Bosnia: church near Srebrenica mass grave 'a provocation'

US calls on Serbs to desist from building church near Potocari

16 April, 20:16

    (ANSAmed) - SARAJEVO, APRIL 16 - The US Embassy in Sarajevo on Tuesday called on authorities from the Republika Srpska (RS - a Serbian-majority enclave in Bosnia) and from the Serbian Orthodox church to desist from building a church next to a recently excavated mass grave and in close proximity to the Potocari cemetery and memorial to the 8,000 Bosnian Muslim victims of a 1995 massacre carried out by Serbian forces in Srebrenica.

    ''Building a church far from residential areas but close to a mass grave and to a memorial to the victims of genocide in Srebrenica, is a provocation and does not serve to satisfy the legitimate needs of the faithful'', the US embassy said in a communique.

    Srebrenica municipality had extended an offer for other plots of land for the church that were closer to the Orthodox community of Dugo Polje village, the communique pointed out.

    The Muslim mayor of Srebrenica, Camil Durakovic, said the town had stopped construction of the church, but the decision was annulled by the RS authorities, of which Srebenica is now part. Construction resumed this morning, the mayor said, undermining the last years' efforts at reconciliation.

    ''This is an attempt to create the impression that we are against churches, which is not true. In spite of everything, the Orthodox church in the middle of Srebenica was not touched once, even during the war'', Durakovic said.

    Several Muslim donors have offered to contribute funds to the building of the church if it is built near where Serbs live, and where it is actually needed, the mayor pointed out.

    The Potocari cemetery houses 5,693 tombs of genocide victims, exhumed from 74 mass graves that have been found so far, and identified through DNA testing. Another 188 identified victims have been buried elsewhere on the families' request.

    (ANSAmed).

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