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On The 12th Anniversary of the Srebrenica Genocide

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

ON THE 12TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE SREBRENICA GENOCIDE -- (Extensions of Remarks - July 12, 2007)

* Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Madam Speaker, this week the world paused to remember and reflect on the horrific acts of brutality, wanton cruelty and mass murder committed in Srebrenica a mere 12 years ago.

* On Sunday, I joined a distinguished group of leaders and survivors to honor those brave Bosniaks who suffered and died--victims of the genocide.

* Among those who led the solemn ceremony was Dr. Mustafa Ceric, the Reis-ul-Ulema, President of the Council of Ulema in Bosnia. Reis Ceric is an inspiring man of God and internationally recognized as a man of peace and extraordinary compassion--and a friend.

* Also there was President Haris Silajdzic, a Bosnian leader I have known and deeply respected since the early 90s. Dr. Silajdzic, throughout the darkness and moral confusion of the Balkan war was a powerful, persistent, reasonable and dynamic voice for peace, human rights, the rule of law and accountability for genocide.

* In my remarks, I tried to convey to our Bosnian friends that Americans and others of goodwill throughout the world again extend their deepest condolences and respect to the mothers and surviving family members who have endured unspeakable sorrow and loss that time will never abate. I assured the survivors of our earnest prayers.

* Madam Speaker, the international community must recommit itself to apprehending and bringing to justice once and for all those who perpetrated these heinous crimes, including Mladic and Karadzic.

* Justice is the essential prerequisite to sustainable reconciliation. No matter how long it takes, we must never tire or grow weary in the pursuit of justice. Renewal and a further consolidation of democracy must be rooted in systemic reform, including police reform. Perhaps some of the lessons learned from successful initiatives in Northern Ireland might have application there.

* Looking back, it is almost beyond comprehension that the Srebrenica genocide occurred at all.

* Future historians, Madam Speaker, will be hard pressed to ever understand how a UN Security Council designated ``safe area,'' guarded by a significant deployment of UN peacekeepers, backed up by NATO's superior air power, could have capitulated in the face of unmitigated evil and enabled one of the most despicable acts in human history.

* After Bosnian Serb forces attacked elements of UNPROFOR beginning in early July 1995, a series of gross miscalculations, mistakes and betrayal quickly led to the systematic slaughter of over 8,000 Bosniaks, mostly men.

* Adding unnecessary insult to injury some in the international community further exacerbated matters by employing euphemisms that masked the reality of the genocide. Somehow, they just couldn't utter the word genocide.

* Nevertheless, the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia found ``beyond any reasonable doubt that a crime of genocide was committed in Srebrenica.'' More recently, the verdict of the International Court of Justice that genocide occurred in Srebrenica begs the question: What are the consequences?

* Two years ago, I authored a resolution that overwhelmingly passed the U.S. Congress that clearly and unambiguously condemned the Srebrenica genocide and stated in part that ``all persons indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) should be apprehended and transferred to The Hague without further delay, and all countries should meet their obligations to cooperate fully with the ICTY at all times .....''

* Madam Speaker, the genocideurs would like nothing better than that we forget. And that, of course, is something we cannot do. Ever.

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