A survivor of the Srebrenica genocide has made an explosive allegation against Rais al-Ulama (Grand Mufti) Mustafa Ceric of Bosnia-Herzegovina in Serbia’s war crimes. Hakija Meholjic, a survivor of the Srebrenica genocide, has said that based on documentary evidence, Ceric had for years acted as agent of the Kontra-Obavjestajna Sluzba (KOS), the Secret Service of the Yugoslav Peoples Army (JNA). In a formal request on May 13 to the Organizing Board for Commemoration of the 15th Anniversary of the Genocide in Srebrenica, Hakija Meholjic demanded that Ceric should not lead the janazah (funeral) prayers for the victims. Remains of the genocide victims are buried at Memorial Center in Potocari every year on July 11 as an integral part of the Commemoration of the victims of Genocide in Srebrenica.
Meholijic’s request was made after careful and painful consideration. He will be burying those parts of his father Husejn Meholjic’s body, and brother Sakib’s that have so far been found and identified. For instance, his father’s head is missing, chest bones are missing, one arm is missing, and feet bones are missing. The bones were collected from several “mass graves” (ditches) in which dismembered bodies of the victims were dumped and covered by dirt after the Serbs perpetrated their macabre ritual in July 1995.
Himself a survivor of the Srebrenica genocide, Meholijic’s request to bar Mustafa Ceric from leading funeral prayers was based not on personal grudge but on solid information. The Grand Mufti’s name was found on the list of documented collaborators with the Yugoslav army which was instrumental in perpetrating the Srebrenica genocide led by the indicted war criminal, general Ratko Mladic, who is still at large and believed to be protected by the Serb army.
The shocking revelation about Ceric goes to the heart of the problem in present-day Bosnia-Herzegovina. While the Serbian war of genocide against the Bosnians was heart-wrenching and people throughout the world, especially Muslims, were horrified by the brutal massacres and the West’s arms embargo against them that facilitated the genocide in the heart of Europe, revelations about the collaboration of some Muslim officials with the Serbian killers is even more shocking.
Representatives of the Association of Mothers of Srebrenica and Podrinje have given their support to Meholjic’s request that Ceric should not lead the janazah prayer for the genocide victims. They went further and demanded that all imams of the Islamic Association of Bosnia-Herzegovina whose collaboration with KOS was documented should also be barred from participating in the victims’ funeral prayers.
Every year survivors and family members of victims of the Srebrenica genocide commemorate July 11 as Remem-brance Day. The Serb army had slaughtered thousands of Bosnian men and boys in Srebrenica in July 1995, a town designated as “safe haven” by the UN. A contingent of Dutch soldiers was supposed to have protected the town and its disarmed people but they re-mained passive spectators as the Serb murderers systematically butchered the Bosnians.
On this day, the remains of those that have been found in the previous year are buried after formal funeral prayers. While the ceremony is held to act as a healing process for those that lost loved ones in one of the most gruesome acts of genocide in contemporary history, it continues to revive painful memories. Often, only fragments of the remains of victims are found forcing relatives to make a painful decision: to bury these or wait until more bone fragments are discovered before a formal burial takes place. In the past there have been numerous instances when bodies have had to be dug up because more bone fragments of the victims were discovered through DNA analysis, itself a very laborious and tedious process.
On February 26, 2007, the International Court of Justice, in its legally binding judgment in the case ofBosnia and Herzegovina v. Serbia and Montenegro found that “Serbia has violated the obligation to prevent genocide, under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, in respect of the genocide that occurred in Srebrenica in July 1995.” The Court ruled that the government and institutions of Republika Srpska (the self-proclaimed Serb republic in Bosnia), especially its army (VRS) and the police (MUP) perpetrated the genocide in Srebrenica. It further ruled that Serbia had an obligation to prevent the genocide because its army was operting in Bosnia.
In 1992, the United Nations Security Council through resolutions 752 and 757 designated the rump Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) and the Yugoslav Peoples Army as aggressors against the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Based on these resolutions, Serbia and Montenegro were subjected to severe economic sanctions and finally lost their membership in the UN.
The victims’ families insist that any imam, no matter how high up in the hierarchy, who was an agent of the secret services of Serbia or the Yugoslav Peoples Army is complicit in the genocide in Srebrenica and should not be permitted to offer prayers for the victims. Regrettably, far from the healing process taking place with time, new revelations add to the anguish and pain of the victims’ relatives.
The Internet site JAVNO, (http://www.javno.ba/javno-teme/javno-na-javno-ba-novinari-udbasi.html) came into possession of files with names and responsibilities of many civilian secret agents of the National Security Agency (Uprava drzavne bezbjednosti — UDB-a) under the control of Serbia, a sister organization of KOS. The name of Mustafa Ceric was found on the UDB list; his code name was “Vezir”. Names of a number of other imams who are today members of Islamic Association of Bosnia-Herzegovina, including copies of documents describing each imam’s activities and responsibilities as UDB-a agents are collected in a book titled Guardians of Yugoslavia — Collaborators of UDB-a in Bosnia and Herzegovina — Muslims, Ivan Beslic, Posusje, Bosna i Hercegovina, 2003. The original title of the book is: Cuv Ari Jugoslavije – Suradnici UDBe u Bosnia I Hercegovina – Muslimani.