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Bosniak Refugee Picture Used in Event to Remember Serb War Victims

A Serbian communications agency has apologised after it used a photo of Bosniak refugees for an event in the northern Bosnian town of Prijedor commemorating Serb victims of a 1995 Croatian military operation.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and the president of Bosnia’s predominantly Serb-populated Republika Srpska entity, Milorad Dodik, addressed the event in Prijedor on Friday evening marking the anniversary of the Croatian offensive ‘Storm’ at the end of the 1991-95 Croatian war that swept away a rebel Serb statelet and put an estimated 200,000 Serbs to flight.

But among the videos and photos used as a backdrop was a photo by Agence France-Presse photographer Joel Robine of a Bosniak woman, Sabina Mujkic, holding her infant daughter on a bus fleeing the Bosnian village of Zepa in July 1995 in the wake of the massacre of some 8,000 Muslim men and boys by Bosnian Serb forces in and around Srebrenica.

In a statement late on Sunday, the communications agency, Pozitiv, said it took “full responsibility for the unintentional mistake”.

“This omission was not made with the intention of hurting, disparaging or abusing anyone and we hope that everyone will accept our sincere apologies,” the agency said, according to the Bosnian Serb Broadcasting Service.

Nermina Mujkic Guso, who was pictured as an infant in her mother’s arms, said the family was “in shock” after seeing how the photo was used.

“My mother reacted sadly, we are all sad, because it is ugly that it was done in such a way,” she told the Bosnian Avaz portal.

The Republika Srpska government blamed the “unintentional error” on the Serbian communications agency, which it said was contracted by Serbia’s Ministry of Work, Veterans and Disabled Protection to design the event. The Serbian ministry did not respond to a request for comment.

A total of 677 Serbs are believed to have died during and after the 1995 Croatian military offensive codenamed ‘Storm’, according to the Croatian Helsinki Committee.

This year’s commemoration was held in Prijedor, an area that is otherwise notorious as the location of detention camps run by Bosnian Serb forces during the 1992-95 war in Bosnia and where non-Serbs were interned, tortured, and, in many cases, killed.

The Youth Initiative for Human Rights, an NGO, condemned the decision to hold the event in Prijedor as a “coarse political manipulation of victims’ suffering in order to strengthen ethno-nationalist memory politics”.

Source : BalkanInsight