The Dutch government on Monday apologized to Bosniak families who lost their relatives in the 1995 Srebrenica genocide in eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren offered the apology at the 27th commemoration of the genocide at the cemetery in Potocari in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“The Netherlands was one of them. Despite everything, Srebrenica was crushed ... The Netherlands is also a part of this failure. For this reason, we offer you our deepest apologies. It connected the Netherlands forever,” said Ollongren.
She said that international institutions have promised to protect innocent people.
“The international community failed to protect the people of Srebrenica. As part of this community, the Dutch government shares political responsibility for the situation in which this failure could have happened. We cannot take away the suffering. But what we can do is look history straight in the eye,” said Ollongren.
In a lawsuit filed in 2007 by the relatives of the victims against the Dutch government, The Hague District Court found The Netherlands guilty of handing over 300 Bosniak civilians to the Serbs who took refuge with Dutch soldiers and the United Nations during the occupation of Srebrenica.
More than 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were killed when Bosnian Serb forces attacked the eastern town of Srebrenica in July 1995, despite the presence of Dutch peacekeeping troops.
The Serb forces were trying to wrest territory from Bosnian Muslims and Croats to form a state.
The UN Security Council had declared Srebrenica a "safe area" in the spring of 1993. However, troops led by Gen. Ratko Mladic, who was later found guilty of war crimes, and crimes against humanity and genocide, overran the UN zone.
Dutch troops failed to act as Serb forces occupied the area, killing some 2,000 men and boys on July 11 alone.
Around 15,000 residents of Srebrenica fled to the surrounding mountains, but Serb troops hunted down and killed 6,000 more people.
The bodies of victims have been found from 570 places across the country.
In 2007, the International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled that genocide had been committed in Srebrenica.
On June 8, 2021, UN tribunal judges upheld in a second-instance trial a verdict sentencing Mladic to life in prison for the genocide, persecution, crimes against humanity, extermination and other war crimes in Bosnia-Herzegovina./aa