wars of 1912 and 1913, as well as during the First World War.

During World War II, Chetnik forces committed war crimes in Bosnia, including mass killings and executions.

Some Serbian paramilitary and military formations called themselves Chetniks even during the wars in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo in the 90s./ REL

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