Remembering Srebrenica

Riada Asimovic Akyol points out one of the many genocides we get to commemorate.

In July 1995 in Srebrenica, the Bosnian Serb forces committed genocide, by killing 8,000 Bosniak men and boys. What is more shameful is that Srebrenica was a protected UN safe area, but the Dutch peacekeepers who had the responsibility to protect around 30,000 refugees in the area failed to prevent the mass slaughter.

This wasn’t a battle; it was rounding people up and murdering them; murdering them for genocidal reasons.

The two main masterminds of the genocide are currently on trial at The Hague Court: The former president of Republika Srpska, Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, war general of the Army of Republika Srpska, also known as the butcher of the Balkans among those who don’t glorify him as war hero.

While trials continue and survivors of the genocide wait for just verdicts, ghastly statements re-emerge. On July 9, published news about the latest horrifying racist remarks by Colonel Luka Dragicevic during his testimony in Mladic’s trial. Dragicevic was an assistant commander in the VRS Sarajevo-Romanija Corps from November 1994 to the end of the war.

He said that “Serbians are genetically stronger, better, more beautiful and smarter” than Bosnian Muslims – whom he called poturice, a derogatory term for Balkan Muslims who converted to Islam after the Ottoman conquest.

This is why language matters, why ideas matter, why ideology matters, why media portrayals matter. This is why that whole huge difficult-to-track detailed category of human behavior is so crucially important, and why it’s such a mistake to treat it as “mere” anything. Ideas and words are what motivate actions and justify them afterwards.


  1. Claire Ramsey says

    Language matters. Word selection matters. Does anyone think that the nasty money-grubbing construction “access celebrities” was just some random production? Nope. Someone was paid to come up with that and spread it around. “Religious freedom” now means “permission to discriminate.” Not an accident either. Language and the ideas it is wrapped around matter.

    Language matters. Anyone who says it doesn’t has not been paying attention and/or is intentionally contrarian.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *