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Clinton remembers Srebrenica dead

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Clinton calls for religious tolerance at a ceremony for Bosnian Muslims killed in a massacre in Srebrenica. CNN's Christiane Amanpour reports. (September 20)
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SREBRENICA, Bosnia (CNN) -- Thousands of Bosnians gathered to hear former U.S. President Bill Clinton call for religious tolerance as he unveiled a monument to commemorate the Srebrenica dead.

Clinton was invited to attend by survivors of the massacre for the "personal contribution" they consider he made to end Bosnia's 1992-1995 war.

Clinton was president when an estimated 8,000 Bosnian Muslim boys and men were massacred in the so-called U.N.-protected enclave of Srebrenica in July 1995 after Serbs forces overran the area.

It was the single biggest atrocity of the war and Europe's worst since World War II.

Clinton criticized those in power who talked of "religious and ethnic superiority."

"People who quest for power killed those good people simply because of who they were," he said Saturday.

"They sought power through genocide, but Srebrenica was the beginning of the end to genocide in Europe."

Clinton watched over the burial of 107 of the victims in a ceremony, in which caskets were lifted over the heads of a throng of victims' relatives and families and passed from person to person.

He called for those who carried out the massacre to be apprehended, saying "the search must continue until they are."

"We owe it to the men and boys buried in this hallowed ground. We owe it to those who survived them. And we owe it to the Bosnians not yet born to see that it is done."

He called on the region to work together and to defy racial and ethnic hatred.

"I hope and pray that Srebrenica will be for all the world a sombre reminder to the world of common humanity."

Shortly after the Srebrenica killings, Clinton summoned NATO to launch military attacks to end the war, brokered the Dayton Peace Accord and helped install peacekeepers.

Since then, national and local elections have been established in the region.

Srebrenica was a tiny silver mining Muslim village in Bosnia, before it became the symbol of the bitter war.

Its atrocities spurred NATO into a bombing campaign against Serbian forces besieging other Bosnian towns and villages. Within two months, the war that had lasted four years, was over.

But Bosnia is still trying to account for all its dead. Mass graves are still being found and exhumed eight years after the war ended. According to the Red Cross, about 200,000 people were killed during the war. Just this week about 500 bodies were pulled from this the latest and largest mass grave discovered so far.

Eva Klonovski, who is helping in the dig, said: "Also it is another thing about this grave because we have here, we have had here the remains of women and children and it is the biggest concentration of women and children found in one grave."

The healing is happening only slowly. Srebrenica's pre-war population of 36,000 has dwindled to 9,000. Most of the town's Muslims who survived have not been able to return, because of ethnic differences.

Meantime at the War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague, Slobodan Milosevic the former leader of Yugoslavia denies any involvement in the Srebrenica massacre. He is charged with a host of war crimes including genocide for what happened in Bosnia.

While eight years later, the principal perpetrators accused of the massacre are still at large, including former Bosnian Serb leaders Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic.

-- CNN's Christiane Amanpour contributed to this report.

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