Bosnian, Serb and Croat veterans gathered near the northwestern town of Prijedor on Saturday to attend a commemoration and pay their respects to the Bosniak and Bosnian Croat victims of the war crimes committed there 28 years ago.
The veterans from the Army of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (ARBiH), The Croat Defence Council, (HVO), the Army of Republika Srpska (VRS) and the Croatian Army (HV) came together in an initiative by the Centre for Nonviolent Action, an organisation which has offices in Belgrade and Sarajevo and has organised numerous similar visits to commemorations for victims of all ethnic groups across the region.
Twenty-eight years ago, several hundred Bosniak and Bosnian Croat civilians were killed by Republika Srpska Army forces in an attack that began on July 23, 1992. A large number of the civilians were also taken to concentration camps around Prijedor and Sanski Most.
“We came, as veterans and peace activists, to honour all victims and send the message that war, which is horrific violence, should never happen again. As a human, I feel ashamed for all of these places where people have been killed, especially when they were helpless, be it civilians or prisoners,” said Amer Delic, a member of the Centre for Nonviolent Action and Bosnian Army veteran.
He added that veterans from Serbia’s Army also usually attend such gatherings but that they could not do so now because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Such atrocities represent a civilizational collapse. We express our deep respect for the victims in Brisevo and Zecovi, as well as for all their families, especially those who are still searching for their loved ones. As ex-combatants, we want to point out the importance of continuing to prosecute those responsible for these war crimes as well as finding the missing,” he said.
He added that veterans from Serbia’s Army also usually participate in such gatherings but that they were prevented from doing so now due to the coronavirus pandemic.