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- As Delivered – 
WASHINGTON, DC—Representative Eliot L. Engel, the top Democrat on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today delivered the following remarks in the House of Representatives on a measure marking the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica Genocide (H.Res.310).  The resolution passed unanimously in the House.
“I remember 20 years ago being in this chamber when that massacre happened.  It’s hard to believe that it’s 20 years, and it certainly was a genocide. Twenty years since the Srebrenica Genocide. 
“During the Bosnian War, the United Nations declared the area around this small town a safe zone. On the eve of the massacre, tens of thousands of displaced Bosniak civilians had gathered under the protection of the UN, in what they thought was a safe zone. They all rushed to that place, only to be slaughtered a little while later. 
“But the 400 UN Peacekeepers could put up scarce resistance to the army of Republika Srpska, whose leaders were bent on wiping out the Bosniak population. 
“Over the next few days, men and boys were lined up and mowed down by machine guns. Children were murdered in front of their mothers.  Women and girls were raped and beaten, as onlookers stood powerless to intervene. Bulldozers piled bodies into mass graves. I remember that happened in our lifetime, hard to believe. When the killing had ended, more than 8,000 Bosniaks, mostly men and boys, had lost their lives in one of the bloodiest episodes on European soil since World War II. 
“This resolution tells their tragic story.  It praises the efforts to hold the guilty accountable. It demands that those efforts continue. It underscores solidarity with the victims, and calls for a reconciliation that will one day see the lies, hatred, and violence of the past replaced by true friendship and community.  This resolution tells the truth about what happened, because telling the truth, however painful, is the starting point for healing to begin.
“We remember the Srebrenica Genocide to honor the victims and to remind ourselves of the costs of indifference—of what can happen when we say, ‘well, that’s somebody else’s problem.’  As this region of Europe heals, and I’ve just come back from the Balkans, and charts a course toward a brighter future, I hope the lessons of this tragedy will be a guide for the United States and for countries around the world fighting against tyranny and oppression.
“Now today, there was a disgrace that happened at the United Nations. Unfortunately, there are many disgraces that happen at the United Nations. Now, two international courts have called the slaughter [by] Bosnian-Serbs of some 8,000 Muslim men and boys, who had sought refuge in what was supposed to be a UN protected site, genocide. 
“And what happened today at the UN?  Russia vetoed a UN resolution calling Srebrenica a genocide. Passed the Security Council, Russia vetoed it. Now you’d think that a veto would be used for something of substance, not a resolution.  A resolution, this resolution has substance, but you would not think that Russia, or any country, would veto it. 
“Let me see what this defeated resolution stated.  It stated that acceptance of “the tragic events of Srebrenica is genocide is a prerequisite for reconciliation, and condemns denial of this genocide is hindering efforts towards reconciliation.” 
“The vote was ten countries in favor, Russia casting a veto, and four abstentions: China, Nigeria, Angola, and Venezuela. 
“Now the British Ambassador said after the vote that Britain was outraged by Russia’s veto, and he said Russia’s actions tarnished the memory of those, of all those, who died in the Srebrenica genocide.  Russia will have to justify its behavior to the families of over 8,000 people murdered in the worst atrocity in Europe since the Second World War. 
“‘This is a defeat of justice,’ said Camil Durakovic, the mayor of Srebrenica. He added that the veto means that the UN is not recognizing a decision by its own judicial branch, the International Court of Justice, which has declared the tragedy a genocide. The world has lost, and especially, others will have to face the truth, sooner or later. 
“Our Ambassador, Samantha Power, who was a 24-year-old journalist in Bosnia at the time of the Srebrenica massacre, told the Council that, ‘For all of the brutality of a horrific war, this was a singular horror. It was genocide. A fact now proven again and again by international tribunals…. Today’s vote mattered,’ Power said. ‘It mattered hugely to the families of the victims of the Srebrenica genocide. Russia’s veto is heartbreaking for those families, and it is a further stain on this Council’s record.’
“I read that into the record, because I think it’s important to notice the actions of Russia.  We see their actions in Ukraine.  We see their actions at the UN, and we see the actions of the UN itself.   And it really is a shame. 
“So again, we remember this genocide to honor its victims.  It’s not somebody else’s problem.  It’s all of our problems, and in order to prevent it from happening in the future, we have to accurately recall what happened in the past. 
“So I urge my colleagues to support this resolution and I reserve the balance of my time.”


Read H.Res.310 here