Netherlands offers "deepest apologies" for Srebrenica massacre
The Dutch government offered its "deepest apologies" to the relatives of the thousands of Muslim men and boys massacred in Srebrenica in 1995. Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren made the apology at the 27th commemoration of the genocide at the cemetery in Potocari in Bosnia and Herzegovina, NOS reports.
"The international community failed to protect the people of Srebrenica," Ollongren said. "As part of this community, the Dutch government shares political responsibility for the situation in which this failure could have happened." She continued: "We cannot take away the suffering. But what we can do is look history straight in the eye.
Srebrenica is the biggest war crime in Europe since the Second World War. A Dutch unit of soldiers, Dutchbat III, was stationed there to protect Muslim refugees as part of a UN peacekeeping mission. In July 1995, Bosnian Serb forces overran the enclave and slaughtered about 8,000 Muslim men and boys.
Ollongren can't imagine the "deep fear and insecurity" of the "people who desperately sought protection" at Srebrenica. She said that the terrible memory of this genocide must not disappear into history. "For your deep sorrow and your loss are forever present. They are here and now."
The Dutch Defense Minister said that only one party was to blame for the genocide, and that was the Bosnian Serb army. She spoke of the "great powerlessness" the UN soldiers felt when the enclave got overrun. Prime Minister Mark Rutte apologized to the Dutchbat soldiers last month.