Prime Minister Mark Rutte addressed a military base in central Holland on Saturday in front of hundreds of veterans of the Dutchbat III peacekeeping unit, telling them that after almost 27 years, “some words have not yet been said“, reports AP.
“Today, on behalf of the Dutch Government, I apologize to all the women and men in Dutchbat III. For you and for those who can’t be here today. With the utmost appreciation and respect for the way in which Dutchbat III, in difficult circumstances, continued to try to do good, even when this was no longer possible.“Rutte said.
The ceremony took place after a report was published last year on the experiences of the approximately 850 soldiers who formed Dutchbat III. The study made recommendations, including that the government make a “collective gesture” to address what it called the “perceived lack of recognition and appreciation, given the exceptional circumstances in which it was almost impossible” from Dutch peacekeepers.
The Netherlands has been fighting the legacy of the Srebrenica massacre for a long time. Then-Prime Minister Wim Kok resigned in 2002 after a report harshly criticized Dutch authorities for sending troops to a dangerous area without a proper warrant or the weapons needed to protect some 30,000 refugees fleeing. – took refuge in the Dutch base in eastern Bosnia.
In 2019, the Dutch Supreme Court ruled that the Netherlands was partly responsible for the deaths of about 350 Muslim men killed by Bosnian Serb forces during the massacre.
The court ruled that Dutch peacekeepers had evacuated the men from their military base near Srebrenica on July 13, 1995, although they knew they were “at serious risk of being abused and killed” by Bosnian Serb forces.
The UN has also been criticized for not allowing NATO airstrikes to support weakly armed Dutch troops in July 1995, when they were attacked.
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