Cabinet to vindicate Dutchbat soldiers for fall of Srebrenica
The Dutchbat soldiers who had to guard the Bosnian enclave of Srebrenica when it fell in 1995 will get their honor restored by the Dutch government, a Defense spokesperson confirmed after reports by De Telegraaf. Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren will express their “recognition and appreciation” to the soldiers and endorse that they had been sent on an impossible mission.
The Cabinet members will address hundreds of soldiers at the Oranjekazerne in Schaarsbergen on Saturday. Onno Eichelsheim, the country’s highest-ranking soldier, will also attend. The Defense spokesperson could not say whether the Cabinet will also apologize to the soldiers.
The Cabinet previously promised to vindicate the soldiers, following advice from a committee led by Hans Borstlap. Due to the coronavirus measures, it was impossible to have the ceremony take place sooner.
After Borstlap’s advice, the Cabinet already gave the Dutchbat veterans an amount of 5,000 euros. The Cabinet will also ensure that veterans can visit Srebrenica again if they need to process what happened.
The Borstlap Committee concluded that a majority of the Dutchbat soldiers did not feel sufficiently supported by Defense, the Cabinet, and society. The media also painted a too negative image of the mission, according to many veterans.
The siege of Srebrenica ended in genocide. Over 8,000 Muslim men and boys were slaughtered by Bosnian Serb troops. The Dutch Blue Helmets could not prevent this mass murder. Many Dutchbat soldiers still struggle with the psychological problems resulting from that.