Balkans and war crimes: Dutch government apologizes to Srebrenica military veterans – BBC News

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The Dutch government has apologized to thousands of its own ex-soldiers sent to defend Srebrenica during the Bosnian war.

The Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Mark Rutte, said that the soldiers were not equipped to prevent the massacre and that they were given an “impossible task”.

In July 1995, some 8,000 Bosniak men were massacred by Bosnian Serb forces.

In previous years, the Dutch authorities insisted that the United Nations was to blame for not providing air support.

But speaking to military veterans at a base in the central Netherlands, Prime Minister Ruth accepted their claims that they had problems because “their mandate, their equipment and military support during the mission were” inadequate “and made it” impossible to complete the task “.

“Today, I apologize on behalf of the Dutch government to all women and men of the Third Battalion.

“I apologize to all of you here, as well as to those who are not here today,” Rute told veterans.

“With the greatest possible respect and esteem for the way in which the battalion continued to try to do the right thing, in very difficult circumstances, even when it was really no longer possible,” the Prime Minister pointed out.

In addition to the apology, the soldiers from Srebrenica were awarded by Kasja Olongren, the Minister of Defense Kasja Olongren.

In July 1995, thousands of Bosniaks fled to Srebrenica, a UN Security Zone.

A battalion of Dutch soldiers with light weapons defended the city and they could not resist the advance of the Republika Srpska army.

After forcing the Dutch forces to surrender, the Bosnian Serb army, under the control of General Ratko Mladic, separated the men and boys aged 12 to 77 because, as they said at the time, “interrogations”.

Over the next five days, they were executed and buried in mass graves.

The state of Serbia denied that the killings were part of a genocide plan, but accepted that a crime had been committed.

Rutte’s apology came a year after the publication of a report containing recommendations on how to support members of battalions battling post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

In 2019, the Dutch Supreme Court ruled that the Netherlands was partly responsible for the deaths of about 350 men in the Srebrenica massacre because those men were transferred from their base despite learning that they were in serious danger of being tortured or killed by Serb forces.


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Exhibition of footwear of the victims of Srebrenica
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