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Marking Bosnia massacre, Yazidis demand genocide recognition Open in fullscreen

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Marking Bosnia massacre, Yazidis demand genocide recognition

Bosnian Serb forces killed more than 8,000 men and boys at Srebrenica. [Getty]

Date of publication: 13 July, 2017

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Yazidis from Iraq on Tuesday joined commemorations in Bosnia for the 1995 massacre of thousands of Muslims, calling for IS atrocities against their community to be recognised as genocide.
A group of Yazidis from Iraq on Tuesday joined commemorations in Bosnia for the 1995 massacre of thousands of Muslims, calling for atrocities against their community by the Islamic State to be recognised as genocide.

Bosnian Serb forces killed more than 8,000 men and boys at Srebrenica near the end of Bosnia's war, with the massacre declared a genocide by two United Nations courts.

Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic was later prosecuted at the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague and jailed for 40 years.

The 2014 killings of thousands of Yazidis by IS militants in Sinjar have been called a genocide by a UN commission but activists are demanding wider recognition which would also include prosecutions.

Thousands of Yazidi women were taken as slaves by IS, while many of those killed were buried alive.

"We have endured horrific abuse and persecution -- the Bosnian Muslims at the hands of Serbs and Yazidis at the hands of the Islamic State (IS) -- and we share the memories and recognise each others' feelings," Hussam Abdukah, a Yazidi lawyer who is documenting the IS crimes, told Reuters.

Tuesday's commemoration marked 22 years since the killings at Srebrenica, with 71 newly identified victims buried at a cemetery near the town, bringing the total number interred to 6,575.

Serbian forces dumped the victims' bodies in mass graves but later dug them up and scattered them to conceal the crime, with more than 1,000 men and boys still missing.

The massacre was Europe's worst atrocity since World War Two.

The Yazidi activists said they hoped to use the experiences of families in Srebrenica to build cases against IS militants which could be used in international criminal courts.

"We urge the international community that just like in Srebrenica it helps open mass graves and build cases because we fear that traces of the crime might stay hidden," said Basma Naji, who fled Sinjar just hours before the attack.

Dozens of lower-ranking Bosnian Serb officials were jailed over the massacre, but most Serbs strongly deny it was a genocide and regard Karadzic and military chief Mladic as heroes.

Yazidis will commemorate the Sinjar massacre in August.

A 2016 AP survey of mass graves in Iraq estimated that up to 15,000 people had been buried in 72 mass graves by IS militants.

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