Bosnia’s Serb Republic leader on Tuesday banned any teaching about the siege of Sarajevo and genocide in Srebrenica, denying for the first time Bosnian Serb forces besieged and attacked people in the capital for years during the 1990s war.
Bosnian Serb leaders have always denied the 1995 massacre of more than 8,000 Muslim Bosniaks in Srebrenica was genocide although two international war crimes courts have stated the atrocity constituted genocide.
In the siege of Sarajevo, hundreds of thousands of people were bombed and shot at from surrounding hills and kept without food, water and electricity for nearly four years. More than 11,000 people died, including 1,100 children.
“It’s impossible to use here the textbooks … which say the Serbs have committed genocide and kept Sarajevo under siege,” the Serb Republic’s nationalist President Milorad Dodik was quoted as saying by local media.
“This is not correct and this will not be taught here.”
More than 20 years since the war between Bosnian Serbs, Bosniaks and Croats, the Balkan country remains divided along ethnic lines, and students learn different versions of history.
Under an internationally sponsored 2002 agreement between Bosnia’s two regions, the Serb Republic and the Bosniak-Croat Federation, the 1992-95 war was omitted from history textbooks because each party had its own interpretation of the events.
But the lectures about the Sarajevo siege and the Srebrenica genocide have been included in some history textbooks in the Bosniak-Croat Federation, and could be used by Bosniak students in some of 22 schools they attend in the Serb Republic.
Serb Republic Education Minister Dane Milosevic said this weekend he would ban the use of such textbooks.
Tens of thousands of Bosniaks, who were driven from their homes, have returned after the war to what is now the Serb-dominated region. Many complain their children are discriminated against and not allowed to learn their language and history.
In Bosnia, where more than 100,000 people were killed in the conflict and two million internally displaced, minority ethnic groups also face widespread discrimination.