Protests over halt in search for missing

BELGRADE, PRIŠTINA -- International Day of the Disappeared was marked in Belgrade on Sunday with a protest.

The protest in Belgrade on Sunday (Beta)
The protest in Belgrade on Sunday (Beta)

Those gathered were unsatisfied with the halt in exhumations and identifications of the remains of victims of wars between 1991 and 1999 in Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Serbia, in Kosovo.

The protest was held under the slogan, "We seek the truth about our loved ones, no matter how painful it is", in the organization of the Coordination of Serbian Associations of Families of the Missing in the territory of former Yugoslavia.

The families of the missing created a circle with their bodies, holding photos of their loved ones and symbolically sending a message that they spin in circles of promises as the fate of their family members has not yet been revealed.

An open letter was sent to the international community, the governments of the regional countries and the interim administration in Kosovo-Metohija (UNMIK), expressing discontent at the unfulfilled responsibilities and the disappointment over the discrimination of Serbian victims".

The letter, read by the President of the Coordination Čedomir Marić points out that "already registered graves are being exhumed slowly, particularly in the territory of Croatia, and the identification process lasts for years."

The representatives of the international community were requested to exert greater pressure on the governments of the regional countries which are largely ignoring the families' appeals.

The supporters of the protest were the Red Cross of Serbia and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and the head of the regional delegation of this humanitarian organization attended the gathering.

According to ICRC data, in the territory of former Yugoslavia the fate of nearly 16,000 missing persons is still unknown, the majority in Bosnia, 11,466, Croatia, 2,300 and in Kosovo – 1,889.

The Serbian associations and the government's Commission are searching for about 4,000 missing Serbs, among whom a smaller number of other nationalities.

"No reconciliation without answers on missing"

EU mission chief in Kosovo Yves de Kermabon yesterday addresses the issue of the missing in the province on International Day of the Disappeared.

"Recognition and the full reconstruction of the social fabric in society cannot be fully achieved until answers regarding the missing are provided to the affected families and to civil society," the head of EULEX was quoted.

Kermabon issued a written statement, adding that yesterday was "a good opportunity to raise awareness of this very sensitive and very important issue".

"This is why EULEX experts at the Office of the Missing Persons and Forensics (OMPF) together with their local colleagues are working intensively to find answers about this crucially important issue," he stated.

"Since December 2008, EULEX has completed 88 field operations, 45 exhumations, taken 405 bone samples for DNA analysis, exhumed 66 individuals, had 61 family visits, handed over 61 deceased remains to families," the EULEX chief specified.