Ashini Fernando

Mladić: is it over?

It has been more than 20 years since the Srebrenica massacre, the greatest genocide in Europe since the Second World War.

If, like me, you were born in the early 90’s you probably haven’t lived through it. You can’t remember what it meant to see the images of the massacre on the TV. Or what it meant to live through that hell. Unlike many of the victims and witnesses of the two World Wars, most of the people who witnessed the atrocities in Bosnia are still alive and still waiting for justice.

More than 8000 Muslims, mostly men and boys, died in 1995. More than 20 years later, only in 2017, Ratko Mladić, the commander of Bosnian Serb army, has been convicted of genocide. He was firstly indicted of genocide in July 1995 by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. He’s been hiding since 1997 thanks to the help from extremist supporters, who thought of him as a national hero. Only in 2011 he was finally arrested and appeared in court at a UN tribunal. Six years later thanks to almost 600 witnesses, the long trial conducted by the ICTY in The Hague finally came to an end with Mladić guilty of 10 charges: genocide, crimes against humanity and violation of the laws or customs of war.

What about the families of the victims or the survivors? They lost people their loved, their homes and much more. On top of that they had to wait decades to see justice finally act upon something horrendous. Can they now live in peace?

Mladić has been free for this long thanks to people who protected him. A whole town, where he lived until 2011, was complicit in him evading justice. What about these kinds of monsters? Those who think that Srebrenica was a right ‘cleansing’, those who called Mladić a national hero.

Srebrenica happened after the Second World War and Nuremberg trials. Isn’t it time that we finally learn something from history and put hatred away?

Genocides are still happening, we only don’t hear about them because they happen somewhere else. We must understand that these places are not that far away from us. Because once the people leave a war, they go where there’s peace. And then we can’t ignore it anymore, when they come asking for help. Finding a solution to hatred, politics and everything else that might bring to wars and genocides is not easy. After all, that’s always been a constant in the history of humankind, but understanding that there’s space for change is a small step that we can all take. We can’t force change, but we can show compassion and spread love.

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