– ‘We are seeing a genocide unfold before our very eyes,’ says genocide researcher and war survivor Arnesa Buljusmic-Kustura
– Expert urges top UN court not to follow Srebrenica genocide case precedent, where it cleared Serbia of direct responsibility and complicity
– ICJ ‘has not actually found any state guilty of genocide to date,’ what it does in South Africa’s case will determine how we look at international law, Buljusmic-Kustura tells Anadolu
In Gaza, the world is watching a genocide unfold again, according to Bosnian genocide researcher Arnesa Buljusmic-Kustura.
“We are seeing a genocide unfold before our very eyes,” Buljusmic-Kustura, a war survivor, said in an interview with Anadolu.
“It is a tragedy that 30 years later we are seeing the same patterns being repeated. It is a tragedy that we have not learned the lessons of the Holocaust, the Bosnian genocide or the genocide in Rwanda or Cambodia.”
She stressed that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has a crucial role to play in the current situation with the way it handles South Africa’s genocide case against Israel.
Her fear is that the top UN court could follow the precedent set in Bosnia’s case against Serbia for the 1995 Srebrenica genocide.
Bosnian Serb forces killed more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys in the eastern town of Srebrenica in July 1995, despite the presence of Dutch peacekeeping troops.
Twelve years later, in 2007, the ICJ ruled that Serbia was guilty of failing to prevent the genocide, but cleared Serbia of direct responsibility and complicity.
Buljusmic-Kustura launched a petition that garnered signatures from over 3,000 relatives of victims and survivors of the Bosnian war, aiming to draw support for South Africa and press on the ICJ to avoid the mistakes of the Srebrenica genocide case.
“I knew that the people who experienced war and genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 1990s are the people who feel the term ‘cease-fire’ most deeply,” she said.
“That is why I started this campaign. We collected more than 3,000 signatures in over a week. The international court is responsible for the terrible atrocities that took place 30 years ago.”
No accountability for Israel ‘for far too long’
Buljusmic-Kustura stressed the need for ICJ action against Israel, saying it must ensure that the Bosnia case is not “utilized as precedent to allow other perpetrators of genocide to avoid accountability.”
“Israel is, unfortunately, a country that for far too long has not been held accountable for many of its prior crimes. It has violated countless UN resolutions,” she asserted.
In its interim ruling on South Africa’s case, the world court found plausible risk of genocide and ordered six provisional measures, including the suspension of Israeli military operations in Gaza and permission for deliveries of food, water, fuel and other essential humanitarian aid.
Since the Jan. 26 order, though, Israel has continued its onslaught on Gaza, with the number of Palestinians killed now nearing 27,600, with almost 67,000 more injured.
For the final verdict, which could take years to come, Buljusmic-Kustura fears there is still danger that Israel will escape any punishment or sanctions.
“The International Court of Justice has not actually found any state guilty of genocide to date … Whatever the decision is now, it is going to shackle our world forever. It is going to determine how we look at international law,” she said.
“If they allow Israel to utilize the Bosnia-Serbia case as a precedent and allow them to escape accountability … we are going to see people lose hope entirely. They are going to lose trust in the process of international law and justice,” said Buljusmic-Kustura.