Hava Tatarevic´s husband and six sons



Last September members of Bosnian Institute for Missing Persons and ICMP confirmed that they had discovered what was believed to be the biggest mass grave in Bosnia and Herzegovina. So far 435 bodies have been exhumed from the mass grave in Tomasica and the slow and painstaking identification process has begun. Amongst those recently identified were the remains of Hava Tatarevic´s two sons. They went missing along with their father in the summer of 1992 and only now 22 years later have their remains been found. Hava lost six sons, all taken away at the same time with their father. Forensics experts now believe that all six have been found along with their father. Confirmation is expected in the coming days or weeks.

The men were killed by Bosnian Serb forces on 23d of July 1992 in the village Zecovi in the Prijedor municipality. According to Mujo Begic, from the Bosnian Institute for Missing Persons, DNA analysis confirms that two of Hava´s sons were found in the mass grave in Tomasica so far.

“In the coming days we expect to have DNA confirmation for all the members of the Tatarevic family. We believe that mother Hava will finally have the chance to bury her husband and six sons.”

Hava´s youngest son; Nishad was eighteen when he was killed; the oldest one Senad was 31. According to Begic, “the first DNA confirmation was for the two brothers, one of those was Senad Tatarevc who was married so the analysts were able to get a positive id-match directly along with the other brother.” Begic believes that all of the brothers and their father are there; in part due to some other findings on the scene. In the coming days we will get the results for the other brothers as well. “Mother Hava will most definitely be able to give her sons a proper burial this year, 22 years after they were killed. The brothers and their father were found at the very bottom of the second part of the mass grave, which most likely means that they were among the first to be killed in the village.”

Hava Tatarevic testimony was written down in a book by Salih Smajlovic, (Kad bi kosti mogle govoriti 2011 / If Bones Could Speak 2011 / Testimones about crimes and genocide against Bosniaks 1992-1995 ) Her sons were taken away in July 1992 during the “ethnic cleansing” of the Brdo area near Prijedor. Sead, Senad, Nihad, Zilhad, Zijad and Nishad along with their father Muharem. They were taken away along with others from the village by the brother-in-law of one Milan Bojic, originally from Montenegro.

“I don´t have anyone, people don´t come around to visit, I live of my husband´s pension which 150 KM (about 80 euros) I am sick, I have nothing to remember my sons by. All I have are the two foundations of their destroyed houses so I try to clean the foundation by picking away the weeds, hoping that one day my sons will return. But as time goes by, hope that I will ever see them again fades.

I begged anyone who could give me some information about their fate. I wonder how they were killed, did they call on their mother, and did they look for me. Pero Rivic told me that he saw that they were killed by the garbage site. He saw the body of my husband and one son. Maybe he saw them all, but does not have the heart to say. I wish I could find their remains so I could bury them and pray for them.”

According to her testimony; nowdays Hava doesn´t remember how old her sons were when they were taken away. “The Chetniks drove us away; they forced us out of our houses and on to buses crammed with people”

At the time of the interview Hava lived of 150KM, her husband´s pension, didn´t not receive any benefits from the state” She went to the municipality building in Prijedor but they turned her down. “She´s sick, she frequently has to visit the doctor’s office, especially psychiatrists. Sometimes she goes for four days without sleep. On a table in her living room we saw a sack full of medicine, she lives alone, and her house doesn´t have any wall coating on her house, which means that she freezes during wintertime.”

Hava Tatarevic
Hava Tatarevic

Smajlovic points to how it´s strange and humiliating it is that  nobody cares about this woman, this heroine. That goes for the Bosniak politicians in Republika Srpska as well as members of the Bosnian Assembly who just a few days ago voted to give themselves a raise, and now have a salary of 6000KM not including all the benefits. “On the other side of the country, in Zvornik, Naiza Beganovic, is in a similar situation as Hava. Instead of being treated like heroines, and given all kinds of awards and all the help we can give them, they are alone, nobody visits them, at least once a year so that they don´t feel completely alone and forgotten.”

Hava´s only surviving son, Sudo asked Pero Rivic, a Croat man who married a Serb woman if he knew anything about his father and brothes. Rivic told him that his father was killed and then hugged him and started crying. “There are more dead but I only recognized Muharem and Ziko” (Zijad) said Rivic.

According to Hava, on the day they came for her husband and sons she didn´t dare leave the house and didn´t see them get killed. Afterwards the Serb soldiers came back and ordered everyone to leave their houses in ten minutes. One of the soldiers asked Hava where her son was. She replied that, they should know, they took them away. To which he replied that he did indeed know. According to Hava, the Serb soldiers played music as they rounded up the villagers; they cursed at them and told them they would never come back to their homes. 34 people were killed in the village that time, the dead bodies thrown up on a huge pile, later a bus came to take Hava and the rest away, the bus was crammed with people.

In 2012 her testimony was included in a documentary about Prijedor. Called Genocid u Prijedoru or “Genocide In Prijedor”  Her statement can be seen from 12:00 min.

The crimes that took place in and around the Prijedor and Kozarac were just as well organized as the mass executions and pogroms that took place throughout towns and hamlets in eastern Bosnia. As well as the mass executions that took place after the fall of Srebrenica.

In April 2002 the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) charged the former mayor of Prijedor Milomir Stakic with genocide, complicity in genocide, murder as a crime against humanity, extermination, murder as a violation of the laws or customs of war, persecutions deportation and inhumane acts. The court found him guilty of extermination, murder, a violation of the laws and customs of war, persecutions, incorporating murder, and deportation, and gave him life imprisonment, later through the appeals process his sentance was reduced to forty years.

According to the judgment against Stakic he had played; “a significant role in the planning and coordinating the forcible takeover of power on 30 April 1992, set the agenda for and presided over meetings of the Crisis Staff, and took part in ordering attacks against non-Serbs. Together with his co-perpetrators, Dr. Stakic established the Omarska, Keraterm and Trnopolje camps

The 290 page verdict against Milomir Stakic offers some fascinating reading; it lists many of the crimes commited in and around Prijedor, Kozarac, Brdo area, Omarska, Trnopolje, and Keraterm and describes them in painful detail. On July 24 in Keraterm a massacre took place. The details around the massacre were recounted by several witnesses one of whom had survived the executions. According to the witness Room 3 which had previously held prisoners from the town of Kozarac was emptied and filled again with prisoners from Brdo area, Brdo comprises the villages of Biscani, Rizvanovci, Rakovcani, Hambarine, Carakovo and Zecovi. For the first few days, according to the witnesses; “the detainees were denied food as well as being subjected to beatings and abuse”

On the day of the massacre, witnesses observed the arrival of a large number of armed persons in the camp, wearing military uniforms and red berets. According to the witness:

A machine-gun was placed in front of Room 3. That night, bursts of shooting and moans could be heard coming from Room 3. A man in Room 1 was wounded by a stray bullet. The machine gun started firing. The next morning there was blood on the walls in Room 3. There were piles of bodies and wounded people. The guards opened the door and said: “Look at these foolish ‘balijas’ ( A derogatory term for Bosniaks) – they have killed each other”. Some of the detainees saw bodies laid out on the grass outside Room 3, and the area outside Room 3 was covered with blood. A truck arrived and one man from Room 1 volunteered to assist with loading the bodies onto the truck. Soon after, the truck with all the bodies left the compound. The volunteer from Room 1 reported that there were 128 dead bodies on the truck. As the truck left, blood could be seen dripping from it. Later that day, a fire engine arrived to clean Room 3 and the surrounding area.

On that same month (July) more than 100 prisoners were killed in Omarska. According to the evidence and testimonies some 200 people from the village of Hambarine were transported to the camp in late July and placed in a structure called the “White House” Early in the morning of 17th of July the killings began, around 01:00-02:00 and lasted until dawn. According to the witnesses dead bodies could be seen in front of the White House. One of those who participated in the killings was a guard named Zivko Marmat, according to the witnesses he was shooting “extra rounds” into the dead bodies. “Everyone was given an extra bullet that was shot in their head” The bodies of the dead were then loaded on to a truck and taken away. There were about 180 bodies in total.

Around the same time, in late July 44 people were taken out of Omarska and by bus, there were to be taken to a prisoner exchange in Bosanska Krupa. They were never seen or heard from again. Years later during the exhumation of Jama Lisac 56 bodies were found. It was determend that most of those found at Jama Lisac died from gunshot wounds. DNA analasys confirmed the identieties of Sureta Medunjanin, wife to Becir Medunjanin whose body was also identified, as well as Ekrem Alic and Smail Alic. All former inmates at Omarska.

A month later, on 5 August 1992 some 120 prisoners were killed at Omarska. According to the verdict one Radovan Vokic who had served as driver to Simo Drljaca asked some of the guards at the camp to bring around the buses which had the previous day brought more prisoners from Keraterm to Omarska. He had with him a list of detainees, the list had been compiled by Simo Drljaca. Those called out were herded on to the buses and driven away in the direction of Kozarac. Their corpses were later discovered during the exhumations at Hristova Glava. 126 bodies from the list were found in that area, according to forensics reports 121 died from gunshot wounds. On august 6 1992 six to eight men were taken by bus from Omarska to Manjaca, according to witnesses; as the men disembarked from the bus two of them were escorted away by the guards and had their throats slit. That was just few examples of the atrocities committed  in the camps. Killings, beatings, sexual abuse were commonplace in the camps.

So far 16 Bosnian Serbs have been convicted for crimes committed in and around Prijedor and Kozarac. Including Milomir Stakic, Dusan Tadic, Radoslav Brdjanin, Dusko Sikirica, Predrag Banovic, Zeljko Mejakic, Momcilo Gruban and others. Simo Drljaca was killed by  SFOR troops on 10 July 1997 in a attempt to arrest him. Milan Kovacvic, the Vice President of the Prijedor crisis staff died of natural causes on 1 August 1998 as well as Momir Talic, Talic was arrested in 1999 and transferred to Hague. He was charged with: genocide, crimes against humanity, violations of the laws or customs of war and grave breaches of the 1949 Geneva Convention. he died on 28 May 2003. So far 131 mass graves have been discovered in north west Bosnia, 61 in and around Prijedor.

Crimes before the ICTY: Prijedor depicts the discovery of the camps and the subsequent process that led to establishment of the first international criminal Tribunal since WWII.


This post has been edited and updated 5 & 6 April 2014.

Om detta må du berätta

Detta är del två av mitt svar till Lennart Palm och hans artikel om kriget i forna Jugoslavien. Jag har tidigare svarat på Palms artikel, mitt första svar kan läsas här: (Länk) Därefter har journalisten Annika Hamrud också svarat Palm. Expressens Karin Olsson påpekade också att det var märkligt att publicera ett sådant inlägg. Samtliga svar till Palm följer här under:

Annika Hamrud Historien om offren på Balkan är väl dokumenterad 5 februari 2014

Karin Olsson  GP bidrar till skamlig historierevisionism 2 februari 2014

Forum För Levande Historia : Gästinlägg om den livsfarliga historien 7 Februari 2014

Emil Karlsson  Debunking Denialism : Two Swedish Professors Promote Bosnian Genocide Denial 22 februari 2014


Vi kan väl börja med att fastslå att det i Sverige fortfarande råder väldigt stor okunskap om krigen i den forna Jugoslavien, så mycket så att än idag så kan man anse att det ska finnas en debatt att föra om krigen. Det är det enda förklarningen jag har till att man i svenska tidningar än idag, snart 23 år efter att krigen startade och 18 år efter Daytonavtalet som avslutade Bosnienkriget anser att det finns plats för överbevisade teser  folkmordsförnekelse och historierevisionism. Jag har själv känt av och varit offer för den okunskap och det var en av de sakerna som ledde mig till att djupare forska skälen till upplösningen av Jugoslavien och de krig som följde. Det är med viss tvekan jag skriver detta eftersom jag egentligen anser att det finns ingenting att debattera om likväl så är det uppenbart att det finns saker att säga.

När det gäller just okunskapen om kriget så skulle den bosniska diasporan här i Sverige och runt om i världen för den delen må bra och dra nytta av självkritik. Inte minst när det gäller händelserna kring Angelina Jolies film In The Land Of Blood And Honey, filmen och Jolie utsattes för en välorkestrerad smutskastningskampanj både i Sverige och utomlands just pga. att det var första storfilm som behandlade Bosnienkriget och de brott som begicks där, framförallt mot kvinnor i våldtäktsläger.  Kampanjen får väl anses vara en framgång då filmen aldrig hade Sverigepremiär och har fortfarande inte kommit ut på DVD här i Sverige. Jag skrev om det vintern 2012 och den brittiske historikern Marko Attila Hoare skrev om turerna kring filmen redan 2010. (Länk) sen igen 2012 när filmen väl hade premiär. (Länk)

En del av förtalskampanjen som hade sitt ursprung här i Sverige, med Sanning Åt Alla
En del av förtalskampanjen här i Sverige, med Sanning åt alla

När Ordfrontskandalen kom 2003 så leddes försvaret av offrens värdighet av DN, Maciej Zaremba, Gellert Tamas samt Ed Vullimy. Det dock skett en förändring till det bättre, det kunde man se bla den spontana mobilisering efter sändningen av den numera avpolletterade Norsk-Serbiska dokumentärfilmen Staden Som Offrades, jag säger norsk-serbiska eftersom som Eskilstunakurirens politiska redaktör Alex Voronov mycket riktigt påpekade : “det fanns i anknytning till filmen en serbnationalistisk propaganda central och en historierevisionistisk kloak.”

Den inkulderade bla Zorica Mitic, läkare från Belgrad sen 2000 bosatt i Norge, hon har i serbiska tidskrifter som bla Pecat och diverse Diasporasajter förnekat folkmordet i Srebrenica samt rekommenderat varmt sajter och organisationer som har ”avslöjat myten om folkmord” bla Srebenica Historical Project ett pseudo-vetenskaplig NGO baserat i Holland och finansierat av bla myndigheterna i Republika Srpska. Den leds av Stephan Karganovic, en advokat som tidigare har varit översättare och medlem av diverse försvarasteam med uppgift att försvara åtalade vid krigsförbrytartribunalen i Haag.

Andra personer som var med var bla Ozren Jorganovic som under en tid jobbade för NRK. Under kriget i Bosnien var dock Jorganovic chef för bosnienserbiska propagandastationen Radio Ozren nära staden Doboj, och Alexandar Dorin (vars riktiga namn är Boris Krljic)  en serbisk man bosatt i Schweiz och ansvarig för en av de mest häpnadsväckande myter om Srebrenica, nämligen den om att Ratko Mladic hade med sig bara 400 soldater när han tågade mot Srebrenica. Nu vill jag vara riktigt tydlig, Dorin nämns inte i eftertexterna till skillnad från Zorica Mitic och Ozren Jorganovic men filmmakarna David Hebditch och Ola Flyum valde att ta in den informationen. I själva verket så hade Dorin hävdat detta tidigare i serbiska dokumentären Dosije Srebrenica  (Dossier Srebrenica). Det var dock smått otroligt att på svensk Public Service i bästa sändningstid få helt plötsligt få höra att Mladic egentligen var en reko kille och att bosnienserberna hade med sig ca 400 soldater och fyra stridsvagnar.

En  jämförelse med vad  Boris Krljic eller “Alexandar Dorin” sa i Dosije Srebrenica och vad Flyum och Hebdicth hävdade i Staden som Offrades

Det kan tyckas vara anmärkningsvärt att två filmmakare som Hebditch och Flyum valde att på detta sätt återanvända information som användes av kända folkmordsförnekare. Hade de verkligen velat och ansträngt sig för att hitta information om antalet soldater som deltog i operationen så hade de nog ganska snabbt kommit fram till att myndigheterna i den bosniska entiteten Republika Srpska hade redan 2005 släppt listan på de som deltog,  direkt eller indirekt deltog i massakern. Här i Sverige kunde man läsa om det i bla Sydsvenskan. 19 437 namn sammanlagt. Men Hebdicth och Flyum hade andra motiv, tanken var att få publiken att tro att folkmordet aldrig kunde ha skett, att bosniakerna hade övergivit Srebrenica och att Mladic var militärt underlägsen vilket han helt klart inte var och att det hela var en “kaotisk situation” istället för en välplanerad mordoperation. De visste att de kunde räkna med det bristande intresset och kunskapen hos både den norska och svenska publiken. Folk glömmer bort att Staden som Offrades visades först i Norge i maj 2011 och fick häftig kritik från Norska Helsingforskommittén, bla från Aage Borchgrevink sa; “med hjälp av sakfel, selektiv användning av källor, perifera experter och fördomsfulla uttalanden beskriver NRK folkmordet i Srebrenica på ett sätt som påminner om hur de statliga serbiska medier rapporterade från Bosnien när Slobodan Milosevic var president” Norska Helsingforskommitén skickade också ett brev till NRK med 25 (!) sakfel i filmen, brevet kan läsas här: (Länk) Till slut fälldes filmen av den norska motsvarigheten till Granskningsnämnden, PFU (Pressens Faglig Utvalg) I sin motivering skrev PFU att filmen ignorerar eller utelämnar några grundläggande fakta som hör hemma i varje berättelse om kriget i Bosnien.

Boris Krljic a.k.a Alexandar Dorin I ett Schweizisk tidning från 2011 då hans folkmordsförnekelse börjde uppmärksammas I landet.
Boris Krljic eller “Alexandar Dorin” i ett Schweizisk tidning från 2011 då hans folkmordsförnekelse börjde uppmärksammas I landet.

Trots häftig kritik i Norge så valde alltså SVT att både visa filmen och senare även försvara den mot en enig svensk presskår som undrade först hur det kunde ske att SVT kunde visa vad som var uppenbart återanvänt serbnationalistisk propaganda, de första att reagera var Jasenko Selimovic och Alex Voronov , CJ Åkerberg.  Filmvetaren Sanjin Pejkovic som gjorde en lysande dissektion av de metoder som filmarna använde sig av. Tonchi Percan med lång erfarenhet från Balkan  ansåg att det man såg var inget nytt, dessa rykter och konspirationsteorier hade florerat i åratal och de hade avfärdats av bla Haagtribunalen. ICTY Outreach skickade också ett brev till SVT och NRK där man påtalade ett antal sakfel i filmen. En av de som medverkade i produktionen, Bosniern Mirsad Fazlic hade redan tidigare tagit avstånd från dokumentären och hävdat att filmmakarna hade manipulerat honom. Dokumentären kritiserades också internt inom SVT, det fanns ett starkt missnöje bland utrikeskorrespondenter mot att SVT hade valt att visa den. Claes JB Löfgren kritiserade filmen internt i en flera sidors långa mejl som han hade skickat till samtliga anställda. Sakta men säkert så avslöjades lögn efter lögn och det stod uppenbart att detta var mer än bara enstaka missar från filmmakarnas sida.

Filmen hade dock sina supportrar, de två mest högröstade var ordförande för Justitia Pax Veritas Drago Drangel och socialdemokratiske kommunpolitikern (Uddevalla) Krister Kronlid. Den senare tog först avstånd från filmen för att senare göra en helomvändning och helhjärtat stödja filmen bla med en artikel på SVT Debatt tillsammans med Drago Drangel. Av någon outgrundlig anledning så nämnde Kronlid och Drangel, Björn Eklund i sitt artikel trots att denne hade ingenting med filmen att göra. Kronlid och Drangel lyfte fram Eklund som ett exempel på vad som sker när man har ett avvikande uppfattning om  kriget i Jugoslavien. Krister Kronlid och Drago Drangel skriver :

SVT är inte pionjärer i Sverige när det gäller en mer balanserad bild kring tragedin Srebrenica. Ordfronts chefredaktör Björn Eklund lät 2003 trycka en version av händelserna kring Srebrenica som liknar den norska filmen. Resultatet blev ”entledigande” för Björn Eklund. Fredsforskaren, Jan Öberg, blev av med sitt statliga bidrag för sin forskning efter att ha gett ytterligare en version av kriget i Jugoslavien som påminner om den norska dokumentären.

Så enligt Kronlid och Drangel är Eklund en “pionjär” och att den starkt kritiserade Ljugoslavien artikeln som Ordfront publicerade ledde till att Eklund fick sparken.  På grund av att han gav en mer “balanserad bild” på “tragedin” Srebrenica. Man nämner dock inte den interna disskussion som pågick inom Ordfront där allt fler höjde sina röster mot vad man ansåg vara historierevisionism och folkmordsförnekelse. Man nämner inte att den debatt som pågick och vad som lyftes fram där och att Maciej Zaremba på ett mycket skickligt sätt dissekerade Eklunds argument: Zaremba skriver i sitt svar till Eklund:

Jag hoppades att Ordfronts genmäle skulle innehålla en ursäkt till dem man kränkt och kanske en förklaring till olycksfallet. I stället inkommer två artiklar som ger intrycket att Ordfronts redaktörer vill dryfta interna tvister på DN:s kultursidor. Ansvarige utgivaren Leif Ericsson upplyser oss omständligt om att han förvisso känner till morden i Srebrenica, Omarska och Trnopolje. Visst finns det bevis för etnisk rensning och till och med för “folkmord”. Ja, det har rent av hänt, berättar Ericsson.

Men om Ericsson kände till allt detta måste häpna läsare fråga sig varför han – utan minsta förbehåll – publicerade en niosidig artikel som han förstod var lögnaktig, kränkande och som skulle få läsare att associera till Faurisson. Denna självklara fråga, som gäller själva grunden för tidskriftens trovärdighet, berör inte Leif Ericsson med ett ord. Han tycks förhålla sig till sin eget missgrepp såsom Björn Eklund förhåller sig till Balkan – han låtsas att det som hänt inte hänt. Han medger inte ens att tidskriften gjort något orätt, med undantag av en enda detalj: Jo, Björn Eklunds påstående att Trnopolje inte var något fångläger var tydligen felaktigt.

På den punkten gör också Björn Eklund själv en motvillig avbön. Han kallar det “nyansering”, när han medger att de personer som han hävdade var fria män i själva verket var fångar i ett mord- och tortyrläger. (Ett, får man säga, fint sinne för nyanser.) Men i motsats till sin ansvarige utgivare vill han inte ta ordet “folkmord” i sin mun, önskar inte dementera påståendet att Srebrenica var en myt, att inga massmord begicks på Balkan, att Milosevic är oskyldig eller någon annan av de teser han och Diana Johnstone enstämmigt fört fram. Så vad är det egentligen som ansvarige utgivarens och redaktionschefens motstridiga genmälen berättar?

Jag finner att de säger att man inte kan lita på vad som står i Ordfront magasin. Ansvarige utgivaren godkänner artiklar som han vet är osanna, redaktionschefen lever i en konspiratorisk fantasivärld alternativt förstår inte själv vad han skriver. Han invänder med harm att den lilla antisemitiska antydan i hans artikel, nämligen att “den judiska opinionen” varit central för att lura att tro på ett folkmord på Balkan, bara var ett citat, inte hans egna ord. Visst, men det var han som anförde citatet, lösryckt ur all kontext, men till stöd för sitt resonemang. Så något ville just han säga med det.

Till min häpnad återkommer både Ericsson och Eklund till den berömda bilden från Trnopolje. Den är “en förfalskning av verkligheten”, upprepar Eklund. “Fotografen står innanför taggtrådsstängslet, inte fångarna. Taggtråden blev symbolisk. Men associationen att Trnopolje liknade ett nazistiskt koncentrationsläger eller dödsläger är felaktig”, skriver Ericsson.

Här följer jag inte med längre. Om Trnopojle var ett mord- och tortyrläger, vilket Ordfront först förnekade men nu erkänner, varför envisas med att ifrågasätta den bild som antydde att det var just vad det var?

Människor mördas, torteras och våldtas där innanför, men Ericssons och Eklunds största problem är att taggtråden ger felaktiga associationer. Jag finner det omöjligt att debattera mot ett så finkalibrerat sinne för proportioner. Vad hade varit mer korrekt än taggtråd om man törs fråga? Hjärnsubstans på väggarna? Eller är det egentliga felet att bilden fått den effekt den fått? Det var ju Björn Eklunds egentliga budskap med den famösa artikeln: Att det hemska USA hittade på folkmordet för att få förevändning att kliva in på Balkan.

Låt mig bara upprepa att en enhällig jury vid The High Court of Justice i London, som i två veckor rannsakat saken, funnit att de påståenden Ordfront nu idisslar innebar förtal av tv-journalisterna vid ITN (Case 1997 I nr 139). Varpå juryn bad domaren att få utmäta extraordinärt högt skadestånd. Om Ordfront framhärdar bör de framhärda i London. (Nej, det var ett dumt förslag. Domstolen där är förstås en del av den imperialistisk-judiska konspirationen, som i komplott med DN vill tysta sanningsvittnet Ordfront.)

Till slut gjorde Leif Ericsson, dåvarande chefsredaktör fullt avbön för de lögner som Eklund lät publicera. I Ordfront Magasin 2004/1 skriver Ericsson så här :

En stark ideologisk övertygelse tycks kunna göra att man bli oemottaglig för fakta och argument. Övertygelse övergår i dogmatism. Diana Johnstones bok Fools’ Crusade. Yugoslavia, NATO and Western Delusions (2002) startar med en uttalad tes som hon vill styrka, nämligen att Nato:s militära intervention i Jugoslavien från första stund var en avgörande orsak till tragedin. Men Johnstone tillåter inget som kan ifrågasätta tesen. Hon väljer fakta tendentiöst, tesen blir till en dogm. Institutioner och organisationer som kan komma med fakta som strider mot dogmen dömer hon ut på förhand. Till och med obestridliga fakta från till exempel Haagtribunalen underkänns automatiskt. Haagtribunalen är, enligt Johnstone och Edward S. Herman, NATO:s förlängda propagandaarm som skapades som ett led i krigsförberedelserna mot Serbien. OSSE betecknas som en ockupationsmakt. Människorättsorganisationen Human Rights Watch anser de vara komprometterad, rent av en pro-imperialistisk NGO.

Trots det så ansåg alltså Krister Kronlid och Drago Drangel att var värt att lyfta fram Björn Eklund och Diana Johnstones version av Srebrenica. Kronlids och Drangels artikel var paketerat som försvar av yttrandefriheten och Eva Hamilton trots att yttrandefriheten var inte hotat. Det var dock ett allt mer enig svensk presskår vände sig mot var att SVT hade visat en dokumentär som dels förnekade folkmord men också till stor del återanvände serbnationalistisk krigs och efterkrigspropaganda. Däremot var framför allt Drangel inte lika nådig mot de som kritiserade Eva Hamilton. En av de mest uppenbara exemplen på det var  socialdemokraten Bo Widegren som kritiserade Hamliton för hennes arrogans gällande filmen. Widegren skriver på sin blogg:

Men kan vi ha en så arrogant och och snorkig TV-chef som Eva Hamilton? Till saken hör att SvT med anledning av filmvisningen ådragit sig 44 anmälningar till granskningsnämnden. Dessutom har filmen blivit fälld såsom ”ensidig” i dokumentärens ursprungsland, nämligen Norge.

Snart efter att Widegren hade publicerat sitt inlägg kom han under attack från bla Drago Drangel så pass mycket att Widegren var tydligen tvungen att göra efterforskningar om vem Drangel var. Widegren skrev om det på kommentarsfältet under sitt ursprungliga bloggartikel. Widegren skriver:

Jag har fått flera kommentarer från Danijel Trkulja och Drago Drangel som tuggar om samma sak med vissa variationer jämfört med de två inlägg som redan finns vid denna bloggartikel.  I dessa kommentarer som jag raderat finns också elakheter om mig (vilket inom rimliga gränser är tillåtet) men också påståenden om censur. Jag censurerar inte men tycker att omtuggningar är tradiga.  Därför har jag för sed att radera upprepningar och när kommentatorer börja tugga karbon. Jag förstår att de två nämnda är djupt engagerade på den serbiska sidan.  Vissa efterforskningar visar att de två är knutna till ett serbiskt-nationalistiskt nätverk Sanning åt alla!  Texterna på den hemsidan följer knappast den stolta titeln eftersom den med hänsyn till innehållet bort heta En begränsad serbisk sanning!  Jag har ingen anledning att ställning till förmån för just någon nationell grupp från gamla Jugoslavien.  Däremot vänder jag mig mot förnekelse av brott mot mänskligheten på vilken sida de än förekommit.

Till slut  fälldes dokumentären av den svenska granskningsnämnden dels för bristande opartiskhet. Det förekom inte någon debatt eller något ifrågasättande eller problematiserande i eller i anslutning till dokumentären kring hur sakuppgifter förhöll sig till den vedertagna historieskrivningen. Genom detta kom uppgifterna och slutsatserna att framstå som odiskutabla. Dels för att det förekom uttalanden i filmen från olika medverkanden samt arkivklipp med bland annat Ratko Mladic som kan ses som ifrågasättanden eller förnekelser av folkmordet. Oavsett vad man tycker om granskningsnämnden så var inte deras uttalande det viktigaste. Filmakarnas metoder hade avslöjats långt innan uttalandet kom och det stod klart vad det hela handlade om. För de som vill veta mer rekommenderar jag sidan: Sanningen Bakom Filmen Staden som Offrades

Trots det så måste man ändå påpeka att Flyum och Hebdtich var betydligt kyligare än till exempel Lennart Palm eller Björn Eklund, mannen vars intervju med Diana Johnstone och artikeln Ljugoslavien utlöste det som numera kallas: Ordfrontskandalen. Flyum och Hebditch visste att det skulle innebära slutet för deras karriärer om de öppet förnekade folkmordet i Srebrenica men de visste att om de försökte visa det som en ny sanning eller en delvis ny bild så skulle de med största sannolikhet komma undan med sitt kålsuparresonemang, detta på grund just den ovan nämnda okunskapen om dels folkmordet i Srebrenica dels om kriget i forna Jugoslavien och Milosevic expansionistiska politik.

Samtidigt så är det just det som gör Lennart Palms påståenden så otroliga, det var onekligen återanvända lögner, redan 2000 ansåg Londons High Court att Thomas Diechmanns och LM:s (Living Marxism) påståenden om Fikret Alic, Trnopolje och ITN rapportering var ärekränkning och ansåg att Diechmann och Living Marxism skulle betala skadestånd till Penny Marshall Ian Williams och ITN.

Ordfrontskandalen tre år senare kulminerade med att Leif Ericsson, dåvarande chefsredaktören för Ordfront var tvungen ( som jag skrev ovan ) att göra avbön i Ordfront Magasin nr 1 2004 och erkänna att det som hade publicerats var till stora delar osann och att Björn Eklund fick gå från sin post, inte pga. Expressen och DN som han har hävdat  utan pga. en intern strid inom Ordfront Magasin där många ansåg att man borde inte publicera historierevisionism. Man måste också komma ihåg att Eklund försvarade publiceringen ivrigt fram till att alla insåg att det var ohållbart. Eklund hade gått för långt med sina konspirationsteorier som inkluderade allt från USA till ett så kallad “judisk opinion” i sitt försvar så hävdade också Eklund, likt Palm vill jag tillägga, att den berömda bilden på Fikret Alic var “en förfalskning av verkligheten, “Fotografen står innanför taggtrådsstängslet, inte fångarna.”

Palm återanvänder Eklunds, Johnstones och Diechmanns argument när han attackerar journalisten Annika Hamruds reportage. Palm skriver att:  “Den utmärglade mannen i Trnopolje som gång på gång visades i våra media är inte alls typisk för sina kamrater, som ser välnärda ut. Det är dessutom inte han som står ”bakom” taggtråden, det är den engelska journalisten Penny Marshall som ställt sig bakom ett hönsnät!”

Palm baserar hela sitt argument om Trnopolje på en bild, precis som Diechmann gjorde och precis som Björn Eklund gjorde. Hade de velat veta hur verkligheten för fångarna i Trnopolje såg ut så hade de kunnat läsa några av de otaliga vittnesmål från förre detta fångar, från läkaren från Trnopolje,  Idriz Merdzanic som i smyg tog bilder på svårt misshandlade skelettlika fångar eller tittat på  de andra bilder som Penny Marshall tog i lägret. För de som vill få en inblick i hur det var för fångarna i Trnopolje kan jag starkt rekommendera att ni tar en titt på dels dr Idriz Merdzanic och andras bilder från Trnopolje bla Ron Haviv och Patrick Robert (1) (2)(3)  samt det videomaterial som Penny Marshall och Ian Williams tog (4) och Merdznic vittnesmål (5)

I dessa sammanhang måste man också nämna John Simpson, tidigare chef för BBC World Affairs som 2012 i brittiska The Observer erkände att han hade fel, och bad offren om ursäkt för sitt försvar av Living Marxism och Thomas Diechmann. Enligt Simpson så gjorde han det eftersom han såg det som en kamp mellan lilla LM mot jätten ITN utan att fullt förstå innebörden av sitt vittnesmål som domaren ansåg var hörsägen. Enligt Simpson så inser han nu, efter att ha bla läst Ed Vulliamys bok: The War is Dead Long Live The War, att det som pågick i lägren var ren ondska. De som har läst Vulliamys bok vet vad Simpson pratar om, boken är resultatet av tjugo år lång kamp mot folkmordsförnekare och historierevisionister. Andra verk är så klart Roy Gutmans Pultizer vinnande verk: Vittne Till Folkmord (Witness to Genocide ) som skrevs av Gutman under kriget, Gutman hade likt Vulliamy varit i lägren och rapporterade från kriget i forna Jugoslavien. Gutman ( Tillsammans med Christopher Hitchens och Vullimy ) var också en av de första att slå larm om vad det var som pågick pågick i lägren. I den kategorin hör också Thomas Cushmann och Stjepan G. Mestrovic verk:  This Time We Knew: Western Responses to Genocide in Bosnia Jugoslavien sönderfall är också en av de mest väldokumenterade med bla Laura Silber och Allan Littles Yugoslavia: Death of a Nation Josip Glaurdic  The Hour of Europe: Western Powers and the Breakup of Yugoslavia samt Donald D. Halstead och Michael Libals  Limits of Persuasion: Germany and the Yugoslav Crisis     för att nämna några…

Man också nämna Gerald Toal och Carl Dahlmans banbrytande verk: Bosnia Remade: Ethnic Cleansing and its Reversal. I den kategori hör också Samantha Powers verk:  A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide , franska författarinan Sylvie Mattons omskakande bok: Srebrenica: A Genocide Foretold . Hasan Nuhanovic som jobbade som tolk åt FN i Srebrenica  överlevde folkmordet i  men resten av hans familj gjorde inte det, skrev om sina upplevelser två gånger, dels i den auktoritöra Under The UN Flag och på bosniska med boken Zbjeg, en bok som handlar om Nuhanovic flykt till Srebrenica och livet under belägring. Boken väntar översättning till svenska och engelska.
Isabelle Wesselingh och Arnaud Vaulerins Raw Memory: Prijedor, Labatory of Ethnic Cleansing. Där finns också Rezak Hukanovic bok, The Tenth Circle of Hell: a memoir of life in the death camps of  Bosnia Hukanovic överlevde både Omarska och Manjaca, men många av hans vänner, bekanta och arbetskamrater gjorde inte det. Eller för den delen Kemal Pervanic bok:  The Killing Days Kemal hade också överlevt koncentratiatonslägret Omarska.

Eli Weisel, som själv hade överlevt Auschwitz skriver i sitt förord till Hukanovic bok att : “Det förekommer i detta berättelse, scener av ren terror som talar om det vannsine som pågick. Törst, hunger, gängvåldtäkter, utmattning, smuts, slag, förölämpningar, spruckna skallar, avslitna könsorgan, uppsprättade magar, en far som tvingas bevittna sin  sons tortyr, en gammal man som tvingas att ha sex med en yngre kvinna och sonen som får se sin far bli slagen till döds.”

Man kan inte låta bli att påpeka att Diana Johnstone, Björn Eklund, Ed Herman och andra historierevisionister, konspirationteoretiker och folkmordsförnekare har aldrig varit i Bosnien under kriget, eller besökt lägren,  eller för den delen pratat med överlevare, till samma grupp hör även Lennart Palm. Han har dock översatt Diana Johnstones artiklar till svenska för Clartébloggen och det är väl alltid nåt. Lennart Palm har med största sannolikhet inte  läst fotojournalisten David Campbells dissektion av Living Marxisms och Thomas Diechmann argument gällande Trnopolje publicerad i Journal of Human Rights i mars och juni 2002 Atrocity Memory, Photograhy: Imagening the Concentration Camps of Bosnia. Dessa kan läsas här: del 1 och del 2 (PDF-varning) Under rättegången i London  2000 så kunde inte Living Marxim hitta en enda vittne från Trnopolje som kunde styrka deras berättelse.

När man pratar om Trnopolje så måste man påpeka att redan 1994 mitt under Bosnienkriget så publicerades dittills den mest omfattande FN-rapporten om Prijedor. På begäran av FN:s säkerhetsråd, och utformat av en expertgrupp rapporten kartlade den serbiska övertagandet av Prijedor, och de konsekvenserna det hade för civilbefolkningen och för samhällstyget. Den kartlade den militära operationer serbiska förband företog i trakten, den beskrev förhållanden i koncentrationslägren det mönster serbiska styrkor använde sig av för att orsaka så mycket förstörelse som möjligt.

I den 290-sidiga domen mot Milomir Stakic så fastslog Haagtribunalen att lägren användes som del av en taktik, med syfte att fullfölja de sex strategiska delmålen som hade satts upp av den bosnienserbiske ledaren Radovan Karadzic, en av dessa mål var separationen av den serbiska befolkningen från de övriga två etniska grupper eller “naroda” d.v.s. Bosniaker och Kroater och skapandet av ett etnisk ren serbisk stat. Upprättandet av koncentrationslägren får ses som ett led i detta. Domen tar också upp den långa listan på övergrepp och mord som skedde i lägren Trnopolje, Omarska och Keraterm. Förutom Milomir Stakic har femton andra bosnienserber dömts för brott mot mänskligheten gällande Prijedor, bla Dusan Tadic.

Bland annat så innehåller domen mot Stakic och Tadic detaljerade beskrivningar av massakrer och hur offren valdes ut och bortforslandet av kroppar till anonyma massgravar, vid tiden för Stakic rättegång hade många av dessa massgravar redan grävts upp och de överlevandes berättelser kunde styrkas med DNA-bevis från massgravar. Massgravar som den som upptäcktes september månad i Tomasica. Innan Tomasica upptäcktes var Crni Vrh i östra Bosnien den enskilt största massgraven i landet med drygt 600 exhumerade bosniakiska civila. Idag, 22 år efter att lägren stängdes så saknas fortfarande drygt 1200 människor från Prijedorområdet.

I  nordvästra Bosnien så har man hittills hittat 131 massgravar, var av dessa 61 ligger i Prijedorområdet. Enligt experter  hade man redan i oktober 2013 utifrån preliminära utredningar av massgraven och området kring gruvan kunna faställa att den gamla gruvan användes som ett samlingområde, i den hade man under en period av tre månader under sommaren 1992 lastat av döda kroppar där. Många togs senare till andra massgravar. Enligt Ratko Mladic dagboksanteckningar från kriget, närmare bestämt 27 maj 1993 så begärde den förre polischefen i Prijedor, Simo Drljaca hjälp av Mladic och den bosnienserbiska armén med ”att göra sig av med cirka 5000 kroppar” genom att ”bränna kropparna, mala ner de”  eller använda sig av andra metoder. Simo Drljaca var eftersökt av Haagtribunalen tillsammans med Milan Kovacevic och dödades i en eldstrid med SFOR-trupper 1997. Mladic dagboksanteckningar visades vid hans rättegång i Haag kort efter att massgraven i Tomasica hade upptäckts.

Nu 21 år efter att den etablerats och efter  161 åtal, 128 rättegångar så med drygt 4000 vittnen, av dessa många var ögonvittnen, överlevande, våldtäktsoffer, demografiska experter, folkrättsexperter, DNA-specialister, rättspatologer, militärexperter osv… Med hjälp av dokument från  gamla Jugoslaviska arkiv, numera serbiska.  Så har ICTY ( International Criminal Tribunal For The Former Yugoslavia) inte bara avkunnat domar utan tack vare dokument från möten där medlemar av den högsta jugoslaviska och bosnienserbiska militära och politiska ledningen diskuterade taktik, överförande av trupper, pengar, logistisk med mera, från vittnesmål av ångerfulla bödlar, ljud och videoupptagningar kunnat skapa en klar bild av vad som hände och vem som gjorde vad och till vilken syfte och samtidigt skapat ett databas utan dess like när det gäller det forna Jugoslavien.

Därtill måste man lägga domar från ICJ (International Criminal Court of Justice) samt domar från serbiska bosniska och kroatiska domstolar samt två domar från tyska domstolar gällande folkmord i Bosnien Hercegovina, en av dessa domar bekräftades av European Court of Human Rights i Strasbourg. När Lennart Palm eftersträver en mer “saklig bild” av vad som hände i Bosnienkriget så passar han på att avfärda eller undvika att nämna alla dessa utredningar och rättegångar, vittnesmål, dokument med mera just på grund av att de alla pekar på en sak, nämligen att det att det fanns en systematik, ett plan som genomfördes med syfte att skapa ett etnisk ren serbisk stat. Denna plan dödade tusentals människor inte bara i Bosnien men också Kroatien och Kosovo.

Sen när man väl frågar sig hur kan människor som Lennart Palm, Björn Eklund, Diana Johnstone och andra  se sig själva i spegeln så är svaret enkel, de kan det eftersom de har aldrig varit med om nåt liknande själva. De har aldrig sett förödelsen, aldrig partat med överlevande. aldrig varit med om att se sina närmaste anhörigas kvarlevor i ett bårhus. De har kunnat betrakta det hela från trygg avstånd och innerst inne  hoppats på att Milosevic och Karadzic vinner eftersom det passar så väl med deras världsbild, och i nuläget vet de flesta vad det är. Ingen idé skriva mer om det. Det har redan avhandlats.

Egentligen är konspirationsteoretiker, historierevisionister och folkmordsförnekare som Lennart Palm, Diana Johnstone och Björn Eklund och andra helt oväsentliga, det som är väsentligt är det  faktum att det fortfarande råder så pass mycket  okunskap kring vad som egentligen hände i forna Jugoslavien att etablerade och respektabla tidskrifter och dagstidningar hamnar i samma fälla som Göteborgsposten och publicerar historierevisionism och folkmordsförnekelse och kränker offren på nytt. Eller för den delen SVT två år tidigare. Där måste den bosniska diasporan i Sverige vara mer självkritisk och försöka se till att kunskap om kriget sprids.

Det som är viktigt att är de som har varit med om detta, har förlorat allt och nu försöker bygga upp sina liv upp igen pratar om sina upplevelser hur smärtsamt det än må vara. Att man skriver ner det, att man är solidarisk med andra överlevare och anhöriga, att offrens anhöriga tar sig den tid som behövs att faktiskt läsa de böcker som har skrivits, de utredningar som har gjorts och de domar som har avkunnats. Att man pratar om varför det skedde och hur man kan förhindra att det sker igen.

Det är inte svårare än så, Lennart Palm och Björn Eklund är obetydliga, det är dels okunskapen om kriget i forna Jugoslavien som gör att de kan komma fram med sina lögner och dels vår brist på viljan att ta i tu med historierevisionister och konspirationsteoretiker när de väl kommer fram. Nästa gång någonting liknande sker så antigen så höjer man sitt röst på en gång eller så är man tyst. Det går inte längre att säga: “jag skulle ha men pallar fan inte”  Kunskap gör en fri, och nu tjugo år efter folkmordet i Bosnien Hercegovina så är vår det vår skyldighet att ta till vara på den enorma kunskap och information som finns tillänglig eftersom detta hände inte någon annan i ett annan världsdel, det hände oss och de flesta av oss som lever idag, gör det mest tack vare slump och tack vare uppoffringar som de som inte längre är med oss gjorde.

Detta inlägg har uppdaterats och redigerats 20/03/2014

Lennart Palm förnekar inte sig

Lennart Palm
Lennart Palm

Det finns en scen i Richard Linklaters film Dazed and Confused  där Matthew McConaugheys rollfigur säger “I get older they stay the same age” nu menade han någonting annat än folkmordsförnekare och historierevisionister men tro mig samma sak gäller här. Det här kunde lika gärna ha hänt 10 år sen, eller fem år sen, eller två år sen. Det kommer alltid vara samma sak och argumenten kommer alltid vara de samma. Med tiden så har det också blivit betydligt lättare att överbevisa deras återanvända argument. På tal om det, så kan jag inte låta bli att imponeras av Lennart Palms påståenden om dels koncentrationslägret Trnopolje dels folkmordet i Srebrenica. Dels den obehagliga och avhumaniserande sifferexercis han ägnar sig kring offren i kriget och folkmordet i Bosnien. Anledningen till det är att han upprepar det som för länge sen har avfärdats som återanvänd serbnationalistisk propaganda, historierevisionism och folkmordsförnekelse.

Redan 1997 så presenterade Thomas Diechmann och Living Marxim det teori om Trnopolje som Lennart Palm saluför nu, det slutade med att Penny Marshall Ian Williams och ITN stämde Diechmann, i mars 2000 en enhällig Londons High Court, kom fram att LM var tvungna att betala skadestånd till Penny Marshall  Ian Williams och ITN för ärekränkning. LM och Deichmann kunde inte presentera några bevis för sina teorier och det kunde inte heller Björn Eklund och Ordfront 2003 då Eklund bestämde att publicera ett intervju med Diane Johnstone där man också återanvända LMs påståenden i Ordfront. Affären är numera känd som: Ordfrontskandalen.

Skandalen kulminerade med att dåvarande chefsredaktören för Ordfront; Leif Ericsson var tvungen att göra avbön och medgav att det som hade publicerats var i stora delar osann, och ”tendensiöst” med syfte att bekräfta en viss tes. Under tiden så dömdes Prijedors förre borgmästare Milomir Stakic till 40 år i fängelse för bla brott mot mänskligheten, domstolen slog fast att han hade spelat ett avgörande roll i den etniska rensningen och förföljelsen av bosniaker och kroater samt etableringen av lägren Omarska, Trnopolje och Keraterm för Prijedors icke-serbiska befolkning, Stakic dömdes bla för mord på 1500 av Prijedors medborgare samt ett stort antal mord i i ovan nämnda lägren, domstolen fann också att; våldtäkter, sexuella överfall och misshandel begicks vid lägren och minst 20 000 icke-serber antingen flytt Prijedor eller deporterades.

Folkmordet i Srebenica är vid sidan av folkmordet i Rwanda den mest väldokumenterade i modern tid, en uttömmande internationell utredning som omfattar grupper av rättsläkare, DNA-specialister, samt demografiska experter har konstaterat att bosnienserbiska styrkor mördade omkring 7.000 bosniakiska män och pojkar i en serie massakrer mellan 12 juli och 16 juli, 1995. Av dessa var drygt 500 barn. Ytterligare 1 000 mördades som ett resultat av bakhåll och väpnade sammanstötningar. Tribunalen i Haag har hittills dömt fyra bosnienserbiska officerare för folkmord. Domen bekräftades av ICJ (International Court of Justice ) 2007. Bägge besluten  grundar sig på folkmordskonventionen från 1948 där avsikten är viktigast och bägge ICTY och ICJ ansåg att det var uppenbart utifrån bevisningen att bosnienserberna hade för avsikt att ”helt eller delvis förinta” bosniakerna som etnisk eller religiös grupp.  Palm verkar inte heller förstå att det är just därför som folkmordskonventionen kom till kraft, efter förintelsen var det uppenbart att man var tvungen att se till att det inte kunde upprepas.

Vid sidan av Srebrenica har Nikola Jorgic dömts för folkmord för avseende brott begångna i norra Bosnien, hans dom bekräftades av Europadomstolen, samt Maksim Sokolovic som dömdes för folkmord av en tysk domstol gällande förbrytelser i Bosnien. Vid sidan av dessa har merparten av den bosnienserbiska politiska och militära och polisära ledningen också åtalats och dömts för brott mot mänskligheten, bla Biljana Plavsic, Radoslav Brdjanin, Momcilo Krajisnik, Mico Stanisic med mera, just nu är Ratko Mladic och Radovan Karadzic i Haag och är åtalade för bla folkmord i sju bosniska kommuner. Fikret Abdic var nära allierad till till Slobodan Milosevic och dömdes till 20 års fängelse för krigsförbrytelser av en domstol i Kroatien. Milosevic hade innan sin död 66 åtalspunkter emot sig bla brott mot mänskligheten och folkmord i Bosnien Hercegovina, Kroatien och Kosovo. Det är oroväckande att en professor vid Institutionen för historiska studier vid Göteborgs universitet väljer att återanvända grundligt motbevisade teser och ägnar sig åt historierevisionism och folkmordsförnekelse.

Palm hävdar vidare att det finns ett viss intresse av att göra bilden “svartvit” han nämner bosniakerna, som han vägrar kalla för just bosniaker utan “bosnienmuslimer” enligt honom så skulle tjänar det deras intressen att upprätthålla en viss bild av  kriget.

Det måste påtalas att Palm inte introducerar några som helst bevis för att styrka sin tes. Han kan inte, för det är nämligen inte bosniakerna som försöker upprätthålla den bilden av kriget i forna Jugoslavien inte EU eller USA heller för den delen. Utan för att nu 18 år efter krigets slut med tusentals böcker skrivna om kriget i forna Jugoslaven, undersökningar gjorda av olika humanitära organisationer, rättegångar i Haag, i Serbien i Bosnien, i Kroatien, FN-rapporter, tusentals vittnesmål alltifrån de som överlevde folkmordet i Bosnien till ångerfulla bödlar, till dagböcker, dokument från sammanträden där de som förde aggressionen mot Bosnien planerade själva utförandet. För att Palm och hans åsiktsfränder ska ha rätt så måste allt det relevant forskning om kriget i forna Jugoslavien vara fel eller manipulerad.

Det känns aningen magstarkt att någon som slänger ur sig floskler och konspirationsteorier som att EU USA och NATO samt bosniaker har intresse av att upprätthålla en viss bild samtidigt eftersträvar saklighet. När det gäller Palm så måste man också påpeka att han har varit en av Diane Johnstones största försvarare här i Sverige. Här kan man läsa en artikel av Johnstone som Palm har varit med och översatt ( Länk ) Det var just intervjun med Johnstone som utlöste det som man numera kallar för Ordfrontskandalen. Johnstone förnekade precis som Deichmann gjorde att det förekom någon systematisk dödande eller systematiska övergrepp i koncentrationslägret i Bosnien och hon stöddes ivrigt av Björn Eklund.

Intervjun ledde till en kritikstorm och ett intern strid inom Ordfront mellan de som stödde Eklund och de som ansåg att tidskriften borde inte publicera serbnationalistisk propaganda och historierevisionism. Till slut fick Eklund gå och dåvarande chefredaktören Leif Ericsson skrev så här om Johnstone i  (Ordfront Magasin 1 / 2004)

En stark ideologisk övertygelse tycks kunna göra att man bli oemottaglig för fakta och argument. Övertygelse övergår i dogmatism. Diana Johnstones bok Fools’ Crusade. Yugoslavia, NATO and Western Delusions (2002) startar med en uttalad tes som hon vill styrka, nämligen att Nato:s militära intervention i Jugoslavien från första stund var en avgörande orsak till tragedin. Men Johnstone tillåter inget som kan ifrågasätta tesen. Hon väljer fakta tendentiöst, tesen blir till en dogm. Institutioner och organisationer som kan komma med fakta som strider mot dogmen dömer hon ut på förhand. Till och med obestridliga fakta från till exempel Haagtribunalen underkänns automatiskt. Haagtribunalen är, enligt Johnstone och Edward S. Herman, NATO:s förlängda propagandaarm som skapades som ett led i krigsförberedelserna mot Serbien. OSSE betecknas som en ockupationsmakt. Människorättsorganisationen Human Rights Watch anser de vara komprometterad, rent av en pro-imperialistisk NGO.

Jag kommer inom kort skriva ett mer utförligt svar till Palm eftersom det finns saker att säga, rent tidsmässigt så är det omöjligt nu dock så anser jag det är beklagligt att Göteborgsposten upplåter plats åt historierevisionism och folkmordförneklese och kränker offren för  Milosevic, Mladic, och Karadzics pogromer i Bosnien Hercegovina, Kroatien och Kosovo och det får inte gå oemotsagt.

För de som vill sätta sig in Living Marxim ITN skandalen och Ordfrontskandalen kan jag varmt rekommendera följande länkar:

Minimising Massacres

Poison in the well of history

Ordfront förnekar folkmord på Balkan

Ordfronts lögner ett hån mot offren

Så förvanskar svenska kulturprofiler historien om offren i ex-Jugoslavien

Till sist kan jag också varmt rekommendera Annika Hamruds replik till Lennart Palm som publicerades 31/01/14 Under titeln : Historien om offren på Balkan är väl dokumenterad  kan också  rekommendera Annika Hamruds reportage om Tomasica  ( Länk ) samt Ulf Martinssons artikel om behovet att belysa det första folkmordet i Europa efter andra världskriget i våra historieböcker. ( Länk )

Genocide Denial and the Need for Maintaining Necessary Illusions

Srebrenica Genocide
Srebrenica Genocide

It is utterly depressing having to write about Bosnian Genocide and the subsequent denial of it by those that have inherited the policy of discrimination based on political racial and religious ground which was the trademark of Slobodan Milosevic main client; Radovan Karadzic and his Republika Srpska, yet here we are. Still I guess it´s only logical. Republika Srpska foundations are based on lies, and in order for the lie to survive it has to become true. It´s depressing for a number of reasons, mostly because it´s clear now that the effect of that policy now 18 years after the Dayton Accords is far from being defeated or reversed, instead it´s is becoming institutionalized. That alternate image has now become a reality in 49 percent of the country. Why else would we now, twenty years after the beginning of the war, and eighteen years after the single biggest massacre on European soil after Second World War have people at the highest levels of political life in Bosnia and Herzegovina deny basic facts about the war and the genocide in Srebrenica? It can be argued that the current Bosnian Serb political leadership believes that the very existence of the entity Republika Srpska depends on being able to create an alternate image of what happened during the Bosnian War, who did what to whom, who started it and who committed the biggest number of atrocities and above all why? A justification for it´s very existence is needed.

The border created at the US air force base in Ohio that divided Bosnia and Herzegovina and in effect stopped the Bosnian Army from liberating the country has now become a mental border dividing Bosnians along ethnic lines, even though Dayton was never meant to be permanent in the first place. It was designed to reverse the effects of “ethnic cleansing” caused by the Serbian and Bosnian Serb onslaught on Eastern, and North-West Bosnia. It was also intended to lead to something more permanent and more stable, but above all it was a way of ending or halting the war, in the end it put too much faith in the same people that worked to destroy Bosnia and Herzegovina in the first place. Looking back at it; Dayton was the worst kind of appeasement. In effect it in rewarded aggression, “ethnic cleansing” and genocide. It rewarded the policies of Slobodan Milosevic and Radovan Karadzic; those two men despite both of them eventually ending up in The Hague were the real winners in Dayton. The strategy that Milosevic and a cadre of JNA generals had developed and that was on the ground implemented by the political leadership of Radovan Karadzic and military leadership of Ratko Mladic meant to create a “State for all Serbs” a Greater Serbia meant in effect that only Serbs remain west of the Drina River. For that to become reality non-Serbs had to be physically removed.

In order to achieve that the Yugoslav Army joined forces with Serbian nationalists and extremists loyal to Radovan Karadzic, together with Serbian security forces as well as paramilitary units from Serbia and attacked towns and hamlets across eastern Bosnia, in a few weeks most of eastern Bosnia was in Serb hands and Serb forces backed by the Yugoslav Army were tightening their grip on Sarajevo. Only a few towns remained in eastern Bosnia, Srebrenica, Gorazde, Zepa and the hamlets of Cerska and Konjevic Polje. As spring turned into summer, those places would become isolated and filled with refugees and survivors from other towns in eastern Bosnia. Places like Bjeljina,Vlasenica, Visegrad, Bratunac, Rudo, Cajnice, Foca, Rogatica Zvornik. They had been witnesses too and many of them had escaped death. They told stories of mass executions, rape camps, sexual slavery, torture, eliticide, and all out destruction. All that was Muslim, or Bosniak or rather non-Serb had to be wiped of the map.

The same was taking place in northern and north-west Bosnia. Towns of Prijedor, Kozarac, Sanski Most, Trnopolje, Omarska would soon become synonymous with terror and death.

The past is never far away in Bosnia and that the Bosnian society has yet to come to terms with what happened during the war. Now when I say “Bosnian society” I mean all parts of it, including Republika Srpska as much as some, above all the current political leadership spearheaded by pragmatist and opportunist turned nationalist, separatist and genocide denier Milorad Dodik would like to convince others but above all the Serbs in Republika Srpska that it´s not. He has said openly that he will never accept that what happened in Srebrenica was an act of genocide, most recently, in september of 2012 during an election rally for his party SNSD in Srebrenica, he stood at the podium and said that he did not believe that what had happened in the very town that he was in, was in fact genocide. Yet the International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia at The Hague has thus far, convicted four people for genocide in Srebrenica, Radislav Krstic the former commander of the Bosnian Serb Army´s Drina Corps, as well as high ranking officers Ljubisa Beara and Vujadin Popvic and most recently Zdravko Tolimir, Ratko Mladic´s head of military intelligence. Radovan Karadzic and Mladic are both currently on trial for crimes committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina, amongst those crimes are persecution kidnapping murder and genocide.

In 2007 the ICJ (International Court of Justice) ruled that what had happened in Srebrenica indeed was genocide and that not only was it genocide but that Serbia was in a position to stop the genocide but had failed to do so. Most recently Bosnian courts ruled that Zeljko Ivanovic was guilty of aiding and abetting genocide by participating in the mass execution of over 1000 captured Bosniaks in the village of Kravica. In 2011 Bosnian Court uppheld the guilty verdict of one Milorad Trbic, he had been a member of the Zvornik Brigade in the Army of Republika Srpska. Trbic was found guilty of the criminal offence of genocide, as a participant in a joint criminal enterprise, in the period from 12 July to 30 November 1995, together with Colonel Ljubisa Beara, Lieutenant Colonel Vujadin Popovic, Lieutenant Drago Nikolic and others, with a common purpose and a plan to capture, detain, summarily execute and bury all able-bodied Bosniak men from the Srebrenica enclave, who were brought to the Zvornik Brigade area of responsibility. His sentence of 30 years was uppheld. Trbic was transferred from the Hague to stand trial in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Outside of Srebrenica, leader of a Serb paramilitary group operating in the Doboj region; Nikola Jorgic was found guilty of the crime of genocide by a German court in 1997. Jorgic was sentenced to four terms of life imprison for his involvement in the Bosnian genocide. Pronouncing the verdict, the German Federal Court said that German courts had the right “to try genocide indictees, no matter where the crime was committed”. Jorgic appealed the decision to the European Court of Human Rights which dismissed Jorgic´s claim and found that the standards used by the German court were indeed valid.

On 29th of November 1999 the Higher Regional Court (Oberlandesgericht) in Dusseldorf convicted a Bosnian Serb Paramilitary leader Maksim Sokolovic to 9 years in prison for aiding and abetting the crime of genocide and for grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions in the Kalesija region. Sokolovic appealed the conviction claiming that the court in Dusseldorf had no jurisdiction over his case; however the Federal Supreme Court (Bundesgerichtshof) rejected Sokolovic´s argument since the crimes of which he was accused of fall under the principle of universal jurisdiction. As a consequence, a foreigner could be tried by a German court for crime of genocide committed on foreign territory.

Yet that has not stopped Milorad Dodik, in 2011 he announced that he would be setting up a fund in order to help those Bosnian Serbs that were on trial at the ICTY including Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic. He also complimented Karadzic, saying he “made mistakes, but should be credited for establishing Republika Srpska. RS was founded because of his courage.” He has during his time in office spent a great deal of tax funds on denying the basic facts about the Genocide in Srebrenica using the help of a group of Hague based pseudo-experts calling themselves The Srebrenica Historical Project and is registered as an NGO ( Non-Government-Organization) sadly for him those experts have yet to present any concrete evidence refuting the facts about the genocide, facts established during a 17-year period. The outfit´s front man is a Serb-American from Seattle called Stephan Karganovic.

Prior to establishing himself as the front figure of  “The Srebrenica Historical Project” he had worked as a translator and was member of the convicted war criminal Momcilo Krajisnik´s defense team, in the Hague before promoting himself as a “truth teller” refuting the “myth of genocide” in fact he has as I said before yet to prove anything, but that´s not why he is where he is.

People like Karganovic serve a purpose, in reality nobody, not even Milorad Dodik expects him to actually prove anything, he can´t. If he could you would have heard about it long ago. He is however expected to maintain the illusion that Serbia, and Republika Srpska are innocent victims of conspiracy intended to keep Serbia and Serbs at bay. And that what is going on is a continued aggression against Serbia by ”Western Imperialists”, the USA, Great Britain, CIA, the Vatican, IMF, Germany and their agents and ”homegrown traitors” the Croats and Bosniaks intent on keeping Serbia and Serbs at heel, one way is to falsely accuse them of committing genocide and hence becoming ”a genocidal nation” on par with Germany, a concern expressed by the godfather of contemporary Serb nationalism Dobrica Cosic in 2010 right about the same time as the Serbian Assembly was preparing to vote on European parliament’s resolution condemning the genocide in Srebrenica, Cosic claimed that ”Serbia should never accept the lies about Serbs committing genocide in Bosnia’, because this would make the Serbs a genocidal nation on a par with Nazi Germany”. (Pecat, 12 February 2010.)

The most telling example of Srebrenica Historical project’s real purpose could be seen during Pelemis/Simic trial.

The two men were accused of involvement in the mass killings that took place in the villages of Pilica and Branjevo after the fall of Srebrenica. Karganovics neuro-forensic expert Ljubisa Simic participated as an “expert witness” for Slavko Perics defense in order to refute the DNA-identifications that had been conducted on the remains in Branjevo. Under cross-examination by State Prosecutor Erik Larson, neurosurgeon Simic, who testified in his in the role as a medical expert, said that; “his name was not included on the list of court experts, he has not passed a specialist exam and he had not testified at any trial before. He confirmed that no organization had certified him as an expert witness in forensic medicine, pathology, or DNA analysis. He had not participated in any exhumations, had never had performed an autopsy on his own and he had never performed an identification using DNA analysis. Simic confirmed that he worked for the “Srebrenica Historical Project” but could not confirm that his role in the organization was to deny the genocide in Srebrenica. “I deal with medical issues at that organization,” Simic said. (See: Pelemis/Peric trial 2012)

Most recently Karganovic could be found harrasing American journalist and fellow at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) Michael Dobbs on Dobbs’ Foreign Policy Blog “Origins of Evil” a blog devoted to Ratko Mladic and the genocide in Srebrenica. Dobbs´s plan was to more or less devote most of his time digging into Mladic´s past and slowly blogpost by blogpost explain the “origins of evil”, simply put; Dobbs wanted to show what led Mladic and the Bosnian Serbs to commit the single biggest atrocity on European Soil since World War Two. Sadly Dobbs approach left a lot to be desired, in my opinion his efforts were lackluster and feeble and many of his posts were frankly pointless, and sub-tabloid level.

His naïve and let´s say “uninvolved” approach led him down some strange paths, and it all culminated last September when he was criticized by myself and others for his naive views on militant Serb nationalism and Slobodan Milosevic´s expansionist policies and deadly experiments with nationalism that ended in the violent death of Yugoslavia and more importantly in the death of thousands that stood in the way of Milosevic´s attempts to carve out a Greater Serbia and a state for all Serbs on the ruins of former Yugoslavia. Now Yugoslavia, would have most likely fallen apart anyway, as a direct consequence of the fall of communism in Europe, but few would disagree that if it hadn´t been for Milosevic that breakup would have gone peacefully. As for Dobbs, well he tried but simply did not have anything interesting or relevant to say on Mladic or Srebrenica.

To Dobbs credit he did however try to stand up to Karganovic and his associates who plagued the comments section and used it as forum to spew out their conspiracy theories and revisionism. Dobbs had at his disposal the large amount of research and documentation collected on the genocide in Srebrenica over the past 17-years. In one glorious moment last July he pointed out to the fact that Karganovic´s outfit had by then ( July 2012) received in total 1 million US dollars from the government of Republika Srpska and that the nature of The Srebrenica Historical project was to perpetuate genocide denial. in July 2012 Dobbs wrote the following:

It turns out that genocide denial has a price tag — and a hefty one at that. Financial records from the Bosnian Serb entity known as Republika Srpska reveal that a Hague-based group of pseudo-experts that calls itself the “Srebrenica Historical Project” has received more than $1 million from the cash-strapped mini-state over the past five years. Question, and in many cases deny, basic historical facts concerning massacres carried out by Bosnian Serb forces under the command of General Ratko Mladic in July 1995.

An exhaustive international investigation of the Srebrenica events, involving teams of forensic pathologists, DNA specialists, demographic experts, and detectives has established that Bosnian Serb forces murdered around 7,000 Muslim (Bosniak) prisoners in a series of massacres between July 12 and July 16, 1995. A further 1,000 or so Muslim men and boys were killed as a result of ambushes and armed clashes as they tried to reach Muslim-controlled territory north of Srebrenica.

What is most alarming about the Srebrenica Historical Project is not that there are people out there claiming that black is white, but that the denial industry is being financed by the Bosnian Serb authorities. A rough analogy might be the German government and parliament voting every year to fund the research of David Irving and other revisionist Holocaust historians.

As British journalist George Monbiot pointed out 2012 ; “In order for these people to be right the entire canon of serious scholarship, human rights investigations, exhumations and witness statements would have to be wrong. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. But they offer little but the recycled claims of genocidaires and genocide deniers, mashed up with their own misrepresentations” In his response to another set of Milosevic apologist and genocide deniers. Those of the internationalist left, most notably Edward Herman and David Peterson, as well as Noam Chomsky and John Pilger.

Needless to say, Dobbs article drew fire from Karganovic and rest of the creepy-crawlies of the “Great Serb” genocide-denial lobby that quickly rushed to the comment section to attack him, and that is where Karganovic and his sympathizers are most at home. People like Karganovic look for certain things, that they can isolate and latch on too, picking selective portions of evidence and deliberately miss-quoting witnesses in order to spread doubt, They cater to a specific kind of crowd, people like Karganovic, Nebojsa Malic, Srdja Trifkovic. None of their followers really demand of them to present any evidence for their theories but then again they don´t really have to try very hard. They tend to preach to the choir, of Serb nationalists, far-right extremists, people that hate the west or ”anti-imperialists” conspiracy theorists and and ideologues to whom human life is less valuable then the notion of a “Yugoslavia as the last socialist country in the Balkans” under threat from “The Empire” meaning the west and above all the hated USA. These are the kind of people that deny Srebrenica happened at the same time as they secretly and sometime not so secretly glorify and/or openly justify that it did happened. Simply because they wanted the Serbs and their cause to win. Nevermind the victims of Serb fascism…

The most extreme example of that is Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian terrorist whose Balkan obsession and his hatred towards Islam and Muslims spills out over the pages of his manifesto 2083: A European Declaration of Independence. A look thru the manifesto shows that he had a unhealthy obsession with the Balkans and admiration for the Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic who Breivik considers to be a “honorable Crusader and a European war hero” for his efforts to rid Europe of Muslims. (Radovan Karadzic is currently on trial same as Ratko Mladic for crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and crimes that were perpetrated against the civilian population and against places of worship throughout the territory of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovinia, ) As well revealing that altogether, the words “Serb” shows up 341 times, “Bosnia” 343 and “Albania” 208 times while Srebrenica, the site of the biggest massacre in former Yugoslavia after WWII does not appear anywhere in the document.

To Breivik, Radovan Karadzic is a hero, and his delusions mirror those of others on the far right, and Serb nationalist circles in the sense that they view what happened in Bosnia and Herzegovina as a struggle against ”the genocidal hate ideology known as Islam”  as Breivik puts it. In that sense all the atrocities committed against Muslims or Bosniaks in Bosnia can be explained away and justified by the need to get rid of Islam and Muslims. The murder of men women elderly, the rape of women and young girls, torture, setting up of concentration camps and mass killings and deportation perpetrated against a specific groups are justifiable as self-defense as long it´s committed against a feared and hated enemy that has to be eliminated in order to protect Serbs and Serbia against “Muslim genocide” or in Breiviks case Europe and Western Civilization. Therefore people like Karadzic and Mladic are heros and crusaders and any crimes they might have committed against non-Muslims are regrettable or as Breivik himself puts it:

He (Karadzic) even went as far as offering the Muslims certain enclaves. When they refused he wanted to deport them by force. When this was made impossible by NATO he gave the order to fight the person who refused which was his sovereign right and responsibility as one of the primary leaders of Serb forces. This was never about ethnicity but about ridding the country of the genocidal hate ideology known as Islam. I do condemn any atrocities committed against Croats and vice versa but for his efforts to rid Serbia of Islam he will always be considered and remembered as an honorable Crusader and a European war hero.

Oddly enough he is sort of right that it was never really about ethnicity, when it came to the actual reasons for the war, but not for the reasons he thinks, it was not about ridding Europe of Islam but a simple land grab, orchestrated by Milosevic his close associates and a cadre of JNA generals in Belgrade loyal to Milosevic, who´s prime motive was power, if he could not make himself ruler of Yugoslavia, then he would be the creater of a new “Greater” Serbia as a home for all Serbs. There was however a need to convince people, above all Serbs and to instill fear into them about ”the others” mainly Bosniaks, Slovenes, Croats and Kosovars. For that there was a need to control the media in former Yugoslavia. As Borisav Jovic, a former Milosevic aid and probably his closest associate wrote in his book, ”The Last Days of SFRY”

For years, he (Milosevic) paid the biggest attention to the media, especially television. He personally appointed editors-in-chief of the newspapers and news programmers – especially directors-general of radio and television. “Perhaps in no other area was he in direct communication with all editors who “fed” the public with the news comments and generally with the information. He was deeply convinced that citizens formed their view not on basis of their real material and their political position what was not published has not happened at all – was Milosevic`s motto

During the Milosevic trial the Trial Chamber heard from Professor Renaud de la Brosse, a propaganda expert from the University of Reims in France who took the stand as part of the prosecution’s effort to prove a link between what the media said and war crimes perpetrated on the battlefield. de la Brosse had studied some 20,000 pages of newspaper articles, transcripts of television and radio broadcast from the former Yugoslavia in order to produce his 100-page raport called; “Political Propaganda and the Plan to Create a State for all Serbs”

According to de la Brosse; Milosevic’s propaganda was based on the same techniques as used by Adolf Hitler, with the added power of television. ”Nazi propaganda had shown that myths bind the masses together tightly. Indeed, it was through myths and, therefore, the appeal to the forces of the unconscious, to fear and terror, the instinct of power and the lost community that the propaganda orchestrated by Goebbels had succeeded in winning over the Germans and melding them into a compact mass”

In 1990 in order to facilitate Slobodan Milosevic´s takeover of control of Kosovo, Serbian television launched a campaign of generalizations and lies against the Kosovars, accusing them of “poisoning wells” and “slitting throats of children” and then following it up with a campaign in the newspaper Politika which published readers’ letters, often made up, by Politika staff that “the Albanians  were raping hundreds of Serb women there” . On February 9 1990 Vojislav K. Stojanovic president of the University Teachers and Scholars of Serbia wrote that “the savage Albanian terrorists are now running amok in Kosovo and Metohija destroying anything that is Serbian, breaking into homes of the few Serbs that have stayed behind, Kosovo and Metohija are in the grip of fear by terrorists armed to the teeth.”

Even Slobodan Milosevic participated in the stigmatization of the Kosovar community by proclaiming that “Even children know the truth about Kosovo and Serbia, so it´s quit superfluous to say anything more about it. To those that think otherwise, I should say that I refuse to talk about because we need never to try and find excuses to stop the murder of Serbs and Montenegrins in Kosovo and for our unwillingness to accept an Albanian state on Serbian territory. To avoid further confusion I hasten to add that anyone seeking concessions along those lines would have to first depose the ruling Serbian leadership”

Another example of propaganda “winning over the Serbs and melding them into a compact mass,” that de la Brosse Points too is the is the story of the so called “baby-massacre” from November 1991, in a suburb close to Vukovar, called Borovo Naselje. As the siege of Vukovar was drawing to an end Serbian media reported that soldiers from the JNA had found the bodies of 41 massacred Serbian children, in village that had fallen days before. The story turned out to be untrue, and even the JNA was forced to issue a public denial, yet it was given widespread coverage by the Milosevic controlled media, who did not try to verify the story of the children having their “throats slit by blood thirsty Croats” even though all of the children had in fact been evacuated from that village months before and no schools had been open for a long time in that area.

That was not important, the story served a purpose, and it was there to enforce the image of Croats as “bloodthirsty genocidal maniacs” and undermines those that were opposed to the war. In fact when the story broke, a number of anti-war demonstrations were taking place in Belgrade. People in Serbia, above all parents who had family members serving in the JNA were opposed the ongoing campaign in Croatia. The story did well to silence those that opposed the war, and it would also lead to a flood of Serb volunteers going to the Croatian front.

Another such example was the story of Serb children being fed to lions at the Sarajevo Zoo. The story goes that due to the siege of Sarajevo; for which “the bloody thirsty Muslims” in Sarajevo were themselves responsible, there was a shortage of food and other supplies in the city so the Muslims were feeding Serbian children to the starving lions. The “news” was carried by TV Pale, and Risto Djogo, the official voice of the Karadzic regime. The news was also picked up by Serbian media, SRNA and TANJUG reported the story with any sort of checks being made in order to verify the story. Viewers in Belgrade got to see and above all hear on the 19:30 news that; “The Muslim extremists have come up with the world’s most horrible way of torturing people. Last night they threw Serb children to the lions at the local zoo, reports the Serb patrol”

In 1994 Serbian newspaper Vecernje Novosti published a story about a Serb orphan whose whole family was killed by Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) in the area around Srebrenica. The story came with a photo of the boy, lying down next to what was described as his family´s grave, the text under the photo read; “The biggest casualties of war are children, that is the case as well in this most recent one, a one in which the Serbian people are again fighting for their very existence. The picture which had the year before circulated the globe, is that of a graveyard in Skelani, (near Srebrenica) on which this boy, now an orphan is crying on the graves of his mother father and rest of his family, “that were killed in a Muslim offensive” is still shocking those who know about the suffering of children. The boy has however in the meantime been adopted by a family in Zvornik and is a member of a military school”

The photo was in fact a forgery, in reality it is a 19th century oil painting by Serbian painter Uros Predic known as ”Orphan Upon His Mother’s Grave”, it was painted in 1879, the painting was made as an illustration for a poem by Hungarian poet Janos Arany.

Orphan Upon His Mothers Grave by Uros Predic, to the left and Vecernje Novosti Picture to the right. Courtesy of Srebrenica Genocide Blog.
Orphan Upon His Mothers Grave by Uros Predic, to the left and Vecernje Novosti Picture to the right. Courtesy of Srebrenica Genocide Blog.

If one were to de-construct the text under the “photo” or the painting it go something like this, in order convince people in Serbia about righteousness of their cause, there is no better way of doing that then focusing on the suffering of small children in this case a small boy, abandoned and helpless whose parents were only killed because they were Serbs. And that their struggle is now much like it was in past wars justified, since they are simply struggling to survive and fighting a ruthless enemy bent on destroying the whole of the Serb nation. By adding that the picture circulated the globe, which is not true, and that it caused outrage and shock, it even more re-affirms that the Serbian cause is just, and there is hope and that they should not give up the fight, since the poor boy isn’t going to, there is after all a silver lining; he has enlisted in military high school.

The situation was of course drastically different in the Srebrenica region, then Vecernje Novosti led the Serb public to believe nowhere was at as bad as in Eastern Bosnia and in particular the area around Srebrenica. From the beginning of the war the town had been isolated from the rest of Bosnian-controlled territory. It was one of few towns’ hamlets and villages that had escaped the onslaught of the Yugoslav Army and various Serb paramilitary units that had made their way from Serbia to join forces with nationalists and extremists loyal to Radovan Karadzic. The other ones in the area were Cerska and Konjevic Polje, and to the south Zepa and further along the Drina river Gorazde. In November 1992 Radovan Karadzic signed Directive 4 ordering the Drina corps of the Bosnian Serb army to engage the enemy with the intent of; “wearing out the enemy and forcing them to leave Srebrenica, Zepa and Gorazde areas together with the inhabitants…” The plan was implemented during the month of January 1993, slowly Bosnian Serb forces with the help of the Yugoslav Army chipped away at the territory that Bosnians had managed to defend during the initial invasion of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Altogether some 10 000 Bosnian Serb Soldiers with the help of the reformed Yugoslav Army (VJ) participated in the offensive on the isolated Bosniak enclaves. Two of the smallest enclaves fell in March 1993, Cerska and Konjevic Polje after bitter fighting, the Bosnian defenders isolated and without access to food or ammunition were forced to retreat together with civilians, women children and elderly into Srebrenica which was slowly becoming the world´s biggest refugee camp with some 40 000 people trapped inside.

One of those that witnessed what was going on in Srebrenica was former Venezuealan ambassador to the UN, Diego Arria. He testified as defense witness at the trial of the Bosnian commander in the enclave Naser Oric and as a prosecution witness at the trial of Slobodan Milosevic. Arria arrived in Srebrenica in April 1993. According to Arria, what was taking place in Srebrenica then was a form of “genocide in slow motion” Bosniaks in Srebrenica and surrounding villages  were exposed to “extreme poverty, destruction, starvation and squalor” that were according to Arria deliberately being withheld from the public by the UN. Arria managed to take the first photographs of of the destruction of Srebrenica and its starving inhabitants. Hundreds of people that had fled the surrounding villages were now living on the streets of Srebrenica, a town that before the war had some 8000 inhabitants. To stay warm they burned trash, plastic bags, and everything else they could get their hands on, as the children wandered thru the streets, shivering in their tattered sweaters and worn out shoes and smelling of excrament and smoke and sweat. The photographs taken by Arria were the only ones in existence at the time. He refused to hand over his camera to UN troops in Srebrenica. According to Arria the international community “did not move its little finger” to protect the Bosniaks in the enclave and “did not make it possible for them to defend themselves”

In fact the UN was withholding reports that showed the true situation in Srebrenica. For that Arria blames UN Secratery General Boutros Ghali and his staff who according to Arria misinformed the Security Council about the situation in the enclave. It was not until after an appeal by the then UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Sadako Ogata that the report on the humanitarian disaster in Srebrenica was shown to the Security Council. Diego Arria warned of a “potential massacre in which there could be 25,000 victims.” Arria went on to say; “it was clear that it was just a matter of time before the massacre would happen” or before the “slow-motion genocide” would become a “real genocide.” The United Nations, according to Arria; was unwilling to do anything to prevent that.

The reason for that is that there was in the tendency in The Security Council to as Arria puts it  “morally equate the victims and the aggressor” the reason for that was that it made it more simple not to take action to prevent the atrocities, if you gave the impression that all sides are equally at fault, well then why should the International Community intervene on anyone´s behalf? In fact according to Arria the UN had been hoping that the Serbs would overrun the enclave, before it became a “safe area” and thus “solving the problem” the fact that the Bosnian defenders saw things differently created a problem for the UN. On April 16 after heavy fighting the Bosnian lines held. Naser Oric and his men had launched a desperate counter-attack in the hills above Srebrenica with the few artillary shells they had left and manged to push the Serbs back, on that same day  Srebrenica was declared a “safe area” with an ambivalent UN tasked to protect it if Serb forces tried to re-take it. That ambivalence was on full display in July 1995 as was the willingness of the international community to end the arms embargo against Bosnia…

Or as former British Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd put it; “lifting the arms embargo would only create a level killing field” a statement that prompted a response from a retired Margaret Thatcher who pointed to the obvious, the fact that there was already in Europe a killing field in Bosnia “killing field the like of which I thought we would never see in Europe again It is in Europe’s sphere of influence. It should be in Europe’s sphere of conscience”. The arms embargo imposed on the countries in the former Yugoslavia only hurt one country, and that was Bosnia, Croatia could easily purchase weapons despite the embargo from any of the neighboring countries, and Serbia, well it had inherited the vast arsenal of the former Yugoslav People´s Army which was flowing freely across the border into the hands of the Bosnian Serbs. The chief opposition to arming the defending Bosnian Army or lifting the arms embargo came from UK and France, according to Robert Hunter, the former US ambassador to NATO; Britain has the greatest responsibility when it comes to this, “they carry a huge burden of responsibility for what happened at Srebrenica.” claimed Hunter.

The Americans had tried to ease the arms embargo against the Bosnian Army, the new administration under Clinton had sought to at least “relax” the arms embargo which they considered was punishing the weakest, most victimized nation; Bosnia and Herzegovina. Unlike the Serbs and Croats in Bosnia which had the support of Croatia and Serbia, the Bosnian Army was hopelessly landlocked. The Bosnian government wanted the arms embargo lifted in order to defend it people and country, but according to Clinton, his proposals for the relaxation of the arms embargo were blocked by US allies in Europe. Mainly the UK and France.

According to Clinton the offical reason they gave was that that as Douglas Hurd said before it would create a “level killing field” more guns in the area meant more bloodshed. However according to Clinton the real reason for the objection was the fact that Bosnia as a predominantly Muslim country would be “unnatural” in Europe. In Taylor Branchs book “The Clinton Tapes” (2009) Clinton discussed openly the role US European allies played in the destruction of Bosnia and Herzegovina. They wanted the arms embargo precisely because it locked in Bosnia´s disadvantage. What´s even worse according to Clinton was that they used the UN forces on the ground as an excuse, claiming that the options the Clinton administration proposed in order to save the Bosnian state and stop the ongoing genocide would endanger UN troops on the ground as well as jeopardizing emergency shipments of food and medical supplies that were being delivered to a population that was on a daily basis being subjected to a terror campaign and was not allowed to defend itself. In other words; the UN troops in Bosnia were being used in order to facilitate the dismemberment of the Bosnian state.

Clinton claimed that French president Francois Mitterrand had said to him that “Bosnia quite simply did not belong,” and that British diplomats in private spoke of a “painful but realistic restoration of Christian Europe” Such Anti-Muslim and bigoted views could of course not be uttered openly but it shows why the carnage and the dismemberment of the Bosnian state was allowed to happen. Bosnia and Herzegovina or more to the point a predominantly “Muslim Bosnia” did not belong and as painful as it was, it had to disappear. That´s where the biggest betrayal of Bosnia and Herzegovina lied, in their fear of a “Muslim Bosnia” French and British diplomats had missed the fact that at the beginning of the war some 25-30 percent of the Bosnian Army consisted of non-Muslims or non-Bosniaks, that at the highest levels of command, there were both Serbs and Croats, people like Jovan Divjak, Stjepan Siber, Zeljko Knez a Croat who was the first Commander of the Bosnian Army´s Second Corps, Divjak a Serb was the Bosnian Army´s second in command, there were also men like Dragan Vikic, (a Croat) Head of the interior ministry, Zoran Cegar his deputy, (a Serb) but above all those anonymous soldiers manning the trenchers, together with Bosniak soldiers, forced to fight with their hands tied behind their back depending on what they could beg steal or borrow, or more accurately what they could capture from the Serb nationalists who had no such problems, they had come to the war armed to the teeth courtesy of the former Yugoslav People´s Army.

The diplomats had also missed or decided to ignore people like, Stjepan Kljuic, Gordana Knezevic, Mirko Pejanovic to name a few more prominent non-Bosniaks who in their own way fought and still fight for Bosnia and Herzegovina. Those are of course the more prominent ones as is the case with the Bosnian Army soldiers many unnamed heroes fought and still fight the good fight. They were, we were all betrayed and for every shell that was fired and for every day the embargo was in effect the very fabric of Bosnian society was being ripped apart. So yes, it was indeed painful.

However nowhere was as painful as it was in Srebrenica, heroic Srebrenica that had withstood the initial Serb onslaught, it had withstood the intial invasion of Serbian forces into Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as Karadzic´s extremists and the genocidal campaign that followed. It had whitstood the final solution sanctioned by France and Great Britain which had cleared most of the Drina valley north-west Bosnia, eastern Bosnia of its non-Serb population, it had become a safe haven for those that had escaped certain death, those that had escaped rape camps, and torture from all across the Drina Valley as well as other parts of eastern Bosnia, it was together with Zepa and Gorazde the last of the free territory in eastern Bosnia.

The fact is that the picture of the “Orphaned Boy” published in Vecernje Novosti was there to mobilize and galvanize the Serb people against their enemy. It is also a way of inciting hate that can have, and has had horrible consequences. It´s not difficult to understand Serbs reading, listening and above all watching the reports coming in from Croatia and Bosnia about various atrocities committed against Serbs by Bosniaks and Croats, wanting to take revenge on the perpetrators. According to de la Brosse Serbian media used certain words to stir up defensive reaction amongst the Serbs. Words like “Ustasha Fascists” and “cut-throats” were used to stigmatize Croats and “Islamic Ustasha” or “Jihad Fighters” to stigmatize the Bosniaks. de la Brosse also pointed to the fact that the JNA (Yugoslav People´s Army) had during the fighting in Croatia issued memos ordering that all enemies be called “Ustasha”.

During the genocidal campaign in Bosnia and Herzegovina the Serbian Television, according to de la Brosse more or less banished the use of the word ”Bosnian” or more to the point ”Bosnian Forces” On August 17 1992 Serbian journalist Branko Elez called Bosnian forces;”Islamic Fundamentalists” ”Islamic Chauvinists” and branded them as”cruel hordes of Alija” (Alija Izetbegovic, the Bosnian president)

Bosnian Army soldiers were referred to as; ”Warriors of Allah” armed by Saddam Hussein, ”conducting a holy war in the name of Islam” even though Saddam Hussein had established a secular dictatorship in Iraq, but that did not matter, most Serbs did not know the nature of Saddam Hussein´s regime, they did however know that he was a Muslim, and an Arab and that would for some be enough. Ironically  Saddam Hussein and Muamar Gadafi had on several occasions  bought weapons and jet engines including  spare parts from Milosevic´s regime and his cronies in Republika Srpska as well as playing host to Vojislav Seselj, the leader of the Serb Radical Party back in 2001 when Seselj along with a delegation from the Serb Radical Party including current Serbian prime minister Aleksandar Vucic visited Iraq.

In June 1993 Swedish journalist Peter Kadhammar traveled to Pale, the former ski-resort that during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina served as war-time capitol of Republika Srpska. Kadhammars first impression of Mladic was that of a commander at the very peak of his power, he exuded self-confidence and it was obvious that he was the most powerful man in the Bosnian Serb Army. “ I am the Cassius Clay of war” he claimed “ I can knock anybody out, but I am a merciful man” According to Kadhammar he loved to talk about his victories and how he back then in 1993 was in the control of the fate of the Bosniak population in Srebrenica. Kadhammar recalls that Mladic as a joke suggested to Kadhammar that the Bosniak (Muslim) population of Bosnia and Herzegovina would be better of relocating the Swedish archipelago, and the world was conspiring against the Serbs. This whole war was a conspiracy against the Serbs. At one point, Kadhammar asked Mladic if he knew how many people had been killed by Mladic´s men in Sarajevo, Mladic´s response was “that those were not people, those are Muslims”

After the Serb takeover of Prijedor, a town in northwest Bosnia, the Serb-controlled media in Prijedor both broadcast and printed media spread stories about non-Serbs, particularly a doctor named Mirsad Mujadzic who was a member of the SDA, the main Bosniak political party in Bosnia and Herzegovina. According to the reports in the Serb-controlled media, Dr Mujadzic was accused of “injecting drugs into Serb women making them incapable of giving birth to male children” Another doctor, a Croat named Zeljko Sikora referred to as the “Monster Doctor”, was accused of making Serb women abort if they were pregnant with male children and of castrating the male babies of Serb parents.

During the trial of Milomir Stakic, the former mayor of Serb-controlled Prijedor, the Trial Chamber saw proof that the weekly known as “Kozarski Vjesnik” became the voice of the local Serb authorities. The director of “Kozarski Vjesnik” and and “Radio Prijedor” Mile Mutic and journalist Rade Mutic regulary showed up at the meetings of the “Serbian Crisis Staff”, the “National Defence Council,” or the “Executive Committee” During the Stakic trial the prosecution tendered into evidence minutes of the Municipal Board of the SDS in Prijedor from 30 April 1991 session record showed that the Secretary of the Serbian Municipal Assembly, Dusan Baltic, put forward the opinion that “Kozarski Vjesnik” should be brought under the control of the SDS, Radovan Karadzic party. After the Serbian takeover of Prijedor, most of the articles were aimed at discrediting and undermining the credibility of prominent non-Serbs in Prijedor. In an article published on 10th on June 1992 Dr. Osman Mahmuljin (a Bosniak) was accused of deliberately having provided incorrect medical care to his Serb colleague Dr. Zivko Dukic, who had a heart attack. According to Kozarski Vjesnik; Dr. Dukic’s life was saved only because Dr. Radojka Elenkov (Serb) discontinued the therapy allegedly initiated by Dr. Mahmuljin.

Radio Prijedor also broadcasted forged “biographies of prominent non-Serbs”, including Prof. Muhamed Cehajic, Dr. Eso Sadikovic and Dr. Osman Mahmuljin in order to discredit them. According to the Trial Chamber, after the Serb takeover, Radio Prijedor mostly played Serb nationalist songs and broadcast propaganda against the main Bosniak party in Bosnia, the SDA and prominent non-Serbs characterizing them as “criminals and extremists who should be punished for their behavior”

Others frequently interviewed by “Radio Prijedor” were Milan Kovacevic Dusko Tadic and Simo Drljaca. Kovacevic was the President of the Executive Committee of the Municipal Assembly of Prijedor. In 1996 he was indicted by the ICTY for genocide, for complicity in genocide, extermination, persecutions, torture, deportation. For murder; cruel treatment; torture; wanton destruction of cities, towns or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity. For willful killing; torture; willfully causing great suffering; unlawful deportation or transfer; extensive destruction of property and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly. Kovacevic was indicted together with Simo Drljaca, who served as the chief of police in Prijedor. According to the indictment during the period from 30 April 1992 to 31 December 1992 Drljaca was both a member of the municipality of Prijedor Crisis Staff and the Chief of the Public Security Station (SJB) for the municipality of Prijedor.

According to the indictment Kovacevic and Drljaca ordered and implemented a plan designed to expel Bosniak and Croat population from what had been proclaimed to be “Serb Territory” The plan consisted limiting the movement of the Bosniak and Croat populations to their villages, and then ordering or initiating attacks on those areas by combined forces of the 43rd Brigade and other Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) units, Territorial Defence (TO) units from Prijedor, regular and reserve police members from Prijedor, and paramilitary units organized and equipped by the Serbian Democratic Party (SDS).

Those civilians captured in these attacks were usually taken to Omarska, Keraterm or Trnopolje which were called “detention camps” by the authorities but in fact resembled in many ways the  concentration camps set up in WWII by the Nazis, the prisoners in those camps were subjected to daily physical abuse, sexual abuse of both male and female prisoners as well as young girls. Torture and murder were also common place. According to the indictment, Serb forces under the control of the Prijedor Crisis Staff systematically looted and destroyed Bosniak and Croat villages and property, including homes, businesses, mosques and churches. The destruction was so extensive that nothing but portions of buildings and rubble were all that remained in many of villages of the area and not one mosque was left standing in the towns of Prijedor and Kozarac. To the detriment of the victims Milan Kovacevic died in 1998, not having received a verdict. Simo Drljaca, was killed in an attempt to arrest him in 1997 near Omarska.

Dusko Tadic who served as President of the Local Board of the Serb Democratic Party (SDS) in neighboring Kozarac was arrested in Germany in 1994 and transferred to the hague to stand trial, the Trial Chamber found convicted him of “Willful killing; torture or inhuman treatment; wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health” Tadic was also found guilty of participating in the in the forced transfer of civilians into “Detention Camps” or more appropriately concentration camps such as Omarska Trnopolje and Keraterm. The Tadic verdict was also the first legal confirmation that what happened in Bosnia and Herzegovina was indeed and International conflict. The Yugoslav Army was in fact in control of the Bosnian Serb Army, according to the Appeals Chamber verdict ;

Tadic, (Appeals Chamber), July 15, 1999, paras. 156, 162: “It is sufficient to show that [the Yugoslav Army] exercised overall control over the Bosnian Serb Forces. Such control manifested itself not only in financial, logistical and other assistance and support, but also, and more importantly, in terms of participation in the general direction, coordination and supervision of the activities and operations of the VRS [the Army ofthe Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina/Republika Srpska]. This sort of control is sufficient for the purposes of the legal criteria required by international law.” “[F]or the period material to this case (1992), the armed forces of the Republika Srpska were to be regarded as acting under the overall control of and on behalf of the FRY [the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro)]. Hence, even after 19 May 1992 the armed conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina between the Bosnian Serbs and the central authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina must be classified as an international armed conflict.” See also Tadic, (Appeals Chamber), July 15, 1999, para. 87.

Milomir Stakic who had been the Vice-President of the Prijedor Municipal Assembly as a member of the Serbian Democratic Party, was found guilty of murder, persecution, extermination and deportation, all crimes against humanity. Stakic rose to prominence, during the May 1992 Serb takeover of the municipality of Prijedor. According to the judgement;

the takeover was an illegal coup d’état which had been planned and coordinated for months and which had as its final goal the creation of a Serbian municipality eventually to form part of an envisaged pure Serbian state.
A comprehensive pattern of atrocities amounting to a campaign of a prosecutorial nature was proved to have been committed against non-Serbs in Prijedor municipality in 1992. This included killings on a massive scale in the Omarska, Keraterm and Trnopolje camps, in Bosniak towns and villages throughout the municipality, and, finally, on Mount Vlasic. The Trial Chamber held Dr. Stakic responsible for more than 1,500 killings and was able to identify by name 486 victims. Rapes, sexual assaults and beatings were committed at the camps and at least 20,000 non-Serbs either fled Prijedor or were deported

According to latest statistics 3173 people were killed in Prijedor in 1992, of those 102 were children, the youngest was a three month old baby, many of the children were killed from a close range. A total of 256 women were killed as well during the spring and summer of 1992, the most common killing grounds were the Concentration Camps in Omarska Keraterm and Trnopolje. The Dayton accords placed Prijedor Kozarac as well as Omarska Keraterm and Trnopolje with the entity of Republika Srpska. During the negations in Dayton in November 1995 the Bosnian delegation was forced to halt the Bosnian Army offensive which was in effect routing the Bosnian Serb Army (VRS) the offensive stopped before the Bosnian Army could reach Prijedor, and all chances of recapturing Prijedor as well as Omarska and Trnopolje disappeared of the table.

Today twenty one years after the “ethnic cleansing” and mass murder of several thousand of Prijedors non-Serb inhabitants, albeit mostly Bosniaks, there is not a single monument dedicated to non-Serb victims in urban parts of Prijedor municipality. Today there is however some 60 monuments dedicated to “the soldiers who died in the homeland war, 1991-1995” or that they “courageously died for the fatherland of Republika Srpska” According to Haris Subasic from the Ministry for Issues of Veterans and Disabled Veterans of the Defensive-Liberation War of Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH) this is due to a culture of denial that shapes the past, present and future memories of the crimes against humanity committed. For example the local government in Prijedor does not allow construction of monuments for non-Serb victims in those areas where Concentration Camps were located, Omarska Trnopolje Keraterm. Excuses used are that it would incite “inter-ethnic hatred” or that “there must be a minimum consensus on it at state level” Bosnia and Herzegovina today has no laws prohibiting genocide denial and the denial of war crimes, most attempts at passing such laws have been obstructed by SNSD, the party of Milorad Dodik.

The most of offensive example of genocide denial in Prijedor and the institutionalized culture of denial that is widespread throughout Republika Srpska is a monument erected at the site of the former concentration camp Trnopolje by the Serb-dominated local government. “The monument for all Serb soldiers who were killed” was erected in close proximity to the infamous concentration camp. Images from Trnopolje together with images from Omarska of have become iconic, in august 1992 as the first reporters were allowed to enter the gulag of concentration camps set by the Bosnian Serbs in the Prijedor area, they broadcasted to the world, the men and women of the concentration camps who were subjected to physical as well as mental abuse on a daily bases, many of the prisoners both male and female were subjected to sexual abuse, murder was commonplace. A female prisoner from Omarska identified only as “J” told Helsinki Watch investigators:

 We saw corpses piled one on top of another…. The bodies eventually were gathered with a forklift and put onto trucks—usually two large trucks and a third, smaller truck. The trucks first would unload containers of food, and then the bodies would be loaded [on]…. This happened almost every day—sometimes there [were]…twenty or thirty—but usually there were more. Most of the deaths occurred as a result of beatings

(See: War Crimes in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Volume II, p. 103)

Ed Vulliamy of The Guardian was the first one in Omarska, describes his first meeting with prisoners of Omarska:

I don´t want to tell any lies, but I cannot tell the truth” says the young man emaciated, sunken-eyed and attacking his watery bean stew like a famished dog, his spindly hands shaking. The guards swinging their machine guns are watching and listening carefully. His name is Sabahudin Elezovic. “Let me eat my lunch first” he says “then I´ll talk” The stew in the aluminum bowl is gone within seconds, showed into his mouth with an old spoon clenched with difficulty by a rangy fist.

This is lunchtime at the Omarska concentration camp or “investigation center” run by the Bosnian Serb police for mainly Muslim internees near Prijedor. The prisoners are horribly thin raw bones; some are almost cadaverous with skin like parchment folded over their bones. Their faces are lantern-jawed and their eyes are haunted by the inimitable empty stare of the prisoner dumb with fear, who has no idea what is going to happen to him next. No one from the red cross the UN or the press has been this far inside the belly of the beast until the day we arrived at Omarska on Wednsday 5 august 1992

(Vulliamy: Seasons in Hell, 1994 Chapter Five, The Camps, Echoes of the Reich, page 98)

Trnopolje concentration camp like Omarska was set up by the Bosnian Serb military and police forces in the village of Trnopolje near Prijedor. Like Omarska the camp served as a prison camp for Bosniak s and Croats, and like Omarska many of the prisoners were subjected to physical and mental abuse. Many were also murdered. Trnopolje produced the most iconic image of the Bosnian genocide, the picture of emaciated prisoner Fikret Alic staring at the cameras behind the barb-wire fence.

Fikret Alic at Trnopolje august 1992
Fikret Alic at Trnopolje august 1992

No memorial has as of yet been erected to the victims of Trnopolje and Omarska, nor do survivors have the right to visit the former concentration camps when they choose, they are only granted access to the camps on the day of commemoration. Not that always happens, this year on May 25th survivor groups were not allowed to gather at the camp, they were not granted access to the camp by the local authorities. But that did not stop the survivors and their family members as well as family members of those that had lost loved ones in the camp. On May 26 about a hundred people gathered in front of the camp in order to commemorate the 21 years since the camps were first set up by the Bosnian Serb military and police forces. Something has however happened, staring last year a campaign under the name Stop Genocide Denial has been working to “to give a voice to victims of mass atrocities from around the world in their struggle for the truth, dignity and remembrance” as they put it. On 31th of May 2012 families of the victims of those killed in the Prijedor area gathered at the event called ‘White Ribbons Day’ the white ribbion, is symbolic, on May 31, 1992 the Bosnian Serb authorities in Prijedor issued a decree for all non-Serbs to mark their houses with white flags or sheets and to wear a white armband if they were to leave their houses.

The gathering had been banned at first by the mayor of Prijedor, Marko Pavic of the SDS, Radovan Karadzic former party. Pavic had expressed concern that the event would “undermine the town’s reputation”. Forgetting that the deaths of over 3000 of the towns citizens has yet to be honored in the town itself and the fact there was no statue or plaque anywhere to the 3173 dead civilians, men women and children. Pavic also objected to the use of the word “genocide” saying that the organizations were “politicizing” the commemoration. Obviously unaware that those that had lost their loved ones in the concentration camps had the right to call the commemoration whatever they wanted, Marko Pavic seemed totally also unaware of the fact that the ICTY had ruled that what had happened in Srebrenica was genocide, and that the International Court of Justice came to the same conclusion as well as the fact that courts in Germany had sentenced Serb paramilitaries for the crime of genocide in other places in Bosnia and Herzegovina. One of those convictions was upheld by the the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. Pavic also seemed unaware that Milomir Stakic who had been the Vice-President of the Prijedor Municipal Assembly as a member of the Serbian Democratic Party, (SDS) was found guilty of murder, persecution, extermination and deportation, all crimes against humanity. Also there was no law in Bosnia and Herzegovina prohibiting victims and survivors from calling the commemoration of their fallen loved ones whatever they wanted. Sadly there is no law against genocide denial and denial of crimes against humanity either in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Though the gathering last year was relatively small, it had brought worldwide attention to the issue of genocide denial in Bosnia and the denial of crimes against humanity in Republika Srpska. The culture of denial has become institutionalized in Republika Srpska so much so that last year Amnesty International reported that the police in Prijedor had banned s march to commemorate the International Human Rights Day without giving any valid reason as to why they would do something like that. If the gathering in Prijedor last year was humble, the same cannot be said for the turn out this year, on May 31 hundreds of activists, from across Bosnia and Herzegovina, survivors and family members of the victims showed up at the town square in Prijedor. Bosnians from all across Bosnia had to show their support with citizens of Prijedor, the victims, the survivors and their families as the support from the world was pouring in. Marko Pavic true to form dismissed the fact Bosnians, now even across ethnic lines were starting to take a stand against genocide denial and the denial of war crimes and crimes against humanity. His responsse to the gathering of Bosnians in Prijedor was to dismiss it by calling it “nothing more then a gay pride parade” that kind of horrible homophobic remark shows the nature of the political scene in Republika Srpska, Pavic was simply trying win points with his racist, nationalist and above all homophobic constituance. For if the rights of victims of genocide and crimes agianst humanity rank low on the list of concerns in a Bosnia and Herzegovina imprisoned by Dayton, then the rights of the LGBT Community are non-existent. Sadly when it comes to the question of denying war crimes and genocide denial in Bosnia and Herzegovina, it does seem that Bosniaks have to face that struggle, despite positive signs from Prijedor for the time being anyway, more or less alone. Hopefully that will change in time.

When it comes to the ICTY, I have to admit to being a bit disillusioned to put it mildly, some have argued that after latest string of acquittals of high ranking officers by The Hague, most prominently Momcilo Perisic-Jovica Stanisic and Franko Simatovic, that the legal record does not match the historical one. Well yes, sadly that is true. will say this; the ICTY has during its 20 years of existence compiled an enormous amount of documentation and above all evidence of who did what. The fact that the Trial Chamber could not convict those three men, does not mean that they are innocent, it means that the prosecutions case did not meet the current legal standards. Nor does it mean that crimes were not committed. However, when it comes to Stanisic and Simatovic, the reasoning of the court is astonishing, the standards set are ridiculosly high. In the case of Stanisic and Simatovic, as Eric Gordy points out; “The tormented reasoning of the tribunal’s 800-page verdict offers some fascinating reading: It affirms that crimes were committed and describes them in excruciating detail. It names the victims, names the perpetrators, and in most cases details the connections between the accused parties and the direct perpetrators. Then it declines to convict, on the ground that the evidence does not show that the support provided to the criminals was “specifically directed towards the commission of the crimes.”

One of the great achivments of the Perisic trial was that for the first time, we could see how the the Yugoslav Supreme Defense Council worked and those that were a part of it, including Momcilo Perisic, Zivota Panic, Blagoje Adzic, Momir Bulatovic, Dobrica Cosic, Radoje Kontic, as well as of course Slobodan Milosevic. We could also see how the support system created by the JNA and later VJ worked to enable the Bosnian Serb and Krajina Serb or “Croatian Serb” rebel armies to continiue fighting and that without the financial military and logistical support from Belgrade those two entities would crumble within weeks. They were in fact completely dependent on Belgrade and Serbia.

In most cases the paper trail leads to Knin, Pale, Belgrade and as we could recently see in the guilty verdicts of the Herceg Bosna six, to Zagreb as well, as Franjo Tudjman Janko Bobetko and Gojko Susak were all found to be guilty albeit posthumously of being a part of Joint Crminal Enterprise in regards to the crimes of the HVO and the Croatian Army in Herzegovina and central Bosnia.

History is written by historians, not by politicians. As I wrote above one of the great, if overlooked, achievements of the ICTY is the astonishing trove of documents and other evidence assembled by researchers and prosecutors. Now 20 years after the war in the former Yugoslavia there is a an abundance material on the breakup of Yugoslavia, some of it is good some poor and some of it great, above people like Tim Judah, Josip Glaurdic, Marko Attila Hoare, Roy Gutman, David Rhode, Christopher Hitchens, Ed Vulliamy, Michael A. Sells, Stjepan G. Mestrovic, David Rieff, Chuck Sudetic, Michael Libal, Brendan Simms and others have written extensively about the breakup of Yugoslavia and the war and genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Now it is up to us to honor the memory of the victims of the Bosnian genocide by fighting the deniers and revisionists, at every turn not only with the verdicts, of which there are many. Most of the political and military leadership of Republika Srpska have been found guilty of persecution, based on ethnic or religous ground, of murder, and genocide. People like Biljana Plavsic, Momcilo Krajisnik, Dragomir Milosevic Stanislav Galic, Mico Stanisic, Radislav Krstic Dusko Tadic, Milomir Stakic… We must also fight the deniers with the facts, with the truth. We must safeguard the memory of our brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, uncles, grandfathers, cousins, friends, lovers, husbands, wifes. All those killed in Srebrenica, Prijedor, Visegrad, Vlasenica, Rudo, Mostar, Ljubuski, Sanski Most, Bjeljina, Brcko, Cajnicje, Rogatica, Stolac, Sarajevo, Kozarac, Bratunac, Foca, Ahmici, Omarska, Trnopolje…

Professor Reunald de la Brosse´s rapport on Milosevic´s political propaganda and the Plan to Create a State for all Serbs is split in five seperate parts. Here are all five parts:

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 part 5

Joint Criminal Enterprise

Perisic and Milosevic
Perisic and Milosevic

On 28th of Febuary the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) acquitted on appeal Momcilo Perisic, the former Chief of Staff of the Army of Yugoslavia. He had originally been sentenced to 27 years for his role in assisting and supporting war crimes in Bosnia and Croatia. The trial chamber originally found Perisic guilty of assisting and supporting the killing of around 8,000 Bosniak civilians and displacing the Srebrenica population in July 1995, artillery and sniper attacks on civilians in Sarajevo and for the rocket attacks on Zagreb in May 1995. Sadly his acquittal means that so far nobody from the former JNA high command has been convicted by the ICTY for war-crimes in Bosnia. After sixteen years of existence this has to be considered to be a monumental failure on the part of the ICTY. As someone already remarked; whether it´s a failure of the prosecution or the judges is certainly open to debate. And it has been debated furiously ever since.

The decision follows another controversial decision from November last year to acquit two Croatian generals, Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac. There was certainly no shortage of evidence against Perisic, he had from the moment he took over as Chief of Staff of the Army of Yugoslavia from Zivota Panic, actively supported both the rebel Bosnian Serb army (VRS) under the leadership of Radovan Karadzic and the rebel Croatian Serb army (RSK) under the leadership of Milan Babic and Milan Martic.

One of the reasons for the acquittal given by the appeals chamber was that the trial chamber did not Identify VRS (The Bosnian Serb Army) as a criminal organization per se and that only some of their actions were criminal, the appeals chamber writes ;

“With respect to the first inquiry, the Appeals Chamber recalls that the Trial Chamber did not characterize the VRS as a criminal organization; indeed, it stated that “Perisic is not charged with helping the VRS wage war per se, which is not a crime under the Statute. Having reviewed the evidence on the record, the Appeals Chamber agrees with the Trial Chamber that the VRS was not an organization whose actions were criminal per se; instead, it was an army fighting a war. “

However the appeals chamber goes on to say that the Trial Chamber did find, “that the VRS’s strategy was inextricably linked to crimes against civilians” but that it also was an army fighting a war, and that the Trial Chamber limited its findings to characterizing as criminal only certain actions of the VRS and the appeals chamber agrees with that. That is clearly problematic, and contradictory, certainly crimes are committed during wartime, and crimes were committed on all sides but claiming that the VRS was simply an army fighting a war and that during that time it “committed crimes” shows a lack of understanding for the nature of the Bosnian War both from the prosecution and the appeals chamber. The JNA (Yugoslav People’s Army) planned thoroughly the invasion and dismemberment of Bosnia.

It also flies in the face of other verdicts concerning amongst other Sarajevo. In the Stanislav Galic verdict the trial chamber concluded that;

the evidence demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that Sarajevo civilians were indeed made the objects of deliberate attacks by VRS forces. The Chamber heard from local witnesses who had experienced multiple attacks in their neighbourhoods. They were attacked while attending funerals, while in ambulances, trams, and buses, and while cycling. They were attacked while tending gardens, or shopping in markets, or clearing rubbish in the city. Children were targeted while playing or walking in the streets. These attacks were mostly carried out in daylight.

They were not in response to any military threat. The attackers could for the most part easily tell that their victims were engaged in everyday civilian activities. The topography of Sarajevo, with its ridges and high-rise buildings, provided vantage-points for VRS personnel to target civilians in the city. Certain locations in Sarajevo became notorious sniping spots. For example, several witnesses testified that the main thoroughfare in Sarajevo was known as “Sniper Alley”. Although civilians adapted to some extent to the frequent attacks, by closing schools, by living at night and hiding during the day, by moving around Sarajevo as little as possible, and by setting up steel containers to shield against sniper fire, they were still not safe. They were still seen and targeted. There was little effective protection against shelling.

This was the reality of life during the 44 month long siege of Sarajevo, the longest siege of a capital city in modern time, a siege that cost the lives of 11541 people. The fact that the VRS engaged in combat with the defending Bosnian Army at the same time does not mean that the criminal nature of the VRS should be ignored, to quote Florian Bieber;

First, the purpose of the VRS seems hard to reconcile with lawful combat activities, second arguing that not all activities were criminal is about as convincing as stating that the Mafia is not only involved in criminal activities and thus supporting it does not mean that one is “aiding and abetting” criminal activities.

The other reason given for the acquittal is that Perisic had no way of knowing that the support that the VJ (Yugoslav Army) gave to the Bosnian Serb Army, would go to the commission of crimes. Now certainly the evidence presented by the prosecution can be interpreted differently but the assertion that Perisic did not know that the support Belgrade and the VJ was giving to the Bosnian Serb Army would be going to the commision of crimes is hard to swallow for anybody with any kind of insight into the horrors of the Bosnian War. Or any kind of insight into the previous verdicts of the tribunal. Or even those who tuned in to watch the news every night for the three and a half bloody years. The sense of disbelief at the conclusion that Momcilo Perisic couldn´t have known that the equipment he was sending to Bosnia and Croatia would be used for other the ”lawful combat” is difficult to shake of, and even more so now a good month and a half after the verdict.

At the end of 1991 the JNA started dismantling and disarming the Bosnian Territorial Defense, and handing over those Bosnian weapons to Serb nationalists and extremists loyal to Karadzic and his party SDS. That left Bosnia pretty much defenseless against the might of the Yugoslav People’s Army and their massive arsenal. During the months leading up to the attack on Bosnia SDS leaders in Eastern Bosnia began with the recruiting, equipping, and apparent training of the new “Serb Territorial Defense” Also leading up to the attack, there were military exercises organized by the JNA in which only Serbs participated. At the end of March 1992, paramilitary units and units of the Serbian State Security apparatus, most prominently Arkan´s Tigers and the Red Berets assisted by the Yugoslav Army and their heavy weaponry crossed the border into Bosnia and joined up with the members of Radovan Karadzic´s SDS and the “Serb Territorial Defense” and attacked towns and hamlets all along the border and along the Drina Valley.

Most of the towns fell in a matter of days; the Bosnian government had tried to negotiate with Belgrade with the JNA and the Bosnian Serbs and had done gone out of its way to provoke neither the Bosnian Serbs nor the JNA. It had certainly not started preparing for a war, and had at the start of the invasion of Bosnia, no standing army other than a few poorly equipped units and those policemen and members of the Interior Ministry that had stayed loyal to the Bosnian government. The Bosnian government naively believed that it could avoid war and that it could prevent the bloodshed that followed. Ed Vullimy summed up the Bosnian government’s official policy towards the Bosnian Serb rebellion in his book Seasons in Hell; ( Vullimy, page 74-75)

the government´s official policy was as the deputy president Ejup Ganic explained “ to try and slowly defuse the mine so as to prevent it from exploding” We´re just talking, talking. When you are face to face with a wolf the only option is to work with it until it becomes a pet. There was however nothing domesticated about the wolves stalking the Serbian-held hills above Sarajevo.

Belgrade and the Bosnian Serbs played along and negotiated with the Bosnian government all the while they were in fact preparing an invasion. They were simply buying time until they could put their plan into action. By then Slobodan Milosevic was in full control of the JNA but he was to cunning to use it openly against Bosnia. The leadership in Belgrade opted for a more Machiavellian method.

They relocated every Bosnian Serb serving in the JNA to units in Bosnia, this way most of the command chain, weaponry, and higher-ranked military personnel, including General Ratko Mladić, (who is Bosnian born) remained in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the Army of Republika Srpska (Vojska Republike Srpske, VRS) as the armed forces of the newly created Bosnian Serb republic. According to the UN report on the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, in April when the war broke out the JNA had some 80,000 troops deployed there, as well as armour that was coming back from Croatia had come through Bosnia. Much of it simply changed hands, and the former JNA soldiers changed uniforms and seemingly overnight the newly formed Bosnian Serb Army found itself with some 80 000 well equipped and well trained soldiers as well as a wast array of heavy weapons, all handed to them by the JNA. In fact, it´s officers were on JNA´s payroll and continued to be so during the entire war, and well after the Dayton peace accords. As it was shown during the trial of Momcilo Perisic, both the VRS an the RSK (Republika Srpska Krajina) were dependent on funds and logistical support from Belgrade. Without the help of the reformed Yugoslav army (VJ) the two rebel Serb armies in Bosnia and Croatia could not have continued fighting for very long.

According to the same UN report, in August 1991, Yugoslav Prime Minister Ante Markovic released a tape recorded conversation between Serbian President Milosevic and Radovan Karadzic, the leader of the Bosnian Serbs. The recording revealed that Milosevic instructed Karadzic to receive delivery of weapons. The arms would be supplied by General Nikola Uzelac, the head of the Banja Luka Corps of the Yugoslav People’s Army.

In 2008 during the trial of Vojislav Seselj, prosecution tendered into evidence tapes and transcripts of intercepted telephone conversations from 1991 and 1992, in one of those conversations, this one between Slobodan Milosevic and Radovan Karadzic from 8th July showed how the Joint Criminal Enterprise worked and the control that Milosevic had over the JNA. In the recording, ( the same one Ante Markovic realesed in august 1991) Milosevic can be overheard giving instructions to Karadzic;

to get in touch with General Uzelac, the commander of the Banja Luka Corps of the JNA. General Uzelac was to provide arms and helicopter transport for all Serbian Democratic Party volunteers supposed to reinforce the ‘Banja Luka group’ in the Bosnian Krajina and in Kupres.” This was ‘of strategic importance for the future RAM’. Milosevic then went on to praise ‘the lunatic Seselj’ for having violently and vulgarly attacked Serbian opposition for their criticism of the JNA.

The UN report goes on to say that Slovenian newspaper Delo, published a story about a plan developed by the JNA to supplement the already existing RAM-plan about the dismemberment of Bosnia and Herzegovina. According to Delo the plan reportedly called for the mass killings of Bosniaks (Muslims) and the use of mass rapes as a weapon of psychological warfare. According to the Delo article, the JNA plan stated that, “analysis of the Muslim’s (Bosniaks) behavior showed that their morale, desire for battle, and will could be crushed most easily by raping women, especially minors and even children, and by killing members of the Muslim nationality inside their religious facilities”

By the end of March the stage was set for the dismemberment of Bosnia, Serbian paramilitaries backed by the Yugoslav Army and local fighters loyal to Radovan Karadzic SDS attacked Bjeljina in North Eastern Bosnia. As reports of the terror in Bjeljina reached Sarajevo the presidency, the Bosnian government decided to send a delegation to investigate what had happened in the town, one of those sent was Biljana Plavsic a Bosnian Serb and member of the SDS, she was for a time inmate at a women’s prison here in Sweden not long from where I live, she had been sentenced to 11 years for war crimes in Bosnia. Upon her arrival in Bjeljina she was greeted by Zeljko Raznjatovic Arkan, who´s forces had participated in the attack on Bjeljina. Arkan too had a past in Sweden he had robbed banks and had also worked as a hitman for the Yugoslav Security Services, now he was working for Milosevic. She embraced Arkan, affectionatelly calling him a “Serbian hero” and thanked him for “saving the Serb population of Bjeljina from Muslim Genocide”

That if anything showed the dire situation in which Bosnia was in, the state was from the onset doomed, it had no army, and those willing to fight had no weapons, aside from rag-tag poorly armed units and those police units that had stayed loyal to the government, they would however play an crucial role in the weeks ahead. The civil defense groups were poorly armed, as well as the various armed groups that had formed independently. And most importantly there was no cohesion. Which is what the JNA and the Bosnian Serbs were depending on for their attack on Bosnia and Herzegovina. The pattern from Bjeljina was repeated in other towns along the border with Serbia. Local SDS officials the Serbian territorial defense together with Serbian paramilitary units such as Arkan´s Tigers as well other units from Serbia were in charge of the attack backed by the heavy artillery of the Yugoslav army that pounded the towns from across the border.

In some instances foreign eye witnesses such as members of the UNCHR were present and could later testify as to what they saw, one of them was José Maria Mendiluce, who witnessd the ethnic cleansing of Zvornik. According to Mendiluce, Yugoslav artillery shelled Zvornik from the Serbian side of the Drina river while units of the Red Berets (Serbian state security) and Arkan´s men togheter with The White Eaegles paramilitary group rampaged thru the town. According to Mendiluce , he could see four or five trucks filled with dead children, women and old people. They were dumped on the trucks by serb militiamen. In an excerpt from “This Time we Knew: Western Responses to Genocide in Bosnia”, Mendiluce comments on what he saw in eastern Bosnia;

I saw kids put under the threads of tanks, placed under there by grown men, and then run over by other grown men. … Everywhere people were shooting. The fighters were moving through the town, systematically killing all the Muslims they could get their hands on.

These people had a coherent strategy. The whole point was to inflict as much terror on the civilian population as possible, to destroy as much property as possible, and to target as much of the violence as possible against women and kids. After the irregulars had done their work, the established authorities — the JNA [the federal army of the former Yugoslavia which since the breakup has been in the service of Milosevic of Serbia] or Karadzic’s forces, or the local police — would come in, ostensibly to restore order. But of course, that would mean that the ethnic cleansing of that particular place had been successful, and the White Eagles could move on.

But things were about to get worse, in the coming weeks more and more towns and hamlets across along the Drina Walley fell to pray to the Serb onslaught, Rudo, Visegrad, Foca, Cajnice, and Rogatica, while in the north east, Bratunac, Vlasenica and Srebrenica fell into the hands of the serb paramilitaries. The pattren was the same in all those places, the towns were shelled by the Yugoslav Army while paramilitary units went in to ”sweep” the area.

Approximately six weeks into the campaign the Bosnian Serbs controlled some 60 percent of Bosnia, and by June 1992 some 750 000 people mostly Bosniaks and Croats had been “ethnically cleansed” from large portions of Eastern-Northern and North West Bosnia, all in a bid to link those territories with the Krajina region in Croatia and Eastern Slavonia, those regions had fallen prey to the JNA and various Serb paramilitary units during the summer and fall of 1991. The pattern from Croatia was now repeated in Bosnia and Herzegovina. That Momcilo Perisic had no way of knowing the true nature of the VRS and the campaign being waged in Bosnia is hard to believe, looking at the SDC transcripts, it´s clear that he was very active in lobbying for more comprehensive assistance to the Bosnian Serbs and the Krajina Serbs. To argue that Momcilo Perisic couldn´t have known that the support he was giving to the Belgrade´s clients was going to the commission of crimes mean that he would have had to have lived in a vacuum those three and half years.

One must also remember that during it´s now 20 years of existence the tribunal has indicted over 160 people, most of them members of the Bosnian Serb army or security forces, as well as members of the Serbian state security and above all Slobodan Milosevic.

Most of those indicted have been found guilty of crimes against humanity, Dusko Tadic, former SDS leader in Kozarac and a former member of the paramilitary forces supporting the attack on the district of Prijedor, was found guilty of crimes against humanity for his actions in the Prijedor region, including the Omarska, Trnopolje and Keraterm detention camps.

Milomir Stakic who had been the Vice-President of the Prijedor Municipal Assembly as a member of the Serbian Democratic Party, was found guilty of murder, persecution, extermination and deportation, all crimes against humanity. Stakic rose to prominence, during the May 1992 Serb takeover of the municipality of Prijedor. According to the judgement;

the takeover was an illegal coup d’état which had been planned and coordinated for months and which had as its final goal the creation of a Serbian municipality eventually to form part of an envisaged pure Serbian state.

A comprehensive pattern of atrocities amounting to a campaign of a persecutorial nature was proved to have been committed against non-Serbs in Prijedor municipality in 1992. This included killings on a massive scale in the Omarska, Keraterm and Trnopolje camps, in Bosnian Muslim towns and villages throughout the municipality, and, finally, on Mount Vlasic. The Trial Chamber held Dr. Stakic responsible for more than 1,500 killings and was able to identify by name 486 victims. Rapes, sexual assaults and beatings were committed at the camps and at least 20,000 non-Serbs either fled Prijedor or were deported.

Radislav Krstic the former commander of the Bosnian Serb Drina Corps was the first person to be convicted for genocide by the tribunal, for his and the roll the Drina Corps played in the Srebrenica Genocide. According to the appeals chamber judgment was found guilty of;

aiding and abetting genocide, aiding and abetting murder (violation of the laws or customs of war), aiding and abetting extermination, aiding and abetting persecutions on political, racial and religious grounds.

Among the grievous crimes this Tribunal has the duty to punish, the crime of genocide is singled out for special condemnation and opprobrium. The crime is horrific in its scope; its perpetrators identify entire human groups for extinction. Those who devise and implement genocide seek to deprive humanity of the manifold richness its nationalities, races, ethnicities and religions provide. This is a crime against all of humankind, its harm being felt not only by the group targeted for destruction, but by all of humanity.
The gravity of genocide is reflected in the stringent requirements which must be satisfied before this conviction is imposed. These requirements – the demanding proof of specific intent and the showing that the group was targeted for destruction in its entirety or in substantial part – guard against a danger that convictions for this crime will be imposed lightly. Where these requirements are satisfied, however, the law must not shy away from referring to the crime committed by its proper name. By seeking to eliminate a part of the Bosnian Muslims, the Bosnian Serb forces committed genocide. They targeted for extinction

the forty thousand Bosnian Muslims living in Srebrenica, a group which was emblematic of the Bosnian Muslims in general. They stripped all the male Muslim prisoners, military and civilian, elderly and young, of their personal belongings and identification, and deliberately and methodically killed them solely on the basis of their identity. The Bosnian Serb forces were aware, when they embarked on this genocidal venture, that the harm they caused would continue to plague the Bosnian Muslims. The Appeals Chamber states unequivocally that the law condemns, in appropriate terms, the deep and lasting injury inflicted, and calls the massacre at Srebrenica by its proper name: genocide. Those responsible will bear this stigma, and it will serve as a warning to those who may in future contemplate the commission of such a heinous act.

Biljana Plavsic, a former biologist a university professor and member of the SDS as well as the former Bosnian Serb president, and one of Radovan Karadzic close associates was found guilty on grounds of;

Persecution on political, racial and religious grounds. In her role as co-President of the Serb leadership, acting individually and in concert with others in a joint criminal enterprise, Biljana Plavšić participated, planned, instigated, devised and executed the persecutions of Bosnian Muslim, Bosnian Croat and other non-Serb populations in the following 37 municipalities in Bosnia and Herzegovina: Banja Luka, Bijeljina, Bileća, Bosanska Krupa, Bosanski Novi, Bosanski Petrovac, Bratunac, Brčko, Čajniče, Čelinac, Doboj, Donji Vakuf, Foča, Gacko, Hadžići, Ilidža, Ilijaš, Ključ, Kalinovik, Kotor Varoš, Nevesinje, Novi Grad, Novo Sarajevo, Pale, Prijedor, Prnjavor, Rogatica, Rudo, Sanski Most, Šipovo, Sokolac, Teslić, Trnovo, Višegrad, Vlasenica, Vogošća and Zvornik.

She embraced and supported a campaign of ethnic separation which resulted in the death of thousands and the expulsion of thousands more in circumstances of great brutality. Plavšić contributed to the campaign of ethnic separation in various different ways, by inviting paramilitaries from Serbia to assist Bosnian Serb forces in effecting ethnic separation by force, and by encouraging participation through public pronouncements justifying the use of force against non-Serbs in the territory.

One of Biljana Plavisic´s most infamous statements came at the height of the Serbian campaign to create a “state for all serbs” in 1993 she said that ;

Thats true [i.e. that the Bosnian Muslims were originally Serbs]. But it was genetically deformed material that embraced Islam. And now, of course, with each successive generation this gene simply becomes concentrated. It gets worse and worse, it simply expresses itself and dictates their style of thinking and behaving, which is rooted in their genes…

(Svet, Novi Sad, 6 September 1993).

As a concrete example of her thesis about Bosniaks being ‘genetically deformed material’, she used Ejup Ganic: “I have never met a more deformed person than him in political circles, which abound with such deformed people.

(On, Belgrade, 12 November 1996).

This has led, she further ‘explained’, to a degeneration of the Serb people, as a consequence of the ‘mixing of blood’: ‘We are disturbed by the fact that the number of marriages between Serbs and Muslims has increased… because mixed marriages lead to an exchange of genes between ethnic groups, and thus to a degeneration of Serb nationhood.

(Oslobodjenje, Sarajevo, May 1994).

Of all the members of the Bosnian Serb political elite, Plavsic´s statements thruought the war are the ones that resembeled the Nazi ideology of racial purity. Other members of the Bosnian Serb political elite that have been sentenced for crimes against humanity in the war in Bosnia are; Momcilo Krajisnik guilty of being a member of joint criminal enterprise which carried out persecution and deportation of Bosniaks Croats and other non-Serbs. He was the co-founder of the SDS and a member of the Republika Srpska Presidency.

More recently, in March this year Mićo Stanišić and Stojan Župljanin were convicted of persecution on political, racial or religious grounds. Both men were a part of a Joint Criminal Enterprise and committed or individually instigated or otherwise aided and abetted the planning, preparation or execution of persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds; murder; torture; cruel treatment; inhumane acts; deportation and forcible transfer committed against the Bosnian Muslim and Bosnian Croat populations in the municipalities of Banja Luka, Bileća, Bijeljina, Bosanski Šamac, Brčko, Doboj, Donji Vakuf, Gacko, Ilijaš, Ključ, Kotor Varoš, Pale, Prijedor, Sanski Most, Skender Vakuf, Teslić, Vlasenica, Višegrad, Vogošća and Zvornik.

Stanišić was head of the Bosnian Serb Interior Ministry while Župljanin was chief of the Regional Security Services Centre in Banja Luka member of the Autonomous Region of Krajina (ARK) Crisis Staff, and an advisor on internal affairs to the President of Republika Srpska (RS)
While the two of the most prominent members of the Bosnian Serb military and political elite, Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic are still on trial indicted for “genocide, extermination, murder, persecutions, deportation, inhumane acts, acts of violence the primary purpose of which was to spread terror among the civilian population, unlawful attack on civilians, and taking of hostages”

As I wrote before, this acquittal has been debated furiously, and my own thoughts on it are more the clear, for whatever that´s worth. One thing is perfectly obvious, the fact that the VRS was engaged in lawful combat against the defending Bosnian Army does not and should not obstruct the fact that most of the Bosnian Serb political and military leadership as well as high ranking members of the police and Ministry of the Interior have been found guilty of genocide,murder,persecution on political, racial or religious grounds cruel treatment and other inhumane acts in municipalities all across Bosnia and Herzegovina.

We must not forget that Vojislav Seselj, former leader of the Serb Radical Party is still awaiting judgemnet, he was by far the most vocal suporter of the idea of a “Greater Serbia” and he collaborated from time to time with Milosevic sending his ultra nationalist Chetnik volonteers to fight in both Croatia and Bosnia. Other still awaiting judgements are Jovica Stanisic and Franko Simatovic. Simatovic was the was the head of the Serbian secret police of Slobodan Milosevic, the Special Forces of State Security of the Serbian Ministry of Internal Affairs. Jovica Stanisic was former head of the State Security Service within the Serbian Ministry of the Interior and a close ally to Milosevic. Both men are charged with crimes committed during the wars in Croatia and Bosnia.

If nothing else the Perisic trial showed the reasoning of the Belgrade regime in dealing with their Bosnian Serb and Croatian Serb clients. On May 11 2011 Sense Agency reported that since the seal of confidentiality had been lifted from some of the Yugoslav Supreme Defense Council meetings the public could see what the Trial Chamber saw in the Momcilo Perisic trial, on 9 December 1992 Slobodan Miloevic argued that the VJ (Vojska Jugoslavije /Yugolsav Army) and the Supreme Defense Council should try to assist ”them” the with the most necessary things and what assets, technical equipment etc. they need’. ”Them” being the Serb armies in Krajina and Bosnia that fought in the wars in which “Serbia didn’t participate”. Two months later Zivota Panic, Momclio Perisic´s predecessor reported to the Yugoslav Supreme Defense Council that ”VJ gave complete equipment to form one corps to the Serbian Army of Krajina (SVK). Panic also said that ‘there have been great demands for the infantry ammunition, but the biggest problem is with purchase of artillery ammunition and tank ammunition”.

The minutes form the Supreme Defense Council meeting on 10 February 1993 show that the Bosnian Serb army the Republic of Serbian Krajina were in fact dependent on Serbia for its war effort, according to then fedral prime minister Radoje Kontic;

the financial situation in the Yugoslav Army was more than tragical, since the army had requested 800 million dollar for that fiscal year, with the “ Republic of Serbian Krajina requesting 341 million dollars per month, and the total budget of the FRY amounts to 320 billion per month” Kontic said that ”if there is a need for helping the Republika Srpska, we have to do it again from the fund for special purposes because the Army has no funds for such purposes. I can assure you that in four to five months we will face a situation where Topcider [printing enterprise] will not be able to print that amount of money. The situation is more than tragic.

During this time the Supreme Defense Council was made up of names like Dobrica Cosic who at the time was the Yugoslav president as well as Serbia´s offical national guru, others were the president of Montenegro, Momir Bulatovic Zoran Lilic and of course Slobodan Milosevic. In august 1993 Momcilo Perisic replaced Zivota Panic as Chief of the General Staff of the VJ. The minutes of the Supreme Defense Council clearly show that Perisic continued to provide large quantities of weapons, ammunition, materials and other logistical support to both the Krajina Serbs and Bosnian Serbs, according to the minutes Perisic argued that the Bosnian Serbs and Serbs from Serbia were ‘single people’ which can be interpreted as of course an argument for the continued support of the Bosnian Serb war effort. The minutes also show that he argued strongly for continued aid to both the Bosnian Serbs and the Krajina Serbs thruough the war, including some 66 million for medical aid which the VJ (Yugoslav Army) had been providing to all the wounded soldiers from Republika Srpska and the Republic of Serbian Krajina. By early 1994 the amount required by the VJ (Yugoslav Army) was 2,325,000,000 dollars, this of course included the needs of the Army of Republika Srpska and the Republic of Serbian Krajina. The minutes also show that Perisic requiested funds the for”training and education’ of 4,100 soldiers from Republika Srpska and the Republic of Serbian Krajina.

Karadzic Milosevic and MIlan Martic
Karadzic Milosevic and Milan Martic

According to Sense Agency:

850,000,000 of that went to the VRS and SVK. Almost 27 million dollars were earmarked to cover the payroll for about 16,000 officers. According to the minutes of the 19th meeting of the Supreme Defense Council, the Bosnian Serbs expected the FRY to give them 522 million dollars. The money was supposed to pay for ‘equipment, scientific research work, construction of military facilities and configuration of terrain, housing construction and strategic war reserves’. At the 22nd meeting of the Supreme Defense Council held on 11 July 1994, defense minister Pavle Bulatovic delivered the message from the VRS and the SVK: ‘Unless they receive assistance, this state will bear responsibility for their future.

It´s clear from the SDC minutes that while the VJ (Yugoslav Army) had provided logistical support to the Bosnian Serb Army and the Army of the Republic of Srpska Krajina, according to the Trial Chambers verdict;

Assistance became more centralized, structured and coordinated during his tenure. General Perišić organized a procurement procedure for the Yugoslav Army General Staff to review requests for logistic assistance. He also regularly met and conferred with General Mladić and General Čeleketić, the VRS and SVK’s respective Commanders, about their armies’ military needs. General Perišić and the Yugoslav Army General Staff did not grant all requests for assistance, although they approved a substantial proportion of them, including millions of infantry bullets and thousands of shells. For instance, in 1994, the VRS Main Staff estimated that it had obtained from the Yugoslav Army over 25 million infantry bullets and over 7,500 shells, among other ammunition.

A large number of VRS and SVK officers were drawn from the ranks of the Yugoslav Army. They officially remained members of the Yugoslav Army even as they were fighting in Bosnia and Croatia under the banners of the VRS and SVK. General Perišić proposed and carefully implemented the idea to create “Personnel Centres” to regularize the status of these officers and allow them to lawfully remain part of the Yugoslav Army. VRS officers retained their salaries and benefits as Yugoslav Army members through what was known as the 30th Personnel Centre, and SVK officers through the 40th Personnel Centre. General Perišić further intended the Personnel Centers system to help legalize the deployment of additional personnel to these armies. In December 1993, General Perišić stated that there were over 7,000 Yugoslav Army officers serving in the VRS and SVK through the Personnel Centers. While many officers voluntarily accepted transfer, General Perišić made clear that those who refused to be sent to the VRS or SVK would be dismissed from the Yugoslav Army in one way or another. General Perišić and other leading Yugoslav officials sought to keep the real function of the Personnel Centres secret in order to avoid further criticism or sanctions from the international community.

The minutes from The Supreme Defense Council are of course a veritable goldmine, since it´s basically all there, in black and white when it comes to who did what, and above the state of mind of those involved. It gives a more complete picture, of Milosevic´s inner circle and the mechanisams put in place both in Croatia and Bosnia. On 16 March 1994 Perisic ‘personally proposed’ that Belgrade set up an air-defense system for the VRS, the Bosnian Serb Army, which would be integrated into the VJ system. In September 1994 Momir Bulatovic, then president of Monte Negro argued that the Yugoslav Army should provide the VRS with “ammunition for 76mm mountain cannons and 76mm pack howitzers” saying that the request had come to him from Ratko Mladic and that Mladic was still ”the most reasonable option and alternative in Republika Srpska”

The mechanisms put in place by the regime in Belgrade have been dissected in numerous trials over the past sixteen years. It´s clear who did what and where, most of it is in black and white with the trail leading back to Knin Pale and above all Belgrade. Yet to this date no member of the JNA or VJ high command has been convicted by the ICTY for war-crimes in Bosnia nor have any members of regime in Belgrade been convicted for crimes in Bosnia. With the death of Slobodan Milosevic also died the great opportunity ICTY had to at least show that the main architect of aggression and genocide would not escape justice, sadly Milosevic died before his trial was finished, it had by then gone on for four long years.

Many attribute the failure to finally convict Milosevic to the fact that he was allowed to defend himself, and that court found itself hostage to his tendentious, time-consuming diatribes. The court seemed, in my opinion anyway, feeble in dealing with Milosevic and for those of us following his trial it seemed clear that he got away with more than most defendants would have, and he did it time and time again. He was after all indicted on 66 counts which charged him with war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo. It is however possible that mere fact that Milosevic chose to defend himself and that for the first time since the founding of the ICTY there was a head of state on trial, may have played a role. With the world´s media attention on the Milosevic trial the judges could not risk appearing to in any way limit his time. Which he ceartinly exploited to it´s fullest.

The trove of documents, the long list of witnesses and the evidence all takes time to present. One can only compare to the Nuremberg Trials, and wonder how it would have looked if Wilhelm Keitel or Rudolf Hess or Herman Göring for that matter had been allowed to hold time consuming irrelevant speeches for four years? In the end Milosevic died before a verdict came. In a very real sense his death can be seen as a victory for Serbia and Serbian nationalism and as a major defeat for International Justice and the victims of Milosevic´s ”Greater Serbian” project.

However Milosevic´s trial was not a complete loss, During the marathon trial a plethora of documents and evidence was presented and a number of key witnesses, many close to Milosevic gave testimony which could be then backed up by the existing evidence to build a clear picture of a man in charge ”a Svengali figure” to paraphrase Oliver Kamm, who had ultimate control of over the likes of Milan Babic, Radovan Karadzic, Ratko Mladic and Milan Martic. If for no other reason than beacuse they were selected by him and because they were completely dependent on him and Belgrade. As it was shown in the Perisic trial, neither the Bosnian Serbs nor the rebel Krajina Serbs or “Croatian Serbs” would have been able to carry on with their war effort for long without the much need financial and logistical support from Belgrade.

For further reading I strongly recommend Danijel Toljagas autohorative account on the the systematic ethnic cleansing of non-Serbs in Eastern Bosnia in the first stages of Belgrade’s assault on Bosnia and Herzegovina.

As well as former UN Secretery General Kofi Annan´s report on the fall of Srebrenica from 1999.