UNITED NATIONS — The United States, Canada, and Jordan boycotted a controversial meeting on international criminal justice organized by the Serbian president of the General Assembly on Wednesday because it did not include Bosnia’s war victims and attacked the UN war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
To protest the victims’ exclusion, Jordan’s UN Ambassador Prince Zeid al Hussein and Liechtenstein’s UN ambassador Christian Wenewaser hosted a press conference for two victims groups — the Mothers of Srebrenica and the Association of Witnesses and Survivors of Genocide — while assembly president Vuk Jeremic, the former foreign minister of Serbia, presided over the assembly meeting.
Munira Subasic, president of the Mothers of Srebrenica, who lost 22 close family members in the 1995 massacre by Bosnian Serbs, said she was allowed into the assembly meeting as ‘‘a silent observer’’ but felt the same way she did after losing her husband, sons, and other loved ones: ‘‘I had no right to anything.’’
She listened as Serbia’s ultranationalist President Tomislav Nikolic, the main speaker, criticized the Yugoslav tribunal. She believed that Nikolic was denying the genocide in Srebrenica, so she said she put on a T-shirt she had brought as a gift for Secretary General Ban Ki-moon which said: ‘‘Justice Is Slow But It’s Reachable.’’
‘‘All of a sudden I was surrounded by security of Vuk Jeremic’’ and escorted out of the conference room, Subasic said.
She said that the United Nations, which had failed to protect the men and boys of Srebrenica, appeared not to learn from its past, and she urged her own descendants and people everywhere to learn from the past ‘‘and love other people and don’t hate anyone.’’
In a lengthy speech soon after, Nikolic protested against the ‘‘lynch-mobbing of Serbia’’ and accused the Yugoslav tribunal of ‘‘selective justice’’ by seeking to punish Serbs while overlooking the crimes of Bosniaks and Croats.
Jordan’s Zeid, who was a UN peacekeeper in Bosnia and served from 2002 to 2005 as the first president of the Assembly of States Parties for the International Criminal Court, said Tuesday he was encouraging other countries in the 193-nation General Assembly to boycott the meeting.
He expressed ‘‘indignation at the way the president of the General Assembly has exploited his position and this important theme, which is the Role of International Criminal Justice in Reconciliation, for the purposes we suspect of launching an unmerited attack by the Serbian Radical Party against the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.’’