July 11, 2020 – Assembly of Turkish American Associations (ATAA) remembers the victims of the Srebrenica Massacres in  July 1995. The Bosnian Serb Forces (Vojska Republike Srpske), assisted by the Greek Volunteer Guard (Grčka Dobrovoljačka Garda) rounded up more than 8000 Bosniaks, mostly men and boys, and machined gunned them down in the fields around the region. Meanwhile, the Bosnian Serb Forces rounded up and systematically raped more than 20,000 Bosniak women.

Similar to the massacres and rapes of Turkish Cypriots by the Greek Armed Forces and EOKA (Ethniki Organosis Kyprion Agoniston) between 1963-1974, and similar to the massacres of tens of thousands of Azeris by Armenia and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaksutyun) in western Azerbaijan, the UN watched on.

While the war crimes in the Balkans and Cyprus drew some international response, another one committed in Eastern Europe during the 1990s was forgotten. In the last days of February 1992, the Armed forces of Armenia massacred hundreds of Azerbaijani civilians, including women, elders and children, during their assault on the town of Khojaly. The victims of this massacre have been denied justice up to date, as no independent legal assessment is possible with the ongoing Armenian occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding Azerbaijani territories, and as the Armenian government continues to deny responsibility for the massacre.

Failures to prevent the mass killings in Srebrenica (by Serbians), Cyprus (by Greeks), and Khojaly (By Armenians) highlight the importance of prompt measures whenever the potential for such crimes against humanity is present. In this sense, the 1974 Cyprus Peace Operation by the Turkish Armed Forces, carried out in compliance with the international treaties, was an exemplary response to end the humanitarian crisis and to stop the ethnic cleansing of Turkish Cypriots by the Greek-dominated government in Cyprus.

ATAA commends the Turkish Armed Forces who successfully intervened to end the massacres in Cyprus.

Photo Credit: Gravestones at the Potočari genocide memorial near Srebrenica, Michael Büker