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Institute for Research of Genocide, Canada {IGC} Cautions on Continuing Violations of Human Rights in Prijedor

During the years of aggression and genocide in Prijedor thousands of the city’s Bosniak and Croat inhabitants, including women and children, were murdered; thousands more were tortured in concentration and death camps; several hundred women and girl were raped; tens of thousands of the city’s were forced from their homes; and the city’s cultural and sacral buildings and artifacts were purposefully destroyed as part of the extermination campaign against the city’s Bosniak and Croat inhabitants.

After these horrific crimes, discrimination and crude violations of human rights and basic freedoms continue to be perpetrated against the city’s remaining Bosniak and Croat inhabitants. Different methods are being used to continue the policies of aggression and genocide. Bosniak and Croat communities are deliberately and systematically being prevented from returning to their homes and reviving their presence in the municipality, returnees are prevented from attaining their pre-war careers and positions, and municipal structures invest the least amount of resources in reviving parts of the municipality where infrastructure and facilities were targeted and destroyed.

Discrimination is especially severe against survivors and witnesses of aggression and genocide, and the local authorities and municipal institutions are preventing the realization of their human rights and basic freedoms in every possible way. Municipal authorities allocate funds exclusively for the construction of memorials to Serb soldiers and Serb victims that are built in public places such as schools and administrative buildings, which intimidate non-Serb inhabitants. Serb authorities have erected a memorial to slain Serb soldiers directly on the site where thousands of Bosniac and Croat women and children were tortured in the Trnopoje concentration camp. Authorities have prevented the placement of commemorative plaques that would mark the locations associated with the largest sites of murder and torture of Bosniak and Croat civilians in the municipality.

In the town itself, one cannot find any memorials or other structures that commemorate the tragedies that befell the town’s Bosniak and Croat victims; all existing memorials in the town are dedicated exclusively to commemorating Serb victims. An especially egregious injustice is committed against the one thousand missing inhabitants from Prijedor. In addition to having their human rights violated, they are also stripped of their identity and prevented from having a dignified burial.

IGC would like to remind the international community that the surviving victims and witnesses of the aggression and genocide in Prijedor are being humiliated and denigrated by having to beg for the right to publicly remember the their own suffering and to commemorate the deaths of their family members, friends, and fellow citizens.

IGC would also like to remind the international community that the authorities in Prijedor are not respecting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, whose anniversary we are marking today. We are particularly concerned that the rule of law has still not been established in the municipality, that the inhabitants of Prijedor do not enjoy the same rights, and that existing laws are not applied equally to all citizens of the municipality.

We would like to underline once again the very difficult and painful situation that survivors and witnesses of genocide in Prijedor are placed in.

Any public commemorations of the anniversary of the onset of aggression and genocide in Prijedor are officially forbidden, and criminal charges have been filed against the organizers of peaceful events that were held to commemorate the genocide. This constitutes the continuation of genocide against Prijedor’s Bosniak and Croat communities by other means.

Municipal authorities systematically terrorize Bosniak and Croat citizens of the municipality and treat them as second-class citizens. Municipal authorities also publicly humiliate organizations of survivors and witnesses of the genocide in Prijedor and are deliberately spreading fear among the families and friends of those murdered or missing in Prijedor. War criminals are allowed to walk freely in the municipality and are taking up positions of authority in the local government. Municipal authorities allow large public rallies of fascists groups that had been formed in the Second Word War and are known to have committed war crimes to take place.

The Municipal authorities continue to ignore the international community’s demands that discrimination based on ethnic and religious grounds must be outlawed and prevented, that the truth about the genocide committed in Prijedor must be revealed, that war criminals must be brought to justice, and that the suffering of all victims must be marked equally regardless of their ethnicity.

These and many other attacks by Municipal authorities on human rights and basic freedoms are undermining the reputation of Prijedor, Bosnia-Herzegovina, the European Union, and the entire international community. They also constitute grave breaches of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. IGC would like to remind the world that no one has the right to prohibit survivors and witnesses of genocide from commemorating their suffering and from seeking justice. In the name of the survivors and witnesses of genocide, the IGC calls on the international community to undertake further efforts to improve the state of human rights for the citizens of Prijedor by applying more pressure on the Municipality’s authorities to finally respect international standards of human rights. We request that the international community and its leaders to challenge the ongoing violation of the human rights of survivors and witnesses of genocide in Prijedor and to ensure that their right of memory, truth, and justice is protected and upheld.