Congressman Chris Smith: Remembering the fall of Zepa–One of Six UN-Declared “Safe Havens” in Bosnia

Madam Speaker, on this day in July 1995, Zepa, one of the six “safe havens” that the UN declared during the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia and Hercegovina, fell to the Army of Republika Srpska. This happened two weeks after UN forces abandoned the Srebrenica “safe haven” to the same force, which committed genocide by killing 8,000 Bosniak men and boys, and raping an unknown number of Bosniak women.

Madam Speaker, before the war Zepa was a village of great natural beauty. Three thousand people lived there, and 750 children attending its primary school. Today the village is a standing reminder of the evil history of ethnic cleansing: only about 500 returnees live there and most of them are unemployed.

On July 11th of this year hundreds of diplomats and members of the international community joined thousands of Bosnian mourners and elected officials to mark the thirteenth anniversary of the fall of Srebrenica. Madam Speaker, let us mark July 25th with the same solemnity and remember the victims of Zepa. Let us share the painful memories of the horror that befell the village thirteen years ago and let us never forget that only justice and democratic governance will lead to a stable and prosperous Bosnia and Herzegovina.