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Serb Mladic arrest revives Muslim pain of Srebrenica massacre

Source : Reuters
Srebrenica | 27 May 2011

Many victims recall vividly how Mladic presented himself to them as their protector, then slaughtered thousands.

Muslim mothers and relatives of men and boys slaughtered at Srebrenica in 1995 by troops under the command of Bosnian Serb General Ratko Mladic shed tears for their loved ones again on Thursday after his arrest.

"This represents a small bit of justice for my heart, my soul and my pain," said Sabaheta Fejzic, 55, who lost her only son, her husband and many other male relatives in the massacre.

Mladic was arrested after years on the run from genocide charges, opening the way for Serbia to join the European mainstream after years of isolation, and also ending years of agony for the families of his victims in Bosnia.

Many of them recall vividly how Mladic presented himself to them as their protector, then slaughtered thousands.

Bosnian Serb forces commanded by Mladic on July 11, 1995 took over the eastern enclave of Srebrenica that had been put under United Nations protection. Most residents had gathered at a U.N. compound, hoping the world body would keep them safe from the carnage all around.

"Mladic came and said not a hair on anyone's head would be touched," Fejzic recalled during an interview at the Mothers of Srebrenica Association office.

"Minutes later, the killings began."

She remembers screams, cries, rapes and slaughter.

"On July 13, deportations started. While we walked towards buses and trucks, they took away my child...I found him in a mass grave and buried him two years ago," Fejzic said.

"I could not protect my innocent child. All of this was the guilt of Ratko Mladic," Fejzic said, with tears in her eyes.

She is still searching for the body of her husband.

"Children killed"

The Bosnian Serb wartime general, along with his political chief Radovan Karadzic, was indicted twice over the Srebrenica genocide and also for the 1992-95 siege of Sarajevo in which more than 11,000 Muslim people were killed, 1,600 of them children.

"Nothing can bring back the Sarajevo children," Sarajevo Mayor Alija Behmen said.

Mladic gave direct orders for the 43-month shelling of Sarajevo from mountains above the city, which was besieged by the Bosnian Serb forces and left without food, water and electricity.

Bosnian Serbs still see him as a hero, reflecting differing views of the Bosnia war among its rival ethnic groups.

"I am shocked, I cannot believe it," a man in the Bosnian Serb wartime stronghold of Pale, near Sarajevo, who did not want to give his name, said after the arrest.

"I feel sorry for Mladic. He is the man who was, who is, and who will remain the Serb," he said.

But Kada Hotic, who lost a son, her husband and other male relatives in Srebrenica, said the arrest has proven that no one can go unpunished after committing heinous crimes.

"Nobody can be safe from the punishment after destroying other people's lives. It does not have to be through revenge, it can be through justice."


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