The Forgotten Genocide Part 1

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.

Đurišić making a speech to the Chetniks in the presence of General Pirzio Biroli, Italian governor of Montenegro
Đurišić making a speech to the Chetniks in the presence of General Pirzio Biroli, Italian governor of Montenegro

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.

End of Part One.

Der Spiegel, The Sun and “Balkan Experts”

On April 5th Germany´s Der Spiegel published a highly biased and sensationalistic article about the presence of ISIS or “Islamic State” in Bosnia and Herzegovina. While the problem does exist the article gives space to one of the most notorious apologists for Slobodan Milošević´s crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina and “Greater Serbian” expansionism known today, namely John R. Schindler.

Schindler has become something of a Twitter celebrity, beloved by the right, and the far-right and butt of jokes for the rest of us giving his erratic tweeting which includes warning about impending nuclear war in Europe and praising Adolf Hitler´s and Benito Mussolini´s war record, in fairness to Schindler he was saying that to make a point about how Trump was just a con-man and didn´t have the balls to become a fascist strongman like those two men, because they had seen “The Shit.”

Schindler who was forced to resign from his beloved position as nothing less than a *full professor* at the Naval War College due to among other things inappropriate behaviour including sending phots of his genitals to people as well as trying to dox someone who had written unfavourably about him, is given ample space in the article to claim that  Bosnia “is considered something of a ‘safehouse’ for radicals, and now harbours a stable terrorist infrastructure”  without the journalist Walter Mayr ever asking Schindler what he is basing this on,  given that fact that Schindler has not worked at the NSA for over a decade and has lost his security clearance it seems resonable to ask this. As well as the fact that Schindler´s propaganda tract against Bosnia and in particular Bosniaks; Unholy Terror, was eviscierated by an actual historian and genocide scholar Marko Attila Hoare. In his devastating review (read full article here) Hoare showed that John R. Schindler had based most of his reaserch on what later turned out to be esentually propaganda coming from Milošević ´s Serb nationalist media which Schindler treats as a wholly relible source.

Last year during the 20-year commemoration of the Srebenica genocide I took Schindler to task about his Srebrenica revisionism (read full article here) needless to say he has not yet responded. Of course it didn´t take long before Der Speigel´s  piece on Bosnia was picked up by conservative and isolationist media outlets including The American Intrest and the Little Englander trash rag we all know and love: The Sun. While Der Speigel tried to give an apperance of treating this as  serious journalism while citing known bigots and loons like John R. Schindler, The Sun didn´t bother with that, it took the Der Speigel piece and made it its own. Here below a comment on some of the factual inaccuracies in The Sun piece by Adnan Ćerimagić, analyst for @ESI_eu

Comment by Adnan Ćerimagić

UK newspapers The Sun published an article today under a title:

“Don’t let them in: As Bosnia bids to join EU, experts say ex-Yugoslav state is now ’breeding ground’ for terrorism”

The article is full of factual mistakes and shallow observations. Here are the most striking.

First, the article claims that Bosnia is home to three million Muslims.

“Experts said the former Yugoslav republic, which is home to three million Muslims…”

According to the 2013 census Bosnia’s population is 3.8 million. Although official and full results of census are still not published, most estimates state that Muslims make around 50 percent of population. Bosnia is therefore not the home to three million Muslims but around 1.9 million of them.

Second, the article claims that Bosnia applied for EU membership after being recognized as a candidate country by the EU.

“Bosnia has applied for EU membership after being recognised as a candidate country.”

Bosnia is not “a candidate country for the EU membership”, but a “potential candidate country.” Together with Albania, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia, as “potential candidate country”, Bosnia was recognized in 2003 by EU member states. Following Bosnia’s February 2016 EU membership application the country will first have to go through a European Commission led assessment on whether the country sufficiently complies with EU standards to become a candidate for membership. Bosnia could became official candidate country by the end of 2017.

Third, the article claims that the European Commission has pledged more than £1.1billion for infrastructure in Bosnia.

“The European Commission has pledged more than £1.1billion over the next three years to boost Bosnia’s transport links.”

It is not clear to which funds the author refers. What is clear, however, is that the European Commission definitely did not pledge more than £1.1billion over the next three years for Bosnia’s transport infrastructure.

For the sake of argument, if the author refers to EU pre-accession funding made available for Bosnia then of all the countries covered by the EU enlargement policy Bosnia is the only country that is not able to use EU pre-accession funds (so-called IPA) for transport in the period from 2014 to 2017. This is due to the fact that Bosnia does not have a state-wide strategic document for this policy area. Furthermore, total funding allocation from IPA for Bosnia from 2014 to 2017 is 165.8 million Euro. Far from £1.1billion.

If the author refers to the so-called “Connectivity Agenda” for the Western Balkans then following things need to be understood. This initiative is not focused on Bosnia, but on all six Western Balkan countries. The Agenda is based on principle of co-financing. So the European Commission committed itself to provide 1 billion Euros over a period of six years (2014-2020) with the expectation to attract additional funding of 10 billion Euros by non-EU sources. Again, this is for all six Western Balkan countries and not for Bosnia.

Forth, the article claims that Bosnia’s EU membership application in February 2016 is paving the way for Bosnia to become a full EU member state by 2020.

“Bosnian leaders are demanding candidate status by next year, paving the way to become a full member after 2020.

With plans to enlarge the European Union even further, Bosnia is now being lined up to join.”

Author’s claim that Bosnia’s application in February 2016 could lead to full EU membership in 2020 is exaggeration. Over the decades the road from application to full membership in the EU has become ever harder, complicated and longer. The fastest country in the history of EU enlargement on this road was Finland: the country applied in March 1992 and became a full member in January 1995 (less than three years). Finland, however, is more of an exception. Even for Austria it took longer to become EU member than what the author suggests for Bosnia. Austrians needed five years and five months.

The only two former Yugoslav countries that so far joined the EU, Slovenia and Croatia, needed eight and ten years to go from application to membership in the EU. Bosnia’s road will probably take even longer.

Fifth, the article claims that weapons and firearms used in January and November 2015 Paris terrorist attacks originate from Bosnia.

“Bosnian weapons were used in the 2015 terror attack on the Charlie Hebdo magazine offices in Paris.

Some of the firearms used in last November’s IS attacks on the French capital, including the Bataclan theatre massacre, were also sourced in Bosnia.”

During the January 2015 Charlie Hebdo attack the ammunition used by terrorists was produced by Bosnian Igman Company, a state-owned factory in the town of Konjic south of Sarajevo. The ammunition was, however, produced in 1986. In January 2015 The Telegraph wrote about this and noted:

“The company is one of the five largest ammunition manufacturers in the world, supplying over 30 countries.

Bullets have been stolen from Igman stockpiles in the past. But Mr Marjanac (Zivko Marjanac, Bosnia’s deputy defence minister) emphasised that the bullets were produced almost thirty years ago – and it was impossible to establish how they reached France.”

The assault rifles used by terrorists in November 2015 Paris attacks were produced in Serbia. Not Bosnia! And director of the Serbian Zastava (Banner) Arms factory in the city of Kragujevac told Reuters:

“We have checked seven, maybe eight serial numbers received from the police in our database and found that guns from that particular batch were sent to military depots in Slovenia, Bosnia and Macedonia.”

Sixth, the article then notes that radicals assemble at dozen of places in Bosnia undisturbed by authorities.

“German investigators believe there are a dozen places where Salafists have assembled radicals undisturbed by the authorities.”

Which “German investigators”?

Article also refers to high youth unemployment, UK tax payers money being sent to Bosnia and concludes with a following quote:

“The only way Brits can be sure Bosnian terrorists won’t come here freely, and our money will not be sent there, is by voting to leave the EU on June 23.”

This post is too short to explain how a decade long credible, strict and fair EU accession process for Bosnia is in interest of both the UK and Bosnia. And Europe. And how the EU (and the UK) could (and hopefully will) support positive transformation in/of Bosnia.

This article is only one in series of many shallow and factually wrong articles on Bosnia. When foreign and local observers write about Bosnian political, security, social or economic problems then almost everything is allowed. The storyline is dominated by big words and not that many facts. They cannot be bothered by details.

What is sure is that more articles such as this one will follow. The question is if the Bosnians will have enough capacity, strength and knowledge to counter factual mistakes and shallow observations. And while doing that find enough time, energy and knowledge to identify and tackle real problems. Credible, strict and fair EU accession process for Bosnia would help.

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 Serb nationalist 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 Fazlić 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 Fazlić 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 Milošević 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 Milošević was president. Ratko Mladić, the general indicted for genocide is portrayed as a decent soldier while Izetbegović 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 Orić of any wrongdoing during the attack. Several civilians were killed in the attack. Though 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 Orić :

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.(Orić , 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. (Orić , 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. (Orić , 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 Ostojić , the Bosnian Serb commander in Kravica during the attack says in his book, “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 ( a commando unit)  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. (Orić , 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 Hadžići; 36 fought and died in Srebrenica; 34 and died in Vogošća; 3 in Konjic and 3 more in Ilijaš; 2 fought and died in Sarajevo, two more in Ilidža; one in Trnovo, Pale and Tuzla each. All of these figures are  presented as results of Naser Orić ´s actions as well. ( the only ones actually being the 34 Serb soldiers who died in fighting around Srebrenica)

Serbs in Ilijas digging up their dead in winter of 1996
Bosnian Serbs in Ilijaš 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 Orić ´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 Žepa 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 dismisses Schindler´s claim that the reason Ratko Mladić 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 Karadžić called for the permanent removal of Bosnian Muslims from the safe areas. The safe areas included Srebrenica and Žepa. On March 8th 1995, Radovan Karadžić 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 Žepa 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 Žepa.”

As Ed Vulliamy and Florence Hartmann point out in a new report published by The Guardian, Mladić  had told the Bosnian Serb assembly, “My concern is to have them vanish completely”, and that Karadžić 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 Swedish daily Eskilstuna-Kuriren´s political editor Alex Voronov called “a Serb nationalist propaganda centre and a revisionist sewer.”

This sewer included Zorica Mitić, 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 Karganović 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 Jorganović, 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 Jorganović was station manager of Radio Ozren, a Bosnian Serb propaganda station near Doboj, as well as Radio Doboj during the war. He was also a long-time correspondent for various news sites in Bosnia´s Republika Srpska entity as well as for SRNA.

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 Serbian 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 Goražde, Žepa 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, Žepa and Srebrenica.

And lastly, the report points out that it has been proven in the Krstić 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 Pejković 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 Pejković´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.

David N. Gibbs’s bogus complaint

This article has been re-published  from Greater Surbiton Blog with the permission of Dr Marko Attila Hoare. For those who are not familiar with the topic, three years ago a debate raged over Dr Hoare´s review of David N. Gibbs book First do no Harm: Humanitarian Intervention and the Destruction of Yugoslavia. As you see for yourself in the article(s) below Gibbs was soundly beaten and exposed as a disingenuous scholar and in the end a Milosevic-apologist. And as is always the case with Milosevic apologists and genocide deniers once they run out of arguments they resort to various forms of intimidation. That is the case with David N. Gibbs who having failed to properly respond to the criticism against his book has resorted to intimidation. But, don´t take my word for it,  in order for the readers to get better acquainted with the debate I have posted links to Dr Hoare´s  entire dissection of David N.Gibbs  book and the tactics used by Gibbs. I highly recommend that you read the links below in order to see how disingenuous scholars use their titles in order to spread lies about the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia.

The Bizzare World of Genocide Denial

First Check Their Sources: On David N. Gibbs and ‘shoddy scholarship’

First Check Their Sources 2: The myth that ‘most of Bosnia was owned by the Serbs before the war’

First Check Their Sources 3: The myth that ‘Germany encouraged Croatia to secede from Yugoslavia’

 

Posted on Greater Surbiton 12 april 2014

Three years ago, as readers may recall, David N. Gibbs of the University of Arizona responded to my criticisms of his Srebrenica-genocide-denying propaganda tract First do no Harm: Humanitarian Intervention and the Destruction of Yugoslavia with an article published on ModernityBlog, entitled – in his characteristically hyperbolic style – ‘The Second Coming of Joe McCarthy’. What followed was a public debate in the comment boxes of the blog, in which Gibbs was comprehensively defeated on every point: he was unable to counter either my criticisms of his work, or my refutations of his criticisms of my own work. So weak, underhand and disingenuous were Gibbs’s attempts at discussion that the proprietor of the venue – where Gibbs had himself chosen to publish – graciously apologised to me personally for allowing him to post there: ‘I made a mistake by allowing David Gibbs a guest post. At the time I thought he was a reasonable academic who deserved a right of reply, however, subsequently I have had time to reflect on my poor judgement.’

I then published further articles exposing the way in which Gibbs distorted and manipulated source material to construct his fictitious narrative of the war in the former Yugoslavia. I refuted his attempt to justify Serb-nationalist territorial claims in Bosnia and his attempt to blame the break-up of Yugoslavia on a German imperialist conspiracy. I could have gone on to demolish the rest of his book as well, but that would have taken weeks of my life, and I felt I had sufficiently exposed its worthlessness as a supposed piece of scholarship. In January 2011, Gibbs admitted his inability to counter my refutations: ‘In what follows, I will make no pretense that I answer all of Hoare’s allegations, which I find impossible, given the huge quantity of his charges.’

Unable to win in a public debate, Gibbs then attempted to intimidate both me and my institution, Kingston University, in order to silence me. Out of the blue, nine months after our debate, he submitted a bogus complaint against me to my university containing fraudulent allegations. When Kingston inevitably failed to uphold his ‘complaint’, he published an attack on me, on Kingston and on my faculty dean on the far-right website Antiwar.com. He then sent increasingly threatening emails to my institution, which nevertheless continued to reject his ‘complaint’. Let us be clear on this point: despite what Gibbs insinuates, no part of his bogus complaint against me has ever been accepted by Kingston University.

This week, he is attempting yet again to intimidate Kingston University in the hope of silencing me, through a further bogus public complaint published on the anti-Semitic website Counterpunch .

The essence of Gibbs’s ‘complaint’ is that he is unhappy that I have I refuted much of his book. Instead of attempting to counter my arguments, he has simply restated his already refuted claims and portrayed my exposure of their fallaciousness as some sort of legitimate grievance. I am not going to waste my time re-stating points to which he was unable to respond the first time around. I have already refuted at length his wholly fantastical claim that the break-up of Yugoslavia was engineered by Germany; his wholly disingenuous claim to have engaged with existing scholarly literature by Michael Libal, Brendan Simms, Richard Caplan and others that contradicts his own arguments; his wholly spurious denial that he blames the Bosniak side for the Srebrenica massacre (I have dealt with his victim-blaming over Srebrenica twice already); and many of his other claims.

David N. Gibbs
David N. Gibbs

As regards arguments to which I haven’t previously responded, Gibbs’s formal statement condemning Milosevic is little more than a disclaimer in the style of ‘I’m not a racist, but…’. For those who are not familiar with the way these people operate: they rarely deny the crimes of Milosevic and the Serb forces altogether, but usually make an opening gambit along the lines of ‘Of course Milosevic and the Serb forces were guilty of terrible atrocities, but…’ before proceeding to regurgitate the Great Serb propaganda narrative putting the blame for the war on the Croats, Bosniaks and Western imperialism. There is little that is original in Gibbs’s version of this narrative; it has previously been presented in book form by Diana Johnstone, Michael Parenti, Kate Hudson and others, and before that via magazine format by the people behind Living Marxism.

Of course Gibbs does not devote much space in his book to explaining how Milosevic ‘made a central contribution to Yugoslavia’s demise’. No mention of the fact that Milosevic and the Serbian and JNA leaderships were the principal separatists in the break-up of Yugoslavia; that Milosevic’s ally Borisav Jovic recorded in his diary that he, Milosevic and the JNA’s Veljko Kadijevic agreed in June 1990 to work for the forcible expulsion of Slovenia and a dismembered Croatia from Yugoslavia; that Kadijevic in his published memoirs admits that the JNA was working from this time for the ‘peaceful’ exit of Slovenia and Croatia from Yugoslavia; that Serbia’s constitution of 28 September 1990 declared: ‘The Republic of Serbia determines and guarantees: 1) the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of the Republic of Serbia and its international position and relations with other states and international organisations’; that the following month Serbia imposed customs duties on imports from Croatia and Slovenia; that on 16 March 1991 Milosevic publicly announced that Serbia would no longer recognise the authority of the Yugoslav Presidency. Instead, Gibbs defends Milosevic as ‘a strong advocate of maintaining both Serbia and Yugoslavia as socialist’ (Gibbs, p. 65). And he makes clear that he blames the war in Croatia on the Croatian side: ‘The Croatian war had its origins with the nationalist forces that were unleashed during the election campaign of 1990, when Franjo Tudjman’s HDZ party came to power.’ (Gibbs, p. 87). And so on and so on.

Contrary to what Gibbs claims, I have never insinuated that he is ‘an extreme anti-Semite’. Gibbs pretends to deduce this supposed insinuation from my comparison of the myth that Germany brought about the destruction of Yugoslavia by engineering Croatian and Slovenian secession (a myth that he upholds) with the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. In other words, I am comparing an anti-German libel with an anti-Jewish libel, and Gibbs deduces from this that I am therefore accusing those who uphold the anti-German libel of being anti-Semitic. It really is difficult to believe that even Gibbs is quite so logically challenged that he can take his argument here seriously. Moreover, his faux outrage at the fabricated ‘insinuation’ is undermined by the fact that he has chosen to publish his latest attack in an anti-Semitic publication.

Gibbs claims ‘I have never objected to serious condemnation of Milošević’s crimes, in the media or elsewhere.’ But this is untrue. Gibbs wrote in his book: ‘Another feature of the Balkan conflict was the tendency of the Western media needlessly to exaggerate the atrocities committed by Serb armies… Atrocities committed at Serb-run detention camps were presented in sensationalist fashion, for example, and they became “extermination camps” comparable to Auschwitz. President Izetbegovic himself encouraged these interpretations. Yet, in 2003, shortly before his death, Izetbegovic conceded that “there were no extermination camps” in Bosnia. He also conceded that his previous claims to the contrary had been deliberate misrepresentations, intended to outrage Western public opinion and thus trigger Western military intervention against the Serbs.’ (Gibbs, p. 216) So Gibbs has accused the Western media of having ‘exaggerated’ Serb atrocities and presented them in a ‘sensationalist fashion’ (NB Gibbs’s claim regarding Izetbegovic rests not on any credible source, but solely on the self-serving testimony of Bernard Kouchner, who had been a minister in France’s pro-appeasement government during the war in Bosnia).

Gibbs claims ‘Another one of Hoare’s techniques is the use of faked quotations, wherein he fabricates quoted statements, which he attributes to me.’ This is another falsehood, and represents Gibbs’s desperate attempt to deflect attention away from my point-by-point refutation of his book. Here is what he writes:

‘In the above Modernityblog posting, for example, Hoare attributes to me the phrase “creating the hatred,” which he presents as a direct quotation. The implication is that in my view the Bosnian Muslims were “creating the hatred” in the Srebrenica area. In fact, this is a fake quotation. This phrase “creating the hatred” appears nowhere in any of my writings. Then in a later posting, he attributes to me the quote “created the hatred,” which once again implies that in my view the Muslims had created the hatred in Srebrenica. But the quoted phrase appears in none of my writings, and the essence of its meaning corresponds to nothing I have ever said.’

Naturally Gibbs doesn’t provide any link that would allow his readers to check whether indeed I had said what he claims. In fact, this is what Gibbs wrote in his book: ‘The Srebrenica safe area had an especially brutal history, and it was besieged by Serb forces throughout the war. It is important to note, however, that Muslim troops also behaved brutally. Especially problematic was the Muslim commander Brigadier Oric, who based his forces inside Srebrenica and conducted forays against Serb villages in the surrounding region. One UNPROFOR commander later described Oric’s activities as follows: “Oric engaged in attacks during Orthodox holidays and destroyed [Serb] villages, massacring all the inhabitants. This created a degree of hatred that was quite extraordinary in the [Srebrenica] region… [etc.]“‘ (Gibbs, pp. 153-154).

So Gibbs quoted an UNPROFOR commander as saying that the actions of Naser Oric’s Bosnian army ‘created a degree of hatred that was quite extraordinary in the [Srebrenica] region…’. Gibbs treated this claim uncritically, using it to substantiate his attribution of blame for the Srebrenica massacre to Oric’s Bosnian forces. He is now trying to conceal the fact that he wrote this passage, perhaps because he is aware of how shameful it is.

I cited this passage from Gibbs in my first ever post about him, and gave the quote in full. Readers are invited to check what I wrote about him against what he wrote in his book, to see if I cited him accurately. The discussion at Modernity blog was Gibbs’s response to that post. Readers are invited to read the exchange and judge for themselves whether my subsequent references to his statement were accurate or not.

Gibbs continues: ‘And there is yet a third fake quote, in the title of one of Hoare’s reviews: “First Check Their Sources 2: The Myth that ‘Most of Bosnia Was Owned by the Serbs Before the War.’” The first part of the title (“First Check Their Sources”) is a play on words from the title of my book, which is First Do No Harm. The embedded phrase in Hoare’s title (“Most of Bosnia Was Owned…”) is presented as a direct quote, with quotation marks. This quote is yet another fabrication, which falsifies both the literal wording of my book and also the substance of my stated views.’

As Gibbs knows very well, the part of the title in quote marks was not ‘presented as a direct quote’; nowhere did I claim that Gibbs had used those exact words. It was an entirely accurate paraphrasing of the position common to Gibbs and others like him, who do indeed claim that ‘most of Bosnia was owned by the Serbs before the war’. The exact words Gibbs uses are provided in detail in the article in question, with page numbers given. Again, readers are invited to read the article and decide for themselves if it was an accurate paraphrasing. Readers will note that Gibbs was wholly unable to respond to that article, so we may reasonably assume that apart from his quibble over my use of quote marks in the title, he accepts the validity of what I wrote there.

Finally, Gibbs claims ‘Due to Hoare’s tactics, the public understanding of Yugoslavia’s breakup has been fundamentally distorted, due to a climate of intimidation and fear, which has prevented genuine scholarly debate.’ But my ‘tactics’ simply involved writing a negative extended review of Gibbs’s book, exposing its poor scholarship and genocide denial. By contrast, here are Gibbs’s tactics, in his own words: ‘Every time in the future that I am forced to respond to Hoare’s attacks, I will emphasize the role of Kingston University in helping to make these attacks possible. I will especially emphasize the roles of Vice Chancellor Weinberg and Dean McQuillan, who are Hoare’s academic supervisors. Up to this point, there has been too little accountability with regard to Hoare’s conduct. It is time to correct the problem.’

I leave it to readers to make up their own minds about who is guilty of trying to intimidate. Gibbs has revealed himself as a bully with no respect either for truth or for freedom of speech. Neither Kingston University nor any other university worthy of the name will uphold a bogus, malicious complaint published on an unsavoury extremist website; one aimed solely at distracting attention away from an unanswerable refutation of poor scholarship, and at silencing legitimate criticism through threats and smears. But I am not going to be intimidated. I should like to take this opportunity to reaffirm what I have written about Gibbs, and to assure readers that it will not be retracted or taken down.

Minnena tillhör oss

 

Med början i april 1992 och under de följande tre och halv år, bevittnade omvärlden hur ett land mitt i Europa ödelades, och ett folk utsattes för vad som måste kallas vid dess rätta namn; Folkmord. Målet med aggressionen mot staten Bosnien Hercegovina var att införliva stora delar av den, framförallt östra och norra och nordvästra Bosnien i den tänkta nya Serbiska staten som skulle omfatta stora delar av Bosnien, östra Slavonien och Krajina området i Kroatien. Under de tjugo år som har nu gått sedan Jugoslavens upplösning så har det skrivits stora volymer om kriget men också om det som ledde till upplösningen. Mycket av det är dåligt eller väldigt ofta fullt med missrepresentationer eller författares egen subjektivitet kommer in och det finns en hel del verk som försöker mer eller mindre lägga över skulden för det som har hänt från förövare på offren.

Däremot så finns det en stor mängd material som har kommit, samt ögonvittnesskildringar dels under krigsåren och direkt efteråt från bla Tim Judah, Chuck Sudetic, Ed Vulliamy, Roy Gutman, Stjepan G. Mestrovic och Brendan Simms, David Reiff, Christopher Hitchens, Noel Malcolm och Peter Maas. Michael Sells med mera… Dessa har följts upp eller kompletterats av bla Marko Attila Hoare, Carol Hodge, Michael Libal och nu senast Josip Glaurdic.

Det som har hänt är att det nu tjugo år efter kriget är vid sidan om ovan nämnda författare journalister och historiker så finns det tack vare krigsförbrytartribunalen ett imponerande samling dokument, och vittnesmål så visar på vad som skedde, vem som gjorde vad, kopplingen mellan Pale-Knin-Belgrad. Ett av de stora genombrotten som gjordes under Perisic rättegången var att hemlighetsstämpeln lyftes från ”vissa” dokument från den högsta försvarsledningen. Där fick man se hur de strukturer som hade byggts upp med hjälp av den jugoslaviska armén höll Bosnienserberna och Krajina Serberna ”vid liv” och att utan materiell och finansiellt stöd så hade dessa två mini-stater inte kunna klara sig i mer än ett par månader, man var i själva verket helt beroende av Belgrad.

En annan sak som kom fram var den djupa spricka som fanns mellan ledningen i Belgrad och Pale. VRS fortsatte att få stöd från Serbien även efter Daytonavtalet, sammanträdesprotokollet från den 5 september 1996 visar att Milosevic fortsatte stötta bosnienserberna framförallt så ville han att de bosnienserbiska officerare som den jugoslaviska armén ansåg som ”lojala” skulle fortsätta att få sina lön genom den jugoslaviska armén och att de ska behandlas med respekt bla på grund av att man inte ville att de där ”idioterna” från Pale inte skulle få kontroll över dessa officerare.

Tyvärr så har den senaste tidens kontroversiella domar bla i fallen Perisic men också frikännandet av Franko Simatovic och Jovica Stanisic gjort att revisionisterna har fått vatten på sin kvarn. Det borde de inte få, eftersom det enda man kom fram till var att man i Perisic fallet inte kunde bevisa att han hade känndedom om att de vapen som skickades via den jugoslaviska armén, ofta godkända av honom själv skulle gå till attacker mot civila i Srebrenica Zagreb och Sarajevo. När det gäller Simatovic och Stanisic så visade bevisningen att dessa två hade varit med och byggt upp det säkerhetsapparatur som deltog i striderna i Bosnien och Kroatien, att de hade intim kunskap om förhållandena i både Bosnien och Kroatien samt att brott begicks av dessa styrkor, men man kunde bevisa att dessa två visste att det skulle ske attacker mot civila.

Det måste också tilläggas att ribban har höjts avsevärt sedan Gotovina-Markac och nu Perisic-Stanisic-Simatovic så till den milda graden att många experter inte förstår resonemanget bakom de friande domarna. När det gäller Bosnien så bevisades det redan i rättegången mot Dusan Tadic (1999) att konflikten i Bosnien hade internationell karaktär och att Bosnienserbiska armén stod under kontroll av den jugoslaviska armén.

Den strategi som Milosevic och jugoslaviska militärledningen utvecklade för Bosnien och Hercegovina genomfördes på plats genom Radovan Karadzic och hans SDS samt den Bosnienserbiska armén VRS som hade fått sitt material från den jugoslaviska armén och där majoriteten av officerare däribland Ratko Mladic, som hade tjänstgjort som jugoslavisk överste under första månaderna av kriget i Kroatien. Planen var att skapa ett Stor Serbien, eller ”en stat för alla serber” på ruinerna av det som var Jugoslavien. När det gällde östra Bosnien så innebär det i praktiken att bara serber skulle leva i den nya staten väster om floden Drina. För att kunna uppnå det så gjorde den jugoslaviska armén gemensam sak med serbiska nationalister och extremister lojala mot Radovan Karadzic samt serbiska säkerhetsstyrkor som de röda baskrarna och Arkan´s tigrar som svepte över östra Bosnien under de första veckorna i april 1992.

Bara ett par enklaver överlevde, Gorazde Zepa Srebrenica Konjevic Polje och Cerska. Under sommaren 1992 förvandlades dessa ställen till isolerade och omringade flyktingsläger, fyllda med de som hade flytt den slakten som tog plats i städer som Foca, Vlasenica Visegrad, Cajnice, Rudo Zvornik och Bratunac. Det som var kvar av det bosniakiska livet i Östra Bosnien befann sig i dessa ställen. Dessa flyktingar hade varit vittnen och i många fall överlevt massakerer, våldtäkt, och tortyr och en våg av förstörelse som syftade till att utplåna allt som var muslimskt, eller bosniakisk eller icke-serbiskt. Den amerikanske författaren och journalisten Chris Hedges kommenterade den etniska rensningen av Zvornik, och hur han beskrev SDS-ledaren i Zvornik, Brano Grujic, som förklarade när den etniska rensningen var fullbordad att ”det aldrig hade funnits några moskéer i Zvornik”. Chris Hedges kommenterade det så här: ”Han visste att det hade funnits moskéer i Zvornik. Men hans barn och barnbarn skulle få lära sig lögnen. Serbiska ledare skulle förvandla den till ett accepterat historiskt faktum.” Under vintern 1993 så föll Cerska och Konjevic Polje och dess invånare var tvungna att söka skydd i Srebrenica.

Folkmordet i Srebrenica måste ses som en kulmen av den politik som fördes av den bosnienserbiska ledningen och deras sponsorer i Belgrad. Folkmordet i Srebrenica, var slutet på på den ”etniska rensing” som hade tömt Podrinje och östra Bosnien på dess bosniakiska befolkning.

Det folkmordet undveks våren 1993 då Srebrenica tillsmanas med Zepa Gorazde Sarajevo och Bihac utropades till ”skyddade zoner” men det förhindrade inte den bosnienserbiska armén utföra attacker mot dessa zoner framför allt Sarajevo Bihac och Gorazde. Säkerhetsrådets beslut från april 1993 sågs som bara som ännu ett hinder mot skapandet av ett etnisk ren storserbien, under tiden direkt efter säkerhetsrådets beslut och framtill själva folkmordet i Srebrenica så fortsatte den Bosnienserbiska armén och politiska ledningen med sina planer på att skapa ett etnisk ren sammanhängande territorium som skulle införlivas i ett storserbien. Direktiv 7 från mars 1995 är ett exempel på den politik som syftade till att skapa ”förutsättningar för elimination av enklaverna”

Så varför är allt det här viktigt? De flesta som läser detta kommer säga att ingenting av detta är nyt. Vad är poängen med att upprepa allt detta? Därför att alla inte vet detta, därför att om vi är ärliga och det måste vi vara så besegrades aldrig den storserbiska nationalismen, den belönades tom i Dayton med 49 % av Bosnien där man i skolböckerna i tidningarna och i det offentliga livet förnekar grundläggande fakta om kriget i Bosnien Hercegovina och folkmordet i Srebrenica. Det är uppenbart att den politiska eliten i RS tror att entitetens överlevnad hänger på den bilden av kriget och historien de lyckas förmedla till medborgarna. Milorad Dodik förnekar öppet folkmordet trots att hittills så har fyra personer sammanlagt i Haag dömts för folkmord i Srebrenica. Radislav Krstic, Ljubisa Beara, Zdravko Tolimir, och Vujadin Popovic. Bosniska domstolar har dömt Zeljko Ivanovic och Milorad Trbic för folkmord i Srebrenica.

Den internationella mellanstatliga (ICJ) domstolen kom fram till att det som hände i Srebrenica var folkmord samt att Serbien hade misslyckats med att förhindra det. Domstolar i Tyskland samt Europiska domstolen för mänskliga rättigheter i Strasbourg kom fram till att Nikola Jorgic var skyldig till folkmord för brott begångna i Doboj regionen. Likaså Maksim Sokolovic som dömdes för medhjälp till folkmord. Och så brukar det se ut när jag skriver, väldigt torrt, analytiskt och faktabaserat, jag kan bekräfta varje ord jag har skrivit med länkar, men vad spelar det för roll? Vad gör man med all fakta som har samlats av olika forskare, människorättsaktivister, historiker och åklagare vid Haagtribunalen och andra krigsförbrytartribunaler, främst de i forna Jugoslavien, i Bosnien Hercegovina, Serbien och Kroatien bla Nu 18 år efter folkmordet i Srebrenica och Bosnien så tampas Bosnien med effekterna av Daytonavtalet som om vi ska vara helt ärliga här, belönade tre och halv år av systematiskt etniskt rensning, massmord, förstörelse av kulturella och religiösa objekt, massvåldtäkter, och till slut folkmordet i Srebrenica. Det går inte att se på det på något annat sätt.

Visserligen var det meningen att avtalet skulle leda någonting bättre, men i slutändan så förlitade man sig på tok för mycket på de som ville se till att Bosnien och Bosniaker försvann eller i alla fall kraftigt decimerades. Srebrenica är kulmen på den folkmordspolitik som fördes av Radovan Karadzic och Ratko Mladic, något annat ord för det kan jag inte komma på, men det känns som om det är först nu som uppvaknandet har kommit. D.v.s. att de som faktiskt har drabbats, har förlorat anhöriga eller kom undan med blotta förskräckelsen låter sig höras.

Vi börjar vakna ur dvalan, det är på gott och ont, det märks att vi börjar vakna och det har dragit till sig krafter som inte så mycket vill hjälpa oss utan snarare ser ett sätt att tjäna på vårt lidande och vårt trauma. Bland dessa finns så klart politiker, både i Bosnien men också politiker här i Sverige ser ett sätt att förena vårt lidande och vårt trauma med deras politiska mål. Srebrenica och Bosnien har blivit ett slagträ när man pratar om EU-integration, där vissa partier vill gärna dra paralleller mellan Jugoslaviens sönderfall och det som hotar Europa ifall EU faller samman eller slutar med sin expansion österut, detta är så klart en väldigt försåtligt argumentationsteknik, då de som använder sig av detta brukar prata om det hat och nationalism som släpptes loss då Jugoslaven föll sönder, men man pratar inte om det misslyckade ekonomiska politiken som fördes av den kommunistiska eliten i landet, de misslyckade eller rättare sagt uteblivna reformer som ledde till ökat missnöje och skapade en grogrund för nationalism som sen exploaterades av bla Slobodan Milosevic.

Man nämner inte heller att Jugoslavien bestod av sex federativa republiker, med ganska kraftiga skillnader rent ekonomiskt samt att i slutändan så var kommunismen, den då sönderfallande kommunismen det som höll landet ihop. Under tjugo år som har gått nu sedan Jugoslaviens sönderfall så har man kunnat visa på att den hade inte behövt vara så blodig, om än oundviklig, hade inte det varit för Slobodan Milosevic, och hans expansionistiska politik blandat med giftig propaganda som såg till att orsaka splittring mellan de olika folkgrupperna. De som använder sig av Bosnien Hercegovina som ett sätt att lyfta fram EUs storhet brukar också undvika att prata om det roll flera av EUs ledande länder hade i kriget i Bosnien då man såg till att FN upprätthöll vapenembargot mot landet vilket gjorde aggression och folkmord möjligt. Tanken var att se till att Bosnien inte överlevde som en stat. Ännu en storartad insats av den heroiska instuition som vi kallar den Europiska Unionen.

Andra använder sig av kriget i Bosnien och Hercegovina som ett sätt peka på den pågående slakten i Syrien, ordet Srebrenica dyker upp i den debatten väldigt ofta, och det är bara att instämma, den eftergiftspolitik som “världssamfundet” förde gentemot Bosnienserberna och Milosevic speglas av i den eftergiftspolitiken gentemot Assad och hans mordiska regim. Jag vet dock inte längre vad det spelar för roll, om jag är helt ärlig, ”världssamfundets” (vad det nu må vara) misslyckande i Bosnien Hercegovina och Rwanda har blivit ett stridsrop för många, men dessa inser uppenbart inte att samma geopolitiska och realpolitiska mekanismer som tillät masslakten i Bosnien, förvägrade dess armé vapen så att den kunde förvara sin befolkning och som ledde till folkmordet i Srebrenica spelar ut sin roll i masslakten i Syrien. Om tjugo år så kommer vi troligtvis hålla minnesceremonier för Homs, eller Aleppo tillsammans med Srebrenica, och tjugo år efter det, vem vet andra städer i andra länder som sveks av det vi kallar för “världssamfundet”

För att det är vårt trauma, och våra minnen, våra fäder, bröder, mödrar, och systrar. Politiker kommer och går, människorättsaktivister detsamma. Det ingen av dem vet är hur det egentligen känns, och när de försvinner så våra minnen bestå. 49 % av landet som vi brukar kalla Bosnien Hercegovina är under ockupation. Historierevisionism är instutionaliserad, vi har inte ens rätt att minns offentligt eller bekräfta vad som har hänt oss, att hedra de vi har förlorat.

I många fall är det från officiellt håll, under kriget i Bosnien Hercegovina dog över 100 000 människor, 82% av dessa var Bosniaker. 25 000 dokumenterade våldtäktsfall, 98% av dessa Bosniakiska kvinnor och flickor. Man tror dock att den egentliga siffran kan vara så mycket som 60,000 Då man i mångt och mycket vägrar erkänna från officiellt håll i Serbien och RS den karaktär kriget i Bosnien Hercegovina hade, samt vägrar ge offren, och framförallt de överlevande, ett minimum andrum genom att man faktiskt tillstår vad som har hänt dem är ord som försoning plattityder och den yttersta förolämpningen mot offren och de överlevande.  Igår på årsdagen av folkmordet så skrev Expos Alex Bengtsson, Mona Shalin och APU-medlemen Haris Grabovac om de mekanismer, som ledde till folkmordet, i mång och mycket har de rätt och det de säger är ingenting nytt. Kriget och folkmordet i Bosnien Hercegovina är resultatet av ett nationalpolitiskt projekt för att bilda ett etnisk ren Storserbien, det är ingenting nytt, det har dissekerats i ett antal böcker och rättegångar i Haag.

För att uppnå det var man tvungen att så ett hatets frö så att säga, mot de “andra” detta gjorde Milosevic genom sitt kontroll av media i Serbien och följdes tätt av Radovan Karadzic. Där man missar målet i debattartikeln är när man säger att man “visar solidaritet och vårt stöd till de krafter i Bosnien-Hercegovina och resten av före detta Jugoslavien som i dag arbetar för försoning” så misslyckats man det att förklara att för att försoning ska vara möjlig i Bosnien Hercegovina så måste förövare tillstå vad de har gjort, och framförallt måste samhället som helhet erkänna vad som har hänt och stödja offren för tortyr, våldtäkt, och andra krigsförbrytelser. Så är inte fallet i Bosnien Hercegovina.

Försoning är ett svår ord, för att två folkgrupper ska ”försonas” innebär det att de ska ha varit i fejd med varandra, efter tjugo år med tusentals böcker skrivna om Jugoslaviens sammanbrott, samt 20 år med Haagtribunalen så framgår det med all tydlighet att detta krig provocerades fram från Belgrad som under väldigt lång tid, såg till att sprida hat för att uttrycka det enkelt genom olika typer av media som gjorde serber livrädda för deras icke-serbiska grannar. Resultatet av det var att dels så kollapsade Jugoslavien tidigare än den hade ändå gjort, (se Josip Glaurdic, The Hour of Europe) dels så utsattes då den redan självständiga Kroatien för ett invasionskrig, där östra slavonien och krajina området rensades av sitt kroatiska eller icke-serbiska befolkning. Dels så utsattes staten Bosnien Hercegovina för vad man kan kalla för en folkmordisk kampanj som kulminerade med Srebrenica. Detta har systematiskt förenkats under snart tjugo år från bosnienserbisk och officiellt serbisk håll, resultatet av det är ilska och bitterhet hos de som föll offer för den storserbiska drömmen.

Ordet att föredra när det gäller Serbien är; Katarsis. Serbien, den serbiska nationen måste förlikas med vad som har hänt och vad gjordes i deras namn. Precis som Tyskland gjorde. Den serbiska statens brott är enorma, att säga att man ska försonas gör att man förminskar dessa brott. Jag måste tillägga att jag har rest runt Ex-Jugoslavien efter kriget och jag kan försäkra herrar Grabovac och Bengtsson samt Mona Shalin att det är inte så farligt som man tror, det man hakar upp sig på är just kriget och där är tydlighet önskvärd.

Bosnier, oavsett etnicitet kan sätta sig ner och dricka kaffe med varandra, detta är inte försoning speciellt när runtomkring våra städer så går människor som har begått hemska brott, mord, våldtäkt var som i fallet Marko Pavic i Prijedor direkt inblandad i den etniska rensningen av den staden, han är idag borgmästare i Prijedor och vägrar hedra de drygt 3000 människor som dog där. Enbart för att de inte var serber. Enkelt sagt, man måste vara väldigt försiktig med ordet försoning.

Bosnien var inget vanlig krig, det var inte två stridande arméer som ställdes mot varandra, oavsett om de inser det eller inte så är det så att; Grabovac, Bengtsson och Shalin genom sin artikel ( även om det är skrivet i all välvilja) förminskar (omedvetet får man hoppas) de brott som begicks i Bosnien Hercegovina och indirekt spelar historierevisonister i händerna. För att det ska bli fred och riktig försoning krävs riktig rättvisa. De som bryr sig om offren, och de överlevande har en skyldighet att påtala det. Eftersom jag kan garanterara er att modern som har förlorat alla sina söner inte skyller alla serber, men likaväl vill och förtjänar rättvisa, rättvisa som hon inte kommer få i ett land där mördare och våldtäktsmän går fria och där de som var med och utförde den etniska rensiningen kan inneha höga politiska poster.

Det som hände i Bosnien Hercegovina var ett sätt att decimera eller utplåna ett folk, ett kultur närmare bestämt; oss, Bosniaker, Inte för första gången heller. Våra hem, lägenheter, religiösa objekt, allt som på någon sätt visade att vi hade varit där, vuxit upp där, levt där, älskat där. Det är upp till oss att se till att bevara minnet av det som försökte utplånas, att om möjligt bygga upp nåt nytt eller hjälpa de återvänder till den delen av Bosnien Hercegovina som är idag under apartheidstyre, där deras lidande förminskas, de är utsatta för olika former av diskrimination och de betraktas som andra klassens medborgare, eller icke önskvärda i sitt eget hemland.

Fredrik Malm (Folkpartiet) har rätt att folkmordet är en del av vår samtidshistoria, när han skriver om det i Expressen han också rätt att ”yttersta konsekvensen om nationalism kopplar greppet över ett samhälle och tillåts att härja fritt.” Däremot så är det inte sant att den Europiska Unionen ”var oförmogen att att agera” för att förhindra folkmordet i Bosnien Hercegovina, den ville helt enkelt inte göra någonting för att förhindra aggressionen mot Bosnien Hercegovina och folkmordet i Srebrenica.

Det går inte att komma från det faktum att ledande krafter i Europa däribland Frankrike och Storbritannien såg till att vapenembargot mot Bosnien Hercegovina upprätthölls genom i stort sett hela kriget. Anledningen till det var enkel, Bosnien Hercegovina för att citera Francois Mitterrand hörde helt enkelt inte hemma som land i Europa, och anledningen till det var så klart landets två miljoner Bosniaker, eller om vi ska hårdra det; Muslimer, ett ”Muslimskt Bosnien” hörde inte hemma i det kristna Europa, så man såg till att genom att använda sig av FN som ursäkt förvägra Bosnien och dess befolkning rätt till självförsvar, det som skedde var enligt vissa brittiska diplomater ett ”smärtsamt dock nödvändigt” då Bosnien Hercegovina helt enkelt hörde inte till. Det var onekligen smärtsamt och ingenstans var det så smärtsamt som i Srebrenica.

I dessa sammanhang måste man också nämna den fördärvliga roll som Carl Bildt som spelade, då han som EU speciella sändebud till forna Jugoslavien såg till att genomdriva vad som kan nu i efterhand bara kallas för en eftergiftspolitik som ledde till folkmord. Därefter har Bildt i sina memoarer försökt förminska omfattningen folkmordet i Srebrenica. Fredrik Malm, som känner till det har ett ansvar att påtala det, om hans kritik av EU ska ses som trovärdig. Om Bosnien Hercegovina ska överleva och folkmordsförnekelse bekämpas aktivt så måste man var vara oerhört tydlig med vad som hände och vem som gjorde vad.

Till sist så har Malm också rätt när han säger att sorgen tillhör oss, Bosniaker. Låt oss vara tydliga, i mitt fall övertydlig då jag har nämnt det här förr, folkmordet i Srebrenica var bara kulmen på den kampanj som startades i slutet av mars och början av april 1992. En kampanj som såg till att fördriva med alla möjliga med den Bosniakiska eller rättare sagt icke-serbiska befolkningen från främst östra Bosnien, i den kampanjen förekom massavrättningar av främst män som kan klassas under termen ”Gendercide” men också den Bosniakiska befolkningen som helhet, föll offer för massavrättningar,kvinnor och barn mördades också, äldre, våldtäkter var systematiska och slaveri förekom också, då kvinnor såldes som sexlavar. Kulturella minnesmärken som religiösa byggander demolerades i kommun efter kommun, all spår av Bosniakisk kultur skulle raderas, samma sak hände i nordvästra Bosnien, i städer som Prijedor, Kozarac, Sanski Most, Omarska och Trnoplje. Det är också en kampanj för vilken Haagtribunalen har precis igår bestämt att det kan eventuellt klassas som folkmord ifall Karadzic fälls för det.

Sarajevo utsattes för ett tre och halv år lång belägring, den längsta i modern tid med 11541 människor döda som följd. För min egen del så förlorade jag sex släktingar, den yngste var nio år då. Dock så är det det är en erfarenhet som jag delar med tusentals andra, jag är inte från Srebrenica men det behöver jag inte vara för att veta exakt hur det känns, samma sak gäller de från Prijedor eller Ahmici, eller Brcko, eller Mostar. Alla de är döda pga att de hade en sak gemensamnt.

Det är ett band som vi delar som ingen utomstående kan egentligen förstå, hur mycket man än slänger stora ord omkring som ”anti-rasism” ”nationalism” ”folkmord” sorgen tillhör oss men också minnena, vi vet vem som gjorde vad vi var på plats, så snälla tydlighet från er sida är önskvärt när det gäller Bosnien Hercegovina och Balkan. Srebrenica kan användas för att visa på yttersta faran med högerextremism eller ultranationalism, det kan också vara ett lärdom när det gäller Syrien eller Libyen. Jag tvivlar inte att Alex Bengtsson och Fredrik Malm har hjärtat på rätt ställe och deras stöd uppskattas.

Däremot så är orsaken till folkmordet i Srebrenica och Bosnien Hercegovina, en del av ett politik med rötter som går betydligt längre tillbaks i tiden än kriget under 1990-talet. Planen på ett Storserbien är ingenting nytt, den återuppväcktes av Slobodan Milosevic under 1980-talet. Masslakten i Podrinje är inte heller någonting nytt. Det är ett upprepning från andra världskriget, och det handlade inte om enbart hat då heller utan om ett systematisk massmord med tanke på att “rensa” den delen av gränsen mot Serbien. Den politiken har inte besegrats. Utan sakta håller på och förverkligas genom att staten Bosnien Hercegovina hölls fånge av Daytonavtalet.

All högtidlighållande av folkmordet i Srebrenica uppskattas, missförstå mig inte. Även om del är mindre rumsrent än man skulle vilja att det var. Jag tvivlar inte  att det Bengtsson och EXPO gör grundas på välvilja och det de gör för att motverka extremism uppskattas väldigt mycket. Däremot när folkmassan skingras, och folks samvete är lättad så kvarstår minnena, och de är våra. Det som kvarstår är också Republika Srpska som inte tillåter oss att minnas offentligt samtidigt som de bygger minnesmärken till de som är ansvariga för de mentala och fysiska ärr vi bär på och ser till att undergräva varje försök till normalisering av situationen i Bosnien Hercegovina och ägnar sig åt folkmordsförnekelse och historierevisionism. Jag tänker inte säga mer, men där någonstans borde polletten trillat ner för de flesta.

Mirza Hota -Bosnienbloggen 2013-07-12

Det här inlägget har redigerats och uppdaterats 2013-07-13

The protest letter for Visegrad

spomenik

Mr. Valentin Inzko
High Representative

The Office of the High Representative
Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Dear High Representative Inzko,

We are writing to express our grave concern about the decision taken by the Republika Srpska Ministry of Physical Planning, Civil Engineering and Ecology, for the Višegrad municipality to carry out the destruction of a memorial erected in the Stražište cemetery, the central Muslim cemetery in Višegrad. The memorial was erected on May 25, 2012. On the same day, sixty Bosniak victims of the genocidal aggression were laid to rest in the cemetery, having been exhumed from the nearby river Drina and from Lake Perućac barely two years earlier in the late summer and early autumn of 2010. Many of the victims had been murdered on the Mehmed Paša Sokolović Bridge and thrown into the river in 1992. When repairs on the nearby dam caused the river level to drop, the Bosnian Missing Persons Institute was able to locate the victims’ remains in the riverbed and Lake Perućac.

The Ministry’s and the Municipality’s plan to destroy the memorial is consistent with the genocide denial that is endemic to the political culture of Republika Srpska. In addition, the removal of the memorial is discriminatory, as well as a form of persecution that is a crime against humanity. Such a wanton act of desecration would only serve to confirm that the entity of Republika Srpska has become an apartheid entity.

There have been reports that if the word “Genocide” was to be removed from the memorial, the Višegrad authorities would allow it to remain in the cemetery. In fact, such genocide denial is rampant in Republika Srpska from the office of the Presidency to the Municipalities. President Milorad Dodik has repeatedly claimed that he will never accept that genocide took place in Srebrenica. In Prijedor, for example, the Mayor has attempted to prevent commemorations of the concentration camps and of the genocide.

Further, the demolition of the memorial in Stražište is patently discriminatory. The memorial is on land owned by and under the care of the Islamic community. Yet, while the Stražište memorial is to be removed, a prominent memorial to the perpetrators of the genocide has been permanently erected in the middle of Višegrad, and has been the site of ultranationalist rallies celebrating the perpetrators of the genocide. So it seems Bosnian Serbs are permitted to erect statues to the perpetrators, but according to the recent decision, Bosniaks would not be permitted to retain a simple memorial in their own cemetery in a rural location.

The threat of the violent destruction of the memorial is clearly directed at those Bosniaks who would think of burying their loved ones in Stražište cemetery, and against all Bosniaks and other non-Serbs who would think of returning to their former homes in Republika Srpska. Indeed, the plan to destroy the memorial seems to be part of a coordinated effort to discourage Bosniaks and other non-Serbs from returning to Republika Srpska. For example, on storefront windows in Višegrad (near the park for Ivo Andrić), one has been able to see large posters celebrating Vojislav Šešelj and proclaiming “Free Šešelj!” In one poster, Šešelj’s face appears alongside “White Eagles,” and on another poster his face is imposed on a representation of “greater Serbia.” Since Šešelj is associated with atrocities that were committed in Višegrad, the public display and celebration of his image is psychologically difficult, if not traumatic, for the survivors who seek to return.

We must not forget that what the ICTY called the “worst acts of inhumanity that a person may inflict upon others” occurred in Višegrad, where on two separate occasions up to 70 women and children were forced into houses that were then set ablaze. The victims perished in the flames. The court continued:

In the all too long, sad and wretched history of man’s inhumanity to man, the Pionirska street and Bikavac fires must rank high. At the close of the twentieth century, a century marked by war and bloodshed on a colossal scale, these horrific events stand out for the viciousness of the incendiary attack, for the obvious premeditation and calculation that defined it, for the sheer callousness and brutality of herding, trapping and locking the victims in the two houses, thereby rendering them helpless in the ensuing inferno, and for the degree of pain and suffering inflicted on the victims as they were burnt alive. There is a unique cruelty in expunging all traces of the individual victims which must heighten the gravity ascribed to these crimes. (From the ICTY Judgment Summary for Milan Lukić and Sredoje Lukić, 20 July 2009)

Bosniaks and other non-Serbs would then associate the monuments celebrating the perpetrators of the genocide, and the posters celebrating Šešelj, with the atrocities mentioned above. One is also reminded of the recent campaign slogan of President Dodik’s party (SNSD): “Српска кућа до куће” (“Srpska, kuća do kuće”). The implication is that with a “Serb from house to house” there is no room for the non-Serbs who were forcibly expelled.

Such a coordinated and multi-layered campaign of intimidation, as identified above, can be interpreted as a human rights violation and as persecution. We are using the term “persecution” here as it is defined under Article 7 of the Rome Statute as a “widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, including “inhumane acts … intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health.”

The threat to destroy the memorial, and the range of posters and statues celebrating war criminals, along with genocide denial from the highest levels of the political administration of “Republika Srpska,” can be seen as a systematic attack directed at the Bosniak and other non-Serb populations, an attack designed to instill fear and insecurity that would cause “suffering” and “injury …to mental health.” Said persecution would seem to be designed to prevent Bosniaks from exercising their rights, under the Dayton Peace Accords, and under international law, to return to their former homes in Republika Srpska “…without risk of harassment, intimidation, persecution, or discrimination, particularly on account of their ethnic origin…”

I would suggest, then, that insofar as the psychological harm resulting from the threat to destroy the memorial and from the iconography of ultra-nationalism and separatism prevents Bosniaks and other non-Serbs from exercising their right to return to their former homes, it would constitute a violation of Annex 7, Article I of the Dayton Peace Accords and of the fundamental human right to move freely within the borders of a state.

Therefore, insofar as it is the responsibility of the international community to protect Bosniaks from psychological harm and from the deprivation of their fundamental rights, we should recognize the extent to which the plan to remove the memorial in Stražište cemetery can be identified as persecution. Such an act of intimidation and genocide denial should not be allowed in a democratic society with respect for human rights and operating under the rule of law.

Specifically, the international community has the responsibility to protect Bosniaks whose loved ones are buried in the Stražište cemetery, as well as those who would seek to return to their former homes in the municipality of Višegrad. In the current case, there is a responsibility to protect the memorial dedicated to the victims of the genocide. To allow the demolition or removal of the memorial would be to endorse genocide denial, discrimination and persecution.

We urgently implore you to intervene, under the doctrine of the responsibility to protect, in order to prevent the destruction or removal of the memorial to the victims of the genocide in Višegrad.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

David Pettigrew, PhD
Professor of Philosophy,
Southern CT State University
Steering Committee Member, Yale Genocide Studies Program
Member, International Team of Experts, Institute for the Research of Genocide Canada

with

Prof. Emir Ramic, Chairman, 
Institute for the Research of Genocide, Canada (IRGC)
,

Haris Alibasic, MPA, President, 
Congress of North American Bosniaks (CNAB), Washington, DC,

Sanja Seferovic-Drnovsek, J.D., M.Ed., Chair
, Bosnian American Genocide Institute and Education Center (BAGI)
, Chicago, IL, USA,

Jasmina Burdzovic Andreas, Assistant Professor (Research), Epidemiology Dept., Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, USA,

Signatories (continued)

Dr. Hariz Halilović, Senior Lecturer in Socio-Cultural Anthropology, Office of the Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Monash University, Victoria, Australia,

Peter Lippman, Balkan Specialist and Human Rights Activist, Seattle, Washington, USA,

Patrick McCarthy, Associate Professor and Director of Medical Center Library, Saint Louis University, USA,

Prof. Natalie Nenadic, Ph.D., Department of Philosophy, University of Kentucky, USA,
Initiated the Kadic v. Karadzic lawsuit (New York, 1993-2000), which pioneered the claim for sexual atrocities as acts of genocide under international law.

Florence Hartmann, writer and journalist (former Le Monde correspondent during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and former ICTY prosecutor’s spokesperson), Paris, France,

Dr. Marko Attila Hoare, Reader at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Kingston University, London, UK,

Dr. John H. Weiss, Associate Professor of History, Cornell University; Chair, Bosnia Coordinating Committee of Ithaca, NY, USA

New Haven, 3 March 2013

The letter has also been published by The Institute For Research of Genocide Canada (IGC) and Visegrad Genocide Memories

In defense of the victims

My letter to the USHMM concerning Michael Dobbs…

To whom it may concern…

I am writing to you because I feel that the time has come to bring to your attention the writings of Michael Dobbs  on his Foregin Policy Blog   “Origins of Evil”   because of his to say the least, irresponsible way dealing with the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

As you may have noticed his latest article on Foreign Policy titled “In defense of the Serbs” Is so irresponsible and insulting to the victims of the Bosnian genocide that I feel that it is my duty  as someone that has lost family members in the Bosnian Genocide to write to you and inform you about the many fallacies in Mr. Dobbs article.

He writes:

To use a phrase attributed to the French statesman Talleyrand, leaving two million well-armed Serbs in other people’s republics was “worse than a crime.” It was a gross error of political judgment.’

The last phrase is or should be offensive to Serbs as well as Croats and Bosniaks, since Dobbs seems to imply that Serbs are inherently incapable of living side by side with other nations, and should according to Dobbs logic be separated or granted autonomy. Dobbs also writes about “two million armed Serbs” that is truly irresponsible and a major fallacy, there were about two million Serbs living in Croatia and Bosnia but not every single Serb was well-armed or armed at all nor did they all agree with Milosevic´s poisonous and divisive politics.

He also writes:

“For what it is worth, my own personal view is that the breakup of Yugoslavia was inevitable, just as the breakup of the Soviet Union was inevitable. On the other hand, the United States and Europe (the nations that created Yugoslavia in the first place) should have been much more vigorous about establishing and enforcing rules for the breakup that guaranteed minority rights.  “

 Brittish historian Marko Attila Hoare of Kingston University wrote recently about the Dobbs controversy and he pointed out several fallacies in Dobbs argument.

“Dobbs claims that ‘The practical effect of these decisions [by the international community] was that Croats and Muslims were given the right to secede from Yugoslavia, but Serbs did not have the right to secede from Croatia or Bosnia’. This is false: ‘Croats and Muslims’ were not given the right to secede from Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia was recognised as being ‘in the process of dissolution’, and the six constituent republics were recognised as the entities that inherited its sovereignty. Thus, it was the six republics – including Serbia – not the ‘Croats and Muslims’, whose right to independence was recognised. Serbia was not treated differently from Slovenia, Croatia or Bosnia in this respect, and was entirely free to seek and receive international recognition of its independence, just as they did.

 The right of the Serbs of Croatia and Bosnia to secede from their respective republics was not recognised; neither was the right of the Croats of Bosnia. Nor of the Muslims/Bosniaks of Serbia’s Sanjak region. Nor of the Hungarians of Vojvodina, within Serbia. Nor of the Albanians of Macedonia and Montenegro. Nor, at the time, of the Albanians of Kosovo. In fact, the only group on the territory of the former Yugoslavia whose carving out of a wholly new entity has ever been recognised by the international community is the Bosnian Serbs. Thus, at Dayton, the ‘Republika Srpska’ was recognised, whereas the Bosnian Croats’ ‘Croat Republic of Herceg-Bosna’ has been dissolved, and the right of the Bosnian Croats to establish their own entity within Bosnia has been consistently denied.”  – Marko Hoare

Another point of contention is Dobbs failure to address the causes of the Bosnian war and for that matter all the wars in the former Yugoslavia. The true nature of the conflict and the main players and their goals and aim need to be pointed out, by Dobbs since he does work for the USHMM. As of yet he has failed to do that. His failure to address that is an insult to the victims and dangerous considering he himself has pointed out that the bosnianserb entity Republika Srpska is a financier of genocide denial

Instead he has written at great length about Ratko Mladic, some of the articles have been good some interesting and some have felt redundant and pointless. ”How a dumb blonde took on the Serbs” being the most ridiculously pointless  insulting and depressing so far… What strikes me as most dangerous is that Dobbs seems to have developed an almost fetishistic relationship to Mladic. It seems that every aspect of Mladic professional and private life has been explored whilst his many crimes have not. (Aside from Srebrenica) I will give credit to Dobbs for standing up to Stephen Karganovic and “Andy Willcoxson” two of the most notable members of the Genocide Denial/Milosevic lobby.

     

Michael Dobbs                                Srebrenica/Potocari 2012

(The two prowl the comment forum on Dobb’s blog looking for openings so they can spew out their  unsubstantiated conspiracy theories)

However even there one can say that Dobbs effort  has been lackluster at best, appeasing at worst. He has given space and time to history revisionists and war criminals while at the same time neglecting to focus on the weight of the evidence, and the fact that someone like Karganovic has yet to prove anything and the fate that befell  Ratko Mladic´s victims. Dobbs should know that. Dobbs is guilty of neglecting the victims.

As someone remarked in frustration on his blog:

“Dobbs is slowly losing his mind, “Getting to know the Mladic family” how about getting to his victims familes? You do still work for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum? “

I couldn´t have said it better myself.

From the beginning it was clear that Dobbs would focus on Srebrenica and the genocide that took place there in July 1995, and so he should. However he has failed to address the fact that Srebrenica was only the culmination of the campaign of mass murder and ethnic cleansing, as well as other war crimes against the Bosniak and other non-Serbs in Eastern Bosnia and the Drina valley. Towns and hamlets, such as Visegrad, Rudo, Cajnicje, Rogatica, Vlasenica, Foca, Bratunac,  Bjeljina Zvornik Brcko, Cerska, Konjevic Polje… All fell prey to the onslaught of the Bosnian Serb nationalists – with the logistical, moral and financial support of Serbia and the Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA)

Michael Dobbs togheter with “Brane”  Ratko Maldic´s cousin and the man that helped shelter Mladic for five years.

More than three years before the 1995 Srebrenica genocide, 296 predominantly Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) villages in the region around Srebrenica, were destroyed,  forcibly uprooting some 70,000 Bosniaks from their homes and systematically massacring at least 3,166 Bosniaks (documented deaths) including many women, children and the elderly. It was these massacres that should have alerted the international community to the prospect of genocide when the United Nations-protected enclave eventually fell to Bosnian Serb forces commanded by General Ratko Mladic three years later, in July 1995.

Any blog dealing with the ”Origins of Evil” should include the fate of thousands of people killed in the first months of the war in eastern, north and north west Bosnia, and the reasons for why  they meet this terrible fate. Dobbs has failed to do that. Dobbs has also failed to address the question of the Siege of Sarajevo where a three and a half year campaign of terror orchestrated  by Mladic, cost the lives of 11541 of it’s citizens. He has also failed to address the fate of the victims in numeous serb-run concntration camps such as Omarska Trnopolje Manjaca Keraterem Uzamnica…

Sarajevo, victims of the siege               Massgrave in Brcko in 1992

I personally lost six members of my immediate family who´s only fault was that they were not Serbs, I really don´t like the fact that his poorly written argument can be used by Milosevic and Karadzic apologists as a way to justife what happend. I understand Dobbs when he says that that Serbs were also victims, yes they were and so were  the Croats. This is the nature of war, war crimes are committed and those victims deserve to be mentioned.

However everything has to be put in it´s proper context. there is abundant amount of evidence that show how the Serbian leadership under Slobodan Milosevic  Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic directed a campaign of physically removing non-Serbs, mostly bosniaks from areas conquered during the first months of the war in order to create a ethnically cleansed,” Serb State” that resulted in the death of thousands of men women and children.  Michael Dobbs should not be making excuses for that ideology.  I ask of  you only that you take a serious look at Michael Dobbs blog at Foreign Policy.com

The victims of the Bosnian genocide deserve at least that…

Mirza Hota