Archive for July, 2003



Conference on the Right to Know – Determining of the Fate and Whereabouts of the Arrested, Kidnapped and Otherwise Missing Persons in FYROM/Macedonia

Friday, July 18th, 2003

For the first time, the highest representatives of the FYROM/Macedonia, the International Community and the representatives of families of missing persons have met in one place to discuss common issues.

Today in Skopje the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) organized a Conference on ‘The Right to Know’, making it possible for the Government’s representatives and members of the families of arrested, kidnapped and otherwise missing persons to define together how to implement the Document that was adopted on 24th June 2003 by the Parliament of the FYROM/Macedonia. The Document defined a need to establish a Commission on the Determination of the Fate of Kidnapped and Missing Persons in the FYROM/Macedonia who disappeared during the crisis in 2001.

The Commission would consist of members of the Macedonian Parliament, members of the Government of FYROM/Macedonia, one representative of the families of both the kidnapped Macedonians and Albanians, as well as a representative of the ICMP.

Speaking to the participants of the Conference Kathryne Bomberger, ICMP Deputy Chief of Staff, called them to recognize the voices of those who can’t speak, to build up, through their common work, a strong society that can and does address this tragedy.

Boris Trajkovski, President of the FYROM/Macedonia, in a letter he sent to the Conference, invited all participants to start to create a heritage for the next generation that will teach them how to separate good and evil.

Representatives of families of missing persons explained the many efforts they had made to come to this point, from where they will now, together with the Government’s representatives, continue to look for their missing loved ones.

ICMP teams will continue to provide technical support in the process of determining the fate and whereabouts of missing persons.

C.S. Mott Foundation Approves Grant to ICMP

Tuesday, July 15th, 2003

The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, based in Michigan, has approved a grant of US$ 150,000 to the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) Civil Society Initiatives department for its work supporting Associations of Families of Missing Persons in the former Yugoslavia.ICMP believes that family members of the missing are central to its work and that family associations play a critical role in addressing the missing persons issue through advocacy, education, data collection and raising public awareness. ICMP works with all ethnic/religious groups seeking missing loved ones resulting from the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia, 1991 to 1995 and 1998 to 1999. Recently, activities have been expanded to include work in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Associations of Families of Missing Persons in the former Yugoslavia have taken on important tasks of addressing their own and their members’ personal tragedies, but they also have the potential to be actively engaged in society as catalysts of change and in taking steps towards healing the wounds of the conflicts in the region. Empowering these groups and their members to make peace with the past and to advocate for a better life in the present, provides an example for society as a whole.

Greater cooperation between different religious/national groups on common issues contributes to a more stable peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the former Yugoslavia. A series of workshops and grants, to support local multi-ethnic initiatives, will be implemented in the coming year.

“Family members of the missing have a strong need to know the truth about what happened to their loved ones, and a deep desire for justice. With truth and justice, and opening a space for inter-group dialogue on painful topics of the past, a path to future reconciliation can be paved. Many positive steps have been taken, which must be strengthened and developed,” stated Asta Zinbo, Director of ICMP Civil Society Initiatives.

This generous donation is the first that ICMP has received from a private foundation. Charles Stewart Mott started his Foundation in 1926 because of a deep concern over public welfare in his hometown of Flint, Michigan. From there it has grown into an international philanthropic organization with programs in many parts of the world. In Eastern and Central Europe the specific objectives are strengthening the nonprofit sector, promoting citizen rights and responsibilities and improving inter-ethnic relations.

Walter Veirs, of the Mott Foundation, explained:

“This project builds on the good work that ICMP has done to strengthen and support Associations of Families of Missing Persons across the former Yugoslavia and will further draw this important segment of the nonprofit sector into broader peacebuilding and development initiatives. In this sense, it is an exciting partnership between ICMP and Mott.”

The 1000th Srebrenica Victim Identified by ICMP

Friday, July 11th, 2003

ICMP announced today, the 8th Anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre that, the 1,000th Srebrenica missing person has been identified. An additional 676 cases have found a DNA match with the family blood samples and are currently waiting to be confirmed and certified as closed cases. The number of both DNA matches and closed cases is increasing daily as a result of additional DNA profiles being obtained from both recovered bodies as well as family blood samples.Gordon Bacon, Chief of Staff of ICMP, welcomed this achievement: ” This is an important milestone for ICMP in helping families who lost their loved ones during the fall of Srebrenica in July 1995 but there is still a long way to go. Everyone involved in the process must continue the work of finding remains and giving back names to the thousands of persons still missing. All of us at ICMP are dedicated to this work, and we will carry on until not only those from Srebrenica but from wherever they lived throughout the region, are found, identified and returned to their families. We will assist the families in their fight for information as well as encouraging more family members to provide the blood samples which are necessary to the identification process.”

ICMP has collected more than 14,300 blood samples from families whose loved ones disappeared from Srebrenica in 1995, which represents 7,696 named missing persons. The blood collection effort continues with the ultimate goal of obtaining as many blood samples as possible from families missing a loved one. Many such families may no longer be in the region, and ICMP is mounting a campaign to contact them throughout the European Union and in other parts of the world, to explain how they can take part in the identification program.