The meaning of Srebrenica transcends the grisly crimes. It was a crucial turning point, analysts say: The genocide exposed the failure of a British- and French-led policy that appeased Serb forces, and it brought the US and NATO in to stop the war. It led to an "abetting genocide" sentence at the international tribunal in 2000 for Bosnian Gen. Radislav Kristic - and contributed to the arrest of Serb President Slobodan Milosevic, considered the architect of the Balkan wars.
"It was the culmination of the failed British-French policy from 1992," says Quentin Hoare of the Bosnian Institute in London. "After Srebrenica, it became impossible for the US Congress and the Clinton administration not to do something."
Ed Vulliamy, author of "Seasons in Hell," one of the earliest firsthand accounts of the war, argues that "Srebrenica was iconic - since for three years there were little Srebrenicas happening all over Bosnia." And "it was iconic of the brutality of men like [former Serb leader] Radovan Karadzic and General Mladic, and iconic of the [diplomats] who did deals with these men, and eagerly shook their hands under the chandeliers of Europe."
On Monday, a 10th anniversary event in Srebrenica ("place of silver") amid light rains brought signals and statements of regret from UN and British diplomats, and the presence of Serb president Boris Tadic, seen as a rare Serbian acknowledgment of the crimes, amid the reburial of 610 persons. Still, the event took place as Mladic and Karadzic, indicted as engineers of the genocide, remain at large.
Mladic, particularly, is remembered in a scene captured by TV cameras near Srebrenica. He was standing in front of a large crowd of unarmed civilians as UN forces withdrew, patting the head of a young boy, and saying, "Don't be afraid. Take it easy. Thirty buses are coming ... to deliver you.... No one will hurt you."