“Justice at last” is the reaction of IKV Pax Christi to the arrest of Ratko Mladic. The man who played a leading role in the atrocities and ethnic cleansing during the war in Bosnia –especially the genocide in Srebrenica – will now be held accountable for his deeds.
The victims and their relatives have had to wait for sixteen years for this day. They have always continued to demand the arrest and trial of Mladic even when it was clear that Serbia and the international community did not give this the priority it should have. Hajra Catic, chairman of the association of the Women of Srebrenica and a partner of IKV Pax Christi: “I had lost hope that he would ever be caught and at first I did not believe the news. I hope he will be put on trial straight away tomorrow”
A trial of Mladic by the Yugoslavia tribunal is not only of great importance for the victims and their relatives but also for the people of Serbia itself. The Balkan wars might have taken place nearly twenty years ago, but the discussion in Serbia (and also in neighboring countries) about its role and responsibility in the events has yet to start.
The trial of Ratko Mladic can be an important contribution to this process for Serbians to make peace with this history. In his press conference this afternoon president Tadic said that the arrest of Mladic closes a chapter of Serbia’s history. This however would not be good.
His arrest should not lead to the closing of the chapter, but to the opening of the painful pages. Not only in Serbia but in the whole region. It is possible that Serbia will be rewarded for this important step, but it is important that Europe continues to stimulate and support the process of truth finding. Because as a Serbian activist said recently “My greatest fear is that Mladic will be arrested and that the international community will think that the work here is done”