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House Unanimously Adopts Smith Resolution Defining Srebrenica Massacre as Genocide

“By adopting this resolution, we make it clear that the United States will never again stand by and silently witness the horrific acts of brutality, wanton cruelty, and mass murder that characterize a genocide such as the one that took place at Srebrenica two decades ago.”

Rep. Chris Smith
Author of H. Res. 310, defining the Srebrenica massacre as a genocide

WASHINGTON—Ahead of the 20th anniversary of the 1995 massacre at Srebrenica during the Bosnian war on July 11, the U.S. House of Representatives went on record defining the massacre as a “crime of genocide” by unanimously passing legislation sponsored by Helsinki Commission Chair Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04).

H. Res. 310 affirms that the policies of aggression and ethnic cleansing implemented by Serb forces in that country constituted genocide, and condemns statements denying that the massacres meet the definition of genocide.

“By adopting this resolution, we make it clear that the United States will never again stand by and silently witness the horrific acts of brutality, wanton cruelty, and mass murder that characterize a genocide such as the one that took place at Srebrenica two decades ago,” said Rep. Smith.

The legislation passed Wednesday also urges the Atrocities Prevention Board—an interagency organization charged with helping the U.S. government identify and address atrocity threats—to issue guidance on preventing future genocides, and encourages the United States to continue to support the independence and territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as peace and stability in southeastern Europe as a whole.

The July 1995 massacre of more than 8,000 men and boys at Srebrenica was one of the worst atrocities to occur in the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina between April 1992 and November 1995, during which period more than 2,000,000 people were displaced, more than 100,000 were killed, and tens of thousands were raped or otherwise tortured and abused. In addition to being the primary victims at Srebrenica, individuals with Bosniak heritage comprise the vast majority of the victims during the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina as a whole, especially among the civilian population.

Since 1995, Rep. Smith has worked to see that the perpetrators of the horrific acts at Srebrenica are punished and that closure is provided to survivors and victims’ families. In 2005, he authored H. Res. 199, which clearly and unambiguously condemned the Srebrenica massacre as a genocide and was passed with overwhelming support in the U.S. House of Representatives.  In July 2007, Rep. Smith visited Srebrenica to witness the tragic aftermath of the genocide for himself.

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