Srebrenica Memorial Center marks the 20th anniversary of its official opening

The Srebrenica – Potočari Memorial Center, a memorial and cemetery for the victims of the 1995 genocide, this year marks the 20th anniversary of its official opening.

On this occasion, a special program will be organized in the former production hall of the battery factory in Srebrenica on September 20, and the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Memorial Center, Hamdija Fejzić, will address the participants of the event, followed by a video address by former US President Bill Clinton and Menachem Z. Rosensaft, Vice President of the World Jewish Congress.

Munira Subašić, president of the Association “Movement of Mothers of the Srebrenica and Žepa Enclaves”, Hasan Hasanović, a surviving witness of the genocide, Alice Nderitu, Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, and Amra Begić, assistant director of the Srebrenica Memorial Center, will also address the ceremony.

As part of the program, a short film produced by the Memorial Center – Video Archive 1992-1995 will be shown.

The Memorial Center was founded as a memorial complex whose role is to nurture and preserve the memory of the innocent victims of genocide, and which, at the same time, is a kind of reminder and admonition to future generations so that this would never happen again to anyone.

This memorial complex, located in Potočari near Srebrenica, was established by the Decision of the High Representative, and it was officially opened on September 20, 2003 by Bill Clinton, then President of the United States of America.

The High Representative passed the decision enacting the Law on the Srebrenica – Potočari Memorial Center, Memorial and Cemetery for the Victims of the 1995 Genocide in 2007. By that law, it was established as the legal successor of the original Foundation based in Potočari, and its official name was also defined.

In February of this year, the High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Christian Schmidt, amended the Law on the Srebrenica-Potočari Memorial Center, Memorial, and Cemetery for the Victims of the 1995 Genocide, which adapted the previous decision of the High Representative to facilitate the work of the Memorial Center.

This change allows unused funds originally intended for burials to be used for other purposes, with the prior consent of the donor.

In March 2003, the first collective funeral and burial of the first 600 identified victims of genocide took place. During 2003, three collective funerals for victims of genocide were held in the Srebrenica Memorial Center, and after the first funeral on March 31, when 600 victims of genocide were buried, the second funeral followed on July 11, when 282 victims were buried, and the third collective funeral on September 20 funeral when 107 people were buried.

So far, 6,751 victims of genocide have been buried in the Srebrenica – Potočari Memorial Center, while 250 victims were buried in local cemeteries by the decision of the surviving family members.

As an institution of the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Memorial Center maintains continuous cooperation with numerous organizations, and centers in the region and beyond, advocating for the realization of the fundamental determinants of its activities.

As part of this center, there is also a library, one of the largest in this part of the country, which has relevant literature related to the genocide against Bosniaks in the so-called ‘UN Safe Area’.

The Research Archive is also in operation, which works on collecting personal items, photographs and documents, as well as establishing communication with family members of genocide victims.

Among other things, since 2007, the memorial room has had a permanent exhibit called “Black Room – Personal Stories” in which personal belongings of genocide victims, found in mass graves, are exhibited.

The Srebrenica Memorial Center pays special attention to ongoing research activities in the areas of the collection of personal belongings of victims of genocide and testimony, as well as analysis of relevant judgments and prosecutions of those responsible for genocide and crimes against humanity.