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In Photos: Laying to Rest Srebrenica Victims Two Decades After the Massacre

Photographer Srdjan Veljovic documented a somber ceremony that saw 136 Srebrenica victims buried on the 20th anniversary of the massacre.
Imagen por Srdjan Veljovic/VICE News

On July 11, 1995, Bosnian Serb military forces led by General Ratko Mladic descended on Srebrenica, a predominantly Muslim town that the United Nations had designated as a safe haven during the conflict. The soldiers proceeded to slaughter some 8,000 Muslim men and boys.

The mass killing, which happened just months before the war drew to a close, has been called the worst atrocity committed on European soil since World War II. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) recently reopened Mladic's war crimes case. The case of Radovan Karadzic, also known as the Bosnian Butcher, Mladic's former boss and the alleged mastermind behind the Serbian atrocities, is also pending. On July 8, Russia vetoed a UN resolution condemning the Srebrenica massacre as genocide, calling the resolution "anti-Serb."


Related: Bosnian Mass Grave Provides New Evidence in Military Chief's Genocide Trial

On Saturday, a commemoration ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of the massacre was nearly overshadowed by the crowd's reaction to the presence of Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic. A Serbian ultranationalist during the war, Vucic once declared, "For every killed Serb, we will kill 100 Bosniaks." After Vucic placed a flower at a monument to the victims, onlookers pelted him with bottles and other debris, forcing him to flee the scene.

To date, 6,930 victims of the massacre have been identified. On Saturday, coffins carrying remains of 136 victims — dug out from dozens of mass graves scattered around Srebrenica — were buried in the memorial center in Potocari, a former UN peacekeepers base where women and children separated from their male relatives tried to find shelter in 1995.

Photographer Srdjan Veljovic documented the somber event, turning his camera toward relatives and friends of the victims.

Coffins holding the remains of 136 victims to be buried lined up during the memorial service.

Relatives of the victims awaiting the prayer before the burial.

Families gathering before the ceremony.

People walking to the burial site.

Women gathering for a silent prayer.

A prayer before the burial.

Local officials and relatives during the ceremony.

Observing a minute of silence before the burial.

Graves at the Potocari memorial center.

Buses with families and friends of the victims.

A man resting before the ceremony.Bosnian police maintained a presence at the event.

Families and friends awaiting the start of the ceremony in the memorial center, a former UN peacekeepers base.

People watched speeches given by world dignitaries during the ceremony.Some relatives who fled to other countries during the war returned for the ceremony.

People watching a broadcast of the ceremony, which was attended by former US President Bill Clinton.

Women looking for the coffins carrying remains of their relatives.Resting before the ceremony.

A man crying at the coffin containing the remains of his father.

Women trying to comfort a crying man.Relatives preparing to carry coffins.

Men carrying coffins to the burial site.

A local imam leading the procession to the burial site.A woman praying in front of the grave of her relatives.

Tombstones set at freshly dug graves.

The burial of one victim.

Men sitting in prayer after the burial.

Women praying after the burial.Police escorting dignitaries after the ceremony.

A road leading into the former UN base now turned into memorial center.

All photos by Srdjan Veljovic

Related: Video Shows Serbian PM Fleeing Srebrenica Memorial as Crowd Pelts Him With Debris