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Grief of the Srebrenica widows

SARAJEVO Bosnia-Herzegovina (CNN) -- The ceremony marking the Srebrenica massacre brought back grim memories for thousands of Muslim women.

Tears flowed as they commemorated the day six years ago when many of their male relatives were butchered.

Five widows, who also lost sons, performed the centrepiece of the ceremony -- the unveiling of a foundation stone to a memorial centre for the 7,500 victims.

Among them was Munira Subasic, who lost 22 male members of her family in the atrocity, including her husband, son and father.

She had to watch helplessly on that July day in 1995 as Muslim men and boys were separated from their families and led away.

graphicSrebrenica: Five days of evil

  • Survivor's Story
  • Gallery
  • Massacre background
  • Rebuilding Srebrenica
  • Prayers for the dead
  • Grief of the widows
  • Mass grave found
  • War crimes defendants
  • Profile: Radko Mladic
  • Profile: Radovan Karadzic


Also among the survivors was Zineta Mujic, 50, who lost her son and 13 other family members.

"Slobodan Milosevic is the biggest butcher in the world, and he is responsible for what happened to us," she said, referring to the former Yugoslav president now awaiting trial before the U.N. war crimes tribunal.

"His string puppets, Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, are also responsible and must pay for what they did here," Mujic added.

Although Milosevic has been indicted for alleged crimes against humanity in Kosovo, the tribunal has said it is building a case against him for atrocities committed in Bosnia and Croatia during the wars that followed the break-up of Yugoslavia.

Hana Ademovic, 48, now a refugee in northern Bosnia, lost her husband, father and other relatives. She said Wednesday's ceremony was "the hardest day in my entire life."

"They are giving us a stone here instead of helping us back to our homes and helping us find our dearest," she said bitterly.

A cemetery is planned at the memorial site that many of the families hope will one day serve as a final resting place for their loved ones.

Nura Mustafic, 53, lost her husband, Hasan, and sons Mirsad, Alija and Fuad at Srebrenica. Today, she is alone.

"I am not afraid because I don't have anything else to lose," she said, wiping away tears.

"I survived everything, and I am sure I can survive this ceremony, too," Nura said. "If we know nothing about our dearest, at least we can see their tombstones and imagine they are lying there."

Haba Gusic said: "We have to put names on the graves of our men. It is good that we are going to Srebrenica to mark the anniversary, but life cannot really start again until the graves of our men have names on them."

CNN's Brad Johnson said: "And so, they wait. Mothers, wives and daughters wait to place flowers at those graves -- and to start life over again."

• International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
• Governments on the WWW: Bosnia and Herzegovina
• Srebrenica

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