Srebrenica is a town in the east of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is a small mountain town, main industry being salt mining and a nearby spa.
Following the breakup of Yugoslavia and the war that ensued, Bosnian Serbs took control of most of eastern Bosnia. Srebrenica was one of the two remaining Bosniak enclaves in that area. The town was declared to be a 'safe area' by the United Nations.
Some 600 Dutch peacekeepers were assigned to safeguard civilians in Srebrenica but instead got involved in the local quagmire. The deal was initially for the Bosniak forces under Naser Orić to disarm and give up their strategic positions to the UN peacekeepers in exchange for the area to be proclaimed a safe zone which would entail NATO bombing Serb positions if they were to cross into Srebrenica. However the Dutch agreed to let Orić's forces retain their weapons and keep trenches just behind the Dutch positions. This infuriated the Serbs as the Bosniaks used this to their advantage, setting out in raids against surrounding Serb villages in which none were spared, including women and children, such as in the village of Kravica on January 7, 1993 (Orthodox Christmas). The Bosniak forces would then retreat into the UN Safe Zone leaving the Serbs powerless to pursue the offenders and defenceless at the hands of these men who struck mostly at night. The Dutch themselves witnessed the Bosniak raids into Serb territory which is estimated to have cost close to 2,000 Serb lives.
On July 7 1995, the Bosnian Serb forces led by general Ratko Mladić occupied the enclave following which Bosniak troops chose to breach the Serb encirclement and flee over into Bosniak-held territory instead of standing their ground. Orić was evacuated by a UN helicopter to Tuzla just a few days prior to the offensive. The Serb general Ratko Mladić allowed for buses to evacuate Bosniak women and children who wished to leave the former enclave. They were transported safely to Kladanj in Bosniak-held territory where most continued along to Tuzla.
The Bosniak men that surrendered were being singled out and taken away (later, the few remaining witnesses confirmed that they were being executed), so most of them instead tried to cross over the Serb-held territory on their own, which was futile for most. It is reported that a gunfight had erupted between some 2,000 Bosniak men and the Serbs. A list of 5,500 missing Bosniak men and teenage boys has been established after the events, and several mass graves were found scattered in the woods of eastern Bosnia. Around 4,500 bodies were exhumed to date, around a hundred identified by DNA. As of 2003, new mass graves are still being found,in West Bosnia and not in the region of Srebrenica solely.The aforementioned number is heavily disputed though.According to an announcement of the International Commitee of thee Red Cross on 13th September 1995 5.000 persons had already fled the province and reached Central Bosnia before the incursion of Serbo-bosnian forces and asked for the fate of 3000 persons the Serbo-bosnian forces had taken prisoners.Chris Hedges of the New York Times a week after the city fell to Serbo-bosnian forces wrote that "3.000-4.000 Muslim refugees the U.N. thought were missing have managed to reach behind Serb lines"(18 July 1995,NY Times).The London Times on the 2nd of August 1995 wrote that thousands of the allegedly missing Muslim fighters had escaped without their family knowing so,and were alive and well in Tuzla.On 17th September 1996 the Manchester "Guardian" wrote that several hundred of the POWs of Srebrenica were in camps inside Serbia.The U.S. gave refugee status to 14 men held in Serbian Camps after the fall of Srebrenica.Nicholas Burns,spokeperson for the State Department emphasized that at least 800 persons after the fall of Srebrenica were transferred to Serbia.
Ratko Mladić and the political leader of Bosnian Serbs Radovan Karadžić have both been indicted for genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of the laws or customs of war at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. In 2001, Radislav Krstić, a Serb commander who had led the assault on Srebrenica alongside Mladić, was convicted by the tribunal on genocide charges and received 46 years to life in prison.
After a long-running discussion about the event in the Netherlands, the Dutch second cabinet of Wim Kok chose to resign in April 2002 after the official inquiry and report by the Nederlands Instituut voor Oorlogsdocumentatie.