The Truth About “A Town Betrayed”

Srebrenica
Srebrenica

Most people outside of Scandinavia, more precisely Norway and Sweden have never heard of “A Town Betrayed ” a revisionist take on the genocide in Srebrenica and the events that led up to it. It first aired in Norway in the spring of 2011 and later in Sweden in fall that same year. On the surface, it looked like a typical Norwegian documentary with high production values packaged as a “new truth” about the genocide in Srebrenica and the events that led up to it, however it didn´t take long before most people with basic knowledge of the events in and around Srebrenica and the Bosnian genocide to see that this “new truth”  was in fact old lies and discarded conspiracy theories that the filmmakers Ola Flyum and David Hebdicth had repackaged as a “new truth”.

I have written extensively on the documentary on my blog (1 2 3, in Swedish) along with a long host of others. This list includes some of the most noted experts on the Balkans in Scandinavia. As well as journalists and human rights groups who were exposed to the same type of recycled Serb propaganda and conspiracy theories that the filmmakers were peddling as a “new truth”

However I never considered writing about it in English. I honestly saw no need for it, until now. By the spring of 2012 the documentary had been widely perceived as recycled Serb nationalist propaganda. Swedish journalist, of Croatian origin, Tonchi Percan who had covered the wars in Bosnia and Croatia for Swedish press, wrote several times about the documentary saying that Swedish Television should apologize to the victims and survivors for broadcasting what were essentially discarded conspiracy theories that had been floating around in the Balkans and had been debunked by amongst other things the court proceedings at ICTY in Hague. Percan compared it to Swedish Television broadcasting a documentary about the 9/11 attacks being a false flag, without showing any actual evidence.

Still, in time of the 20th anniversary of the genocide in Srebrenica, the documentary floated up again on twitter, spread by Serb nationalists, propagandists and their sympathizers, including far-right loons, in other words; people like: John R. Schindler.

By the fall of 2011 the documentary had been debunked in Norway and exposed as recycled Serb propaganda and conspiracy theories with one of the journalists working on the documentary, the Bosnian Mirsad Fazlic publicly distancing himself in interviews in Norway and Bosnia from it, saying that he protested in several e-mails to the filmmakers that they were in fact trying to distort the what had happened in Bosnia. According to Fazlic once he saw the finished results of several years of work he was shocked, the documentary was clearly pro-Serbian and in it went out of its way to downplay and shift the blame for the genocide from the Serbs.

The documentary was the first program to be brought down in both the Press Complaints Commission ( PFU ) in the fall of 2011 and the Investigation Committee , the Swedish equivalent of PFU in the spring of 2012. The Norwegian PFU wrote that the documentary leaves out some of the most basic facts about the Bosnian war.

Aage Borchgrevink, the senior advisor at The Norwegian Helsinki Committee wrote back in 2011 that the documentary described the Bosnian war in a way that reminded him of the way Serbian state media used to report from Bosnia when Slobodan Milosevic was president.

According to Borchgrevink : ”the documentary was historical revisionism disguised as groundbreaking journalism. Using factually incorrect information, selective use of sources, fringe experts and biased portrayals of events, NRK had described the genocide in Srebrenica the same way Serbian state media had reported from Bosnia when Slobodan Milosevic was president. Ratko Mladic, the general indicted for genocide is portrayed as a decent soldier while Izetbegovic who didn´t bother answering Srebrenica´s calls for help is responsible.”

Borchgrevink also pointed to the fact that the Bosnian Army´s attack on Kravica in January 1993 is described as a “massacre” in the documentary, however the ICTY cleared the Bosnian commander Naser Oric of any wrongdoing during the attack. Several civilians were killed in the attack. However most of those killed were Serb soldiers and the village of Kravica was according to the ICTY  a legitimate military target. According to RDC ( Reaserch and Documentation Centre) 35 Serb soldiers and 11 civilians died in the fighting. An additional 36 Serb soldiers were wounded. This information was collected from offical Bosnian Serb documentation, a document entitled: Warpath of the Bratunac Brigade.

According to the ICTY´s verdict against the Bosnian Army commander in Srebrenica, Naser Oric:

Between April 1992 and March 1993, Srebrenica town and the villages in the area held by Bosnian Muslims were constantly subjected to Serb military assaults, including artillery attacks, sniper fire, as well as occasional bombing from aircrafts. Each onslaught followed a similar pattern. Serb soldiers and paramilitaries surrounded a Bosnian Muslim village or hamlet, called upon the population to surrender their weapons, and then began with indiscriminate shelling and shooting. In most cases, they then entered the village or hamlet, expelled or killed the population, who offered no significant resistance, and destroyed their homes. During this period, Srebrenica was subjected to indiscriminate shelling from all directions on a daily basis. Potočari in particular was a daily target for Serb artillery and infantry because it was a sensitive point in the defence line around Srebrenica. Other Bosnian Muslim settlements were routinely attacked as well. All this resulted in a great number of refugees and casualties.(Oric, par.103)

In comparison, it appears that the Bosnian Muslim side did not adequately prepare for the looming armed conflict. There were not even firearms to be found in the Bosnian Muslim villages, apart from some privately owned pistols and hunting rifles; a few light weapons were kept at the Srebrenica police station. (Oric, par.94)

Between June 1992 and March 1993, Bosnian Muslims raided a number of villages and hamlets inhabited by Bosnian Serbs, or from which Bosnian Muslims had formerly been expelled. One of the purposes of these actions was to acquire food, weapons, ammunition and military equipment. Bosnian Serb forces controlling the access roads were not allowing international humanitarian aid – most importantly, food and medicine – to reach Srebrenica. As a consequence, there was a constant and serious shortage of food causing starvation to peak in the winter of 1992/1993. Numerous people died or were in an extremely emaciated state due to malnutrition. (Oric, par.104)

In regards to Kravica, the verdict says:

The fighting intensified in December 1992 and the beginning of January 1993, when Bosnian Muslims were attacked by Bosnian Serbs primarily from the direction of Kravica and Ježestica. In the early morning of the 7 January 1993, Orthodox Christmas day, Bosnian Muslims attacked Kravica, Ježestica and Šiljkovići. Convincing evidence suggests that the village guards were backed by the VRS [Bosnian Serb Army], and following the fighting in the summer of 1992, they received military support, including weapons and training. A considerable amount of weapons and ammunition was kept in Kravica and Šiljkovići. Moreover, there is evidence that besides the village guards, there was Serb and Bosnian Serb military presence in the area. The evidence is unclear as to the number of houses destroyed by Bosnian Muslims as opposed to those destroyed by Bosnian Serbs. In light of this uncertainty, the Trial Chamber concludes that the destruction of property in Kravica between 7 and 8 December 1992 does not fulfil the elements of wanton destruction of cities, towns or villages not justified by military necessity. (Oric, par.662,)

A report from the Bosnian Serb Army´s Bratunac Brigade dated January 4th 1993 says that combat operations in the area Bratunac – Kravica will continue until Serb forces have control over that area. Meaning that far from being on the defensive, the VRS were in fact on the offensive. Lazar Ostojic, the Bosnian Serb commander in Kravica during the attack says in his book, “The Bloody Christmas in Kravica” (Krvavi Božić Sela Kravica) that he had at his disposal 50 elite soldiers from Bjelijna and a so-called “Internventni vod” along with 400 soldiers. According to his account he decided to evacuate the village around 9 o´clock in the morning, leaving only soldiers in Kravica. Last group of Serb soldiers left Kravica at around four in the afternoon. That day he signed off on 22 cases of infantry ammunition and more than 400 artillery shells along with 5000 anti-air craft rounds to his soldiers, proving that Kravica was a highly militarized village and one of the staging points for Serb attacks on Srebrenica.

The Trial Chamber also found that there was  evidence that in Kravica and Ježestica, Serbs fired artillery from houses and other buildings, which led to house-to-house fighting  between Bosnian Army soldiers and the Serb rebels. Furthermore, according to the Trial Chamber;  Serbs located on hills north and northeast of Kravica fired artillery in the direction of Kravica and Ježestica. A witness observed shells landing on houses in the villiges, causing fire. (Oric, par.665)

According to the RDC, the number of Serbs from Central Bosnia buried in Bratunac was consistent with the population movements after the war, especially the Serb population from the Serb-held parts of Sarajevo, which had under the Dayton Peace Accords became part of a re-integrated Sarajevo, having previously been held by Bosnian Serb forces.The political leadership of the Bosnian Serbs called on the population to leave those areas and even take the graves of their loved ones with them. According to RDC such a large percentage of Sarajevo Serbs followed the instructions that parts of the city that had been under  occupation remained deserted for months. Most importantly though,  the RDC notes that the Serb dead from Sarajevo who were later re-buried in Bratunac area are represented as results of actions taken by the Bosnian Army units from Srebrenica.

The RDC also concluded from their investigation of the military cemetery in Bratunac that 139 of the dead soldiers buried there had lived and fought elswhere in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the war, but where nevertheless buried at the Bratunac military cemetery. According to the RDC: “48 victims buried in Bratunac fought and died in Hadzići; 36 fought and died in Srebrenica; 34 and died in Vogosća; 3 in Konjic and 3 more in Ilijas; 2 fought and died in Sarajevo, two more in Ilidza; one in Trnovo, Pale and Tuzla each.” All of these figures are  presented as results of Naser Oric´s actions as well. ( the only ones actually being the 34 soldiers who died in fighting around Srebrenica)

Serbs in Ilijas digging up their dead in winter of 1996
Bosnian Serbs in Ilijas digging up their dead in winter of 1996

In January 1996 HRW´s Emma Daly reported from Sarajevo about the removal of bodies from cemeteries and Serbs burning their own houses rather then let it fall into the hands of the “Muslim enemy” as well as the fact that Bosnian Serb forces were still firing into the city, and killing civilians months after Dayton Peace Accords had been signed. (Daly reported for The Independent during the Bosnian war)

Borchgrevink also points to the United Nations 155-page report on the fall of Srebrenica, where former UN-secretary general Kofi Annan says that the Serbs exaggerated the Bosnian Army attacks as way of disguising their real objective; which was an ethnically pure Serb state. That meant that Serb forces killed tens of thousands Bosniak and Croat civilians during the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia. According to Borchgrevink; – “Srebrenica was not an ordinary military operation as NRK´s expert (John R. Schindler) points out but the culmination of the ethnic cleansing of eastern Bosnia.”

Borchgrevink goes on to say that the documentary´s expert (John R. Schindler) recycles old controversial Serb nationalist claims about 1300 Serb civilians killed around Srebrenica, and that of the Bosniaks killed by Serb forces after the fall of Srebrenica only some “2000 disarmed prisoners of war were executed by elements of the Bosnian Serb Army´s counterintelligence” while the rest were killed in combat while trying to reach Tuzla.

This is of course nonsense, even if it´s cleverly packaged. As Borchgrevink writes; John R. Schindler´s  claims are refuted by RDC´s findings, which show that of the 567 Serbs killed in the Bratunac area (Where Naser Oric´s alleged crimes took place) 448 were Serb soldiers, and the rest, 119, were civilians. This is of course a lot, but nowhere near the figures Schindler cites. It should be added that John R. Schindler  himself has used RDC findings in his now eviscerated propaganda tract Unholy Terror. British historian, well known Balkan expert and genocide scholar Marko Attila Hoare, who reviewed Schindler´s book pointed to Schindler´s amusing blunders in regards to RDC figures. Hoare writes:

One of the more amusing of Schindler’s blunders concerns the scientific calculation of the figure for Bosnian war-dead carried out by Mirsad Tokaca’s Research and Documentation Centre in Sarajevo, which placed it at about one hundred thousand. Schindler seems to endorse this figure wholeheartedly, seeing it as proof that earlier estimates of Bosnian war-dead had been ‘grossly exaggerated’, and complaining that Tokaca’s result ‘got minimal attention in Bosnia or abroad’ (p. 317). The reason this is amusing is that Tokaca’s figures disprove several of the figures for Serb dead at the hands of Bosnian forces that Schindler himself cites. Thus, Schindler claims that ‘more than 3,000 Bosnian Serbs, some soldiers but at least 1,300 unarmed civilians, had been killed by Muslim forces based in Srebrenica’ (p. 228).

Borchgrevink also points out that international forensics experts have identified 6481 individual victims from various mass graves from around Srebrenica and have determend that over 8100 Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) were killed. Subsquent trials that have taken place at the ICTY and ICJ (International Court of Justice) have proven that Srebrenica was an act of genocide, a well planned and carried out mass murder with the intent to destroy the Bosniaks of Srebrenica and Zepa as an ethnic, religous and a political group.

It should also be added that Borchgrevink´s and Norwegian Helsinki Committee critique of  “A Town Betrayed” and it´s main “expert” John R. Schindler came in May 2011. Since then figures regarding those found in mass graves has changed, given that Srebrenica is still an active crime scene and that about 1000 of those killed in the genocide still are uncounted for. As of June 2015, the figure of those Bosniaks who have been identified stands at 6930, working from a set of 17,000 human remains located in 93 mass graves. This of course destroys the filmmakers and John R. Schindler´s thesis that the majority of Srebrenica´s Bosniaks were “killed making their way to Tuzla” instead they were captured and taken to various execution sites. For more, see Christian Jennings: Bosnia´s Million Bones- Solving the World´s Biggest Forensic Puzzle)

Borchgrevink also refutes Schindler´s claim that the reason Ratko Mladic wanted to take the town was due to arms smuggling into Srebrenica. Schindler and the filmmakers remain quiet about the notorious Directive 7 order issued out by Bosnian Serb leadership in March 1995, four months before the genocide in Srebrenica. Directive 7, signed by Radovan Karadzic called for the permanent removal of Bosnian Muslims from the safe areas. The safe areas included Srebrenica and Zepa. On March 8th 1995, Radovan Karadzic issued Operational Directive 7 from the Supreme Command of the VRS. The Directive ordered the VRS (Bosnian Serb Army) to “complete the physical separation of the Srebrenica and Zepa enclaves as soon as possible, preventing even communication between individuals between the two enclaves. By planned and well-thought-out combat operations, create an unbearable situation of total insecurity, with no hope of further survival or life for the inhabitants of Srebrenica or Zepa.”

As Ed Vulliamy and Florence Hartmann point out in a new report published by The Guardian, Mladic had told the Bosnian Serb assembly, “My concern is to have them vanish completely”, and that Karadzic pledged “blood up to the knees” if his army took Srebrenica.” Directive 7, was of course known, or should have been known to the filmmakers and John R. Schindler, yet it does not appear anywhere in the documentary. A pretty big omission in my opinion…

But the most telling sign of what this documentary´s objective really was, is the fact that behind the scenes, the documentary´s advisors and consultants were made up of what Eskilstuna-Kuriren´s political editor Alex Voronov called “a Serb nationalist propaganda centre and a revisionist sewer”

This sewer included Zorica Mitic, a physician from Belgrade who had since 2000 lived in Norway. In Serbian media, like Pecat and various Serb Diaspora sites she had repeatedly denied that what had happened in Srebrenica was an act of genocide and had highly recommended sites and organizations that had “exposed the myth of genocide” (go ahead, just read the link from Pecat and Glas Dijaspore) among the sites she had recommended was a Hague-based NGO called “Srebenica Historical Project”  led by a Serb-American lawyer Stephan Karganovic who was in 2012 compared to Holocaust denier David Irving by USHMM and Foreign Policy Magazine. Srebenica Historical Project is funded in part by Bosnian Serb President Milorad Dodik as USHMM and Foreign Policy explain. Dodik is one the most fervent genocide deniers in the Balkans, as late as June 2015 he called the genocide in Srebrenica “the biggest sham of the 20th century.”

Another “consultant” to the documentary was a man named Ozren Jorganovic, who for a while worked for Norwegian State Television. (NRK) I don´t  know how he got the job in Norwegian State Television, but what is known is that during the Bosnian war Jorganovic was station manager of Radio Ozren, a Bosnian Serb propaganda station near Doboj, as well as Radio Doboj during the war.

Aside from Borchgrevink´s critique, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee also sent the Norwegian Television an 18-page report listing 25 (!) factual errors in the documentary. Here is the full report, in Norwegian (PDF)

It would be simply impossible to list and translate all the inaccuracies and falsehoods in the documentary; the Norwegian Helsinki Committee´s report is 18 pages long (!) so here are just a few of the most important ones. (Within the first ten pages!) However the points that NHC raises show the real intent of the filmmakers and the level of deception that they engage in.

1 (3) the documentary claims that Bosnia´s Muslim majority declared independence (in the spring of 1992) and that a civil war erupted as result of that. This is misleading. There was a referendum on March 1, 1992 about the independence where Bosniaks, Croats and some Serbs voted for independence. A large number of Serbs voted against or boycotted the referendum. What happened after was that Bosnian Serb forces along with Serb forces (both regular and paramilitary) attacked the Bosniak civilian population and representatives of the Bosnian authorities in April 1992. After the initial attack on Bosnia, Serbia officially tried to distance itself from the war, but Serbian authorities continued to support and exercise control over those forces. This has also been established by the ICTY and the ICJ (International Court of Justice)

2 (4) 6:32 The documentary says that “two years later (1992) there is a civil war in eastern Bosnia” The documentary does not explain how that war played out in that part of the country. During the ethnic cleansing of eastern Bosnia thousands of civilians were killed and the surviving Bosniaks expelled to Bosnian-government controlled territory or forced into the enclaves of Gorazde, Zepa and Srebrenica where they were subjected to artillery attacks. These areas were declared “safe areas” by the UN Security resolution on 16 of April 1993. One of the main problems with that was that the despite the Security Council´s decision there was a lack of willingness from the UN-member states to send enough soldiers to protect the area.

3 (8) 25:20 The documentary says that the Bosniaks promised that they would not attack Serb villages from Srebrenica and not harass the Serbs the area of Sarajevo in connection to the establishment of the safe areas. It´s true that both sides broke the agreement on demilitarization, but the documentary avoids mentioning that the situation was asymmetrical and that the Serbs did not remove their heavy artillery from around Srebrenica. Instead Serbs used it to shell the area. In addition to blocking aid to the enclaves and taking UN-personnel as hostages on several occasions.  A delegation from the UN-Security Council, led by Diego Arria arrived in Srebrenica on April 25  1993 and in its report the UN condemned the Serb forces for carrying out that what was called a “slow-motion process of genocide” The report concluded “that Serb forces must withdraw to points from which they cannot attack, harass or terrorize the town”. In the end the Serbs captured two of the enclaves, Zepa and Srebrenica.

And lastly, the report points out that it has been proven in the Krstic verdict that Srebrenica had immense strategic importance for the Serb war effort. Being situated as it is in the middle of what was planned to be a “Greater Serbia”

”Srebrenica (and the surrounding Central Podrinje Region) were… of immense strategic importance to the Bosnian Serb leadership. Without Srebrenica, the ethnically pure Serb state of Republika Srpska they sought to create would remain divided into two disconnected parts, and its access to Serbia proper would be disrupted.”

NHC concludes that is the reason why Srebrenica was attacked and that the decision to kill the male population of Srebrenica has to be viewed in that context.

Note: As I wrote above, the full report is 18-pages long and points to in total 25 similar falsehoods and factual errors which show that this is not a question of innocent mistakes, but a deliberate deception on the part of the filmmakers and the “experts” and “consultants”.

For my Bosnian readers, I can highly recommend Sanjin Pejkovic´s dissection (in Bosnian) of the documentary. Sanjin has written extensively about it in Swedish. He, along with Alex Voronov  and others were engaged in a debate with the filmmakers, a debate which the filmmakers lost.

There is of course plenty more to be said about this documentary, and a lot of it explained by the Norwegian Helsinki Committee´s 18-page report as well Pejkovic´s dissection of the methods used by the filmmakers and what they were alluding to.

As for me, I can only say that I am proud to have been a small part of a larger group of dedicated people who worked on exposing the lies told in the documentary.

Furthermore for those not interested in recyceled Serb nationalist lies and propaganda, I can highly recommend the following documentaries on Srebrenica:

Srebrenica- A Cry From The Grave, from 1999. Full Documentary.

As well as the new Dutch documentary: Why Srebrenica had to Fall

Also check out BBC´s new documentary about the genocide:

 

This post has been edited and uppdated on 19/07/2015

P.S. I had previously (erroneously) written that 448 Serbs died in the Bratunac area in total. That has been corrected. The correct figure is; 567, of those 448 Serb soldiers and 119 civilians. Follow the RDC link for full info.

Remembering Bloody May 1992 in Bratunac

A Bosniak woman prays above the coffin of a relative killed at the beginning of the 1992-1995 Bosnian war in the eastern town of Bratunac, May 12, 2012.  (Photo : PRESSTV.COM)
A Bosniak woman prays above the coffin of a relative killed at the beginning of the 1992-1995 Bosnian war in the eastern town of Bratunac, May 12, 2012.  34 victims were buried that time. (Photo : PRESSTV.COM)

 

This article appeared on BCS version of DW ( Deutsche Welle ) 11.05.2014

By Marinko Sekulić

In mid-April 92 a JNA-corps  from Novi Sad arrived in Bratunac. Together with them arrived other armed units from Serbia. At the end of April the disarming of the Muslim population began “We had to hand over all licensed firearms in turn for guarantees that we would be protected by them apparently so that it wouldn´t come to any excesses” says Sakib Ahmetović who worked at the factory Kaolin in Bratunac and is now the president of the Association of Former Concentration Camp Inmates from Bratunac. “After they had disarmed us everything was surrounded and the shooting started. Anyone who tried to escape was killed. They herded us like cattle into the football stadium which was used as a gathering center from which they picked out those men that were to be executed”

Around 3000 Bosniaks were detained on the stadium where they were forced to hand over their identification cards, money and anything else they had of any value. The men who were separated in the stadium were then taken away to a gymnasium hall of the primary school “Vuk Karadžić” and imprisoned there. Ahmetović remembers that there was about 700 of them there and that the first night nine people suffocated;  “because there was so many of us in one room that we couldn´t breathe. There simply was not enough air. “A Serb soldier came in the room and shot out one of the windows in order to get more air in the room only for one of the boys in the room who was good friends with the soldier to be taken out and killed.  The killings took place in the adjacent building, called; “The Hangar.”  Which had before served as a workshop for practical training of students. Whoever went to load the dead never came back”

“Someone has to speak about what happened”

On DW´s question about how many people were killed altogether Ahmetović said around 200. “Only when they find all the mass graves and all the bodies will we know the full extent of the crime and the number of those killed”

When asked which moment had etched itself deepest into his memory Sakib Ahmetović had this to say:”I’ll always remember that I was brought here by a friend of mine, a Serb. He left me there and kept me there. Twice I met him in the hallway when going to the bathroom and asked him: What did he do to me?” And he replied; take care of yourself, you will go to the exchange. “When we went to the exchange he was at the exit, he stood up and greeted me with tears. I moved forward and then something hit me from behind and I fell and hit my head on the stairs on the other side” Ahmetović said showing the scar from that blow. I turned around thinking that he had hit me, but I saw that it was another soldier that was with him. “He kicked me, hit me with the rifle butt, he grabbed me by the collar and dragged me to the corner of the building where the killings took place. I don´t know where I found the strength to break away from him and jump in the back of the truck as he was dragging me alongside. There were already people on the truck who were being taken to the exchange. It was dark, the soldier started shouting that they throw me out of the truck or he´ll kill everybody on the truck. I laid down, and those on the truck did not see who jumped in. The soldier was on his way to stop the truck from going to the exchange and said that if I didn´t get out he would kill everyone when he returned. I don´t know how long the whole thing lasted but I had already decided to surrender when I heard the voice of that killer, he was saying: “Where is that one?” I heard someone say ; “they took him away” and that´s when he stopped looking for me. I went along to the exchange and that´s how I managed to stay alive.

After I returned to Bratunac after the war, I found out that I was declared dead, I had been declared that by my friend, most likely he was the once tasked with killing me so he had to do something to avoid suspicion. I meet that man now days too; we have had a couple of conversations but three years after my testimony in front of a court of law we don´t have any more contact and we are no longer friends.

Ahmetović returned to Bratunac in 2001 where he has lived since then because as he says; “someone has to talk about what happened. We can´t forget and those responsible have to be held accountable” Since my return there is a rather thick file on me at the local police station, but none of it is my fault. Someone has tried to kill me twice, unsuccessfully. They once prepared a mine for me in order to kill me but I survived. God won´t allow it to happen, I have to bear witness and the truth has to come to light”

Killed in the same school they graduated in

In gymnasium hall of the primary school which is now days called Branko Radičević but during the killings called Vuk Karadžić paying respect to the dead is Tima Hasanović. Thru her tears she found the strength to tell us:

I walked into this room for the first time last year. Believe me, I could hardly breathe. Here they killed my two sons and my husband. One was 18, the second 20, and her husband was 42 years old. All three of them were taken together from the house, which is located barely a kilometer away. From my window I could see this room, where they were killed. My children finished elementary school in this building.

For ten years I came here to their PTA meetings. Where are their teachers now? So that they can look me and rest of the mothers in the eyes and we can ask them how come they allowed their school to turn into a slaughterhouse? A place where innocent kids and people were killed? To this day our children attend school here, and to this day they are not allowed in their own language. Why can´t one language, the Bosnian language be shared by Serbs, Bosniaks and Croats. This is Bosnia?!

A previously unknown detention centar for women

Bratunac is a town of mass graves, says Hiba Ramić a retunee to Bratunac. “In the municipality of Bratunac 73 mass graves have been found so far.” Indivdual graves, mass graves, primary graves and secondary mass graves in which those killed in Bratunac area were dumped. Some were killed during the Srebrenica genocide, others brought here from Milići, Vlasenica, even Višegrad and Foča. We still don´t have the exact figures of those killed and exhumed from those mass graves.”

Sakib Ahmetović tells us of yet another interesting detail, something about which has up to today little or nothing has been known. That is the existence of a camp for women in Bratunac during the war. He says that women were held for much longer in that camp then in the gymnasium hall. Women, some of them with children were locked up in a building close to the local police station. Those women carried messages to Srebrenica during the war. Their children would stay in Bratunac while their mother would carry a message to Srebrenica knowing full well that if she did not return to Bratunac her children would be killed. One girl, who was five six years old at the time remember that they told her in Bratunac; “If your mom does not return were are going to roast you on a spit grill”

When asked how many women were detained there and why this was previously unknown, Ahmetović said that he believed that 10 to 12 women were detained there. “We still don´t know everything, because they don´t even wish to talk about it, let alone testify about it. They are so afraid that they don´t even come here for the commemoration. I know one woman personally, I begged her to testify but she told me that she was afraid for her child, she even told me the name of the man that threatened her not to tell anything or something will happen to her child.”

“Immediately after our return to Bratunac we started looking for those missing” says Refik Begić, the former president of the Bratunac Assembly and one of the survivors of the camps. “In the existing files, which we mention frequently there are 603 missing persons. A small number of those have been found. Sadly we are still looking for a large number of victims of May 1992. Every year we remember that May and the horrible aggression that we were subjected too. Sadly the large number of discovered mass graves also testifies to that as well as those that have yet to be discovered. A lot of people were simply thrown into the Drina River and their bodies were found in Šapac, Sremska Mitrovica and even Belgrade. That´s why we throw roses in the river each year. We hope and expect justice to be done, and we will insist on it year after year and we will never stop. Of course we have to look to the future, but we will only look to the future if there is justice.”

Refik Begić confirmed the existence of 73 graves as well as the fact that the full figure of the casualties’ from this area is not known. “Sadly that is the case, but there are plenty of cases where entire families have disappeared, killed were they were caught, burned to death in houses without anyone to report it. Your neighbour can´t report that you are missing only a close relative and we are witnesses to the fact that in the things that happened in many cases all traces were lost. Despite everything I think that there is life in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Bratunac. The level of tolerance is considerably higher now than it was previously, I think that there will be a lot more understanding for everything that happened, coming to terms with the past is moving slowly but it´s moving. I am convinced that Serbian people have that seed in them, as it´s so popular to say these days, in fighting against fascism. However Serbs need to come to terms that in 1992, a large portion acted like fascists. The sooner that happens, and the sooner there is a catharsis the sooner we can focus on the future and progress will be faster”

Commemoration of the war crimes committed in Bratunac under the banner: Days of Genocide on Bosniaks in Bratunac Municipality this year started 3d of May. Along with marking the “Day of Concentration Camp Inmates” visits were made to the mass graves in Glogova, Suha and Redžića as well as visit to the gymnasium hall of primary school Branko Radičević, the place of the camp in 1992 as well as a viewing of the documentary “Imami šehidi”. On the border crossing with Serbia on Ljubovijski Bridge, 603 roses were thrown in to The Drina River. Each rose symbolizing a murdered Bosniak civilian in Bratunac.

On Monday 12th May 2014 in the memorial center and cemetery Veljaci the eight mass funeral service will be held for six identified murdered Bosniak civilians. In the memorial centre in Veljaci bodies of 267 identified Bosniaks killed in Bratunac 1992 have been buried. The search goes on for remaining 300 bodies. One should not forget that during the Srebrenica genocide in 1995 some 2000 of those killed were originally from Bratunac who due to the pogroms taking place found refuge in Srebrenica. Days of Genocide Bratunac 2014 will close 16th May.

Srebrenica- The remains of a young boy found in four different mass graves.

Srebrenica Genocide
Srebrenica Genocide

On Saturday Bosnian media reported that the body of one; Senad Beganović and his compatriot, the two years older Muvaz Orlović were identified after their remains had been exhumed from several mass graves around the Podrinje area. ( Drina Valley) Beganović was fourteen when he was killed, he was originally from Bratunac, while Muvaz (16) was from Konjević-Polje.

Senad was born in the village of Glogova near Bratunac ( See also: Glogova Massacre ) and disappeared during the Srebrenica genocide in July 1995. The exhumation of his remains is also a testimony of the rampage of Mladic and his monsters in in the summer and fall of 1995. Some of Senad´s remains were first exhumed in 1998 from a mass grave in Zeleni Jadar near Srebrenica. Other remains were found in 2000 in a grave near his birth village Glogova and then in 2005 several bones were found in a grave in Budak near Srebrenica. Towards the end of 2007 parts were found from another recently discovered grave in Zeleni Jadar near Srebrenica.

The graves in which Senad’s remains were found are several tens of kilometers apart from each other. His remains were identified by his brother Suad. The mortal remains of Muvaz were found in a grave in Zalazje near Srebenica in 2009. All this according to Lejla Čengić, a spokeswoman for the Institute for Missing Persons of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In Podrinje´s “Valley of Mass Graves” also known as “Bosnia´s Valley of Death” near Kamenica in eastern Bosnia the body of one Šahbaz Bećirović born in the village of Neđeljište near Vlasenica was found, his remains were identified by his brothers son, a graduate student at the Faculty of Islamic Studies in Sarajevo who also works as an imam in town of Srebrenik. According to Semir, his uncle Šahbaz remains are still incomplete, his skull is missing along with his fingers and his feet. There are a total of 14 mass graves in the vicinity of the village. All contain the remains of victims killed after the fall of Srebrenica.

According to Semir, the Bećirović family headed towards Srebenica after the fall of Cerska in March of 1993, most of the women and children in the family were transported to Tuzla that year, while his uncle and most of the men decided to stay.

“After the fall of Srebrenica my uncle decided to stay, while my dad headed towards the woods, he tried to make my uncle come along but my uncle stayed, he wanted to stay and see what would happen after the fall. My father made it to Kladanj “ (Bosnian controlled territory)

Today Semir lives with his wife and child in Srebrenik while his father returned to Neđeljišta near Vlasenica. Yesterday the bodies of Sejdin Husić from Brezovica near Srebrenica and Omer Mujić from the village of Skenderović also near Srebrenica were also identified along with one Hasan Salihović from Potočari and Muhamed Mekanić from Vlasenica.

During 2013, under the direction of Dr. Kešetovic and doctor Vedo Tuco a forensics expert working for the Podrinje Identification Project and Memorial Centre in Tuzla, a total of 366 victims has been identified.

Note: From approximately 1 August 1995 to 1 November 1995, there was an organised effort to remove the bodies from primary mass gravesites and transport them to secondary and tertiary gravesites. In the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia court case “Prosecutor v. Blagojevic and Jokic”, the trial chamber found that this reburial effort was an attempt to conceal evidence of the mass murders. The trial chamber found that the cover up operation was ordered by the VRS Main Staff and subsequently carried out by members of the Bratunac and Zvornik Brigades.

The cover-up operation has had a direct impact on the recovery and identification of the remains. The removal and reburial of the bodies have caused them to become dismembered and co-mingled, making it difficult for forensic investigators to positively identify the remains. For example, in one specific case, the remains of one person were found in two different locations, 30 km apart. In addition to the ligatures and blindfolds found at the mass graves, the effort to hide the bodies has been seen as evidence of the organised nature of the massacres and the non-combatant status of the victims, since had the victims died in normal combat operations, there would be no need to hide their remains.

Zdravko Tolimir: Ratko Mladic “högra hand” dömd för folkmord i Srebenica och Zepa

Zdravko Tolimir, till höger, med FN-truppen under kriget i Bosnien
Zdravko Tolimir, till höger, med FN-truppen under kriget i Bosnien

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.

Offren i lagerlokalen i Kravica
Offren i lagerlokalen i Kravica

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