TEHRAN (Dispatches) -- Iran's Foreign Minister Muhammad Javad Zarif says the worst mass killing of Muslims in Bosnia more than two decades ago "mustn’t be forgotten”.
As thousands of Bosnians gathered to commemorate the 24th anniversary of the massacre Thursday, the Iranian minister took to Twitter, describing the killing of more than 8,000 Muslims as "the worst atrocity on the continent since WWII.”
"In this age of increasingly normalized anti-Muslim bigotry, such horrors MUST'NT be forgotten—not by Muslims, and not by Europeans,” Zarif said.
Relatives of the men and boys killed by Bosnian Serb troops were among those attending a ceremony at a memorial site that included the burial of 33 newly identified victims of the killings that took place July 11-22, 1995.
More than 1,000 are still considered missing from the mass slaughter during the Bosnian civil war.
Many victims were ambushed along forest routes while fleeing Srebrenica in scorching heat without food or water. They were either shot on the spot, or taken to collective centers where they were executed and thrown into mass graves.
Mevlid Halilovic, a relative of a victim, said many of the people who carried out the massacre were still at large. "Those who did this (killing) have to be punished," he said. "And it was all done by our (Serb) neighbors, those who live just around here."
Both Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic and military commander Ratko Mladic, who led troops that captured Srebrenica on July 11, 1995, were sentenced by a UN war crimes court to life in prison.
Although the mass killings were branded genocide by international courts, Serbian and Bosnia Serb officials refuse to use the term. They did not send official delegations to the commemoration on Thursday.
Nenad Popovic, an openly pro-Russian minister in Serbia's government, said in a statement that "there was no genocide in Srebrenica and Serbs will never accept to be stamped as genocidal people."
European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and EU enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn, however, issued a joint statement, calling the killings as "genocide.”
In the statement, they described the mass killing as "one of the darkest moments of humanity in modern European history.”
"There is no place for inflammatory rhetoric, for denial, revisionism or the glorification of war criminals,” said the statement. "Attempts to rewrite history in Bosnia and Herzegovina or anywhere are unacceptable,” it added.