Thousands march to honor Srebrenica victims in Bosnia


Thousands of people from all over the world set off Saturday on a three-day peace march in Nezuk town near the Bosnian city of Tuzla to commemorate the 22nd anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide.

More than five thousand participants, who began gathering at the town since the early morning hours, will cover a total distance of approximately 100 kilometers (62 miles). The walk is expected to conclude at a cemetery in Potocari, a village in eastern Bosnia-Herzegovina, just northwest of Srebrenica town, where a funeral prayer and burial ceremony will be held for 71 genocide victims.

Participants will travel about 35 km each day to reach Potocari within the scope of the "Peace March" organized for the 13th time this year, and will be spending the nights at designated wooded areas. During the long walk, they will be also given details about the genocide and told of the memories of survivors who took the so-called "Death Road".

Camil Durakovic, chairman of the organizing committee, said that the peace march had turned into a global activity.

"People from all over the world are participating [in the walk] alongside the children and the grandchildren of those who were killed in 1995. The purpose of the peace march is to experience at least a bit of what Srebrenica victims went through on this path," said Durakovic.

Munir Habibovic, one of the representatives of the organizing committee, said that five to seven thousand people were expected to attend the march this year.

One of the participants, Edin Dzinalic from the city of Tesanj, said it was his 7th time participating in the march.

"I am participating to honor the people who lost their lives during the walk [in 1995]. It is easier to march when there is no one around to open fire on you," he added.

Since 2005, thousands of people have attended the Mars Mira (which means Peace March in local Bosnian language), which follows the same forest path that was used by Bosniaks when they were fleeing the Srebrenica genocide. The path from Srebrenica to Tuzla is commonly known as the "Death Road".

Srebrenica was besieged by Serb forces between 1992 and 1995 during the Bosnian War. Back then, Serb militias were trying to wrest territory from Bosnian Muslims and Croats to form their own state.

The UN Security Council had declared Srebrenica a "safe area" in the spring of 1993. However, Serb troops led by General Ratko Mladic-who now faces genocide charges at The Hague-overran the UN zone despite the presence of around 450 Dutch soldiers tasked with protecting innocent civilians as UN peacekeepers.

The Dutch troops failed to act as Serb forces occupied the area, killing about 2,000 men and boys on July 11 alone. Some 15,000 Srebrenica men fled into the surrounding mountains but Serb troops hunted down and slaughtered 6,000 of them in the forests.

A total of 6,504 victims lie buried at the Srebrenica Genocide Memorial in Potocari.

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