Apologies to the survivors of Srebrenica is a first step but insufficient

Image: G. de Graaf Bierbrauwer

July 14, 2022

The Dutch Peace organization PAX deems the “deepest apologies” that Dutch Defense Minister Ollongren conveyed today in Srebrenica to the survivors and next of kin of the victims of the Srebrenica genocide a positive first step, but insufficient.

It is a good thing that the minister has apologized on behalf of the Dutch government. In doing so, she goes beyond earlier statements made by Dutch ministers and prime ministers. “We should look history straight in the eyes”, the minister said today. That has to include acknowledging the mistakes that Dutchbat high-ranking officers and the Dutch government made in July 1995, not just apologies as ”part of the international community”. However, the minister today neglected to acknowledge specific Dutch mistakes. These mistakes though have been mentioned in countless witness statements of survivors and in many reports, and have been established in two rulings of the Supreme Court of The Netherlands. The Supreme Court ruled that The State of The Netherlands is responsible for the death of three men; and that the decision of Dutchbat command to send 350 men, who had been allowed onto the compound on 11 July, off the compound, two days later, was unlawful.

For PAX, the statement of the minister is at best a first step. PAX calls upon the Dutch government and parliament to initiate a series of serious meetings with survivors and next of kin of the victims of the Srebrenica genocide. These conversations should lead to a joint formulation of the key facts and the mistakes that have been made in Srebrenica.

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