Sarajevo Remembers Second Markale Market Massacre

Markale 28th of August 1995 Photo: ICTY
Markale 28th of August 1995 Photo: ICTY

This  week saw Sarajevans pay their respect to the victims of the second Markale Market massacre which took place 28th august 1995 and took the lives of 43 people and injured another 75 when a shell fired from Serb position outside the city landed in the crowded marketplace. According to the UN-report on the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina from November 1999, 5  mortar rounds landed in a crowded area of downtown Sarajevo around 11 o´clock on 28th of august 1995, one of those rounds landed in the crowded Markale Market place killing 43 people and wounding another 75. Approximately a year and a half before the market place had been struck by Serb shelling, killing 68 people and wounding 144.

In October last year Jeremy Bowen took the stand in the trial of Ratko Mladic, Bowen had served as BCC´s war correspondent in Bosnia and Herzegovina. According to his statement he had been in Sarajevo for most of the time and that “no place was safe” in the city, there was no shelter from the Bosnian Serb shelling and sniper attacks. Many of those TV reports that Bowen had made for BBC while in Sarajevo were shown during his testimony including the shelling of Hotel Europa where refugees that had been expelled from other parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina were staying.

Another video showed an artillery attack on children and other civilians in Sarajevo cemetery during the funeral of Vedrana Glavas. Glavas was a two-year old girl who was killed together with another child in a sniper attack on a bus transporting children from and orphanage. The children were being evacuated from the city.

One of those that had survived the second massacre on Markale, Ismet Svraka recounted his experiences that day during the trial of Ratko Mladic. According to Svraka he had lost his left leg and two toes on his right foot in the massacre as well as suffering from stomach pain and intestinal problems caused by shrapnel in his abdomen. Svraka had gone to downtown Sarajevo to deliver a letter to his sister and had taken the back streets in order to avoid snipers, after he had delivered the letter he went to the Markale market where he saw two friends standing in front of the market building when a shell exploded and the shouting and panic started. According to Svraka he was thrown in to a car and taken to a hospital. The prosecution played two video clips of the massacre, according to the IWPR report, “in the the first one you could see piles of contorted bodies lying on the ground amid the pools of blood and debris. Some are lifted into nearby cars, and screaming and shouting can be heard in the background.”

Ismet Svraka was able to identify himself as one of those on the ground.  The second clip was altogether more graphic and was shown after Svraka had left the courtroom. The clip showed a man lying face-up in the street with the top of his head completely blown open and blood gushing into the pavement.

During the trial of Dragomir Milosevic, a protected witness: W-137 testifed that; “all of the victims of the shelling were being rushed to hospital in the trunks of many cars, without any distinction as to whether the victims were dead or alive”. According to the witness those collecting bodies could not be certain who was dead and who was still alive and so they rushed to pick up everyone and take them to the hospital as soon as possible.

Djula Leka a resident of Sarajevo had been at the Markale Market when the mortar rounds landed, she was about five to seven meters from the place of impact. She was injured while her brother in-law was killed by the Serb mortar round. She said that a policeman at the scene stopped a car to transport her to the hospital but that the car was full of dead bodies so she refused to get in. To this day she feels pain in her chest and shoulder as result of the injures she received on that day.

Mesuda and Ismet Klaric were immediately taken to surgery, Ismet didn´t survive. The mortar round had landed about five meters behind them. Directly after the mortar hit Mesuda felt like she wasn´t fully conscious or able to see what was going on. When she came to she saw  that she was sitting on the ground with her husband next to her. He told her that he had lost his arm while she was bleeding heavily from her leg. Mesuda also saw people lying on the street towards the cathedral as she was being carried to a car to take her to a hospital with her husband. In the car were also a young man and a young woman, according to Mesuda, the foot of the young girl had been severed by the blast. (page 220-221 D.Milosevic Verdict)

Several Bosnian police officers arrived at the scene minutes after the blast at Markale Market. W-137 a KDZ technician said that he had been in the area with a colleague when he heard a lot of cars sounding their horns and human arms and legs sticking out of the cars he arrived seven minutes after seeing the cars as he and his colleague went back to get their equipment. He described the scene he found at Markale Market as “the last, deepest circle of Dante’s hell” (page 224)

Markale Photo: ICTY
Markale Photo: ICTY

During the trial of Stanislav Galic, the first commander of Sarajevo-Romanija Corps the trial chamber found that there was evidence that the sniping and shelling activity of the SRK in and around Sarajevo were under the direct control of the SRK’s chain of command and that if he had wanted, Galic could have punished those who committed crimes since the trial produced ample evidence that he was aware attacks on civilians by SRK (Sarajevo-Romanija Corps) The trial chamber also concluded based on evidence that not only did Galic knew of the attacks on civilians in Sarajevo but that he indeed controlled pace and scale of those crimes. According to the trial chamber Galic did this with the primary aim of of spreading terror among the civilian population of Sarajevo. Galic was sentenced to twenty years in prison´for crimes against humanity, including grave breaches of the Geneva Convention as well as for the first Markale Massarce in February 1994.

Stanislav Galic was replaced by Dragomir Milosevic on August 10th 1994.  In 2009 after an appeal Milosevic´s sentence was reduced from 33 to 29 years. Nevertheless Dragomir Milosevic was sentenced for crimes against humanity and violations of the laws or customs of war. According to the Appeals Chamber verdict: Milosevic conducted a campaign of snipering and shelling attacks on the city of Sarajevo and did so with the primary aim of spreading terror among the city’s civilian population. He conducted a campaign of artillery, mortar and modified air bomb shelling of civilian areas of Sarajevo and on its civilian population.

The siege of Sarajevo was the longest of it´s kind in modern times. It lasted three time longer then the siege of Stalingrad and a year longer then the siege of Leningrad. Beginning on April 5th 1992 and last for almost 4 years, 11541 people lost their lives, of those 1601 were children. Approximately 50 000 people were wounded by artillery and sniper fire coming from Bosnian Serb positions around the city.

List of those who died in the massacre: Omer Ajanović, Hidajet Alić, Salko Alić, Zeno Bašević, Husein Baktašević, Sevda Brkan-Kruščica, Vera Brutus-Đukić, Halida Cepić, Paša Crnčalo, Mejra Cocalić, Razija Čolić, Esad Čoranbegić, Dario Dlouhi, Salko Duraković, Alija Dževlan, Najla Fazlić, Rijad Garbo, Ibrahim Hajvaz, Meho Herceglić, Jasmina Hodžić, Hajrudin Hozo, Jusuf Hašimbegović, Adnan Ibrahimagić, Ilija Karanović, Mesudija Kerović, Vehid Komar, Muhamed Kukić, Mirsad Kovačević, Hašim Kurtović, Ismet Klarić, Masija Lončar, Osman Mahmutović, Senad Muratović, Goran Poturković, Blaženka Smoljan, Hamid Smajlhodžić, Hajro Šatrović, Samir Topuzović, Hamza Tunović Ajdin Vukotić, Sabaheta Vukotić, Meho Zećo Narima Žiga.

On 28th August this year ICTY NEWS posted this short clip of the aftermath.

Short clip from BBC documentary; Death of Yugoslavia on the second Markale Massacre.

 

Mladić Plaque in East Sarajevo: A Continuation of the Genocide

 

Erecting Plaques to Genocidaries : In Honour of Ratko Mladic
Erecting Plaques to Genocidaries : In Honour of Ratko Mladic

 

This is a guest post by David Pettigrew, PhD Professor of Philosophy, Southern Connecticut State University. I am honoured to share this on my blog, Bosnian version of Professor Pettigrew´s text was published today by Al Jazeera Balkans

 

In June there were reports that a commemorative plaque honoring Ratko Mladić had been installed in the hills above Sarajevo.  When I returned to Sarajevo from Srebrenica, where I had witnessed the 19th annual commemorative burials of the victims of the genocide on July 11, I made plans to locate the commemorative plaque. I had to see it, as one says, with my own eyes. The plaque is located, as is the park, on Vraca Hill, just above Grbavica. The plaque was installed in a wall that borders Vraca Memorial Park, a park that commemorates the citizens of Sarajevo who died during World War II.1 As one climbs by car on Derviša Numića Street above Grbavica, a road sign announces that one is leaving Sarajevo Canton, and another sign announces that one is entering the Town of East Sarajevo, which is located within Republika Srpska.  The plaque is on the left side of the road, just another 50 meters further ahead.

In April 1992, the memorial park was seized by the Bosnian Serbs for its value as strategic high ground from which to attack the city of Sarajevo.2 The terraces of the memorial park extend to the northeast, looming above the city, and according to news reports as well as indictments based on eye-witness accounts, the park offered a position from which snipers could terrorize the citizens of Sarajevo.3 According to my sources there was a tank position located approximately 150 meters to the west of the park along Teočačka Street.  So this is the historical and geographic context of the location where we find that Mladic’s commemorative plaque has been installed: between a sniper position and a tank position.

Further, it should not escape our attention that this plaque glorifies an indicted war criminal who, as part of an “overarching joint criminal enterprise,” sought “to spread terror among the civilian population of Sarajevo through a campaign of sniping and shelling.”4 A relevant ICTY Judgement states that, “Evidence on the record also indicates that other senior members of the Bosnian Serb leadership, alleged to have been members of the JCE [Joint Criminal Enterprise], possessed genocidal intent. For example, in discussing Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats, Ratko Mladić, the Commander of the Army of the Republika Srpska Main Staff, is alleged to have said that ‘[m]y concern is to have them vanish completely’.”5 Hence, the commemorative plaque honoring Mladić is a brutal provocation directed at all Bosniaks and non-Serbs, and, given its location, it is an insult to the memory of those who were the victims of the siege of Sarajevo, a siege that murdered over 11,500 persons, including hundreds of children.

However, this glorification of Mladić in East Sarajevo is not an isolated incident. On July 9, when 175 coffins containing the human remains of the victims of the Srebrenica genocide arrived in Potočari in preparation for the commemorative burials on July 11, a statement was released by Milorad Dodik, the President of Republika Srpska, in which he denied the ruling of genocide for Srebrenica; declared that Mladić and Karadžić were leaders in the Serb fight for freedom; and insisted that the Serbian people would continue to honor them in the years ahead.6 Perhaps the commemorative plaque for Mladić takes its place in a tradition that includes the glorification of Gavrilo Princip who, in the opinion of the Bosnian Serbs, was a freedom fighter and hero. A park and statue honoring Princip was dedicated recently, also in East Sarajevo.7

This recent crop of memorials for Mladić and Princip reminds us of the fact that in Republika Srpska, survivors of the genocide who are non-Serbs have been frustrated in their efforts to install their own memorials in memory of the victims.  In Višegrad, for example, the Bosnian Serb authorities threatened to destroy or remove such a memorial in a private Muslim cemetery, and then, on January 23, 2014, they forcibly entered the cemetery under heavy police protection and ground the word “genocide” from the stone memorial. In Prijedor and Foča, sites of concentration camps and rape camps, survivors have been forbidden from installing memorials.

Moreover, the memorials to Mladić and Princip, for example, should not be understood simply as part of a Bosnian Serb  “counter narrative,” as though the memorials represent “one side,” while the other side (or sides) have their own narratives. To suggest that there are two or three equivalent narratives is reminiscent of the assessments during the genocide that there were two or three warring sides whose violent acts were morally equivalent. Such an assessment was morally repugnant because it was a betrayal of the truth, and because it contributed to the policy of nonintervention and inaction on the part of the international community, inaction that led finally to the genocide in Srebrenica.

Indeed, far from being a “counter narrative,” the plaque glorifying Ratko Mladić can be seen, most significantly, as nothing less than a continuation of the genocide that was perpetrated from 1992-1995.  Raphael Lemkin, who coined the term “genocide,” wrote that genocide has two phases: “one, destruction of the national pattern of the oppressed group; the other, the imposition of the national pattern of the oppressor.”8 The commemorative plaque in honor of Ratko Mladić is just such an imposition involving the public glorification of a man who was responsible for so much suffering, with no concern for the feelings of the survivors, no shame, and no sense of human decency. The imposition of the national pattern of the genocidal oppressor assumes that the first phase of genocide has been successfully accomplished. In other words, it assumes that the multicultural world that existed in the past no longer exists, and assumes further that the ultranationalist cultural narrative of the Serbs can now be imposed on the terrain with impunity, continuing to actively negate the world that once was.

Another example of the imposition of such an exclusionary cultural pattern involves the construction of Serb orthodox Churches in Bosniak villages in Republika Srpska. A Church in Budak, within Srebrenica municipality, for example, has been constructed in a village of Bosniak returnees, next to a secondary mass grave that has been exhumed, on the route of the peace march, and situated in such a way that the steeple looms in the distance over the Potočari Memorial Cemetery.  Perhaps nowhere is the impulse to impose a separatist culture of genocide denial more obvious than in Višegrad, where, having removed the word “genocide” from the memorial, the local authorities are seeking to raze the Pionirska Street house where approximately 60 women, children, and elderly were burned alive.  They seek to destroy the building in order to erase the traces of the heinous crimes, to recast the landscape and rewrite history in order to say that it never happened.

All this raises a question as to why the international community and, specifically the Office of the High Representative in Sarajevo, have been willing to permit such provocative gestures and discriminatory policies in a society in need of pathways to justice, reconciliation and healing.  This is certainly not the time for inaction that would appease ultranationalist politics and cultural practices that constitute no less than a continuation of the genocide.  The High Representative needs to act now to prohibit genocide denial as well as to prohibit the glorification of war criminals. These would be just two of the initiatives that the High Representative should address immediately in order to set Bosnia and Herzegovina on the path toward becoming a unified multicultural nation as well as part of the European Union. Inaction would amount to complicity in the ongoing genocide.

 

 

 

David Pettigrew, PhD Professor of Philosophy, Southern Connecticut State University,

Steering Committee, Yale University Genocide Studies Program,

International Team of Experts Institute for Research of Genocide, Canada,

Board Member, Bosnian American Genocide Institute and Education Center, Chicago, IL, USA

 

August 20, 2014

 

 

Notes

 

1. Vraca Memorial Park in Sarajevo has been designated as a National Monument of Bosnia and

Herzegovina. The official decision for the designation of Vraca Memorial Park as a national

monument identifies provisions for its protection and rehabilitation. Article III sets forth two

“Protection Zones” and inveighs against all actions that “might damage” or “jeopardize” the

preservation of the National Monument. Accessed August 15, 2014,

http://kons.gov.ba/main.php?id_struct=50&lang=4&action=view&id=2559

2. It bears mentioning that, in April 1992, the Bosnian Serbs seized the Vraca Police Academy and secured Grbavica, below the hill, for what was perhaps their most dramatic strategic incursion into Sarajevo during the siege. This is precisely what John Burns called, in an October 6, 1992, New York Times article, “a principle Serbian salient into the city.” John F. Burns, “Serbian Guns Resume Heavy Shelling of Sarajevo,” New York Times, October 6, 1992, accessed August 15, 2014,

http://www.nytimes.com/1992/10/06/world/serbian-guns-resume-heavy-shelling-of-sarajevo.html

3. For example, see §232 of International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, Judgement,

Dragomir Milošević (IT-98-29/1-T), Trial Chamber III, December 12, 2007, accessed August, 6, 2014,

http://www.icty.org/x/cases/dragomir_milosevic/tjug/en/071212.pdf

Another reference to an eyewitness account can be found in Goran Jungvirth’s report “Journalist Recalls Siege of Sarajevo,” Institute for War and Peace Reporting, October 8, 2011, Accessed August 15, 2014, http://iwpr.net/report-news/journalist-recalls-siege-sarajevo: “This week, the prosecution also called two witnesses to testify about sniper attacks on trams full of civilians in Sarajevo. Alma Mulaosmanovic described how she and others were wounded on a tram in February 1995, when she was 18. The gunfire came from the Serb-controlled areas of Grbavica and Vraca, she said. According to the witness, incidents like this happened on a daily basis in Sarajevo in 1994 and 1995, terrorising the city’s population.”

4. International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, Fourth Amended Indictment, Mladić

(IT-09-92-PT), Trial Chamber I, accessed August, 6, 2014, http://www.icty.org/x/cases/mladic/ind/en/111216.pdf

5.International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, Judgement Summary, Karadžić (IT-9SSI18-AR98bis.l), Appeals Chamber, July 11, 2013, accessed August 15, 2014.

http://www.icty.org/x/cases/karadzic/acjug/en/130711_judgement_summary_rule98bis.pdf

6. “OHR mirno posmatra: Dodik najavio priznanje za Karadžića i Mladića, ponovo negira genocid i

http://www.klix.ba, accessed August 15, 2014, http://www.klix.ba/BiH,” vijesti/ohr-mirno-posm-dodiknajavio-priznanje-za-karadzica-i-mladica-ponovo-negira-genocid-i-bih/140710004

7.In a news article in b92 news portal, we read: “The statue was unveiled by Serb member of Bosnia-Herzegovina Presidency Nebojša Radmanović, Bosnia’s Serb entity, RS, President Milorad Dodik, and the mayor of East New Sarajevo, Ljubisa Ćosić. Shot was a prelude to what some Europeans were preparing for years, and Serbs emerged from that war as winners,’ Radmanović said during the ceremony on Friday… Addressing the ceremony … Mayor Ćosić said that Princip was ‘a hero of the Serb people.” “Monument to Gavrilo Princip unveiled in East´Sarajevo,” http://www.b92.net, accessed August 15, 2014,http://www.b92.net/eng/news/region.php?yyyy=2014&mm=06&dd=27&nav_id=90812

8.Raphael Lemkin, Axis Rule in Occupied Europe: Laws of Occupation – Analysis of Government -Proposals for Redress (Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1944), p. 79.

 

 

 

Here are some photos taken by  Professor Pettigrew from Vraca Hill

Remembering the Murders and Abuse of Bosniaks in Rogatica

A sign from 2012 in Rogatica, with picture of Veljko Vlahovic Secondery School. "Once You Were A Place O Knowledge, Then A Prison Camp Were We Spilled Our Blood, Were Raped, Tortured And Killed...
A sign from 2012 in Rogatica, with picture of Veljko Vlahovic Secondary School. “Once You Were A Place of Knowledge, Then A Prison Camp Where We Spilled Our Blood, Were Raped, Tortured And Killed…

Yesterday marked the 22 anniversary of the killings of Bosniaks in the Rogatica area in eastern Bosnia. Rogatica sits between Srebenica Visegrad and Gorazde about 60 km from Sarajevo nestled on Romanija Mountain. The anniversary of the killings and torture was marked by a commemoration as former prisoners as well as families of the dead  vsited the former detention facilities in “Veljko Vlahovic” school building and “Rasadnik” building where most of the beatings and killings took place. According to Bakira Hasecic, President of the “Women, Victims of War” Association: Women and men were held in those locations and were brutally abused and tortured and some were killed.

Some of the methods for torturing Bosniak prisoners were disclosed during the on-going trial of Radovan Karadzic, Karadzic is currently on trial for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In September 2011 one of those who survived the camps in Rogatica testified about the abuse he saw. Sefik Hurko a former resident of Rogatica described the cruel abuse he suffered together with his father and uncle after their arrest in mid-August 1992. According to Hurko he was arrested together with his father mother and uncle by Serb troops, they were first held prisoner in a garage belonging to a Serb man in the village of Kosovo. According to Hurko they were abused by Serb soldiers who Hurko could name, including Rajko Krsmanovic, Stojan Perkovic as well as other Serb soldiers under the command of Rajko Kusic. Kusic had introduced himself as the commander of Serb forces in Rogatica. Hurko reacounted how Rajko Krsmanovic approached his father ordered him to stick out his tounge like he meant to cut it off and the took out his knife and strated cutting Sefik Hurko´s father´s ears. Hurko´s father fell to the ground, covered in blood. Then Krsmanovic told Sefik to eat three or four rounds from his pistol and started stabbing Sefik´s hands with a knife and beating him.

According to Sefik Hurko, Krsmanovic and Perkovic took his uncle Abdulah Hurko out to the yard and beat him too. He never saw his uncle again. Rajko Kusic was also present while several other members of Hurko´s family were beaten up. Hurko was later taken with his father to a high school that served as a detention camp and then transferred to Rasadnik prison camp. Accodring to Hurko; Rajko Kusic appointed a certain Vinko Bojic as camp warden who “humiliated and abused the detained men and women. They were beaten, tortured and sexually assaulted.”

Aside from testifying at the trial of Radovan Karadzic, Sefik Hurko testified at the trial of Ratko Mladic as well in September 2012, it was Hurko´s second encounter with Ratko Mladic.  (Mladic is alongside Karadzic on trial for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide ) Hurko had first meet Ratko Mladic in 1994 on the front lines outside Gorazde; Serb soldiers had used imprisoned Bosniak civilians from Rogatica as forced labor on the front lines. On the day he meet Mladic, Hurko was forced to cut down trees in the woods near Gorazde with other Bosniak prisoners from Rasadnik prison camp. Mladic was there with the prison warden, Vinko Bojic, the commander of the Rasadnik prison camp, when Mladic asked Bojic who the men cutting wood were; Bojic responded that; they were “loyal Muslims” after which Ratko Mladic spoke to the Bosniak prisoners, pointing at Gorazde he said that “in a day or two it will be in Serb hands” and that those who wish to stay; will have to be baptized; those that don’t will be moved to Alija’s state”.

In his testimony against Ratko Mladic in September 2012 Hurko also described how the Bosniak prisoners from Rasadnik were forced to work every day, doing the jobs that Serbs didn´t want to do. Clearing the streets, and the ruins of the Mosques that had been destroyed, according to Hurko; they were also forced to “remove furniture, household appliances  from abandoned Bosniak homes and bring them to Serb houses”.

Hurko also described the beatings he and his father received while at Rasadnik, including beaing beaten with thick bats in the prison warden Vinko Bojic´s office. At one point Hurko fainted from the beating he had received, only to have water poured on him to wake him up. Hurko talked about the murder of one of the prisoners, a Becir Cutaj, who´s cries according to Hurko could be heard from the warden’s office, and the man that was ordered to bury Cutaj, another Bosniak prisoner told Hurko that Cutaj had been “cut to pieces”

Another survivor from Rogatica recounted his own painful experiences during the trial of Radovan Karadzic; he did not use his name and acted as a protected witness, talking about how it was to be a father to two children, who had both been raped by Serb forces in Rogatica. The daughter was seven-and-a-half year´s old and the son 13 years old when they were raped. The witness said that Serb soldiers raped him too, but that “he had got through it somehow” while it was difficult to come to terms with the fact that his young children were sexually assaulted. He had yet to ask his wife if she had been raped as well, he simply lacked the strength to do it. “I got seriously ill. I have been in treatment for the past 16 years and I have tried to forget at least some of it, but I can’t. To this day I haven’t asked my wife if she was raped, too. I lack strength to do it”

The witness was haunted by the fact that the people who did these things were his former neighbors and people he knew.  According to the witness before the war Rogatica was a little town full of life, people celebrated Bosniak, Catholic and Orthodox holidays. Life was good. All that ended when Serb forces together with Rajko Kusic men came, according to the witness “Rogatica was first shelled brutally from the local hills before Serb forces entered and “cleansed” it ruthlessly  not caring if if their victims were children, invalids or the sick”.

During the on-going trial of Ratko Mladic another protected witness, witness RM 81 talked about the arrests, beatings, rape and murders that took place in Rogatica after the Serb takeover of the town. According to the witness most of this took place in Veljko Vlahovic Secondary School, and that Rajko Kusic was firmly in command of the prison camp. The witness went on to say that, one time, in late June or early July Kusic visited the school and complained about the fact that “people refuse to cooperate” and that was giving him problems. According to the witness Kusic said that he had been given a “deadline” for the “cleansing” of Rogatica and that he “had to report to Pale” The witness also stated that a man named Danko Neric took part in the destruction of Arnaudija Mosque, one of two Mosques in Rogatica to be destroyed by Serb forces, the other one was; Carsijska Mosque. Neric wore “an olive drab military uniform of the former JNA”.

Rajko Kusic
Rajko Kusic

In 2012 the anniversary of the crimes committed in Rogatica was held for the first time. Edvin Kanka Ćudić spoke to some of the witnesses and survivors about what they saw and experienced in Rasadnik. Few of the survivors told Cudic about the abuse and murders they saw and heard about while in the prison camps:

 Almost everyone who was there was a victim of a crime, from the old and disabled to young. They beat us with everything, everything they could get hold of. They forced us to do manual labor; they raped the women and girls. It was unbearable, what they did to us. We didn´t have any kind of conditions, no decent food we slept on pallets. Once the warden got drunk, whoever he could get hold of first, he took with him. We all returned blooded and brused, Vinko Bojic personally knocked out two of my teeth, once they abused us they called us various derogatory names, it was horrible for everyone who was there. For me the hardest part was the murder of Sefjo Mirvic.

 

Sejfo Mirvic and Alija Omerhodzic from Gorazde were killed in Rasadnik, Alija Omerhodzic was killed with a chainsaw and Sejfo Mirvic hacked to death with an axe according to one of the survivors.  But while Sejfo Mirvic was buried, Alija Omerhodzic was thrown down into the sewage system. “I personally saw and will never forget. Vinko Bojic personally abused the prisoners” said one of the survivors, the survivor also named several of those involved, a man he called Ljubinac from Seljani,(Radisav Ljubinac, sentenced to 10 years in 2007) as well as Rajko Kusic, Goran Kanastravac, Slavisa Vukovic, according to the survivor Rajko Kusic personally killed around 20 Bosniaks, while Slavko and Simo Lubarda killed his brother´s children on the door step of their house.

 

2012 was also the first time families of the victims and survivors were able to pay respect to the victims and lay flowers in front of a the secondary school and near the Rasadnik camp which served as prison camps for Bosniaks during the war. It was pointed out during the commemoration that from 1992-1995 women were subjected to mass rape in these camps and that those most responsible from that crime of war, including Rajko Kusic have not been arrested.

Bakira Hasecic who spoke at yesterday´s commemoration also spoke in 2012. According to her:  “In Visegrad, Foca and Rogatica, institutions of learning were turned into mass prison camps were Bosniaks and Croats were murdered. In the pogroms, the killings, and sexual violence that took place there, aside from the local  unit assembled by Rajko Kusic, members of Arkans Tigers, Seselj`s Volunteers, the Bosnian Serb Army, (VRS) as well as the JNA (Yugoslav People´s Army) also participated.”

In May 2006 Dragoje Paunovic, leader of a Serb military formation of the Rogatica Battalion was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment for crimes against humanity, for the murder of 24 civilians that were taken from Rasadnik Prison Camp and used as human shields by Serb forces in a battle against the Army of Bosnia And Herzegovina. Altogether 27 prisoners were taken from the camp by Radislav Ljubinac and driven to a place called Jacen in Rogatica, later that day Paunovic lined up the prisoners and ordered his men to shot the prisoners, the verdict said Paunovic took part in the killings at Jacen. So far Bosnian  State Court has sentenced three men;  Radisav Ljubinac, Dragoje Paunovic and Stojan Perkovic for the crimes committed against the civilian population of Rogatica. The three men have been sentenced to 42 years imprisonment totally, however as Bakira Hasecic pointed out on Friday, that is not nearly enough and that those most responsible are still at large, and that the victims  request faster processing of these crimes. Hasecic was referring to men like Rajko Kusic who according to Bakira Hasecic lives in Serbia. She hopes that that Bosnian State Prosecutor´s Office would conclude an agreement with Serbia about the processing of those crimes, given that according to Hasecic it is known that most of the suspects now live in Serbia.

This post has been edited and updated 18/08/2014

Bosnia and Herzegovina hit by more heavy rain and flooding

Zeljezno Polje Photo: Tim Clancy
Zeljezno Polje Photo: Tim Clancy

Last May´s heavy rains caused some of the worst flooding in over a century in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and Serbia. Aside from the tragic loss of life damage done to the infrastructure was estimated to be in the billions. Sadly more floods have now hit the region. with both Bosnia and Serbia affected.

According to Balkan Insight :

One man was reported to have drowned in Banja Koviljaca in Serbia in the basement of his home on Tuesday, the Serbian daily newspaper Blic reported.

Many other homes, buildings and streets were flooded in the Loznica area of western Serbia. Extremely poor weather in central and west Serbia brought heavy rain to Kragujevac, Cacak, Ivanjica and Priboj while landslides were said to be active around Mali Zvornik in the west.

In Bosnia, the situation has was worst in the northern Tuzla region and around Zenica, Doboj, Banja Luka and Zvornik, where local rivers have burst and flooded dozens of houses.

Reports said that in the area of town of Lukavac, near Tuzla, around a hundred houses were flooded and that landslides had been recorded. Many local roads were blocked.

Flooding in Lukavac near Tuzla:

One of the places worst hit by last May´s flooding was Zeljezno Polje in central Bosnia. Those living there were still in the process of rebuilding from the May flooding when a the floods hit again. Tim Clancy who was in Zeljezno Polje yesterday has allowed me to post his Facebook flood update from yesterday. I will try to keep this post updated as the news from the affected areas comes in.

Tim Clancy:

FLOOD UPDATE – CRITICAL: Just got back from Zeljezno Polje where torrential rains have created serious flooding, damaged roads further, and caused even more landslides. People are fleeing the area in enough numbers to cause alarm. We evacuated one family living in a tent in the mud stricken valley. The temporary bridges that act as a lifeline to the upper villages are in serious danger of being washed away again. At one critical spot there was only a few centimeters left before the river spilled over the small, makeshift overpass.Double whammy – my guess is most will try to flee towards the main valley to the M-17. If that overpass goes and the landslides continue – a lot of people could hypothetically be stuck, quite literally, between a rock and a hard place. The only place left to go would be the high mountain road towards Begov Han. The same place these poor folks fled to when the devastating landslides hit in May.Terra Dinarica and Postive Pozitivna igra / Positive Play have contacted the GSS (Mountain Rescue Service) from Zavidovici and they have fully mobilized – they are just waiting for the green light from Civil Protection Force (God help us).We tried to evacuate the family to safety in Zepce but were stopped by what we thought was an accident. We were just informed by a friend that it was another landslide that has blocked the M-17 near Zepce. As we headed back to Sarajevo we saw the major landslide in Nemila on the M-17 looking pretty unstable. We got a call ten minutes later from the UN that the landslide in Nemila has blocked the M-17 road entirely. Neither of these are confirmed.It’s gonna be a long night in Zeljezno Polje. Let’s hope some help is in site. This post is not meant to press the panic button – but to bring attention to the situation so it can be dealt with in an adequate and timely manner – which could save lives. Better safe than sorry.