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Last Updated: Monday, 4 December 2006, 17:38 GMT
Anger over Dutch Srebrenica medal
Protest in Assen, the Netherlands
Protesters expressed their outraged in Assen
Survivors of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre have criticised the Dutch government for giving an insignia to UN peacekeepers who served in the city.

They said honouring Dutch troops who were charged with protecting the Muslim Bosnian enclave was "scandalous".

Nearly 8,000 Muslim men and boys were killed by Serb forces who overran Srebrenica in July 1995.

The Dutch government said the troops deserved recognition for their behaviour in difficult circumstances.

Presenting the insignia to some 800 soldiers from the Dutch battalion (Dutchbat) at a military barrack in Assen, Dutch Defence Minister Henk Kamp said they had been unjustly seen in an unfavourable light.

He said they were sent to Srebrenica on a mission impossible - without enough weaponry - and a limited mandate.

'Humiliating decision'

But survivors and relatives of the victims - who held protest rallies in The Hague, Assen and Bosnia's capital Sarajevo - condemned the move.

Dutch soldiers receive a decoration at a military base in Assen
Some 800 former Dutch peacekeepers received the award

"This is a scandalous, shameful and humiliating decision. Victims and their families are additionally humiliated and offended," said Munira Subasic, head of the Srebrenica Women association.

"They [the Dutch peacekeepers] allowed Bosnian Serb troops to slaughter 10,000 people. Shame be on them," she said.

Srebrenica survivors are demanding an apology - and are suing the Dutch state for failing to protect them.

Many people say there still needs to be a proper political debate - over where the responsibility - really lies, the BBC's Geraldine Coughlan in The Hague says.

The government in the Netherlands resigned in 2001 after accepting partial blame for the genocide.

A Bosnian Muslim woman angry about the medals

Timeline: Bosnia-Hercegovina
15 Mar 06 |  Country profiles
New Srebrenica mass grave found
17 Oct 05 |  Europe
Timeline: Siege of Srebrenica
09 Jun 05 |  Europe

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