Chetnik gathering sparks outrage in Bosnia

A large Chetnik rally took place in Visegrad on 10 March 2019. [@United_Bosnia Twitter]

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.

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.

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.”

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.

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