(Washington) - Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), Co-Chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, and Rep. Ben Cardin (D-MD), Commission Ranking Member, called today for all Americans to join the tens of thousands who have gathered together to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre. The Members also drew attention to recent passage by the House of Representatives of House Resolution 199 expressing the sense of the Congress that the tragedy was an act of genocide.
“Srebrenica involved the bloodiest atrocities in Europe since the end of the Second World War, and we cannot forget what happened,” said Smith. “The fact that the Serbian regime of Slobodan Milosevic backed this brutal act of ethnic cleansing should be a warning to the whole world that even at the end of a bloody century, evil men are still doing evil things and the free world must be on watch and prepared to act.”
The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Commission, is a U.S. Government agency that monitors progress in the implementation of the provisions of the 1975 Helsinki Accords. The Commission consists of nine members from the United States Senate, nine from the House of Representatives, and one member each from the Departments of State, Defense and Commerce.
“When you look at the Genocide Convention, and when you hear what happened in Srebrenica ten years ago, you can only agree with the Appeals Chamber at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) that what happened was genocide,” added Rep. Cardin.
In July of 1995, 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were executed by Serb forces in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica. H.Res. 199, sponsored by Rep. Smith, expresses the collective sense of the House of Representatives that the massacre was an act of ethnic cleansing, that the United Nations failed to intervene, and that the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia should punish those guilty of the atrocity. The resolution also reaffirms that it is in the interests of the United States to support the independence and territorial integrity of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
“Though a cliché, justice delayed is truly justice denied. It is well past time that all persons who have been indicted by the ICTY should be apprehended and tried without further delay,” added Smith.
“Twenty-three people have been indicted for genocide by The Hague. Regardless of individual guilt or innocence, the legitimacy of the charges of genocide is not in question. When we add what happened at Srebrenica to what transpired in Foca, Brcko, the Prijedor region and so many other places, is there any doubt that what happened was not 100,000 murders, as one official put it at the time, but the first genocide in Europe since 1945,” noted Cardin.
A resolution similar to H.Res 199, Senate Resolution 134, was introduced by Commissioner Senator Gordon Smith (R-OR) and was passed in the Senate in mid-June.
Media Contact: James E. Geoffrey, II