A gathering of the ultranationalist Serb Chetnik Movement in the Bosnian town of Višegrad on Sunday (10 March), has sparked a wave of condemnation from inside Bosnia and from the international community.
Some 200 members of the movement of former Nazi collaborators gathered at the town, on the Drina river, which marks the border between Serbia and Bosnia. They were marking the anniversary of the arrest of their WWII founding leader Draza Mihajlovic.
This should be illegal!Yesterday, some 200 Četnik (former Serbian paramilitary forces)followers lined up in Bosnian city,Višegrad, a site of past atrocities.They continued singing “There will be Hell,Drina(river)will be bloody, here come the Chetniks from the Serbian mountains”
— Agime Gashaj (@agimegashi) March 11, 2019
A video broadcast by local media, showed them singing about how “River Drina will be bloody again”. Višegrad was the scene of the massacres of Muslims in 1992, at the start of the Bosnia War.
Disgusted by the threats & hate levelled at Bosniak returnees in #Visegrad from ultranationalist who are glorifying fascism & singing “the River Drina will be bloody again". Good to see so many international organisations & embassies condemning thishttps://t.co/aw0BC7B04z
— Amy Drake (@AmyDrake_) March 11, 2019
The event sparked strong reactions inside Bosnia and abroad.
Bosnian Prime Minister Denis Zvizdic denounced what it said was the “spread of national and religious hatred and intolerance” and the deliberate intimidation of Bosnian Muslims.
The European Union ambassador to Bosnia, Lars-Gunnar Wigemark, condemned the gathering.
The “disturbing events in Višegrad, glorifying violence and inciting to hatred” took the region further from reconciliation,” he tweeted.
The office of High Representative, the post-war international community body in Bosnia, also condemned what it called the “shameful events in Višegrad”.
“Authorities need to investigate and take actions against those responsible for hate speech,” it said in a statement.
The US embassy in Sarajevo tweeted that it was “appalled by reports of threats and nationalistic rhetoric during today’s event in Višegrad. Such behavior is unacceptable.”
We are appalled by reports of threats and nationalistic rhetoric during today’s event in Visegrad. Such behavior is unacceptable. We expect the relevant authorities to take the necessary steps to address these threats and hold accountable those responsible.
— US Embassy Sarajevo (@USEmbassySJJ) March 10, 2019
The Chetnik movement was created in World War II to fight the Nazis but ended up collaborating with them.
The Serb paramilitaries who identified with the movement during the 1992-1995 Bosnian were notorious for the atrocities they committed, particularly in the eastern part of the country, including in Višegrad.
Višegrad was mainly Muslim before the war in 1990s. But between April and June 1992, at the start of Bosnia’s war, Serb forces killed more than 1,500 civilians in and around the city, according to the Bosnian Institute for Missing Persons.