Back in in March I wrote about the activities of Serb nationalist and Nazi collaborationist Ravna Gora Chetnik Movement in Bosnia and Herzegovina. As I pointed out in my post, today throughout the Bosnian entity of RS (Republika Srpska) there could be as many 30,000 Chetniks organized in various chapters. They are mostly registered as members of “NGO´s” and by all accounts are highly motivated, wearing uniforms with officer insignia which as one Bosnian writer says; means that there is a hierarchy and a command chain, and when there is a hierarchy means that if you add guns we have a military formation. They wear the same uniforms with the same with labels that they had on in 1940s and 1990s when they engaged in mass slaughter and rape of Bosniaks. I also brought up some of the atrocities carried out by Chetnik bands both in WW2 and during the Bosnian genocide of the 1990´s.
While there has been considerable amount of literature in former Yugoslavia dedicated to the Chetnik genocide in Eastern Bosnia during WW2 very little is known about it outside academic circles. One of the first serious treatments of this topic came in 1990 when Sarajevo-based publishing house Svjetlost published an over 800 pages’ long tome by Antun Miletić and Vladimir Dedijer of documents and testimonies called Genocid nad Muslimanima (Genocide of the Muslims) putting some light on the massive scale of Serb nationalist atrocities against Bosniaks and Croats during WW2. Since then above all, Marko Attila Hoare, the British historian and genocide scholar has shed light on that aspect of WW2 genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in two books; 1) Genocide and Resistance in Hitler’s Bosnia: The Partisans and the Chetniks, 1941–1943 (London, Oxford University Press, 2006) 2) The Bosnian Muslims in the Second World War: A History (London, C. Hurst & Co., 2013)
Right after I posted my article on the Ravna Gora Chetnik Movement in today´s Bosnia and Herzegovina a received request both from my Bosnian readers and some foreign friends who wanted to know more on this. I recommended Hoare´s books on the topic as well as some treatments in Bosnian, including Smail Čekić´s; Genocid nad Bošnjacima u Drugom svjetskom ratu (PDF).
This article is a result of those requests, I have no intentions of reviewing Hoare´s or Miletić´s and Dedijer´s work since their reputations speak for themselves, and I leave that to their peers. However, the number of primary sources collected by above all the latter two speaks volumes about the intentions of the ideologues of the Chetnik atrocities. I do have to admit that I was not overwhelmed by the latter two´s analytical prowess, while they make a convincing case using the vast archives of the former Yugoslavia they do shy away from Partisan atrocities above all in 1941. As well as trying make a (unconvincing) case that Serb and Croat nationalists were somehow inspired by “Anglo-Saxon supremacists” and their genocide of the Native Americans in North America. I find that Marko Attila Hoare offers a much more lucid and convincing interpretation of the events during WW2.
Be that as it may, I have decided to honour the request of my readers and publish two articles summarizing the vast amount of documentation & primary sources presented by the two men, primary sources that dovetailwith the testimonies of survivors to show the extent of Chetnik atrocities during WW2.
In their book; Miletić and Dedijer concluded that there was a genocidal intent on the part of the armed forces of the exiled (in London) Kingdom of Yugoslavia, and their military leader, General Dragoljub “Draža” Mihailović when it came to the Bosnian Muslims. (Bosniaks) The authors, drawing from the archives in Montenegro and Serbia laid bare the ideology that served as the driving force behind the atrocities committed against Bosniaks in the Second World War by Chetnik units and not only that but going back to the First Balkan War of 1912. Miletić and Dedijer write that one of the ways this genocidal ideology can manifest itself is by the removal of, or denial of the national identity of a certain nation, in this case the Bosniaks. Miletić and Dedijer bring up Poglavnik Ante Pavelić, head of the NDH (The Independent State of Croatia) and the people in his inner circle who propagated the idea that Bosnian Muslims were in fact Croats of Islamic faith. In fact one could argue that Bosnian Muslims, spent most of the WW2 on one hand trying to avoid annihilation at the hands of Serb nationalists and on the other trying to avoid assimilation by NDH as “Croats of Islamic faith”. The desperate situation the Bosniaks found themselves in lead to some strange alliances and as British historian Marko Attila Hoare showed in his book: The Bosnian Muslims in the Second World War, also shaped the form and outcome of Communist revolution and struggle against the Nazis, The NDH and The Chetniks.
When it comes to the ideologues of the Chetnik genocide; Miletić and Dedeijer point to Stevan Moljević, Dragomir Vasić and Živko Topalović, as well as Dragoljub Mihailović himself and their writings. Miletić and Dedijer also claim that the notions of ethnic and national purity that were propagated by Croat and Serb nationalists at the time were not only inspired by Hitler and his Lebensraum but also by Anglo-Saxon supremacists and the genocide of the Native Americans. According to Miletić and Dedijer as well-read people, Moljević, Vasić, Topalović and other Serb nationalist ideologues could not have only been inspired by Hitler´s theory and praxis, but his “Anglo-Saxon predecessors” as well, the conquerors of North America. As I wrote above; it should be noted though that the two historians are most likely speculating on that part since they don´t offer much if any proof that the Chetnik ideologues we inspired by the genocide of Native Americans, in fact the policies proposed by the Chetnik ideologues and carried out during the Second World War could have just as easily been inspired by or a continuation of the nationalist chauvinist policies propagated by among others Tsarist Russia, Bulgaria, Serbia and Greece which led to the ethnic cleansing and death of millions of Balkan and Ottoman Muslims between 1821-1922, as documented by American demographer Justin McCarthy in Death and Exile.
In any case, when it comes to driving force behind the atroceties against Bosniaks and non-Serbs during Second World War, Miletić and Dedijer point to among other things a document, a plan of action written by Stevan Moljević, dated 30th of June 1941 about the borders, social construct and foreign policy of a “Greater Serbia” within a new Yugoslavia. The document was titled: Homogena Srbija (Homogenous Serbia) From the document they cite the following passages:
1) Today, Serbs have a first and foremost duty, which is the creation of a homogenous Serbia which will encompass the entire ethnic area which they inhabit.
2) The relocation and exchange of population, specially Croats from Serb, and Serbs from Croat areas, which is the only way to create a safe border between the two peoples an avoid the possibility for renewed atrocities such as the ones that took place during the last war, especially in places where Serbs and Croats were intermingled and where Croats and Muslims set out to destroy the Serbs.
Moljević´s plan was augmented by Draža Mihailović´s instructions of December 20th 1941 to Chetnik Detachmets in Montenegro and the commander of the Chetnik Detachment in Lim Valley, Pavle Đurišić. From Mihailović´s instructions to Đurišić, Miletić and Dedijer point to several passages which they say points to genocidal intent towards Muslims, or non-Serbs:
1) Create a Greater Yugoslavia and within it a Greater Serbia which is to be ethnically pure and is to include Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Srem (Syrmia), the Banat, and Bačka.
2) The cleansing of the state territory of all national minorities and “anational” elements.
3) The creation of continuous frontiers between Serbia and Montenegro, as well as between Serbia and Slovenia by cleansing the Muslim population from the Sandžak and the Muslim and Croat populations from Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Dedijer and Miletić also point to a letter from Stevan Moljević, adressed to Vasić from February 1942 where Moljević writes: “In regards to our internal matters, the separation with the Croats, we maintain the need to imminently, as soon as the opportunity presents itself collect all our forces and settle the matter once and for all: a) takeover the territory indicated on the map, b) cleanse it before anyone has a chance to gather. The takeover could only be carried out if we could with strong units’ takeover the main strongholds such as: Osjek, Vinkovici, Slav, Sunja, Knin, Sibenik, Metkovic and Mostar, and then cleanse the land of all non-Serb elements. The guilty should also be allowed a road, the Croats to Croatia, the Muslims to Turkey (or Albania).”
According to the documentation that was available to Miletić and Dedijer the two were able to point to three periods during the Second World War where mass atrocities were committed against Bosnian Muslims, and Muslims of the Sandžak; first from 1941, to February 1942. Second, during august 1942, and the third during the first months of 1943.
Documents collected by the two historians during the first period show members of the Priboj Chetnik Detachment out of Sandžak, using weapons given to them by the Italians in Montenegro set a plan in motion for the destruction of Bosniaks in Čajniče region (across the border in Bosnia).
In their communication with Mihailović the Priboj Chetnik Detachment is fairly open about their intentions towards the Bosniaks of that region. In a communique to Mihailović dated 16th of November 1941 signed by Dragiša Jovanović, it states that the number of Muslims living in the region is about 40% and about how they are in large number joining the region´s Partisans. The communique mentions the Chetnik´s need for weapons and ammunition. It also mentions the Partisan activities in the region and across the border into Bosnia, according to Jovanović the Partisans are able to re-supply their men with guns and ammunition due to their access to the weapons factory in Užice and asks for permission from Mihailović to approach the Italians about arming them, saying that Chetnik Vojvoda (Duke) of Račak (Kosovo) Zaharie Milekić also agrees with this. The document adds that Milekić is not a member of the Royal Yugoslav Army but belongs in the ranks of Vojvoda Kosta Pećanac (who from late summer and early fall 1941 was openly collaborating with the Germans.)
The communique also complains about the alien nature of the communists and their aggressiveness in the region while mentioning that the Chetniks are left alone by the Italians who have not applied any pressure on them. The communique from Jovanović ends in a spectacular fashion saying that the bulk of it was written on 25th of November and that today, on the 26th they came under attack from the Partisans but were able with the help of the Italians drive the Partisans back.
The answer from Mihailović on December 20th was un-equivocal: In it he lists the ten goals of the Royal Yugoslav Army and the Chetniks, including those listed above. Others include “punishing the Ustaše and the Muslims for destroying our people”. The re-settling of Montenegrins in parts of Bosnia, Kosovo and Sandžak that had been “cleansed” of “anational elements” and minorities. In regards to the communists (Partisans) Mihailović says that “there may never be any co-operation with them for they are fighting against the dynasty and for their socialist revolution, which can never be our goal because we are exclusively fighting for the King, the Fatherland and the freedom of the people.” (i.e. the Serb people)
In his instructions to the Montenegrin Chetniks Mihailović firstly named Đorđe Lašić as overall commander of all Chetnik units in the Montenegro oblast. Mihailović´s instructions to the Lim Valley Chetniks in regards to Sandžak were clear: With part of your men fight towards Bjelo Polje-Sjenica and cleanse Pešter ( Pešter plateau ) of Muslims (Bosniaks) and Arnauts (Albanians). As well as moving from Montenegrin side of Čakor mountians towards Metohija, i.e. the southwestern part of Kosovo and “cleansing” of all “Arnauts” in that direction as well as intercepting those being cleansed in the direction Pešter-Sandžak.
Rest of the reply are instructions regarding co-operation with Jezdimir Danagić´s Chetnik Detachment across the border in Bosnia, the need to secure an airstrip in Montenegro in order to better be able to receive aid, and securing a route for aid from the sea, as well instructions to Pavle Đurišić whom he names as commander of the Lim Valley Chetnik Detachment as well as commander of infantry units in Bjelo Polje, Plevalje, Berane, Andijevica and Kolašin.
However, Đurišić was subordinate to Lašić who was overall commander of the Montenegrin Chetniks, as appointed by Mihailović. On July 24, 1942 an agreement was reached by Lašić and Đurišić under the supervision of Italian General Alessandro Pirzio Biroli, who served as Italian Governor of Montenegro from 1941 to 1943. The agreement was “legalised” by the Italians who at the time tolerated certain “illegal groups” of Chetniks whom they dubbed “national peasants’ militia”. By “legalising” them and putting them under a single command, that of the Lim-Sandžak Detachment, the detachment was divided into four mobile battalions, who´s men received food, money, uniforms and weapons from the Italians. These were in turn engaged in counterinsurgency actions against the Partisans.
Miletić and Dedijer say that there is not enough documentation paint an adecvate picture of the mass killings taking place in Višegrad, Foča, Čajniče and Goražde for that first period, which according to them is not unusual, however documents discovered hint at the extent of the carnage in that area including reports from the local authorities, military reports and NDH reports. According to Miletić and Dedijer: “from those reports one can see the evil fate that awaited the Muslims”. The first mass executions took place in the summer, fall and winter. In Ljubinje, Bileća, in June 1941; 600 people were killed. In Višegrad, in July-August 1941, 500 people were killed. At the Čavkarica pit near Stolac; 497 people were killed, at Kulen Vakuf 1600 people were killed in the fall of 1941. From those documents one can see that from December 1941 to February 1942 a massive slaughter of Bosnian Muslims took place in again in Višegrad, Foča, Goražde, Vlasenica and Srebrenica. According to Dedijer and Miletić several thousand people were killed, great many of the thrown into the Drina river. The two historians cite Chetnik captain Sergije Mihajlovic who wrote that “we´ve gotten rid of the enemy, we´ve killed 5000 Muslims in Foča and Goražde.”
The documents collected by the two historians paint a harrowing picture of the situation in Višegrad and Foča. Those that survived and fled the Chetnik´s barbarism could for the most part only turn to the NDH authorities. The survivors testified what started happening the very night the Italians handed over control of Foča to the Chetniks. The Italians left Foča in the dead of night. As soon as the Italians took control of Foča, they disarmed the NDH garrison in the town, which according to testimony of survivors as well as NDH authorities surrendered inexplicably to the Italians. Hours later, Chetnik bands appeared alongside the Orthodox Abbot of Čajniče; Vasilije Jovičić who negotiated with the Italians about the control of the town. Once they handed over the control of the town to the Chetniks, the Italians left, and as soon as they left cannon fire and church bells could be heard as well as a swell of Orthodox Serbs coming down from their villages into the town. The looting and burning of Muslim houses and killing of Muslims started. According to survivors during the that entire period, people were afraid to go out of their houses. During the night gun fire could be heard throughout the town, many Muslims were killed then and dumped into the Drina River. The Chetniks put on the clothes that they had stolen from the Muslim men and women they had robbed and murdered. Those that could, escaped towards Sarajevo thorough passes in the snow-covered mountains of Eastern Bosnia.
The killings stopped by the end of January 1942, when during the first months of 1942 a large “Free Territory” (Slobodna Teritorija) was proclaimed by the Partisans with Foča serving as a command centre for the Main Staff of the National Liberation Army (NOP) with Tito himself staying in the town. The free territory lasted until May 1942 when Tito and his men had to pull back in to the mountains due to as Miletić and Dedijer write” the pressure of much more powerful occupation and quisling forces”.
The second mass killing in Foča took place during August 1942 by Chetnik units under the leadership of Chetnik major Zaharie Ostojić who ordered his men to kill the victims using their military knifes (Kama) in order to preserve ammunition. In one depesch dated August 22d Ostojić wrote: “in Foča there are all kinds of things, so I´m hoping for a great booty. I can´t wait for people to gather around me, and then I´ll finish them of once and for all” (referring to the Muslim population of Foča). In a depsch dated 23d of August, Ostojić reported directly to Draža Mihailović about actions taken in Ustikolina, Grebek and Jahorina. In it he writes: “According to latest information 1.000-3.000 Muslims slaughtered. All the troops are good fighters, and even better at looting, except for Pavle (Đurišić) The fall of Foča has a good resonance, The Muslims are running in masse towards Sarajevo. I´ve ordered the troops to return home, since yesterday I´m in Kalinovik settling other matters with Ištvan (a pseudonym for Chetnik commander Petar Baćević) and Jevđević,” ( Ostojić´s reports to Mihailović from Eastern Bosnia were later used in the latter´s trial.)
According to Miletić and Dedijer the second slaughter was well-documented by the NDH authorities as well. According to the documents collected by the two historians; the slaughter was systematic and wide-spread, in Foča some 2000 people were killed during the second wave of mass killings, while several thousand were driven into exile, the documents mention the figure of 5000 refugees driven into exile towards Sarajevo and central Bosnia. The NDH documents also point to Chetnik killings in other parts of the country. In the villages around the town of Prozor in southern Herzegovina 2000 people were killed.
Bosnian media as well as Balkan Insight reported yesterday about the arrest of six members of the Bosnian entity – Republika Srpska´s police force, more correct the the RS MUP ( Ministry of the Interior) for an “armed heist” carried out against an armoured car belonging to Sector Security while they were carrying out a money transfer from Banja Luka to Zagreb for Unicredit Bank.
The attack on the Sector Security armoured car took place on the 22nd of September last year and the perpetrators got away with 616,000 BAM or 300,000 €. According to Balkan Insight the perpetrators were armed with machine guns, AK-47´s and an anti-tank rocket launcher M-80 “Zolja” a former Yugoslav version of the American M72 LAW. Gunfire was exchanged during the armed robbery, with one of the guards sustaining injuries.
According to Radio Sarajevo; during the day yesterday it was confirmed that one of the men arrested was part of Serbian prime-minister Aleksandar Vučić´s security detail in Potocari memorial during Vučić´s controversial visit to the memorial of the victims genocide in Srebrenica.
Follwing the arrest of the six members of MUP RS some opposition politicians in RS, most prominently Milanko Mihajlica have been asking for the resignation of RS minister of the interior; Dragan Lukač, as well as the entire RS government. According to Mihaljica in any democratic society this kind of thing would lead to the resignation of the government. According to him these types of scandals have been taking place within MUP RS for a longer period of time now. He reminded the journalists at a press conference today that members of the RS police have taken part in drug trafficking and that investigations are under way about police officers taking part in prostitution rackets and human trafficking.
As I wrote last year in the aftermath of the police raid on Bosnian news-site Klix.ba: people like Dragan Lukač and other prominent members of MUP RS, like Siniša Kostrešević have long been seen by opposition in RS as well media in Bosnia and Herzegovina as a loyal servants to the Dodik-regime, and the men responsible for transforming MUP RS into what is essentially Milorad Dodik´s own Praetorian Guard.
Two weeks ago Dragan Lukač accused blogger Slobodan Vaskovič of trying to “destroy the institutions of the entity.” According to Lukač “for years, Slobodan Vaskovič with his blog has been calling for the destruction and undermining of the institutions of Republika Srpska, especially the Ministry of Interior”.
The bizarre claim, that a blogger can “destroy the institutions of RS” shows the conspiratorial nature and the volatility of the Dodik-regime and his aides. Vaskovič has not made his feelings about the RS government a secret, regularly calling it a criminal organisation on his blog which is more or less exclusively dedicated to documenting the malfeasance and criminal activity of the leading politicos in RS.
Aside from the bizarre attack on Vaskovič, Nezavisne Novine, a prominent Banja Luka daily, considered by independent commentators in Bosnia and Herzegovina to be under the control of the Dodik-regime published an outlandish conspiracy theory taken from Alex Jones Infowars site titled: TOP TEN SOROS TARGETS IN 2016.
The list, nuttiest one of 2016 so far, treads the well-known far-right conspiraloon path, accusing George Soros and his Open Society Foundation along with the CIA of masterminding plots in Haiti, Ukraine, Venezuela, China, Serbia and of course Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2016. In Bosnia, apparently Soros aims to take down Milorad Dodik as well as the current Serbian goverment. Needless to say Infowars does not offer any kind of evidence to support their claim, but you know, they´re “truthtellers” so absence of empirical evidence is not really that important and it fits in nicely into the narrative developed by the Dodik-regime of “foreign centres of power trying to destroy Republika Srpska.”
The claims made in the Infowars list about Bosnia and Herzegovina most likely stem from a Sputnik Serbia article from last year titled: “The secret plan for the take-down of Milorad Dodik”. Hopefully by now it has not escaped most sane commentators that Sputnik is along with RT, formerly Russia Today part of Kremlin´s propaganda effort aimed at the west. In Sweden for example Sputnik has re-published articles from Fria Tider, a nationalist outlet that according to Swedish EXPO is run by among others people with ties to the far-right Sweden Democrats and a shady buisness man.
Not surprisingly Fria Tider re-publishes articles regularly from Sputnik Sweden including this one about Russia banning George Soros´s Open Society. According to the article in Fria Tider: “the philanthropic organisation spends most of its time dedicated to the spread of cultural-marxist ideals such as multi-culturism, LGBTQ-rights and feminism in Russia and Eastern Europe.” That quote should make it clear just what kind of an outlet Fria Tider is.
According to claims made by Dodik in the Sputnik Serbia article; “he could find himself on the receiving end of a plot by certain groups that don´t like his politics, which are in the interest of the population of Republika Srpska.” According to the article Sputnik has been privy to a “secret plan of action” by the opposition in RS agreed upon with “certain international centres” who aims to destroy the current RS government led by Dodik. Of course, the Sputnik article does not present any evidence of a secret plot, a plot it´s been “privy to” and most of the article is a rant by Dodik about his critics, including opposition parties, various news-outlets that have criticized him about corruption, nepotism and poverty in RS and so on. I suppose that Dodik´s rant is the “secret plan” they have been “privy to”.
That Dodik appears on Sputnik is of course not a surprise. Already back in March 2014 Guardian´s Ian Traynor and Julian Borger reported on the ties between Milorad Dodik and Moscow. Same month as Russia annexed Crimea Dodik travelled to Moscow where he was reportedly treated as a hero by the Russian Orthodox Church as well as meeting with Sergei Lavrov and a photo-op with Vladimir Putin. According to Traynor and Borger the most likely reason for the trip was in order to secure “Russian funding order to be able to wreck a two-year International Monetary Fund standby agreement with Bosnia, conditioned on slimming down the bloated government apparatus in both halves of the country.” In return, Putin asked for vocal support over Crimea, and got it.
In his interview with Sputnik, Dodik brought up among other things the planned referendum about the state-level judicial system in Bosnia and his desire for a referendum on the state-level judiciary. According to Dodik he has been subjected to “threats” in regards to his desire for a referendum on the matter. However As James Lyon pointed out in October last year for Foreign Policy Magazine; Milorad Dodik´s distaste for a state-level judiciary has more to do with the fact that he fears being indicted for corruption then anything else.
I hadn´t really intended to write as much about this as I did, I realise it may appear somewhat disjointed. My intention was to simply write more about the spectacular robbery and the aftermath then the few lines it got in Balkan Insight but I couldn´t help adding the Infowars nutty conspiracy and Kremlin propaganda´s far-right fellow travellers posing as “alternative media”. Didn´t know when I would get a chance again to write about that 😉
Den här artikeln publicerades i Västerbotten-Kuriren den 11 juli 2015 i samband med minneshögtiden för folkmordet i Srebrenica. För att läsa artikeln på VK.se följ länken.
I dag, den 11 juli 2015, är det 20 år på dagen sedan den bosnienserbiske befälhavaren Ratko Mladic den FN-skyddade enklaven Srebrenica. Under en veckolång kampanj avrättades drygt 7 000 muslimska män och pojkar. Mördandet pågick i 10-tal dagar och drygt 1 000 människor till mördades i en rad bakhåll då de försökte nå territorium som kontrollerades av den bosniska regeringen.
Både krigsförbrytartribunalen i Haag och ICJ, den mellanstatliga internationella domstolen har kommit fram till att det rörde sig en välplanerad mordoperation vars syfte var att helt eller delvis utplåna den bosnienmuslimska befolkningen i Srebrenica och östra Bosnien.
Folkmordet i Srebrenica var också kulmen på den politik som fördes av den bosnienserbiska ledarskapet med Radovan Karadzic i spetsen. 1992 hade bosnienserbiska separatister kommit fram till att deras mål var en ”separation av folken och upprättandet av gränser där Serber bodde” och ett strävan mot att se till att Drina-floden upphör som gräns mellan Serbien och serber som bodde i Bosnien-Hercegovina.
Det var en plan för en homogen, etnisk ren stat som skulle införlivas med Serbien och serbiskt-erövrade områden i Kroatien som redan hade ”rensats” året innan.
Redan i början av april hade man med hjälp av den jugoslaviska armén, serbiska säkerhetsstyrkor och paramilitära grupper både från Bosnien och Serbien samt Karadzic-stödda extremister erövrat 60 procent av Bosnien, med massakrer koncentrationsläger och etnisk rensning som följd.
Under de tre och halv år som följde mördades tiotusentals människor runtom östra och nordvästra Bosnien, i Hercegovina och under belägringen av Sarajevo. De som kom undan massakerna flydde till ställen som Srebrenica, Zepa eller Gorazde, småstäder som nu fylldes med folk som hade flytt i ren desperation undan ett folkmord var nu fångar i små så kallade ”skyddade enklaver” som i själva verket var inte alls skyddade.
Fyra år efter folkmordet i Srebrenica kom FN-rapporten om folkmordet där den dåvarande generalsekreteraren Kofi Annan erkände att FN hade genom sin hållning i förhållande till den serbiska militära och politiska ledningen gjort sig medskyldiga till folkmordet.
Annan kallade det för: appeasement (eftergiftspolitik) och pekade ut bland annat förre FN-generalsekreteraren Boutros Boutros-Ghali, FN-generalen Bertrand Janvier och Yasushi Akashi.
Enligt rapporten så hade det internationella samfundet under hela kriget i Bosnien försökt förhandla med vad som var en ”skrupulös och mordisk regim” och att det enda sättet att stoppa aggressionen mot Bosnien Hercegovina var genom militära medel. FN-rapporten medgav också att vapenembargot mot den bosniska regeringen gjorde att landets armé inte kunde försvara sin befolkning.
Det internationella samfundets eftergiftspolitik i Bosnien slutade dock inte med Srebrenica. Oförmågan eller oviljan att se den serbiska regimen i Belgrad och deras klienter i Bosnien som de skrupulösa mördare de var, ledde till att de behandlades som samarbetspartners även i efter folkmordet i Srebrenica – vid förhandlingsbordet i Dayton och deras militanta nationalistiska politik som slutade med folkmord plågar Bosnien än i dag.
Det finns så klart ljusglimtar, jag skrev tidigare i år att etno-nationalismens tid i Bosnien närmar sig sin slut, inte nödvändigtvis för att alla bosnier har hittat tillbaka till varandra (man har en hel del brobyggande kvar att göra) utan för att man sitter i samma båt.
Det kan dock inte förnekas att trots att Radovan Karadzic är i dag tillsammans med Ratko Mladic i Haag, där bägge är åtalade för folkmord, så har hans politiska arv förts vidare av bland annat nationalistiska politiker i Republika Srpska där folkmordsförnekelse, historierevisionism och diskriminering är numera institutionaliserad.
Med andra ord så skördar bosnier än i dag eftergiftspolitikens ruttna frukt.
Det finns en hel del att lära sig från folkmordet i Bosnien. Framför allt om vad ohämmad nationalism, muslimhat och rädslan för ”den andre” kan orsaka. Den bosniske fotografen Ziyah Gafic brukar dagligen lägga upp bilder från massgravar i Bosnien på sin FB-vägg, bilder på klockor, skor, familjebilder och så vidare under rubriken: ”En fotografi om dan håller fascismen borta.”
För min del så har jag försökt hålla fascismen borta genom de senaste åren att skriva om Bosnien och Srebrenica, framför allt på årsdagen, och vad det betyder för mig. I grunden så handlar om att påminna folk, framför allt i Sverige om vad fördomar, till och med nationalism, missbruk av historien – det vill säga myter och drömmar om etniskt-homogena och därmed ”harmoniska” samhällen – kan leda till.
För dem som tror att det ”kan aldrig hända i Sverige”, kan jag bara säga att så brukade vi säga i forna Jugoslavien också …
Detta text publicerades på Nyheter 24 i samband minnesstunden för folkmordet i Srebrenica, 11 juli 2015. Följ länken för att läsa texten på Nyheter 24.
Den amerikanske författaren och historikernTaylor Branchs bok “The Clinton Tapes” gav en inblick i hur Vita Huset och dess europeiska allierade såg på det pågående folkmordet i Bosnien. I en rad samtal med Branch medgavBill Clinton så tidigt som 1993 att alla försök som hans administration hade gjort för att i alla fall minska vapenembargot mot den bosniska regeringen hade blockerats av USA:s europeiska allierade, främst Frankrike och Storbritannien.
Enligt Clinton så var anledningen till det något som de inte vågade säga rakt ut, nämligen att Bosnien, som hade en muslimsk majoritetsbefolkning helt enkelt “inte hörde hemma” i det “kristna Europa”. Enligt Clinton så hade framförallt François Mitterrand och brittiska diplomater pratat privat om en smärtsam återgång till ett “kristet Europa”. Detta kunde inte sägas öppet, framförallt av världsledare som Mitterrand men förklarar delvis varför det serbiska erövringskriget i Bosnien tolererades.
Det var realpolitik i dess blodigaste form, och det var onekligen smärtsamt och onekligen blodigt. Under det 3,5 år långa kriget så dog drygt 100 000 människor, 81,3 procent av krigets civila offer var bosniaker (bosniska muslimer), och drygt 8 000 människor saknas fortfarande. Enligt UNHCR så tvingades 2,2 miljoner människor på flykt vilket gör det till den största flyktingsvågen i Europa sedan andra världskriget. Enligt Women Under Siege kan mellan 20 000 och 50 000 kvinnor och flickor ha utsatts för olika former av sexuellt våld, och att sexuellt våld användes som vapen i kriget av de serbiska styrkorna.
Men ingenstans var det så smärtsamt som i Srebrenica. Staden hade lyckats överleva en orkan av våld som Ed Vulliamy uttrycker det. En orkan som hade släppts loss över östra Bosnien under början av kriget, då den jugoslaviska armén med hjälp av serbiska säkerhetsstyrkor, paramilitära grupper från Serbien och Bosnien inledde sitt angrepp mot landet. Det som följde var massakrer, våldtäkter, etnisk rensning och förstörelse, hundratals byar brändes ner, städer tömdes på det icke-serbiska befolkning och läger inrättades där offren misshandlades, våldtog och mördades. 8 000 människor mördades under Srebrenicamassakern.
De som lyckades fly våldet nådde till Srebrenica, vars befolkning svällde från 8 000 till 42 000 vettskrämda svältande människor som var avskurna från omvärlden, och enligt de få observatörer som lyckades ta sig dit pågick det ett “folkmord i slowmotion“. Redan såg man vad som skulle komma, men genom en blandning av tur och militär briljans så hade staden och dess befolkning lycktas överleva den våren. Som “skyddad enklav” stod den under FN:s och NATO:s skydd som senare också visade sig falla offer för realpolitiken.
Delvis nya och omskakande detaljer som publicerades nyligen visar att det internationella samfundet visste att serbiska styrkor skulle attackera Srebrenica och vad som skulle ske om staden föll. Men de såg redan i Maj 1995 till att dra bort NATO-skyddet som lämnade befolkningen och de holländska FN-trupperna försvarslösa mot ett serbiskt angrepp. Resultat var det största slakten på europisk mark sedan andra världskriget. En slakt som alla visste skulle komma och som kunde förhindrats.
Den 11 Juli är det 20 år sedan folkmordet och runt om i världen högtidlighölls minnet av Srebrenica. I Sverige pekas folkmordet ut som nationalismens yttersta konsekvens, vilket är helt i sin ordning, Srebrenica och folkmordet i Bosnien som helhet var resultat av dels militant nationalism och ett förverkligande av gamla storserbiska drömmar. Men, medan Srebrenica och Bosnien som helhet tjänar som en varning till andra om vad som kan hända så måste man påpeka att samma ideologi som ledde till folkmordet i Bosnien är långtifrån besegrad och det internationella samfundet är medansvarig för dels folkmordet men också för att samma politik fortfarande håller Bosnien gisslan.
It is utterly depressing having to write about Bosnian Genocide and the subsequent denial of it by those that have inherited the policy of discrimination based on political racial and religious ground which was the trademark of Slobodan Milosevic main client; Radovan Karadzic and his Republika Srpska, yet here we are. Still I guess it´s only logical. Republika Srpska foundations are based on lies, and in order for the lie to survive it has to become true. It´s depressing for a number of reasons, mostly because it´s clear now that the effect of that policy now 18 years after the Dayton Accords is far from being defeated or reversed, instead it´s is becoming institutionalized. That alternate image has now become a reality in 49 percent of the country. Why else would we now, twenty years after the beginning of the war, and eighteen years after the single biggest massacre on European soil after Second World War have people at the highest levels of political life in Bosnia and Herzegovina deny basic facts about the war and the genocide in Srebrenica? It can be argued that the current Bosnian Serb political leadership believes that the very existence of the entity Republika Srpska depends on being able to create an alternate image of what happened during the Bosnian War, who did what to whom, who started it and who committed the biggest number of atrocities and above all why? A justification for it´s very existence is needed.
The border created at the US air force base in Ohio that divided Bosnia and Herzegovina and in effect stopped the Bosnian Army from liberating the country has now become a mental border dividing Bosnians along ethnic lines, even though Dayton was never meant to be permanent in the first place. It was designed to reverse the effects of “ethnic cleansing” caused by the Serbian and Bosnian Serb onslaught on Eastern, and North-West Bosnia. It was also intended to lead to something more permanent and more stable, but above all it was a way of ending or halting the war, in the end it put too much faith in the same people that worked to destroy Bosnia and Herzegovina in the first place. Looking back at it; Dayton was the worst kind of appeasement. In effect it in rewarded aggression, “ethnic cleansing” and genocide. It rewarded the policies of Slobodan Milosevic and Radovan Karadzic; those two men despite both of them eventually ending up in The Hague were the real winners in Dayton. The strategy that Milosevic and a cadre of JNA generals had developed and that was on the ground implemented by the political leadership of Radovan Karadzic and military leadership of Ratko Mladic meant to create a “State for all Serbs” a Greater Serbia meant in effect that only Serbs remain west of the Drina River. For that to become reality non-Serbs had to be physically removed.
In order to achieve that the Yugoslav Army joined forces with Serbian nationalists and extremists loyal to Radovan Karadzic, together with Serbian security forces as well as paramilitary units from Serbia and attacked towns and hamlets across eastern Bosnia, in a few weeks most of eastern Bosnia was in Serb hands and Serb forces backed by the Yugoslav Army were tightening their grip on Sarajevo. Only a few towns remained in eastern Bosnia, Srebrenica, Gorazde, Zepa and the hamlets of Cerska and Konjevic Polje. As spring turned into summer, those places would become isolated and filled with refugees and survivors from other towns in eastern Bosnia. Places like Bjeljina,Vlasenica, Visegrad, Bratunac, Rudo, Cajnice, Foca, Rogatica Zvornik. They had been witnesses too and many of them had escaped death. They told stories of mass executions, rape camps, sexual slavery, torture, eliticide, and all out destruction. All that was Muslim, or Bosniak or rather non-Serb had to be wiped of the map.
The same was taking place in northern and north-west Bosnia. Towns of Prijedor, Kozarac, Sanski Most, Trnopolje, Omarska would soon become synonymous with terror and death.
The past is never far away in Bosnia and that the Bosnian society has yet to come to terms with what happened during the war. Now when I say “Bosnian society” I mean all parts of it, including Republika Srpska as much as some, above all the current political leadership spearheaded by pragmatist and opportunist turned nationalist, separatist and genocide denier Milorad Dodik would like to convince others but above all the Serbs in Republika Srpska that it´s not. He has said openly that he will never accept that what happened in Srebrenica was an act of genocide, most recently, in september of 2012 during an election rally for his party SNSD in Srebrenica, he stood at the podium and said that he did not believe that what had happened in the very town that he was in, was in fact genocide. Yet the International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia at The Hague has thus far, convicted four people for genocide in Srebrenica, Radislav Krstic the former commander of the Bosnian Serb Army´s Drina Corps, as well as high ranking officers Ljubisa Beara and Vujadin Popvic and most recently Zdravko Tolimir, Ratko Mladic´s head of military intelligence. Radovan Karadzic and Mladic are both currently on trial for crimes committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina, amongst those crimes are persecution kidnapping murder and genocide.
In 2007 the ICJ (International Court of Justice) ruled that what had happened in Srebrenica indeed was genocide and that not only was it genocide but that Serbia was in a position to stop the genocide but had failed to do so. Most recently Bosnian courts ruled that Zeljko Ivanovic was guilty of aiding and abetting genocide by participating in the mass execution of over 1000 captured Bosniaks in the village of Kravica. In 2011 Bosnian Court uppheld the guilty verdict of one Milorad Trbic, he had been a member of the Zvornik Brigade in the Army of Republika Srpska. Trbic was found guilty of the criminal offence of genocide, as a participant in a joint criminal enterprise, in the period from 12 July to 30 November 1995, together with Colonel Ljubisa Beara, Lieutenant Colonel Vujadin Popovic, Lieutenant Drago Nikolic and others, with a common purpose and a plan to capture, detain, summarily execute and bury all able-bodied Bosniak men from the Srebrenica enclave, who were brought to the Zvornik Brigade area of responsibility. His sentence of 30 years was uppheld. Trbic was transferred from the Hague to stand trial in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Outside of Srebrenica, leader of a Serb paramilitary group operating in the Doboj region; Nikola Jorgic was found guilty of the crime of genocide by a German court in 1997. Jorgic was sentenced to four terms of life imprison for his involvement in the Bosnian genocide. Pronouncing the verdict, the German Federal Court said that German courts had the right “to try genocide indictees, no matter where the crime was committed”. Jorgic appealed the decision to the European Court of Human Rights which dismissed Jorgic´s claim and found that the standards used by the German court were indeed valid.
On 29th of November 1999 the Higher Regional Court (Oberlandesgericht) in Dusseldorf convicted a Bosnian Serb Paramilitary leader Maksim Sokolovic to 9 years in prison for aiding and abetting the crime of genocide and for grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions in the Kalesija region. Sokolovic appealed the conviction claiming that the court in Dusseldorf had no jurisdiction over his case; however the Federal Supreme Court (Bundesgerichtshof) rejected Sokolovic´s argument since the crimes of which he was accused of fall under the principle of universal jurisdiction. As a consequence, a foreigner could be tried by a German court for crime of genocide committed on foreign territory.
Yet that has not stopped Milorad Dodik, in 2011 he announced that he would be setting up a fund in order to help those Bosnian Serbs that were on trial at the ICTY including Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic. He also complimented Karadzic, saying he “made mistakes, but should be credited for establishing Republika Srpska. RS was founded because of his courage.” He has during his time in office spent a great deal of tax funds on denying the basic facts about the Genocide in Srebrenica using the help of a group of Hague based pseudo-experts calling themselves The Srebrenica Historical Project and is registered as an NGO ( Non-Government-Organization) sadly for him those experts have yet to present any concrete evidence refuting the facts about the genocide, facts established during a 17-year period. The outfit´s front man is a Serb-American from Seattle called Stephan Karganovic.
Prior to establishing himself as the front figure of “The Srebrenica Historical Project” he had worked as a translator and was member of the convicted war criminal Momcilo Krajisnik´s defense team, in the Hague before promoting himself as a “truth teller” refuting the “myth of genocide” in fact he has as I said before yet to prove anything, but that´s not why he is where he is.
People like Karganovic serve a purpose, in reality nobody, not even Milorad Dodik expects him to actually prove anything, he can´t. If he could you would have heard about it long ago. He is however expected to maintain the illusion that Serbia, and Republika Srpska are innocent victims of conspiracy intended to keep Serbia and Serbs at bay. And that what is going on is a continued aggression against Serbia by ”Western Imperialists”, the USA, Great Britain, CIA, the Vatican, IMF, Germany and their agents and ”homegrown traitors” the Croats and Bosniaks intent on keeping Serbia and Serbs at heel, one way is to falsely accuse them of committing genocide and hence becoming ”a genocidal nation” on par with Germany, a concern expressed by the godfather of contemporary Serb nationalism Dobrica Cosic in 2010 right about the same time as the Serbian Assembly was preparing to vote on European parliament’s resolution condemning the genocide in Srebrenica, Cosic claimed that ”Serbia should never accept the lies about Serbs committing genocide in Bosnia’, because this would make the Serbs a genocidal nation on a par with Nazi Germany”. (Pecat, 12 February 2010.)
The most telling example of Srebrenica Historical project’s real purpose could be seen during Pelemis/Simic trial.
The two men were accused of involvement in the mass killings that took place in the villages of Pilica and Branjevo after the fall of Srebrenica. Karganovics neuro-forensic expert Ljubisa Simic participated as an “expert witness” for Slavko Perics defense in order to refute the DNA-identifications that had been conducted on the remains in Branjevo. Under cross-examination by State Prosecutor Erik Larson, neurosurgeon Simic, who testified in his in the role as a medical expert, said that; “his name was not included on the list of court experts, he has not passed a specialist exam and he had not testified at any trial before. He confirmed that no organization had certified him as an expert witness in forensic medicine, pathology, or DNA analysis. He had not participated in any exhumations, had never had performed an autopsy on his own and he had never performed an identification using DNA analysis. Simic confirmed that he worked for the “Srebrenica Historical Project” but could not confirm that his role in the organization was to deny the genocide in Srebrenica. “I deal with medical issues at that organization,” Simic said. (See: Pelemis/Peric trial 2012)
Most recently Karganovic could be found harrasing American journalist and fellow at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) Michael Dobbs on Dobbs’ Foreign Policy Blog “Origins of Evil” a blog devoted to Ratko Mladic and the genocide in Srebrenica. Dobbs´s plan was to more or less devote most of his time digging into Mladic´s past and slowly blogpost by blogpost explain the “origins of evil”, simply put; Dobbs wanted to show what led Mladic and the Bosnian Serbs to commit the single biggest atrocity on European Soil since World War Two. Sadly Dobbs approach left a lot to be desired, in my opinion his efforts were lackluster and feeble and many of his posts were frankly pointless, and sub-tabloid level.
His naïve and let´s say “uninvolved” approach led him down some strange paths, and it all culminated last September when he was criticized by myself and others for his naive views on militant Serb nationalism and Slobodan Milosevic´s expansionist policies and deadly experiments with nationalism that ended in the violent death of Yugoslavia and more importantly in the death of thousands that stood in the way of Milosevic´s attempts to carve out a Greater Serbia and a state for all Serbs on the ruins of former Yugoslavia. Now Yugoslavia, would have most likely fallen apart anyway, as a direct consequence of the fall of communism in Europe, but few would disagree that if it hadn´t been for Milosevic that breakup would have gone peacefully. As for Dobbs, well he tried but simply did not have anything interesting or relevant to say on Mladic or Srebrenica.
To Dobbs credit he did however try to stand up to Karganovic and his associates who plagued the comments section and used it as forum to spew out their conspiracy theories and revisionism. Dobbs had at his disposal the large amount of research and documentation collected on the genocide in Srebrenica over the past 17-years. In one glorious moment last July he pointed out to the fact that Karganovic´s outfit had by then ( July 2012) received in total 1 million US dollars from the government of Republika Srpska and that the nature of The Srebrenica Historical project was to perpetuate genocide denial. in July 2012 Dobbs wrote the following:
It turns out that genocide denial has a price tag — and a hefty one at that. Financial records from the Bosnian Serb entity known as Republika Srpska reveal that a Hague-based group of pseudo-experts that calls itself the “Srebrenica Historical Project” has received more than $1 million from the cash-strapped mini-state over the past five years. Question, and in many cases deny, basic historical facts concerning massacres carried out by Bosnian Serb forces under the command of General Ratko Mladic in July 1995.
An exhaustive international investigation of the Srebrenica events, involving teams of forensic pathologists, DNA specialists, demographic experts, and detectives has established that Bosnian Serb forces murdered around 7,000 Muslim (Bosniak) prisoners in a series of massacres between July 12 and July 16, 1995. A further 1,000 or so Muslim men and boys were killed as a result of ambushes and armed clashes as they tried to reach Muslim-controlled territory north of Srebrenica.
What is most alarming about the Srebrenica Historical Project is not that there are people out there claiming that black is white, but that the denial industry is being financed by the Bosnian Serb authorities. A rough analogy might be the German government and parliament voting every year to fund the research of David Irving and other revisionist Holocaust historians.
As British journalist George Monbiot pointed out 2012 ; “In order for these people to be right the entire canon of serious scholarship, human rights investigations, exhumations and witness statements would have to be wrong. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. But they offer little but the recycled claims of genocidaires and genocide deniers, mashed up with their own misrepresentations” In his response to another set of Milosevic apologist and genocide deniers. Those of the internationalist left, most notably Edward Herman and David Peterson, as well as Noam Chomsky and John Pilger.
Needless to say, Dobbs article drew fire from Karganovic and rest of the creepy-crawlies of the “Great Serb” genocide-denial lobby that quickly rushed to the comment section to attack him, and that is where Karganovic and his sympathizers are most at home. People like Karganovic look for certain things, that they can isolate and latch on too, picking selective portions of evidence and deliberately miss-quoting witnesses in order to spread doubt, They cater to a specific kind of crowd, people like Karganovic, Nebojsa Malic, Srdja Trifkovic. None of their followers really demand of them to present any evidence for their theories but then again they don´t really have to try very hard. They tend to preach to the choir, of Serb nationalists, far-right extremists, people that hate the west or ”anti-imperialists” conspiracy theorists and and ideologues to whom human life is less valuable then the notion of a “Yugoslavia as the last socialist country in the Balkans” under threat from “The Empire” meaning the west and above all the hated USA. These are the kind of people that deny Srebrenica happened at the same time as they secretly and sometime not so secretly glorify and/or openly justify that it did happened. Simply because they wanted the Serbs and their cause to win. Nevermind the victims of Serb fascism…
The most extreme example of that is Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian terrorist whose Balkan obsession and his hatred towards Islam and Muslims spills out over the pages of his manifesto 2083: A European Declaration of Independence. A look thru the manifesto shows that he had a unhealthy obsession with the Balkans and admiration for the Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic who Breivik considers to be a “honorable Crusader and a European war hero” for his efforts to rid Europe of Muslims. (Radovan Karadzic is currently on trial same as Ratko Mladic for crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and crimes that were perpetrated against the civilian population and against places of worship throughout the territory of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovinia, ) As well revealing that altogether, the words “Serb” shows up 341 times, “Bosnia” 343 and “Albania” 208 times while Srebrenica, the site of the biggest massacre in former Yugoslavia after WWII does not appear anywhere in the document.
To Breivik, Radovan Karadzic is a hero, and his delusions mirror those of others on the far right, and Serb nationalist circles in the sense that they view what happened in Bosnia and Herzegovina as a struggle against ”the genocidal hate ideology known as Islam” as Breivik puts it. In that sense all the atrocities committed against Muslims or Bosniaks in Bosnia can be explained away and justified by the need to get rid of Islam and Muslims. The murder of men women elderly, the rape of women and young girls, torture, setting up of concentration camps and mass killings and deportation perpetrated against a specific groups are justifiable as self-defense as long it´s committed against a feared and hated enemy that has to be eliminated in order to protect Serbs and Serbia against “Muslim genocide” or in Breiviks case Europe and Western Civilization. Therefore people like Karadzic and Mladic are heros and crusaders and any crimes they might have committed against non-Muslims are regrettable or as Breivik himself puts it:
He (Karadzic) even went as far as offering the Muslims certain enclaves. When they refused he wanted to deport them by force. When this was made impossible by NATO he gave the order to fight the person who refused which was his sovereign right and responsibility as one of the primary leaders of Serb forces. This was never about ethnicity but about ridding the country of the genocidal hate ideology known as Islam. I do condemn any atrocities committed against Croats and vice versa but for his efforts to rid Serbia of Islam he will always be considered and remembered as an honorable Crusader and a European war hero.
Oddly enough he is sort of right that it was never really about ethnicity, when it came to the actual reasons for the war, but not for the reasons he thinks, it was not about ridding Europe of Islam but a simple land grab, orchestrated by Milosevic his close associates and a cadre of JNA generals in Belgrade loyal to Milosevic, who´s prime motive was power, if he could not make himself ruler of Yugoslavia, then he would be the creater of a new “Greater” Serbia as a home for all Serbs. There was however a need to convince people, above all Serbs and to instill fear into them about ”the others” mainly Bosniaks, Slovenes, Croats and Kosovars. For that there was a need to control the media in former Yugoslavia. As Borisav Jovic, a former Milosevic aid and probably his closest associate wrote in his book, ”The Last Days of SFRY”
For years, he (Milosevic) paid the biggest attention to the media, especially television. He personally appointed editors-in-chief of the newspapers and news programmers – especially directors-general of radio and television. “Perhaps in no other area was he in direct communication with all editors who “fed” the public with the news comments and generally with the information. He was deeply convinced that citizens formed their view not on basis of their real material and their political position what was not published has not happened at all – was Milosevic`s motto
During the Milosevic trial the Trial Chamber heard from Professor Renaud de la Brosse, a propaganda expert from the University of Reims in France who took the stand as part of the prosecution’s effort to prove a link between what the media said and war crimes perpetrated on the battlefield. de la Brosse had studied some 20,000 pages of newspaper articles, transcripts of television and radio broadcast from the former Yugoslavia in order to produce his 100-page raport called; “Political Propaganda and the Plan to Create a State for all Serbs”
According to de la Brosse; Milosevic’s propaganda was based on the same techniques as used by Adolf Hitler, with the added power of television. ”Nazi propaganda had shown that myths bind the masses together tightly. Indeed, it was through myths and, therefore, the appeal to the forces of the unconscious, to fear and terror, the instinct of power and the lost community that the propaganda orchestrated by Goebbels had succeeded in winning over the Germans and melding them into a compact mass”
In 1990 in order to facilitate Slobodan Milosevic´s takeover of control of Kosovo, Serbian television launched a campaign of generalizations and lies against the Kosovars, accusing them of “poisoning wells” and “slitting throats of children” and then following it up with a campaign in the newspaper Politika which published readers’ letters, often made up, by Politika staff that “the Albanians were raping hundreds of Serb women there” . On February 9 1990 Vojislav K. Stojanovic president of the University Teachers and Scholars of Serbia wrote that “the savage Albanian terrorists are now running amok in Kosovo and Metohija destroying anything that is Serbian, breaking into homes of the few Serbs that have stayed behind, Kosovo and Metohija are in the grip of fear by terrorists armed to the teeth.”
Even Slobodan Milosevic participated in the stigmatization of the Kosovar community by proclaiming that “Even children know the truth about Kosovo and Serbia, so it´s quit superfluous to say anything more about it. To those that think otherwise, I should say that I refuse to talk about because we need never to try and find excuses to stop the murder of Serbs and Montenegrins in Kosovo and for our unwillingness to accept an Albanian state on Serbian territory. To avoid further confusion I hasten to add that anyone seeking concessions along those lines would have to first depose the ruling Serbian leadership”
Another example of propaganda “winning over the Serbs and melding them into a compact mass,” that de la Brosse Points too is the is the story of the so called “baby-massacre” from November 1991, in a suburb close to Vukovar, called Borovo Naselje. As the siege of Vukovar was drawing to an end Serbian media reported that soldiers from the JNA had found the bodies of 41 massacred Serbian children, in village that had fallen days before. The story turned out to be untrue, and even the JNA was forced to issue a public denial, yet it was given widespread coverage by the Milosevic controlled media, who did not try to verify the story of the children having their “throats slit by blood thirsty Croats” even though all of the children had in fact been evacuated from that village months before and no schools had been open for a long time in that area.
That was not important, the story served a purpose, and it was there to enforce the image of Croats as “bloodthirsty genocidal maniacs” and undermines those that were opposed to the war. In fact when the story broke, a number of anti-war demonstrations were taking place in Belgrade. People in Serbia, above all parents who had family members serving in the JNA were opposed the ongoing campaign in Croatia. The story did well to silence those that opposed the war, and it would also lead to a flood of Serb volunteers going to the Croatian front.
Another such example was the story of Serb children being fed to lions at the Sarajevo Zoo. The story goes that due to the siege of Sarajevo; for which “the bloody thirsty Muslims” in Sarajevo were themselves responsible, there was a shortage of food and other supplies in the city so the Muslims were feeding Serbian children to the starving lions. The “news” was carried by TV Pale, and Risto Djogo, the official voice of the Karadzic regime. The news was also picked up by Serbian media, SRNA and TANJUG reported the story with any sort of checks being made in order to verify the story. Viewers in Belgrade got to see and above all hear on the 19:30 news that; “The Muslim extremists have come up with the world’s most horrible way of torturing people. Last night they threw Serb children to the lions at the local zoo, reports the Serb patrol”
In 1994 Serbian newspaper Vecernje Novosti published a story about a Serb orphan whose whole family was killed by Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) in the area around Srebrenica. The story came with a photo of the boy, lying down next to what was described as his family´s grave, the text under the photo read; “The biggest casualties of war are children, that is the case as well in this most recent one, a one in which the Serbian people are again fighting for their very existence. The picture which had the year before circulated the globe, is that of a graveyard in Skelani, (near Srebrenica) on which this boy, now an orphan is crying on the graves of his mother father and rest of his family, “that were killed in a Muslim offensive” is still shocking those who know about the suffering of children. The boy has however in the meantime been adopted by a family in Zvornik and is a member of a military school”
The photo was in fact a forgery, in reality it is a 19th century oil painting by Serbian painter Uros Predic known as ”Orphan Upon His Mother’s Grave”, it was painted in 1879, the painting was made as an illustration for a poem by Hungarian poet Janos Arany.
If one were to de-construct the text under the “photo” or the painting it go something like this, in order convince people in Serbia about righteousness of their cause, there is no better way of doing that then focusing on the suffering of small children in this case a small boy, abandoned and helpless whose parents were only killed because they were Serbs. And that their struggle is now much like it was in past wars justified, since they are simply struggling to survive and fighting a ruthless enemy bent on destroying the whole of the Serb nation. By adding that the picture circulated the globe, which is not true, and that it caused outrage and shock, it even more re-affirms that the Serbian cause is just, and there is hope and that they should not give up the fight, since the poor boy isn’t going to, there is after all a silver lining; he has enlisted in military high school.
The situation was of course drastically different in the Srebrenica region, then Vecernje Novosti led the Serb public to believe nowhere was at as bad as in Eastern Bosnia and in particular the area around Srebrenica. From the beginning of the war the town had been isolated from the rest of Bosnian-controlled territory. It was one of few towns’ hamlets and villages that had escaped the onslaught of the Yugoslav Army and various Serb paramilitary units that had made their way from Serbia to join forces with nationalists and extremists loyal to Radovan Karadzic. The other ones in the area were Cerska and Konjevic Polje, and to the south Zepa and further along the Drina river Gorazde. In November 1992 Radovan Karadzic signed Directive 4 ordering the Drina corps of the Bosnian Serb army to engage the enemy with the intent of; “wearing out the enemy and forcing them to leave Srebrenica, Zepa and Gorazde areas together with the inhabitants…” The plan was implemented during the month of January 1993, slowly Bosnian Serb forces with the help of the Yugoslav Army chipped away at the territory that Bosnians had managed to defend during the initial invasion of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Altogether some 10 000 Bosnian Serb Soldiers with the help of the reformed Yugoslav Army (VJ) participated in the offensive on the isolated Bosniak enclaves. Two of the smallest enclaves fell in March 1993, Cerska and Konjevic Polje after bitter fighting, the Bosnian defenders isolated and without access to food or ammunition were forced to retreat together with civilians, women children and elderly into Srebrenica which was slowly becoming the world´s biggest refugee camp with some 40 000 people trapped inside.
One of those that witnessed what was going on in Srebrenica was former Venezuealan ambassador to the UN, Diego Arria. He testified as defense witness at the trial of the Bosnian commander in the enclave Naser Oric and as a prosecution witness at the trial of Slobodan Milosevic. Arria arrived in Srebrenica in April 1993. According to Arria, what was taking place in Srebrenica then was a form of “genocide in slow motion” Bosniaks in Srebrenica and surrounding villages were exposed to “extreme poverty, destruction, starvation and squalor” that were according to Arria deliberately being withheld from the public by the UN. Arria managed to take the first photographs of of the destruction of Srebrenica and its starving inhabitants. Hundreds of people that had fled the surrounding villages were now living on the streets of Srebrenica, a town that before the war had some 8000 inhabitants. To stay warm they burned trash, plastic bags, and everything else they could get their hands on, as the children wandered thru the streets, shivering in their tattered sweaters and worn out shoes and smelling of excrament and smoke and sweat. The photographs taken by Arria were the only ones in existence at the time. He refused to hand over his camera to UN troops in Srebrenica. According to Arria the international community “did not move its little finger” to protect the Bosniaks in the enclave and “did not make it possible for them to defend themselves”
In fact the UN was withholding reports that showed the true situation in Srebrenica. For that Arria blames UN Secratery General Boutros Ghali and his staff who according to Arria misinformed the Security Council about the situation in the enclave. It was not until after an appeal by the then UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Sadako Ogata that the report on the humanitarian disaster in Srebrenica was shown to the Security Council. Diego Arria warned of a “potential massacre in which there could be 25,000 victims.” Arria went on to say; “it was clear that it was just a matter of time before the massacre would happen” or before the “slow-motion genocide” would become a “real genocide.” The United Nations, according to Arria; was unwilling to do anything to prevent that.
The reason for that is that there was in the tendency in The Security Council to as Arria puts it “morally equate the victims and the aggressor” the reason for that was that it made it more simple not to take action to prevent the atrocities, if you gave the impression that all sides are equally at fault, well then why should the International Community intervene on anyone´s behalf? In fact according to Arria the UN had been hoping that the Serbs would overrun the enclave, before it became a “safe area” and thus “solving the problem” the fact that the Bosnian defenders saw things differently created a problem for the UN. On April 16 after heavy fighting the Bosnian lines held. Naser Oric and his men had launched a desperate counter-attack in the hills above Srebrenica with the few artillary shells they had left and manged to push the Serbs back, on that same day Srebrenica was declared a “safe area” with an ambivalent UN tasked to protect it if Serb forces tried to re-take it. That ambivalence was on full display in July 1995 as was the willingness of the international community to end the arms embargo against Bosnia…
Or as former British Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd put it; “lifting the arms embargo would only create a level killing field” a statement that prompted a response from a retired Margaret Thatcher who pointed to the obvious, the fact that there was already in Europe a killing field in Bosnia “killing field the like of which I thought we would never see in Europe again It is in Europe’s sphere of influence. It should be in Europe’s sphere of conscience”. The arms embargo imposed on the countries in the former Yugoslavia only hurt one country, and that was Bosnia, Croatia could easily purchase weapons despite the embargo from any of the neighboring countries, and Serbia, well it had inherited the vast arsenal of the former Yugoslav People´s Army which was flowing freely across the border into the hands of the Bosnian Serbs. The chief opposition to arming the defending Bosnian Army or lifting the arms embargo came from UK and France, according to Robert Hunter, the former US ambassador to NATO; Britain has the greatest responsibility when it comes to this, “they carry a huge burden of responsibility for what happened at Srebrenica.” claimed Hunter.
The Americans had tried to ease the arms embargo against the Bosnian Army, the new administration under Clinton had sought to at least “relax” the arms embargo which they considered was punishing the weakest, most victimized nation; Bosnia and Herzegovina. Unlike the Serbs and Croats in Bosnia which had the support of Croatia and Serbia, the Bosnian Army was hopelessly landlocked. The Bosnian government wanted the arms embargo lifted in order to defend it people and country, but according to Clinton, his proposals for the relaxation of the arms embargo were blocked by US allies in Europe. Mainly the UK and France.
According to Clinton the offical reason they gave was that that as Douglas Hurd said before it would create a “level killing field” more guns in the area meant more bloodshed. However according to Clinton the real reason for the objection was the fact that Bosnia as a predominantly Muslim country would be “unnatural” in Europe. In Taylor Branchs book “The Clinton Tapes” (2009) Clinton discussed openly the role US European allies played in the destruction of Bosnia and Herzegovina. They wanted the arms embargo precisely because it locked in Bosnia´s disadvantage. What´s even worse according to Clinton was that they used the UN forces on the ground as an excuse, claiming that the options the Clinton administration proposed in order to save the Bosnian state and stop the ongoing genocide would endanger UN troops on the ground as well as jeopardizing emergency shipments of food and medical supplies that were being delivered to a population that was on a daily basis being subjected to a terror campaign and was not allowed to defend itself. In other words; the UN troops in Bosnia were being used in order to facilitate the dismemberment of the Bosnian state.
Clinton claimed that French president Francois Mitterrand had said to him that “Bosnia quite simply did not belong,” and that British diplomats in private spoke of a “painful but realistic restoration of Christian Europe” Such Anti-Muslim and bigoted views could of course not be uttered openly but it shows why the carnage and the dismemberment of the Bosnian state was allowed to happen. Bosnia and Herzegovina or more to the point a predominantly “Muslim Bosnia” did not belong and as painful as it was, it had to disappear. That´s where the biggest betrayal of Bosnia and Herzegovina lied, in their fear of a “Muslim Bosnia” French and British diplomats had missed the fact that at the beginning of the war some 25-30 percent of the Bosnian Army consisted of non-Muslims or non-Bosniaks, that at the highest levels of command, there were both Serbs and Croats, people like Jovan Divjak, Stjepan Siber, Zeljko Knez a Croat who was the first Commander of the Bosnian Army´s Second Corps, Divjak a Serb was the Bosnian Army´s second in command, there were also men like Dragan Vikic, (a Croat) Head of the interior ministry, Zoran Cegar his deputy, (a Serb) but above all those anonymous soldiers manning the trenchers, together with Bosniak soldiers, forced to fight with their hands tied behind their back depending on what they could beg steal or borrow, or more accurately what they could capture from the Serb nationalists who had no such problems, they had come to the war armed to the teeth courtesy of the former Yugoslav People´s Army.
The diplomats had also missed or decided to ignore people like, Stjepan Kljuic, Gordana Knezevic, Mirko Pejanovic to name a few more prominent non-Bosniaks who in their own way fought and still fight for Bosnia and Herzegovina. Those are of course the more prominent ones as is the case with the Bosnian Army soldiers many unnamed heroes fought and still fight the good fight. They were, we were all betrayed and for every shell that was fired and for every day the embargo was in effect the very fabric of Bosnian society was being ripped apart. So yes, it was indeed painful.
However nowhere was as painful as it was in Srebrenica, heroic Srebrenica that had withstood the initial Serb onslaught, it had withstood the intial invasion of Serbian forces into Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as Karadzic´s extremists and the genocidal campaign that followed. It had whitstood the final solution sanctioned by France and Great Britain which had cleared most of the Drina valley north-west Bosnia, eastern Bosnia of its non-Serb population, it had become a safe haven for those that had escaped certain death, those that had escaped rape camps, and torture from all across the Drina Valley as well as other parts of eastern Bosnia, it was together with Zepa and Gorazde the last of the free territory in eastern Bosnia.
The fact is that the picture of the “Orphaned Boy” published in Vecernje Novosti was there to mobilize and galvanize the Serb people against their enemy. It is also a way of inciting hate that can have, and has had horrible consequences. It´s not difficult to understand Serbs reading, listening and above all watching the reports coming in from Croatia and Bosnia about various atrocities committed against Serbs by Bosniaks and Croats, wanting to take revenge on the perpetrators. According to de la Brosse Serbian media used certain words to stir up defensive reaction amongst the Serbs. Words like “Ustasha Fascists” and “cut-throats” were used to stigmatize Croats and “Islamic Ustasha” or “Jihad Fighters” to stigmatize the Bosniaks. de la Brosse also pointed to the fact that the JNA (Yugoslav People´s Army) had during the fighting in Croatia issued memos ordering that all enemies be called “Ustasha”.
During the genocidal campaign in Bosnia and Herzegovina the Serbian Television, according to de la Brosse more or less banished the use of the word ”Bosnian” or more to the point ”Bosnian Forces” On August 17 1992 Serbian journalist Branko Elez called Bosnian forces;”Islamic Fundamentalists” ”Islamic Chauvinists” and branded them as”cruel hordes of Alija” (Alija Izetbegovic, the Bosnian president)
Bosnian Army soldiers were referred to as; ”Warriors of Allah” armed by Saddam Hussein, ”conducting a holy war in the name of Islam” even though Saddam Hussein had established a secular dictatorship in Iraq, but that did not matter, most Serbs did not know the nature of Saddam Hussein´s regime, they did however know that he was a Muslim, and an Arab and that would for some be enough. Ironically Saddam Hussein and Muamar Gadafi had on several occasions bought weapons and jet engines including spare parts from Milosevic´s regime and his cronies in Republika Srpska as well as playing host to Vojislav Seselj, the leader of the Serb Radical Party back in 2001 when Seselj along with a delegation from the Serb Radical Party including current Serbian prime minister Aleksandar Vucic visited Iraq.
In June 1993 Swedish journalist Peter Kadhammar traveled to Pale, the former ski-resort that during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina served as war-time capitol of Republika Srpska. Kadhammars first impression of Mladic was that of a commander at the very peak of his power, he exuded self-confidence and it was obvious that he was the most powerful man in the Bosnian Serb Army. “ I am the Cassius Clay of war” he claimed “ I can knock anybody out, but I am a merciful man” According to Kadhammar he loved to talk about his victories and how he back then in 1993 was in the control of the fate of the Bosniak population in Srebrenica. Kadhammar recalls that Mladic as a joke suggested to Kadhammar that the Bosniak (Muslim) population of Bosnia and Herzegovina would be better of relocating the Swedish archipelago, and the world was conspiring against the Serbs. This whole war was a conspiracy against the Serbs. At one point, Kadhammar asked Mladic if he knew how many people had been killed by Mladic´s men in Sarajevo, Mladic´s response was “that those were not people, those are Muslims”
After the Serb takeover of Prijedor, a town in northwest Bosnia, the Serb-controlled media in Prijedor both broadcast and printed media spread stories about non-Serbs, particularly a doctor named Mirsad Mujadzic who was a member of the SDA, the main Bosniak political party in Bosnia and Herzegovina. According to the reports in the Serb-controlled media, Dr Mujadzic was accused of “injecting drugs into Serb women making them incapable of giving birth to male children” Another doctor, a Croat named Zeljko Sikora referred to as the “Monster Doctor”, was accused of making Serb women abort if they were pregnant with male children and of castrating the male babies of Serb parents.
During the trial of Milomir Stakic, the former mayor of Serb-controlled Prijedor, the Trial Chamber saw proof that the weekly known as “Kozarski Vjesnik” became the voice of the local Serb authorities. The director of “Kozarski Vjesnik” and and “Radio Prijedor” Mile Mutic and journalist Rade Mutic regulary showed up at the meetings of the “Serbian Crisis Staff”, the “National Defence Council,” or the “Executive Committee” During the Stakic trial the prosecution tendered into evidence minutes of the Municipal Board of the SDS in Prijedor from 30 April 1991 session record showed that the Secretary of the Serbian Municipal Assembly, Dusan Baltic, put forward the opinion that “Kozarski Vjesnik” should be brought under the control of the SDS, Radovan Karadzic party. After the Serbian takeover of Prijedor, most of the articles were aimed at discrediting and undermining the credibility of prominent non-Serbs in Prijedor. In an article published on 10th on June 1992 Dr. Osman Mahmuljin (a Bosniak) was accused of deliberately having provided incorrect medical care to his Serb colleague Dr. Zivko Dukic, who had a heart attack. According to Kozarski Vjesnik; Dr. Dukic’s life was saved only because Dr. Radojka Elenkov (Serb) discontinued the therapy allegedly initiated by Dr. Mahmuljin.
Radio Prijedor also broadcasted forged “biographies of prominent non-Serbs”, including Prof. Muhamed Cehajic, Dr. Eso Sadikovic and Dr. Osman Mahmuljin in order to discredit them. According to the Trial Chamber, after the Serb takeover, Radio Prijedor mostly played Serb nationalist songs and broadcast propaganda against the main Bosniak party in Bosnia, the SDA and prominent non-Serbs characterizing them as “criminals and extremists who should be punished for their behavior”
Others frequently interviewed by “Radio Prijedor” were Milan Kovacevic Dusko Tadic and Simo Drljaca. Kovacevic was the President of the Executive Committee of the Municipal Assembly of Prijedor. In 1996 he was indicted by the ICTY for genocide, for complicity in genocide, extermination, persecutions, torture, deportation. For murder; cruel treatment; torture; wanton destruction of cities, towns or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity. For willful killing; torture; willfully causing great suffering; unlawful deportation or transfer; extensive destruction of property and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly. Kovacevic was indicted together with Simo Drljaca, who served as the chief of police in Prijedor. According to the indictment during the period from 30 April 1992 to 31 December 1992 Drljaca was both a member of the municipality of Prijedor Crisis Staff and the Chief of the Public Security Station (SJB) for the municipality of Prijedor.
According to the indictment Kovacevic and Drljaca ordered and implemented a plan designed to expel Bosniak and Croat population from what had been proclaimed to be “Serb Territory” The plan consisted limiting the movement of the Bosniak and Croat populations to their villages, and then ordering or initiating attacks on those areas by combined forces of the 43rd Brigade and other Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) units, Territorial Defence (TO) units from Prijedor, regular and reserve police members from Prijedor, and paramilitary units organized and equipped by the Serbian Democratic Party (SDS).
Those civilians captured in these attacks were usually taken to Omarska, Keraterm or Trnopolje which were called “detention camps” by the authorities but in fact resembled in many ways the concentration camps set up in WWII by the Nazis, the prisoners in those camps were subjected to daily physical abuse, sexual abuse of both male and female prisoners as well as young girls. Torture and murder were also common place. According to the indictment, Serb forces under the control of the Prijedor Crisis Staff systematically looted and destroyed Bosniak and Croat villages and property, including homes, businesses, mosques and churches. The destruction was so extensive that nothing but portions of buildings and rubble were all that remained in many of villages of the area and not one mosque was left standing in the towns of Prijedor and Kozarac. To the detriment of the victims Milan Kovacevic died in 1998, not having received a verdict. Simo Drljaca, was killed in an attempt to arrest him in 1997 near Omarska.
Dusko Tadic who served as President of the Local Board of the Serb Democratic Party (SDS) in neighboring Kozarac was arrested in Germany in 1994 and transferred to the hague to stand trial, the Trial Chamber found convicted him of “Willful killing; torture or inhuman treatment; wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health” Tadic was also found guilty of participating in the in the forced transfer of civilians into “Detention Camps” or more appropriately concentration camps such as Omarska Trnopolje and Keraterm. The Tadic verdict was also the first legal confirmation that what happened in Bosnia and Herzegovina was indeed and International conflict. The Yugoslav Army was in fact in control of the Bosnian Serb Army, according to the Appeals Chamber verdict ;
Tadic, (Appeals Chamber), July 15, 1999, paras. 156, 162: “It is sufficient to show that [the Yugoslav Army] exercised overall control over the Bosnian Serb Forces. Such control manifested itself not only in financial, logistical and other assistance and support, but also, and more importantly, in terms of participation in the general direction, coordination and supervision of the activities and operations of the VRS [the Army ofthe Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina/Republika Srpska]. This sort of control is sufficient for the purposes of the legal criteria required by international law.” “[F]or the period material to this case (1992), the armed forces of the Republika Srpska were to be regarded as acting under the overall control of and on behalf of the FRY [the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro)]. Hence, even after 19 May 1992 the armed conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina between the Bosnian Serbs and the central authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina must be classified as an international armed conflict.” See also Tadic, (Appeals Chamber), July 15, 1999, para. 87.
Milomir Stakic who had been the Vice-President of the Prijedor Municipal Assembly as a member of the Serbian Democratic Party, was found guilty of murder, persecution, extermination and deportation, all crimes against humanity. Stakic rose to prominence, during the May 1992 Serb takeover of the municipality of Prijedor. According to the judgement;
the takeover was an illegal coup d’état which had been planned and coordinated for months and which had as its final goal the creation of a Serbian municipality eventually to form part of an envisaged pure Serbian state.
A comprehensive pattern of atrocities amounting to a campaign of a prosecutorial nature was proved to have been committed against non-Serbs in Prijedor municipality in 1992. This included killings on a massive scale in the Omarska, Keraterm and Trnopolje camps, in Bosniak towns and villages throughout the municipality, and, finally, on Mount Vlasic. The Trial Chamber held Dr. Stakic responsible for more than 1,500 killings and was able to identify by name 486 victims. Rapes, sexual assaults and beatings were committed at the camps and at least 20,000 non-Serbs either fled Prijedor or were deported
According to latest statistics 3173 people were killed in Prijedor in 1992, of those 102 were children, the youngest was a three month old baby, many of the children were killed from a close range. A total of 256 women were killed as well during the spring and summer of 1992, the most common killing grounds were the Concentration Camps in Omarska Keraterm and Trnopolje. The Dayton accords placed Prijedor Kozarac as well as Omarska Keraterm and Trnopolje with the entity of Republika Srpska. During the negations in Dayton in November 1995 the Bosnian delegation was forced to halt the Bosnian Army offensive which was in effect routing the Bosnian Serb Army (VRS) the offensive stopped before the Bosnian Army could reach Prijedor, and all chances of recapturing Prijedor as well as Omarska and Trnopolje disappeared of the table.
Today twenty one years after the “ethnic cleansing” and mass murder of several thousand of Prijedors non-Serb inhabitants, albeit mostly Bosniaks, there is not a single monument dedicated to non-Serb victims in urban parts of Prijedor municipality. Today there is however some 60 monuments dedicated to “the soldiers who died in the homeland war, 1991-1995” or that they “courageously died for the fatherland of Republika Srpska” According to Haris Subasic from the Ministry for Issues of Veterans and Disabled Veterans of the Defensive-Liberation War of Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH) this is due to a culture of denial that shapes the past, present and future memories of the crimes against humanity committed. For example the local government in Prijedor does not allow construction of monuments for non-Serb victims in those areas where Concentration Camps were located, Omarska Trnopolje Keraterm. Excuses used are that it would incite “inter-ethnic hatred” or that “there must be a minimum consensus on it at state level” Bosnia and Herzegovina today has no laws prohibiting genocide denial and the denial of war crimes, most attempts at passing such laws have been obstructed by SNSD, the party of Milorad Dodik.
The most of offensive example of genocide denial in Prijedor and the institutionalized culture of denial that is widespread throughout Republika Srpska is a monument erected at the site of the former concentration camp Trnopolje by the Serb-dominated local government. “The monument for all Serb soldiers who were killed” was erected in close proximity to the infamous concentration camp. Images from Trnopolje together with images from Omarska of have become iconic, in august 1992 as the first reporters were allowed to enter the gulag of concentration camps set by the Bosnian Serbs in the Prijedor area, they broadcasted to the world, the men and women of the concentration camps who were subjected to physical as well as mental abuse on a daily bases, many of the prisoners both male and female were subjected to sexual abuse, murder was commonplace. A female prisoner from Omarska identified only as “J” told Helsinki Watch investigators:
We saw corpses piled one on top of another…. The bodies eventually were gathered with a forklift and put onto trucks—usually two large trucks and a third, smaller truck. The trucks first would unload containers of food, and then the bodies would be loaded [on]…. This happened almost every day—sometimes there [were]…twenty or thirty—but usually there were more. Most of the deaths occurred as a result of beatings
(See: War Crimes in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Volume II, p. 103)
Ed Vulliamy of The Guardian was the first one in Omarska, describes his first meeting with prisoners of Omarska:
I don´t want to tell any lies, but I cannot tell the truth” says the young man emaciated, sunken-eyed and attacking his watery bean stew like a famished dog, his spindly hands shaking. The guards swinging their machine guns are watching and listening carefully. His name is Sabahudin Elezovic. “Let me eat my lunch first” he says “then I´ll talk” The stew in the aluminum bowl is gone within seconds, showed into his mouth with an old spoon clenched with difficulty by a rangy fist.
This is lunchtime at the Omarska concentration camp or “investigation center” run by the Bosnian Serb police for mainly Muslim internees near Prijedor. The prisoners are horribly thin raw bones; some are almost cadaverous with skin like parchment folded over their bones. Their faces are lantern-jawed and their eyes are haunted by the inimitable empty stare of the prisoner dumb with fear, who has no idea what is going to happen to him next. No one from the red cross the UN or the press has been this far inside the belly of the beast until the day we arrived at Omarska on Wednsday 5 august 1992
(Vulliamy: Seasons in Hell, 1994 Chapter Five, The Camps, Echoes of the Reich, page 98)
Trnopolje concentration camp like Omarska was set up by the Bosnian Serb military and police forces in the village of Trnopolje near Prijedor. Like Omarska the camp served as a prison camp for Bosniak s and Croats, and like Omarska many of the prisoners were subjected to physical and mental abuse. Many were also murdered. Trnopolje produced the most iconic image of the Bosnian genocide, the picture of emaciated prisoner Fikret Alic staring at the cameras behind the barb-wire fence.
No memorial has as of yet been erected to the victims of Trnopolje and Omarska, nor do survivors have the right to visit the former concentration camps when they choose, they are only granted access to the camps on the day of commemoration. Not that always happens, this year on May 25th survivor groups were not allowed to gather at the camp, they were not granted access to the camp by the local authorities. But that did not stop the survivors and their family members as well as family members of those that had lost loved ones in the camp. On May 26 about a hundred people gathered in front of the camp in order to commemorate the 21 years since the camps were first set up by the Bosnian Serb military and police forces. Something has however happened, staring last year a campaign under the name Stop Genocide Denial has been working to “to give a voice to victims of mass atrocities from around the world in their struggle for the truth, dignity and remembrance” as they put it. On 31th of May 2012 families of the victims of those killed in the Prijedor area gathered at the event called ‘White Ribbons Day’ the white ribbion, is symbolic, on May 31, 1992 the Bosnian Serb authorities in Prijedor issued a decree for all non-Serbs to mark their houses with white flags or sheets and to wear a white armband if they were to leave their houses.
The gathering had been banned at first by the mayor of Prijedor, Marko Pavic of the SDS, Radovan Karadzic former party. Pavic had expressed concern that the event would “undermine the town’s reputation”. Forgetting that the deaths of over 3000 of the towns citizens has yet to be honored in the town itself and the fact there was no statue or plaque anywhere to the 3173 dead civilians, men women and children. Pavic also objected to the use of the word “genocide” saying that the organizations were “politicizing” the commemoration. Obviously unaware that those that had lost their loved ones in the concentration camps had the right to call the commemoration whatever they wanted, Marko Pavic seemed totally also unaware of the fact that the ICTY had ruled that what had happened in Srebrenica was genocide, and that the International Court of Justice came to the same conclusion as well as the fact that courts in Germany had sentenced Serb paramilitaries for the crime of genocide in other places in Bosnia and Herzegovina. One of those convictions was upheld by the the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. Pavic also seemed unaware that Milomir Stakic who had been the Vice-President of the Prijedor Municipal Assembly as a member of the Serbian Democratic Party, (SDS) was found guilty of murder, persecution, extermination and deportation, all crimes against humanity. Also there was no law in Bosnia and Herzegovina prohibiting victims and survivors from calling the commemoration of their fallen loved ones whatever they wanted. Sadly there is no law against genocide denial and denial of crimes against humanity either in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Though the gathering last year was relatively small, it had brought worldwide attention to the issue of genocide denial in Bosnia and the denial of crimes against humanity in Republika Srpska. The culture of denial has become institutionalized in Republika Srpska so much so that last year Amnesty International reported that the police in Prijedor had banned s march to commemorate the International Human Rights Day without giving any valid reason as to why they would do something like that. If the gathering in Prijedor last year was humble, the same cannot be said for the turn out this year, on May 31 hundreds of activists, from across Bosnia and Herzegovina, survivors and family members of the victims showed up at the town square in Prijedor. Bosnians from all across Bosnia had to show their support with citizens of Prijedor, the victims, the survivors and their families as the support from the world was pouring in. Marko Pavic true to form dismissed the fact Bosnians, now even across ethnic lines were starting to take a stand against genocide denial and the denial of war crimes and crimes against humanity. His responsse to the gathering of Bosnians in Prijedor was to dismiss it by calling it “nothing more then a gay pride parade” that kind of horrible homophobic remark shows the nature of the political scene in Republika Srpska, Pavic was simply trying win points with his racist, nationalist and above all homophobic constituance. For if the rights of victims of genocide and crimes agianst humanity rank low on the list of concerns in a Bosnia and Herzegovina imprisoned by Dayton, then the rights of the LGBT Community are non-existent. Sadly when it comes to the question of denying war crimes and genocide denial in Bosnia and Herzegovina, it does seem that Bosniaks have to face that struggle, despite positive signs from Prijedor for the time being anyway, more or less alone. Hopefully that will change in time.
When it comes to the ICTY, I have to admit to being a bit disillusioned to put it mildly, some have argued that after latest string of acquittals of high ranking officers by The Hague, most prominently Momcilo Perisic-Jovica Stanisic and Franko Simatovic, that the legal record does not match the historical one. Well yes, sadly that is true. will say this; the ICTY has during its 20 years of existence compiled an enormous amount of documentation and above all evidence of who did what. The fact that the Trial Chamber could not convict those three men, does not mean that they are innocent, it means that the prosecutions case did not meet the current legal standards. Nor does it mean that crimes were not committed. However, when it comes to Stanisic and Simatovic, the reasoning of the court is astonishing, the standards set are ridiculosly high. In the case of Stanisic and Simatovic, as Eric Gordy points out; “The tormented reasoning of the tribunal’s 800-page verdict offers some fascinating reading: It affirms that crimes were committed and describes them in excruciating detail. It names the victims, names the perpetrators, and in most cases details the connections between the accused parties and the direct perpetrators. Then it declines to convict, on the ground that the evidence does not show that the support provided to the criminals was “specifically directed towards the commission of the crimes.”
One of the great achivments of the Perisic trial was that for the first time, we could see how the the Yugoslav Supreme Defense Council worked and those that were a part of it, including Momcilo Perisic, Zivota Panic, Blagoje Adzic, Momir Bulatovic, Dobrica Cosic, Radoje Kontic, as well as of course Slobodan Milosevic. We could also see how the support system created by the JNA and later VJ worked to enable the Bosnian Serb and Krajina Serb or “Croatian Serb” rebel armies to continiue fighting and that without the financial military and logistical support from Belgrade those two entities would crumble within weeks. They were in fact completely dependent on Belgrade and Serbia.
In most cases the paper trail leads to Knin, Pale, Belgrade and as we could recently see in the guilty verdicts of the Herceg Bosna six, to Zagreb as well, as Franjo Tudjman Janko Bobetko and Gojko Susak were all found to be guilty albeit posthumously of being a part of Joint Crminal Enterprise in regards to the crimes of the HVO and the Croatian Army in Herzegovina and central Bosnia.
History is written by historians, not by politicians. As I wrote above one of the great, if overlooked, achievements of the ICTY is the astonishing trove of documents and other evidence assembled by researchers and prosecutors. Now 20 years after the war in the former Yugoslavia there is a an abundance material on the breakup of Yugoslavia, some of it is good some poor and some of it great, above people like Tim Judah, Josip Glaurdic, Marko Attila Hoare, Roy Gutman, David Rhode, Christopher Hitchens, Ed Vulliamy, Michael A. Sells, Stjepan G. Mestrovic, David Rieff, Chuck Sudetic, Michael Libal, Brendan Simms and others have written extensively about the breakup of Yugoslavia and the war and genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Now it is up to us to honor the memory of the victims of the Bosnian genocide by fighting the deniers and revisionists, at every turn not only with the verdicts, of which there are many. Most of the political and military leadership of Republika Srpska have been found guilty of persecution, based on ethnic or religous ground, of murder, and genocide. People like Biljana Plavsic, Momcilo Krajisnik, Dragomir Milosevic Stanislav Galic, Mico Stanisic, Radislav Krstic Dusko Tadic, Milomir Stakic… We must also fight the deniers with the facts, with the truth. We must safeguard the memory of our brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, uncles, grandfathers, cousins, friends, lovers, husbands, wifes. All those killed in Srebrenica, Prijedor, Visegrad, Vlasenica, Rudo, Mostar, Ljubuski, Sanski Most, Bjeljina, Brcko, Cajnicje, Rogatica, Stolac, Sarajevo, Kozarac, Bratunac, Foca, Ahmici, Omarska, Trnopolje…
Professor Reunald de la Brosse´s rapport on Milosevic´s political propaganda and the Plan to Create a State for all Serbs is split in five seperate parts. Here are all five parts:
Den här veckan var det återigen dags för Sarajevoborna att hålla en minneshögstund och hedra minnet av de som dog under belägringens värsta stunder. Den 5 februari 1994 landade en granat som hade avfyrats från bosnienserbiska ställningar på bergen ovanför staden ner på marknaden Markale. 68 människor dödades och 140 skadades då granaten landade på den då överfulla marknaden. Nitton år senare så samlades offrens anhöriga tillsammans med andra som ville visa sin respekt för offren samt Sarajevos politiska elit som kom för att lägga blommor vid ceremonin. En av de som medverkade vid ceremonin, Muamer Bandic sa att Sarajevo överlevde en av de värsta aggressionerna under 1900-talet, staden var belägrad i tre och halv år, den längsta belägringen i modern tid. ”Vi kommer hit för att a visa respekt och för att lära våra barn om vad som egentligen hände, för att visa dem sanningen, våra unga borde aldrig glömma dessa brott, det är endast genom sanningen som vi kan se till att liknande illdåd aldrig mer inträffar”30 november 2006 dömdes Stanislav Galic som 1994 var befälhavare för de bosnienserbiska styrkor som belägrade Sarajevo till livstids fängelse för den terrorkampanj som hans styrkor släppte loss på Sarajevos invånare. I tre och halv år så utsattes staden och dess befolkning för ständiga artilleribeskjutningar och krypskyttattacker. Galic dömdes för bla massakern i Markale 5 februari 1994, i domen så stod det att man hade lyckats bevisa bortom rimlig tvivel att granaten hade avfyrats från serbiska ställningar. Under rättegången mot Stanislav Galic så användes för första gången termen terror mot civilbefolkningen så som det hade beskrivits i Genevékonentionen från 1949. Den bosniensrbiska arméns mål var att skapa en olidlig situation för befolkningen i Sarajevo. Den brittiske journalisten Martin Bell återgav i sitt vittnesmål i rättegången mot Ratko Mladic situationen i Sarajevo och hur kriget fördes. Enligt Bell så fanns det ingen elekricitet gas eller vatten i Sarajevo, folk levde under hemska förhållanden och många äldre människor dog av kyla under vintermånaderna.
Enligt Bell så använde bosnienserberna Sarajevo som en bricka i ett politisk spel där man hoppades att ifall man satte staden under tillräckligt hårt press så skulle man kunna påverka den bosniska regieringen och utgången av kriget. Galic dömdes också för mord på civila och tribunalen fastlog bortom rimlig tvivel att Galic var ansvarig för den terrorkampanj som Sarajevoborna utsattes för under den tid då han var befälhavare för de bosnienserbiska styrkorna. Galic är dock inte den ende som har åtalats för massakern, 10 agusti 1994 efterträddes Stanislav Galic av Dragomir Milosevic som liksom Galic ställdes inför rätta för bla brott mot mänskligheten terror mot civilbefolkningen och mord. 2009 dömdes han till 29 års fängelse för bla mord och terror mot civilbefolkningen.
Den dåvarande serbiske politiske ledaren Radovan Karadzic och befälhavaren för den serbiska rebellarmén Ratko Mladic som båda två är åtalade för brott mot mänskligheten och folkmord vid Haagtribunalen är också åtalade för massakern på 68 människor i Markalemarknaden 1994 och den andra massakern inträffade i augusti 1995 då en granat som hade avfyrats från serbiska ställningar ovanför staden dödade 43 människor.
I november 2012 så vittnade Ismet Svraka en av de som överlevde Markalemassakern 1995 i rättegången mot Ratko Mladic, Svraka som förlorade en av sina ben vid den andra massakern vittnade om den situation som uppstod efter att granaten hade detonerat. Enligt Ismet så uppstod det panik och folk började skrika, åklagarsidan visade två videoklipp som visade situationen på marknaden efter att granaten hade landat, i första klippet så kunde man se sammanvridna och lemlästade kroppar liggandes på marken i pölar av blod. Andra klippet var betydligt mer talande och kunde visas först efter att vittnen hade lämnat rättegångsalen. I klippet så kunde man se en man som låg på rygg mitt i gatan. Hans huvud hade delats itu av explosionen och blodet sprutade ut på trottoaren, runt honom låg det andra offer. Den femte december 2012 vittnade den kanadensiske FN generalen David Fraser i rättegången mot Ratko Mladic, enligt Fraser så var serbernas strategi i Sarajevo klar,serberna besköt civilbefolkningen avsiktligt enligt Fraser och Sarajevo och Sarajevoborna utsattes för man skulle milt kunna säga var “opproportoneligt våld” och att i de flesta fall så fanns det inga militära mål i sikte. Det fanns ingenting som kunde rättfärdiga användandet av sådant övervåld och avsiktligt beskjutning av civilbefolkningen enligt Fraser som tidigare har även vittnat mot generalerna Galic och Milosevic.
John Hamill en irländsk FN-överste som var en av de som undersökte omständigheterna kring den första Markalemassakern berättade i rättegången mot Ratko Mladic om sina intryck av livet under belägring, enligt Hamill så avfyrade de bosnienserbiska styrkorna 3777 projektiler mot staden inom loppet av 12 timmar. Hamill hade tidigare vittnat i rättegången mot Stanislav Galic just gällande den första Markalemassakern. Under sin tid i Sarajevo så intervjuade Hamill flertal bosnienserbiska officerare däribland ett överste vid namn Radislav Cvetkovic, enligt Hamill så förstod inte Cvetkovic vad var det som var så viktigt med en granat som landade på ett marknad? Enligt Cvetkovic så hade man under 1993, dvs året innan avfyrat 30-40 000 projektiler mot Sarajevo, han förstod inte betydelsen av en ynka granat…
I domen mot Stanislav Galic så nämndes också Sarajevos säregna topografi, med sina åsar och skyskrapor underlättade för bosnienserberna att ta sikte på civilbefolkningen, Sarajevo är egentligen perfekt för en belägring då staden är på alla sidor omgiven av berg och kullar. Flera vittnen sa trots att de försökte anpassa sig till belägringen, genom att tex stänga alla skolor, inte ge sig ut på dan utan vänta tills kvällen, genom att inte röra sig runt gemom staden allt för mycket, inte mer än det var absolut nödvändigt. Samt genom att man satte upp stålcontainrar på olika platser runt om i staden som skulle skydda mot krypskyttar så var man fortfarande inte trygg. Civilbefolkningen var ändå utsatt och det fanns egentligen ingen skydd mot artilleribeskjutning. Domarkammaren i Galic-fallet kunde komma til slutsatsen att bosnienserberna förde ett “kampanj” som riktades mot civilbefolkningen vars ändamål var att terrorisera densamma.
En av de mest hårresande aspekten av belägringen var introduktionen av så kallade “Modified Aerial Bombs” som egentligen tjänade bara ett syfte; att döda och såra så många som möjligt, enligt Milosevic-domen så var de tunga klumpiga och tjänade inget militärt syfte. Varje gång ett sådant avfyrades mot staden så lekte Milosevic med Sarajevobornas liv, enligt bevisningen som las fram så var effekterna av dessa så kallade “Modified Aerial Bombs” överväldigande när det gäller dödandet av civila, och den psykologiska aspekten det hade på civilbefolkningen. Dessa klumpiga oftast improviserade anordningar avfyrades oftast från mobila avfyrningsramper och hade hade noll träffsäkerhet, de kunde landa precis varsomhelst och orsaka enorm skada. Under den pågånde rättegången mot Ratko Mladic så beskrev en fransk FN-officer den skada en sådan anordning kunde orsaka. Enligt vittnet så såg hur den 28 juni 1995 en så kallad MAB (Modified Aerial Bomb) träffade TV-huset i Sarajevo, explosionen lät extremt mycket nästan som ett tågkrock, och själva anordningen var så pass stor och flög så pass sakta att man kunde faktiskt se den innan den slog ner i TV-huset.
Mer än 11 000 människor dödades i Sarajevo under den tre och halv år långa belägringen, de som har vittnat vid tribunalen jämförde Sarajevo med belägringen av Leningrad under andra världskriget. Civilbefolkningen levde under fruktansvärda förhållanden, utan el vatten mat eller gas, huvuddomaren i fallet mot Dragomir Milosevic sa att “bevisningen visar på att det fanns ingen trygghet för befolkningen i Sarajevo man kunde bli dödad eller sårad varsomhelst och närsomhelst. Staden hölls som gisslan och dess medborgare levde farligt genom att bara bo i Sarajevo.
Zdravko Tolimir var under Bosnien-kriget medlem av den bosnienserbiska arméns generalstab och chefen för arméns underrättelse och säkerhetstjänst. Åtal mot Zdravko Tolimir väcktes först 2005 då som en del av åtalet mot Vujadin Popovic som sedermera också fanns skyldig till folkmord i Srebrenica. I augusti 2006 då man fortfarande inte kunde fånga Tolimir som då var på flykt så väcktes ett separat åtal mot bara Zdravko Tolimir. 2007 så greps han och flogs till Haag. Tolimir anklagades bla för att vara delaktigt I två separata så kallade JCE ( Joint Criminal Enterprise) där det finns ett övergripande mål att åsamka skada mot bla olika etniska grupper.
Övergripande målet med JCE är att bevisa att det fanns eller finns en avsikt att begå brott och att de/den åtalade är var på något sätt inblandad i detta. Tolimir anklagades bla för överlagt mord på bosniaker från Srebenica, detta skulle ha ägt rum i en tidsperiod mellan 11 juli och 1 november 1995. Den andra åtalspunkten var massdeportaion av bosniaker från Srebrenica och Zepa. Deportationen av bosniaker från de två enklaverna Srebrenica och Zepa var ingenting som bara hände eller att det var ett spontant resultat av den serbiska anfallet mot de två enklaverna. “Rensningen” av bosniaker från Srebrenica och Zepa var själva målet med anfallet.
2 november 2009 under rättegången mot den förre bosnienserbiske ledaren Radovan Karadzic hävdade åklagaren Alan Tieger att Karadzic visste hela tiden vad som pågick under den militära operationen i Srebrenica, deporatationen av människor samt de massavrättningar som tog plats efter att serbiska stryrkor intog staden. Tieger ville visa hur det hela ingick i ett övergripande serbisk plan. Tieger började med Direktiv 4 som utfärdades av Radovan Karadzic gav order till den bosnienserbiska arméns Drinakår att starta ett offensiv med avsikten att “nöta ut fienden” och tvinga de att lämna eller överge Srebrenica, Zepa och Gorazde. Karadzics direktiv förvandlades till militära handlingar från och med januari 1993 men på grund av press från det internationella samfundet fick man dock avbryta dessa i april 1993 då Srebrenica Zepa och Gorazde utropades till så kallade säkra zoner. Dessa ”säkra zoner” förblev dock under bosnienserbisk belägring under hela kriget.
Då Direktiv 4 misslyckades så valde serberna ett mer ”subtil” strategi enligt Tieger, tanken var att sakta ”kväva enklaverna till döds” genom att man maximalt störde FN:s arbete i enklaverna och att man gjorde livet svårt för de FN-soldater som fanns där på plats och på det sättet skapa en outhärdlig situation för invånarna i enklaven vilket i sin tur skulle göra enklaverna till lätta måltavlor när man väl valde att slå till militärt.
I mars 1995 så skrev Radovan Karadzic under Direktiv 7 där han beordrade den Bosnienserbiska arméns “Drinakår” att påbörja stridsoperationer i regionen med det övergripande syftet att; skapa, osäkerhet, kaos och en känsla hos de som befanns i dessa enklaver att det fanns ingen chans till överlevnad i dessa enklaver, man ville få bort dessa människor med alla möjliga medel.
Domarteamet i Tolimirrättegången kom till samma slutsats som Teiger gjorde i Karadzic-rättegången, d.v.s. att redan 1992 så fanns det en policy i plats, framtaget på högsta nivåerna i den Republika Srpska, en policy vars mål var att ”ta bort” den bosniakiska befolkningen från östra Bosnien. Denna policy bekräftades i mars 1995 genom Direktiv 7 som skrevs som sagt under av Radovan Karadzic som skrev direktivet med medlemmar av den bosnienserbiska generalstaben, däribland Zdravko Tolimir. Även om Direktiv 4 som utfärdades i december 1992 misslyckades så var dess effekt enorm på den redan då utsatta bosniakiska befolkningen i östra bosnien.
Balkanchefen för FN:s flyktingorgan UNHCR, spanjoren José Maria Mendiluce var våren 1992 på väg till bosnien från Belgrad när han passerade staden Zvornik, enligt Mendiluce:
öppnade jugoslaviskt artilleri eld från den serbiska sidan av Drina och inne i staden härjade Arkans soldater tillsammans med ”Röda baskrar”, en specialstyrka underställd inrikesministeriet i Belgrad. Jag hölls kvar i två timmar och insåg att jag löpte allvarlig fara. Jag kunde se lastbilar fyllda med döda kroppar. Jag såg milismän som tog döda barn, kvinnor och gamla människor från deras hus och slängde dem på lastbilarna. Jag såg minst fyra eller fem lastbilar fyllda med lik. När jag kom till Zvornik hade rensningen redan genomförts. Gatorna var folktomma. Allt var över. Erövrarna plundrade och städade upp efter massakern. Jag var övertygad om att de skulle döda mig.
Mönstret från Zvornik och bla Bjelinja skulle upprepas ett tiotal ställen i östra Bosnien, städer som Visegrad, Rudo, Cajnicje, Rogatica, Vlasenica, Foca, Bratunac, Bjeljina Brcko, Cerska, Konjevic Polje… Cerska och Konjevic Polje var de som höll ut längst, tillsammans med Srebenica, Gorazde och Zepa. Där hade de bosniaker som hade lyckats komma den serbiska attacken under våren och sommaren 1992 sökt skydd. Under vintern 1992 så kom dessa enklaver under hårt tryck från både bosnienserbiska och dåvarande jugoslaviska styrkor, under höjden av den serbiska offensiven så attackerades enklaverna av fyra olika armékår, två från RS och två armékår från Serbien eller dåvarande Jugoslavien, (Serbien-Montenegro) allt som allt så beräknar man att ca 10 000 serbiska soldater/paramilitärer/polismän deltog i offensiven. När så Cerska och Konjevic Polje föll till slut i mars 1993, de som överlevde tog sig till fots till Srebrenica som var den närmaste enklaven kvar. Gorazde och Zepa var längre söderut, antalet människor som befann sig i Srebrenica var ca 40 000.
2005 så vittnade Diego Arria i rättegången mot Naser Oric, Srebrenicas bosniakiske befälhavare. Enligt Arria så är den slutsatsen som han kunde komma fram till i april 1993 då han besökte Srebrenica som FN-representant; att det handlade om ”folkmord i slowmotion”
Chockerande bilder har etsats sig fast på hans näthinna: extrem fattigdom, förstörelse, svält och fruktansvärda förhållanden gömdes från omvärlden, enligt Arria med hjälp av FN-trupper på plats, detta var ett sätt att lugna ner de serbiska politiska och militära ledare som inte ville att den sanna bilden skulle komma ut. Arria var den som tog de första bilderna av de förhållandena som rådde i Srebrenica. Enligt honom så ville FN ha hans kamera men han vägrade ge den till de FN-trupper som fanns där.
Omvärlden gjorde inte någonting för att skydda bosniakerna i enklaven och man gjorde det inte möjligt för de att försvara sig. Enligt Arria så sopade FN under mattan rapporter om situationen och för det håller han Boutros Boutros – Ghali ansvarig, det fanns enligt Arria en tendens att försöka jämställa offer och angripare, det var med största sannolikhet det bästa sättet att faktiskt göra någonting. Enligt honom så gjorde FN på plats ingenting för att stoppa vad han kallade för en ”graduell folkmord” tvärtom, så gjorde FN allt för att förhindra honom för att kunna rapportera om vad han egentligen såg.
Enligt Arria så hoppades världssamfundet att serberna skulle köra över enklaven 1993 vilket skulle göra situationen för de diplomaterna på plats i FN-byggnaden betydligt lättare. Det faktum att bosniakerna inte gav och att försvaret i Srebrenica höll fast sina linjer in det sista gjorde att FN var tvungna att ”göra nåt” och skapandet av så kallade ”säkra zoner” (Safe Area) kom till som en nödlösning.
Brittiske frilansjournalisten Tony Birtley lyckades ta sig in i Srebrenica vintern 1993 och filma resultaten av Radovan Karadzic “Direktiv 4” för ABC.
Domarteamet kom också fram att direkt efter att Karadzic hade skrivit under Direktiv 7 så började bosnienserberna införa sanktioner av det humanitära hjälp som skulle till Srebrenica och Zepa. Målet med restriktionerna var att göra livet outhärdligt för bosniakerna, samtidigt så började bosnienserberna utföra militära aktioner och fram till juni 1995 så hade bosnienserberna omringat Srebrenica. Domarteamet kom också fram att medan det förekom skärmytslingar mellan Srebrenicas försvarare och bosnienserberna så riktades de bosnienserbiska militära aktioner också till en stor del mot Srebrenica civila befolkning. I början av juli 1995 så uppstod ett katastrofal humanitär situation i båda enklaverna, då bosnienserberna initierade militär operationen Krivaja 95 vars huvudsakliga mål var att skapa ”förutsättningar för elimination av enklaverna”
Den 11 juli intogs Srebrenica av de serbiska styrkorna och 25 000 till 30 000 bosniaker, mest civila, kvinnor barn och äldre, sökte skydd i FN-förläggningen i Potocari. Den 12 juli intogs Potocari av serberna som avväpnade de FN soldater som fanns på plats, vissa av soldaterna gav bröd till de civila medans de filmades av ett serbiskt tv-team. Enligt domen så fort kameran slutade filma så tog soldaterna tillbaka det bröd de hade delat ut. Enligt domen så började man separera män från kvinnor och barn, inklusive unga pojkar och äldre sjuka män. Kvinnorna och barnen sattes på bussar som hade arrangerats av serberna medan männen kvarhölls i ett hus som sedermera blev känd som ”det vita huset”
Männen transporterades senare till Bratunac där de sen fick sällskap av tusentals bosniakiska män som hade fångats in av serberna eller som hade gett upp och överlämnat sig. Många av dessa män hölls kvar i byggnader och bussar i Bratunac under vidriga förhållanden där de fick utstå grova förolämpningar från de serbiska soldater och där många misshandlades, också till döds. De serbiska soldaterna var fria att gör a som de ville med fångarna. Många av dessa män avrättades också i Bratunac. Den 14 juli de kvarvarande fångarna flyttades till staden Zvornik och hölls kvar där innan de möte sitt öde.
Domarkammaren kände att de var tvungna att påpeka ett antal fall av dokumenterade massavrättningar. Den 13 juli transporterades hundratals bosniakiska män till ett lagerlokal i byn Kravica, när serberna hade lyckats packa lagerlokalen full, så började de skjuta mot fångarna med maskingevär och även granater och raketkastare. De sköt i flera timmar och avrättningarna fortsatte framtill morgonen 14 juli då en serbisk kamera man lyckades filma lagerlokalen och de döda bosniaker som låg utanför.
En av Tolimirs officerare; Ljubisa Beara, själv dömd för folkmord var direkt inblandad i begravningen av de som hade dödats i massavrättningarna i Kravica 13-14 juli 1995. En annan sådant tillfälle var massavrättningen av bosniaker i en skola, i närheten av byn Orahovac, fångarna forslades in en gymnastik sal och senare transporterades till med buss till avrättningsplatserna, skjutandet började så fort de klev av bussen, vissa av de fångar som hade lyckats överleva avrättningarna fick utstå förolämpningar från från serberna och man lät de lida innan man tillslut utdelade nådastöten. I en av grupperna fanns en fem-sex årig pojke som efter att man hade skjutit mot den gruppen han var i reste sig från den högen av kroppar och ropade efter sin far. Uppemot 2500 bosniaker mördades den dan och begravdes i en massgrav. Domarkammaren kom fram till att det lidande fångarna fick utstå måste ha varit fruktansvärt, i många fall så utspelades det så att de som väntade på att bli skjutna fick se de som stod framför de bli skjutna. De få som överlevde och har vittnat har gett en skrämmande bild av det som skedde.
Domarkammaren kom fram till att det lidande fångarna fick utstå måste ha varit fruktansvärt, i många fall så utspelades det hela så att de som väntade på att bli skjutna fick se de som stod framför de bli skjutna. De få som överlevde och har vittnat har gett en skrämmande bild av det som skedde.
Den 16 juli så transporterades hundratals bosniaker till en by som heter Branjevo, efter ankomsten så avrättades fångarna av de serbiska styrkorna, fångarna avrättades i omgångar, efter varje omgång så frågade serberna de som var skjutna ifall det fanns några som överlevde, de som svarade blev skjutna i huvudet. Avrättningarna fortsatte fram till eftermiddag sammanlagt så avrättades 1000-1500 bosniaker i Branjevo.
Enligt domarteamet så är det enda möjliga slutsatsen som man kan dra utifrån all bevisning som hade lagts fram är att Zdravko Tolimir inte bara visste om att det fanns ett övergripande plan för folkmord utan att han själv var delaktig i det genom att de säkerhetsstyrkor som han var ansvarig för dels rapporterade till honom om vad som skedde på marken men att han själv var högst inblandad i utformandet av planer för massdeportation och mord av bosniaker.
Samt mördandet av tre bosniaker i Zepa som dommarkammaren anser faller inom ramen för folkmord. Mord på Mehmed Hajrić, Avdo Palić och Amir Imamović, tre prominenta bosniakiska ledare från Zepa efter att Zepa hade fallit sågs av domarkammaren som ett sätt att vidare göra livet omöjligt för bosniaker i drinadalen och kan nog räknas som ett form av eliticide, dvs att man dödar toppskicktet i samhället så att den inte kan organisera sig. Zdravko Tolimir var chefen för den bosnienserbiska arméns underrättelsetjänst och säkerhetsstyrkor samt medlem av den bosnienserbiska generalstaben. Han hade en nära relation till Ratko Mladic som ofta konsulterade Tolimir innan han fattade de beslut han gjorde, Mladic ansåg Tolimir vara en del av sitt ”innersta krets” Vittnen har beskrivit Tolimir som Mladic ”högra hand” och hans ”ögon och öron” och mer en jämlike med Mladic än en i den långa raden av underställda. Stabchefen för den bosnienserbiska armén Manojlo Milovanovic vittnade om att; Tolimir var den bäst informerade officeraren i VRS och att ”han alltid visste mer än andra”.
När det gäller åtalspunkten rörande förföljelse mot folkgrupp så fanns det gott om bevis för Tolimirs inblandning, överlagt mord på bosniakiska fångar, grym och omänsklig behandling av den bosniakiska befolkningen samt terror mot civilbefolkningen, förstörelse av bosniakiska hem och moskéer, påtvingad massdeportation av kvinnor barn, och äldre ut ur enklaverna gjordes allt med målet att diskriminera denna grupp på ett politisk rasmässig och religiös plan. När det gäller mord på bosniaker i Zepa så kom kammaren fram till att, mord på dessa indivder som ansågs tillhöra Zepas bosniakiska elit samt massdeportationen av stadens bosniakiska befolkning gjordes med avsikten att göra rehabilitation av denna etniska grupp i just det området omöjligt.
Uppläsning av domen mot Zdravko Tolimir, 2012-12-12 ICTY, Haag