Bosnians to bury massacre victims today

Updated 11 July 2013
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Bosnians to bury massacre victims today

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina: Hundreds of people whispering Muslim prayers are lining Sarajevo’s main street as trucks bearing 409 coffins pass through on their way to Srebrenica, where the newly identified victims of Europe’s worst massacre since World War II will be buried.
Throngs of mourners reached out Tuesday to caress the canvas stretched over the coffins on three slow-moving trucks. When the vehicles stopped for a few minutes in front of the Bosnian Presidency building, people sobbed as they tucked in flowers.
The remains were identified through DNA tests and will be buried at a memorial center near Srebrenica yesterday, the 18th anniversary of the Serb massacre of over 8,000 Srebrenica Muslim men and boys, which the International Court of Justice calls a genocide.
The 1992-95 Bosnian war claimed over 100,000 lives.
The convoy was taking the coffins to the small village of Potocari near Srebrenica, where the victims will be buried in a ceremony.
In a silent tribute, relatives carried pictures and pillowcases with embroidered names of many of the 8,000 Muslim men and boys who were killed by Bosnian Serb forces in the eastern Bosnian town in July, 1995.
“This is the most difficult day of my life, I would rather die, but I can not,” said Hedija Begovic whose only son will be among those buried at the Potocari memorial center.
During its passage, the convoy briefly stopped in front of the Bosnian presidency building where mourners, many in tears or saying Muslim prayers, laid flowers on the vehicles.
“These were 14 or 15-year old boys, fathers and their sons, elderly,” said Bakir Izetbegovic, a Muslim member of Bosnia’s post-war joint presidency.
Srebrenica was a UN-protected Muslim enclave until July 11, 1995, when it was overrun by Bosnian Serb forces who loaded thousands of men and boys on to trucks, executed them and then threw their bodies into mass graves.
The Serbs brushed aside lightly armed Dutch UN peacekeepers in the “safe area” where thousands of Muslims from surrounding villages had gathered for protection.
The massacre has been judged an act of genocide by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the International Court of Justice.
The remains of 5,657 victims, identified through DNA tests after being found in several mass graves in the Srebrenica region, have already been buried in Potocari.
But many victims remain unidentified.



“I have yet to find my son, my husband, my brother, I have got no information for 18 years,” a tearful Safija Osmanovic said as she paid tribute to the victims.
“If only I can find a single bone to bury, to finally know where they rest,” she said.


Thai protesters march in Bangkok, police set up barriers

Updated 15 min 37 sec ago
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Thai protesters march in Bangkok, police set up barriers

  • Government House and surrounding streets have been declared a no-go zone by police for the opposition march marking four years since a May 22, 2014 coup
  • The junta, known as the National Council for Peace and Order, is facing a public perception crisis

BANGKOK: Anti-government protesters began marching in Bangkok on Tuesday from a university in the Thai capital to Government House to demand that the military government hold a general election by November.
Government House and surrounding streets have been declared a no-go zone by police for the opposition march marking four years since a May 22, 2014, coup and have warned protesters not to defy a junta ban on public gatherings.
Police set up barriers along some roads near the university and carried out security checks on Tuesday.
More than 100 demonstrators walked in a line behind a truck with loudspeakers as police looked on, according to Reuters reporters at the scene.
One of the protest organizers, Sirawith Seritiwat, also known as Ja New, said protesters planned to march peacefully.
“I hope they will let us walk out. We have no intention to prolong today’s activities. I think they will try to stop us ... we will not use violence,” Sirawith said.
Police said around 200 protesters had gathered.
“Authorities will use the law 100 percent. If they walk out we will use the law immediately. We have put forces all around Government House ... if they come in to these areas there will be a prison sentence of up to 6 months,” deputy national police chief Srivara Ransibrahmanakul told reporters.
“Police have no weapons. They are carrying only batons,” he said.
Activists complained of a military crackdown ahead of the gathering.
On Monday, Sunai Phasuk, Thai researcher at the New York-based Human Rights Watch group, said two activists had been held incommunicado at a secret detention center.
“Their alleged ‘crime’ is providing loud speakers for anti-junta rally,” Sunai wrote on Twitter.
They were later released.
The junta, known as the National Council for Peace and Order, is facing a public perception crisis, according to international and domestic polls that say corruption is as endemic as ever.
The government has also repeatedly delayed the general election, which was first tentatively set for 2015, with the latest date now February 2019.
Some fear the date could be pushed back again.
Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan told reporters gathered at Government House the protesters were welcome to send a representative to the prime minister’s office.
“The prime minister works hard ... the NCPO these four years has worked every day ... All NCPO members have worked hard,” Prawit said.
Suchada Saebae, 55, a market vendor, disagreed.
“I came since 6 a.m. this morning because I think the NCPO has done a rubbish job these past four years,” Suchada said.
Some protesters held Thai flags and others held signs with cartoons of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha as Pinocchio.
Protests against military rule have taken place intermittently in Bangkok since the start of the year.
Some of them have been led by young activists. Others have been attended by former “red shirts,” or supporters of ousted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was toppled in 2006 and fled abroad.
His sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, was ousted in the 2014 coup and also fled abroad before being convicted in absentia of corruption.
Thailand has been rocked by pro- and anti-government street protests for more than a decade, some of them deadly.
The military says it carried out the 2014 coup to end the cycle of violence.