Nož, žica, Srebrenica

At the end of last month I wrote a lengthy post here about the abuse and discrimination leveled against returnees in parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina that had been “ethnically cleansed” during the Bosnian war. While attacks of this nature have taken place throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina over the years, most of the attacks have taken place in part of the country that was the scene of some of the most brutal pogroms and genocidal violence in Europe since the WWII, Republika Srpska. Once envisioned as an ethnically pure part of a “Greater Serbia” by its creators including Radovan Karadzić, currently on trial at the Hague for war crimes and genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina, RS remains a part of Bosnia today, it´s wartime legacy of crimes against humanity, segregation and persecution of non-Serbs is still evident today in what has now become institutionalized historical revisionism, with war crimes denial, genocide denial and  the abuse of basic rights guaranteed by the Dayton Accords, including the right of children of returnees in RS to attend classes in the bosnian language.

Aside from documenting the attacks on returnees to Republika Srpska this year I wrote about something that has sadly and worryingly become a common occurrence during sports events in Serbia, Republika Srpska or involving teams from those countries, as well as teams from other countries in the Balkans, including Slovenia.  But to this date it´s has mostly involved sections of Serb fans, extreme nationalist elements.  The chant; Nož, žica, Srebrenica.

The chant rhymes in Serbian and translates to Knife, Wire, Srebrenica,  glorying the genocide in Srebrenica it refers to the now well known fact that the Bosniak prisoners executed in Srebrenica had their hands tied behind their back with barbwire. So while Serb nationalist propagandists and their sympathizers and fellow travelers in the west have now embarked on a 20 year campaign to obscure, belittle and deny what happened in and around that Bosnian town in July 1995, Serb extremists on the other hand openly take pride in the slaughter, celebrate it and call for a “repeat” (See my original article)

RatkoMladic
Photo of Serb ultra nationalists during Serbia-Turkey game.

One such incident took place about two weeks after I had written my original post, at the Eurobasket game between Serbia and Turkey on 9th of September a group of Serb fans wore a T-shirt with a photo Ratko Mladic on it, written on the T-shirt was “Free Ratko Mladić- Serbian Hero” Mladić is currently on trial for war crimes and genocide. 

majica
Photo from the same game, Nož, žica, Srebrenica

While Bosnian portal, Fokus.ba published a photo from the same game where one of the Serb fans is wearing a t-shirt that says Noz-Zica-Srebrenica on the back, in Cyrillic. There were no actions taken by the organizers of Eurobasket 2015 against the Serb fans, despite the fact that the fans clearly stood out, especially the ones with the Ratko Mladić T-shirts. Of course several Bosnian, Serbian and Croatian news-sites reported on the incidents. One explanation could be that the organizers simply were not aware of this phenomenon which takes place every time Serbia either plays Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Turkey or Albania and almost certainly Kosovo in the near future.

Footage of “Grobari” supporters group of the Serbian football club Partizan Belgrade, singing Nož, žica, Srebrenica.

Serb nationalist Hip-hop song titled Nož, žica, Srebrenica.

Like I wrote above, while Serb nationalist propagandists and their sympathizers and fellow travelers in the west try to minimize the genocide, Serb extremists happily post clips on Youtube glorifying the genocide in various ways, as you can see here.

Returning To Eastern Bosnia

Muniza Oprasic
Muniza Oprasic

Last month media in the Balkans reported that Muniza Oprasic, a 78-year old Bosniak returnee to Republika Sprska was ordered by a district court in Eastern Sarajevo which is in the RS entity to pay 10 000 euro to a Serb family who lived in her house as squatters in the village of Okruglo for about seven years until 2003. During that time Muniza Oprasic lived as a refugee. Oprasic who now lives of her pension, which is 320 Bosnian marks [160 euro] appealed to anyone who can help since she as an elderly returnee to that part of Bosnia and Herzegovina has no means to pay the fee ordered by the court. The Serb family sued Muniza Oprasic since they most likely had assumed that she would never return to her house and her village and therefore made renovations to the house for which they now expect to be compensated for.

Clearly shocked by the court´s decision Muniza said to reporters from BIRN that she didn´t understand how such a thing could happen. This was her home, and she didn´t understand what gave them the right to go into her home at all? Living there for seven years in her house while Muniza lived as a refugee away from her home. Now the Serb family wanted her to pay for renovations they had made on someone elses house. Since Muniza has no means of paying the large amount set by the district court in Eastern Sarajevo; the court decided to take it out of her  monthly pension, which is 160 euro. The court said that they will take half or maybe as much as 100 Bosnian marks (50 euro) which would be unberable for someone her age, given that she needs medicine and has bills to pay.  When BIRN talked to her she openly appeled to help from anyone who could help her…

According to Muniza this is the way returnees to Visegrad are being treated by the Serb-led authorities in that part of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Muniza´s village; Okruglo lies a few kilometers from the old town of Visegrad, in the past most famous for it´s old Ottoman era-bridge built by Mehmed-pasha Sokolovic and immortalized in Ivo Andric´s novel  Bridge on the River Drina, now infamous as the site of some of the worst atrocities during the Bosnian war. On 6th of April Visegrad was attacked by the Yugoslav People´s Army´s (JNA) Uzice Corps under the command of Dragoljub Ojdanic. Ojdanic later went on to become Chief of General Staff of the “reformed” Yugoslav Army (Vojska Jugoslavije) and was later found guilty for crimes against humanity, and sentenced to 15 years for his role in Milosevic´s Kosovo campagain. By April 14th 1992 his Uzice Corps had with the help of Serb paramilitaries, managed to take over the town installing a Serb nationalist government which proceeded to arrest and harass segments of the Bosniak and other non-Serb parts of the population. After the the JNA formally left the town on May 19th the systematic and wide-spread targeting of the town´s Bosniak community began, with arrests, disappearances, abduction of prominent local figures, executions carried out by local paramilitary units, setting up of detention camps, including the Uzamnica camp  where the inmates, both male and female subjected to physical abuse, including sexual violence. The turning of the hotel and spa resort Vilna Vlas into a rape camp where Bosniak women and girls were systematically raped by Serb police, paramilitary units and soldiers.

As well the mass executions of civilians all around Visegrad, some of the civilians were taken from their houses and rounded up, others abducted from their workplace, others taken off buses, and led to the banks of the river Drina where they were told to go into the water and executed by Serb paramilitaries or taken to ravines where they were executed and their bodies dumped into the ravines or pits. The mass killings in Visegrad also included two of the arguably most horrific cases of mass-murder early on in the war. First being The live pyre at Pionirska Street, where over 60 people were barricaded into a house which was later set on fire, 53 died. Killed by two men who are most likely Europe´s most well-known living mass-murderers; Milan Lukic and his cousin Sredoje Lukic. According to journalists who covered the war, and especially the butchery in Visegrad; the two men, especially Milan, probably killed more people during the Bosnian war than anyone else. Two weeks after they had burned 53 alive people on Pionirska Street, they repeated the act in a Visegrad neighborhood Bikavac where they barricaded another group of people into a house before setting it on fire. One person survived.

But the biggest execution-site was the old bridge itself. As Ed Vulliamy noted in the Guardian back in 1996; “the bridge is visible from almost every balcony and window in Visegrad, it´s cobblestones are a stage at the foot of an amphitheatre; the executions were intended to be as public as possible.” From their balconies witnesses watched as Milan Lukic in his red Passat together with his companions in the trucks behind would arrive at the bridge each evening. They would unload the prisoners and start killing them.  “We saw them by day or by the city lights, whether they were killing men that time, women or children. It took half an hour, sometimes more.” One witness recalled… The prisoners who were between life and death were stabbed before being thrown of the bridge into the river. According to one witness; sometimes they threw people off alive shooting at the same time.  Another witness, recalled how Milan Lukic enjoyed playing music from his car radio while throwing two men into the river; one of the men shouted that “he couldn´t swim” while Milan Lukic fired his gun into the river.

Visegrad, photo: Velija Hasanbegovic
Visegrad, photo: Velija Hasanbegovic

At the start of the Bosnian war, Visegrad and other places like it along the Drina Valley or Podrinje received a minimum of attention from the world press. What was happening in eastern Bosnia, all along the Drina Valley as well Prijedor, Kozarac, Sanski Most, Kljuc and other towns and hamlets in northwest Bosnia, and Bosanska Krajina was part of the hidden war that the Serbs were waging far away from the carnage taking place in Sarajevo. Karadzic could not keep Omarska, Trnopolje & Keraterm a secret for too long, but by then he had “cleansed” much of what was to be “Greater Serbia” of non-Serbs. As Vulliamy, one the chroniclers of the Bosnian genocide wrote in The Nation in June 1996, one of the middle-managers of genocide; Professor Nikola Koljevic a close associate of Radovan Karadzic, and wartime vice-president of RS as well as a Shakespeare scholar had said sardonically to him in the Serbian capital Belgrade 1992; “So you found them! Congratulations!  It took you a long time to find them, didn’t it? Three months! And so near to Venice! All you people could think about was poor, sophisticated Sarajevo. Ha-ha!” And then, as Vulliamy recalls, added with a chill in his voice: “None of you ever had your holidays at Omarska, did you? No Olympic Games in Prijedor!”

He was referring to the concentration camps in northwest Bosnia and the implication was clear: The dismay many felt about what was taking place in Sarajevo and the focus on the Bosnian capital meant that the Serbs were free to carry out their plans more or less uninterrupted elsewhere in the country. After the war Koljevic tried to commit suicide on January 16 1997 by shooting himself in the head and died in a Belgrade hospital a week later from the wounds. By then he had been edged out of the Bosnian Serb political leadership by Biljana Plavsic and Momcilo Krajisnik. Both Plavsic & Krajisnik were later convicted of war crimes by the ICTY.

By the end of June 1992, a Serb police inspector in Visegrad, Milan Josipovic recived a request from the the Bajina Basta hydro-electric plant just across the border in Serbia. The director of the plant asked Josipovic if those responsible could “slow down the flow of corpses” on the Drina river. According to the plant director; the corpses were clogging up the culverts of the Bajina Basta dam at such a rate that he could not assemble enough staff to remove them.

13 years later, Josipovic, who was then 48 years, was shot twice in the chest and once in the head while he was in his coffee-grinding shop. There have been speculations that he was killed by a shadowy group called Preventiva charged with protecting wanted war criminals, including Milan Lukic. In 2005 Josipovic testifed against Novo Rajak, a member of the Visegrad police who  had taken part in the mistreatment of Bosniak civilians. After that rumors started to circulate that Josipovic was ready to give evidence against higher-level officials and that may have sealed Josipovic´s fate. His killer/killers have never been arrested.

In 2010 a small boat got stuck in the turbines of the Bajina Basta hydroelectric power plant, in order for the turbines to be repared the dam had to be emptied. That gave people from Institute for the Missing Persons of Bosnia-Herzegovina what was in effect their last chance to track down the bodies of of Bosniak civilians who had been killed in Visegrad and dumped into the Drina River. As Irena Antic from the Helsinki Committee For Human Rights Serbia  pointed out;

Everybody knew that throughout 1992 bodies of the Bosniaks were ending up in the turbines of the Bajina Basta hydro-electric power plant, thrown there by executioners, Milan Lukic’s “Revengers” and members of other Serb formations, who believed no one would ever find them in such a place. No one – some working for the plant or in hydro-electric sectors of Serbia or Republika Srpska, or an official of that Bosnian entity or the neighboring state – had ever suggested that the Drina lakes or even its basin should be emptied in the search for the killed.

Antic went on to say that once the team from Institute for the Missing Persons of Bosnia andHerzegovina got to Perucac they were met with rough terrain, mines, cracked soil, snakes and piles of clay, as well as high temperatures in the summer and rain, mud and wind in September.  According to the director of the Institute, Amor Masovic; fifteen people from all over Bosnia and Herzegovina made up the investigative team. The team moved on foot down both banks of the lake. They started at the old bridge in Visegrad and moved along the canyon all the way to the lake. “It was a multiethnic team sharing the same goal” according to Masovic. The investigators were soon joined by a team from Serbia looking for the remains of Kosovars killed by Serbian State Security Forces during the 1998-1999 Kosovo war. After a while a survivor organization made up of survivors and relatives of those killed in Visegrad 1992, called; “Visegrad 92” made an appeal for help which lead to hundreds of volunteers from all over Bosnia and Herzegovina and some from Serbia as well showing up at the exhumation-site trying to help the investigators. The long list of volunteers included students from Sarajevo University, utility workers from Sarajevo and former citizens of Visegrad now living abroad and in other parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, many of them had lost loved ones during the massacres carried out by Serb forces in Visegrad area and for them this was the probably the last chance to maybe find the remains of their loved ones. Firefighters, speleologists, rangers, de-miners, and members of Bosnia´s special police forces helped too. In total the remains of 250 people were exhumed during those few months, needless to say, there was no help from the authorities in Republika Sprska who as Antic rightly points out were too afraid of the consequences draining the lakes on the border between Bosnia and Serbia might have, what might be found there, let alone draining the Drina basin, the bottom and the mud which most likely hides the largest amount of remains.

The remains exhumed at Perucac were just a small fraction of what lies beneath, together with the 126 citizens of Visgerad who were exhumed at the village Slap near Zepa back in 2000. The bodies found in Slap were gathered by the villagers as they floated down the river and buried in shallow graves. One of the people Vulliamy interviewed back in 1996 had escaped the carnage in Visegrad and found refuge in Zepa which was together with Srebrenica and Gorazde the only Bosnian-controlled enclave in eastern Bosnia. After Serb forces took Srebrenica in July 1995 they set their sights on Zepa which fell two weeks later after fierce resistance from the vastly outgunned and desperate Bosnian soldiers defending it. Vulliamy´s interview subject, then simply named “Jasmin R” was captured, in Serbia as were many men from Zepa as they tried to make their way to Serbia or Montenegro hoping to avoid the fate of those killed in Srebrenica. By Christmas 1995 Jasmin was evacuated to Dublin from a prison camp in Serbia. When he arrived in Zepa he was 14 and deemed too young to fight, he was instead assigned to Slap, a junction between the Drina and Zepa rivers. His job was to bring up the bodies of murdered civilians from Visegrad as the current flowed to Zepa. He was to bring them ashore in a small boat and bury them, often under fire from Serb forces. Jasmin and others, they dug the graves and buried the people gathered from the river, some of them Jasmin had known personally, they had been his neighbours in Visegrad. According to Jasmin; “the bodies came almost every day Men and women, old and young. They had been beaten and tortured, they were black and blue, and some had been decapitated. Yes, and there were children. Mostly 10 or 12, and two infants of about 18 months.”

During the trial of Mitar Vasiljevic back in 2001, Amor Masovic stated that by then the remains of 311 people belived to be from Visegrad had been exhumed from 14 different locations in Visegrad, Sokolac and Rogatica. Vasiljevic had been one of Milan Lukic´s closest companions. Before Masovic took the stand, another man who had worked on bringing up and burying the bodies floating down the Drina, Mevsud Poljo testified about bringing up about 170 to 180 bodies from the river together with others. Poljo belived that the bodies they pulled out of the Drina constituted maybe one fifth of the total number of corpses floating down the river. After they pulled the bodies out of the river they searched them for any form of identification before burying them, mostly at the banks of the small river Zepa near Slap.

Exhumations At Lake Perucac photo: Velija Hasanbegovic
Exhumations At Lake Perucac photo: Velija Hasanbegovic

Many of those Poljo, Jasmin and others didn´t manage to pull out of the water most likely ended up in the culverts of the Bajina Basta hydro-electrical plant.

A proper search would mean that a greater number of those killed in Visegrad and surrounding villages would be found. As it is now that is improbable as Serb-led authorities in Visegrad have done everything in their power to erase the memory of those atrocities, including an effort to destroy the house on Pionirska Street, the site of the live pyre that took the lives of 53 people. Re-built by survivors to serve as memorial to those killed it came close to being destroyed last year on the same day as Serb authorities in Visegrad erased the word genocide from a the Straziste cemetery. (A large number of those exhumed and identified from Visegrad and the surrounding area are buried there. ) As of today, the house on Pionirska still stands but that does not mean it´s not in harm´s way. The original date set for the destruction of both the house on Pionirska and the removal of the word genocide from the memorial on Straziste was December 24th 2013 Christmas eve, but due to the controversy this caused in Bosnia and the statements made by OHR, the US Embassy and OSCE the action was delyed, until one month later that is, when the Serb-led authorities in Visegrad finally entered the Straziste cemtery and removed the word genocide from the memorial to the fallen. They did not touch the house that time but there are reports that all final appeals to prevent the demolition of Pionirska Street house have been exhausted.

Muniza Oprasic faces a similar fate as the house in Pionirska Street. The original ruling came 2012, which she appealed and at the end of last month the district court in “Eastern Sarajevo” ruled that she had to pay 10 000 euro to the Serb family. Her story isn´t new but it´s indicative of the way returnees are treated in Republika Srpska.

After the original ruling back in 2012 she spoke to Bosnian media about the situation saying that she lived as a refugee in Sarajevo until 2003. The local Serb authorities had given the Serb family material to rebuild the house which had been damaged in the war.  The repairs were carried out without her permission. The Serb family lived there for years, while she had no access to her land and house. They sued her for the renovations that they had made to the house without her permission and that she and her husband were not aware of.  According to Muniza there was a ruling in her favor too, by which the Serb family was forced to pay a 100 KM or 50 euro to Muniza for every month that they had lived there on her property but according to her; she never saw a penny of that money. They refused to remove the windows, doors and some other things they had put in to the badly damaged house; instead they sued her for compensation.

When journalists from Al Jazzera Balkans visited her two years ago they found her living a humble existence in her house on her property in Okruglo. A picture of Mecca along with some Quranic verses adores her living room walls. She was orphaned during World War II. During the visit to Muniza journalists also spoke to Nedim Jahic, a human rights activist from Sarajevo who believes that the verdict against Muniza is absurd. Jahic said that if Muniza had returned to an empty house in 2003 she would have probably received donations and her house would have been renovated at no cost to her. She wouldn´t be facing the situation she is facing today, having to pay 10 000 euros to people who lived in her house at the order of local authorities.

Still, according to Hajro Poskovic, a legal expert with the OSCE in Sarajevo temporary users of abandoned houses have a legal right to be compensated for any repairs they make, but that the owner also has the right to be compensated from the local authorities, in this case the owner is Muniza Oprasic. Strictly legally speaking that would mean that Oprasic would pay the 10 000 euros to the Serb family and then seek compensation from the local Serb authorities who settled the family in Muniza´s house in the first place.

However Muniza Oprasic is a 78 year old pensioner with no other income except her pension which is 160 euros every month, she has no means of paying 10 000 euros and given the legal situation for returnees in Republika Srpska it is naïve to think that the she will ever be compensated from the Serb authorities in Republika Srpska. With the appeal process apparently exhausted, if she does not find the money, 10 000 euro to give to the Serb family she will most likely be evicted from her home.

Note: Irena Antic´s piece for Helsinki Committee For Human Rights referred to Milan Lukic´s paramilitary unit as the “Revengers” (Osvetnici) Most court documents in english as well as articles on Visegrad refer to them as “Avengers” as well as the Balkan Insight piece which claims that Muniza Oprasic is 71 years old, while all the Bosnian articles on her, including articles in Klix, Dnevni Avaz and Slobodna Bosna indicate that she is 78 years old today.

This post has been uppdated and edited on 12/03/2015

Remembering the Murders and Abuse of Bosniaks in Rogatica

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rajko Kusic
Rajko Kusic

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

Peace Reaserch and Conspiracy Theorists

Ceremony for the victims of the first Markale massacre in 1994
Ceremony for the victims of the first Markale massacre in 1994

This article originally appeared on Norwegian Website, Vepsen 06/03/2014 

Last month many Sarajevo citizens found the way to the memorial Markale massacre 5 February 1994 (1), in which 68 people were killed when a shell hit the crowded marketplace. Massacre provoked international outrage, one year later on August 28, five Serb mortar shell landed on the same market place killings scores of civilians and helping to trigger NATO intervention which ended with the Dayton Peace Agreement in December 1995.

By John Faerseth

While most agree the most obvious explanation, which has been established by The Hague tribunal – that the shell was fired from the Serb positions around Sarajevo – there have always been those who have argued that it was not the Serbs but the Bosnian government forces who fired the grenade to arouse sympathy. One of them is the imprisoned Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic [2 ]. Another is Ola Tunander, professor at the Peace Research Institute ( PRIO ), who during a speech in August last year [3 ] claimed that the massacre was a ” false flag ” attack by Bosnian forces aimed at  triggering an intervention.

This initiative was just the latest in a series conspiracy theories from Tunander, who since the mid -2000s has been known as an avid  “9/11- Truther” who believes that the U.S. government itself was behind the terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001. He is also known as an ardent advocate of the existence of  “dypstater” or “deep-states” at the intersection of intelligence, military and criminal groups in a number of countries, and that a wide variety of terrorist acts in post-war Europe has been ” false flag ” operations run by such ” deep-states.” Tunander created a great deal of controversy when he in the wake of the terror 22 July 2011 speculated whether such an environment could also have been involved here , or it could be a case of an operation directed by Israel or Saudi Arabia. [4 ]

Tunander lecture took place at the event; Nordiska Fredssamtal in Degerfors. (Sweden) Here also in attendence was the pro – Serbian Swedish organization Justitia Pax Veritas who defend Serb war crimes by showing that all parties were equally bad, and last summer ended up in the spotlight as they defended the Serbian government’s decision to stop a planned gay parade of ”safety ” reasons. In the lecture Tunander also claimed that since the early 1990s had existed secret plans to take turns knocking out Iraq, Libya, Syria, Lebanon and Iran.

Peace Research at it´s best and worst is the requirement that one should listen to arguments from all sides in a conflict. At its best, this opens up a nuanced perspective and prevents the demonization of the parties. At its worst it can lead moral relativism and conspiracy, as when, in a book about “konfliktterori”  (Conflict Theory) published by Johan Galtungs Transcend Network states that ”the Zionist declaration of war” against Germany before the war was part of the backdrop of conflict between Germans and Jews. [5 ] that there was such a declaration of war is a widespread notion in anti-Semitic and right wing groups, and based on some Jewish leaders called for a boycott of Germany after Hitler’s seizure of power had already led to attacks on German Jews from Nazi storm troops. [6 ]

Tunander´s fraternization with Serbian nationalism as witnessed by earlier initiatives in which he has accused the Bosnian government and the Kosovo Albanian guerrilla; Kosovo Liberation Army of  cynically practicing “human sacrifice” in the 1990s by provoking massacres of it´s own people in the hope of outside support, can probably best be understood as an expression of what the American author and journalist Chip Berlet has described as “Right Woos Left”. [7] With this aim Berlet shows how anti -war activists from the left and exponents of the extreme right since the first Gulf war in 1991, found each other in a joint commitment towards American foreign policy. Berlet refers to a number of examples of how parts of the anti -war movement has increasingly taken over conspiratorial notions from the government hostile American extreme right wing , especially from the neo-Nazi environment journals Spotlight and American Free Press and from the neo-fascist La Rouche movement . One of the most frightening examples of this is the Montreal -based peace organization Centre for Research on Globalization, led by Professor Michel Chossodovsky [ 8], which has been accused of spreading conspiracy theories about Jewish bankers role in starting both world wars, vaccine resistance and holocaust denial and conspiracy theories about 11 September which was first launched on the extreme right site Serendipity.

While he cannot be held directly responsible for this, Ola Tunander often referred to as the authority on the Centre for Research on Globalization website; Global Research. It is also a tell  that he chose to stay to discuss the Utøya massacre partly based on the information from extreme right website Veterans Today.

Fraternizing with conspiracy thinking is becoming a serious problem for peace research, both in Norway and internationally. It’s time to deal with this if it is not going to be a playground for buffs and conspiracy theorists.

 

[1 ] http://dippost.com/2014/02/05/bosnians-remember-20th-anniversary-of-markale-massacre/

[2 ] http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/karadzic-claims-of-staged-markale-massacre

[3 ] http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/karadzic-claims-of-staged-markale-massacre

[4 ] https://www.idunn.no/ts/nnt/2011/04/art10

[ 5 ] http://www.transcend-nordic.org/doc/06%20Peace%20&%20Conflict%20Perspectives/270907-TR-DPT-REV-alle.pdf

[6 ] http://www.transcend-nordic.org/doc/06%20Peace%20&%20Conflict%20Perspectives/270907-TR-DPT-REV-alle.pdf

[7 ] http://www.publiceye.org/rightwoo/rwooz9.html

[8 ] http://web.archive.org/web/20110429193700/http://www.jewishtribune.ca/tribune/jt-050825-05.html

Ett ohållbar tystnad

 

 

 

 

Exhumerade kvarlevor av mördade Bosniaker och Kroater i Tomasica
Exhumerade kvarlevor av mördade Bosniaker och Kroater i Tomasica

ICMP( International Commission on Missing Persons ) det organ som har högsta ansvar för utgrävningen av massgravar och identifikation av offren i Bosnien Hercegovina hade i vetat i flera år om att det fanns en massgrav i Tomasica nära Prijedor. Tipsen hade de fått från ett ångerfull serbisk soldat. Två års hårt arbete med att fastställa exakta platsen för massgraven gav resultat i början av september i år. Nu är vi inne på november och utgrävningarna fortsätter. Experter tror att det är det största massgraven i Bosnien med uppemot 700 kroppar, människor som hade dödats våren och sommaren 1992 i Prijedor-området i nordvästra Bosnien. Prijedor är annars synonymt med Omarska Trnopolje och Keraterm. De första koncentrationslägren i Europa efter andra världskriget.

Tre år innan Ratko Mladic beordrade avrättningen av over 8000 Bosniaker i den bosniska staden Srebrenica juli 1995 gick Ed Vulliamy från the Guardian, Penny Marshall från ITN och Ian Williams från Channel 4 genom grindarna av Omarska Trnopolje och Keraterm och in på vad som var just då fullt fungerande Koncentrationsläger, ställen som hade satts upp med avsikten att köra Bosniaker (Bosniska Muslimer) och Kroater ut från nordvästra Bosnien. Fångar i dessa koncentrationsläger kom i huvudsak från två städer, Kozarac och Prjedor men också de omgivande byarna. De var offren för den ”etniska rensningen” en finare omskrivning för den pågående pogromen av icke-serber som tog plats i 70 % av Bosnien Hercegovina. Bland de som hade tagits till dessa ställen var också Prijedors elit, domare, poliser, akademiker och intellektuella, tjänstemän som arbetat inom den offentliga förvaltningen, viktiga affärsmän, och konstnärer.

När en av journalisterna, Ed Vulliamy satte sig för att prata med en av fångarna, i koncentrationslägret Omarska så svarade fången att: ”jag vill inte ljuga men jag kan inte säga sanningen” Sannigen, som skulle komma fram tio år senare under bla rättegången mot Prijedors förre borgmästare Milomir Stakic var att; fångarna i Omarska, men också Trnopolje och Keraterm utsattes för inte bara systematisk misshandel av vakterna där sexuella övergrepp av bade manliga och kvinnliga fångar ingick av utan att många av fångarna avrättades, under rättegången mot Stakic fick man höra vittnesmål om ett stor antal massavrättningar i de olika lägren, varpå kropparna forslades bort med lastbilar och dumpades i gravar som den i Tomasica. Hundratals fångar dödades på så vis.

En av anledningarna till att det har tagit så lång tid att hitta massgraven i Tomasica är att Dayton-avtalet från 1995 som såg till att avsluta kriget såg också till att belöna det politik som ledde till bildandet av lägren som Omarska och Trnopolje, till belägringen av Sarajevo, Gorazde, Zepa och folkmordet i Srebrenica.

Det gav legitimitet till en entitet (Republika Srpska) som skapades i syfte att ge serber i Bosnien ett slags lebensraum. Som sen skulle införlivas i ett av Milosevic ledd Storserbien. För att det skulle ske, var man tvungen att göra sig av med de ”andra” främst Bosniaker och Kroater. Dayton-avtalet gav också mördarna tid och andrum för att sopa igen spåren. Tipset om var massgraven befann sig må ha kommit från en ångerfull ex-soldat men vintern 1996 rapporterade SVT-s Bengt Norberg och Tonchi Percan om att det fanns en massgrav i Tomasica. Det har tagit 18 år för sanningen att se dagens ljus. Dayton-avtalet stoppade den också den då framryckande bosniska armén som befann sig ett antal mil från Prijedor, och därmed förvägrade man offren möjligheten att kunna befria de städer och byar som de hade fördrivits ifrån.

Bengt Norborgs och Tonchi Percans Inslag från SVT Rapport 1996 om Tomasica

Det gav också de som deltog i pogromerna och mördandet en legitimitet som de aldrig hade kunnat drömma om, man skulle kunna säga så här I efter hand att deras handlingar sanktionerades av de som gav sitt stöd till Dayton-avtalet. För trots att rättegångar har hållits både i Haag men också i Bosnien, Tyskland, Österrike, Serbien gällande krigsförbrytelser i Bosnien Hercegovina så har som jag skrev ovan politiken som ledde till folkmord inte bara inte besegrats utan den har legitimerats. Ifall omvärlden är ärlig så kan man inte låtsas vara chockad over situationen för Bosniaker och Kroater i Republika Srpska. Det är egentligen fullständigt logiskt, varför skulle man inte känna sig berättigad till att göra som man vill? Om man leker med tanken att Hitlers expansionistiska politik hade lyckats så är det fullständigt normalt att vänta sig att man hade tillämpat ett passande sätt att beskriva händelseförloppet, dvs det som ledde till ett etnisk ren “lebensraum” I Republika Srpska har i sin tur lett till ett slags kollektiv tystnad och förnekelse, ett närmast schizofren hållning till historien och kriget där man inte pratar om det som skedde samtidigt som man bygger monument till ”serbiska hjältar” bara ett par meter från gamla koncentrationsläger.

Prijedors borgmästare Marko Pavic som tillhör Radovan Karadzic gamla parti, det nationalistiska SDS, deltog i serbiska övertagandet av Prijedor våren 1992 har konsekvent vägrat erkänna att det som hände i staden var ett folkmord och vägrat ge tillstånd till de överlevande och anhöriga att bygga minnesmärken till de som dödades 1992. Över 3000 människor dödades i Prijedor-området, många av dessa var kvinnor och barn. I år så samlades flera hundra aktivister från hela Bosnien i Prijedor för att ge stöd till de anhöriga i deras kamp för att kunna hedra offren. Bland aktivister fanns Bosniaker, Kroater Serber och andra från hela Bosnien, Pavics svar till de var att kalla det hela för ett “simpelt gay-pride parad” ett homofobisk uttalande som gick hem med hans nationalistiska väljare, tanken med det uttalande var att avfärda de anhörigas och aktivisternas ansträngningar för att få rätten att minnas och hedra sina döda i vad som är deras hemstad.

Därför är upptäcken av den största massgraven i Bosnien så monumental, det gör nämligen tystnaden och förnekelsen omöjlig och kan eventuellt leda till att fler och fler öppnar sina ögon och vågar erkänna vad som skedde, däri ligger också nyckeln till Bosniens framtid, nämligen sanningen.

Det bästa exemplet på är just den serbiske soldat som avslöjade exakt vart graven låg, enligt de som letade efter platsen så kom mannen till dem med informationen själv, han ville inte ha pengar det var samvetet som ledde honom till ICMPs undersökare. Enligt undersökarna så ledde ex-soldaten de till graven, ” de enda vi gav honom var ett regnrock då det regnade den dagen i Tomasica” säger ICMP undersökare. ”Han känner sig lättad, hans samvete plågar inte honom lika mycket som det gjorde förr” han plågades av det han såg i Tomasica, enligt undersökarna ska han ha sagt; ”att han kunde inte fatta vad hans folk hade gjort mot Bosniakerna” Hans enda krav var att han förblev anonym. Enligt ex-soldaten så var lokalbefolkningen i området upprörd över det faktum att graven fanns där, för att de visste. De ska ha klagat både under och efter kriget, klagat på liklukten nådde deras hus genom grundvattnet. ”De höll dock tyst om det, de ville inte eller vägrade informera anhöriga till de hundratals offer” som hade mördats kallblodigt under pogromen i nordvästra Bosnien. ”I Tomasica så fanns flertalet av deras gamla grannar, men de ville inte säga nåt och de hade troligtvis aldrig ha sagt nåt” ska ha ex-soldaten sagt.

Man skulle kunna säga att upptäckten av massgraven i Tomasica är kulmen på det aktivism som har förts av offrens anhöriga, det är främst dock ICMPs hårda arbete som ligger bakom upptäckten, men vi som har följt och stöttat( På det sättet vi har kunnat) de anhöriga har inte kunnat komma ifrån det symbolik som finns bakom det faktum att den kultur av förnekelse, tystnad och historierevisionism som finns i nordvästra och östra Bosnien som har stått i vägen för genuin försoning och sprängdes av upptäcken av Tomaisca. Alla undanflykter, alla lögner, all moralrelativism, all förnekelse, alla öppna hån och förolämpningar av både offren och de anhöriga som Bosnienserbiska politiker har kommit med genom åren drunknade i Tomasica. För genuin försoning krävs det ett sann bild av händelserna.

Som jag har skrivit om tidigare så är försoning ett knepigt ord, det är ett mycket laddat ord. När ordet har tillämpats i Bosnien så har de anhöriga till offren för de serbiska pogromen i nordvästra och östra Bosnien frågat; Vilka ska vi försonas med? Vad har vi gjort? Ska vi försonas med Ratko Mladic? Radovan Karadzic? Milan Lukic? Darko Mrdja? Dusan Tadic? Biljana Plavsic? Kvinnan som kallade Bosniaker för ”defekt avkomma” eller att: “de härstammar från genetiskt deformerat material” Ratko Mladic beordrade det största massmordet på europisk mark sedan andra världskriget, ett massaker vars effekter och omfattning nu systematiskt minimneras, med stöd av ett lobby som får finansiellt stöd från officiellt serbisk håll i Republika Srpska samt den serbiska diasporan. Han som befälhavare för det bosnienserbiska armén hade också huvudansvaret för belägringen av Gorazde, Bihac, Zepa och Sarajevo där över 11000 människor dödades under ett period på tre och halv år. Ska vi försonas med de som fördrev oss från våra hem, förde bort våra nära och kära?

Eller ska vi försonas med våra grannar som förnekar att någonting överhuvudtaget skedde, eller att de vet ingenting, har inte sett eller hört någonting trots att de var där på plats, och mördandet skedde i dagsljus, att det var ett systematisk våldsorige som skedde på offentliga platser och med en nästan ritualistisk karaktär. Allt med slutmålet att “tömma” stora delar av Bosnien Hercegovina på icke-serber.

Det som krävs är katarsis, att det serbiska folket inser att de lurades in i ett krig av nationalistiska och opportunistiska ledare som spelade på och spädde på deras rädslor genom att sprida desinformation om deras grannar, medarbetare, vänner, landsmän, för att på så sätt främja sina egna mål.

För att kunna lura det serbiska folket, för att få de att tro att de hade inget chans att överleva utanför ett Jugoslavien som för övrigt i Milosevic hjärna skulle vara styrd från Belgrad och där de övriga republikerna skulle rättas in i led eller straffas, spred man propaganda som såg till att ingjuta en fruktan i det serbiska folket mot de ”andra” ingenstans hade det värre effekt än i Bosnien Hercegovina, som var en stat med anor som går tillbaka till strax innan medeltiden, och där etnicitet och religiös tillhörighet var mindre viktiga, det som var viktigt var gemenskapen, den bosniska gemenskapen och toleransen förgiftades av Milosevic lögner.

Dröm om ett storserbien var viktigare för Milosevic än Jugoslavien eller det faktum att Bosniens secession från jugoslaven skedde under demokratiska former. Effekterna var som bekant katastrofala. Serbiska nationalister och anhängare till Radovan Karadzic gjorde gemensam med serbiska paramilitära grupper, specialförband och det jugoslaviska armén som vällde in över gränsen från Serbien, invasionen och det första folkmordet i Europa sedan andra världskriget var ett faktum.

Utan katarsis så är det svårt att gå vidare, det finns inte tre olika sanningar, en egennyttig floskel som historierevisionister, folkmordsförnekare och Milosevic-apologeter ofta slänger ur sig. Det finns olika uppfattningar så klart. Framförallt så har serbiska nationalister så klart ett avvikande uppfattning. För de är upptäckten av massgraven i Tomasica förödande, ett argument man brukar använda sig av är att för att kunna gå vidare så ska man inte prata om kriget, de säger det just pga av ställen som Tomasica, Srebrenica Crni Vrh i Östra Bosnien där 629 bosniaker exhumerades i början av 2000-talet. De bryr sig självklart inte om det faktum att för de anhöriga som har letat efter sina närmaste, som har väntat i 20 år att få veta, att få ett avslut att kunna begrava sina makar, söner, döttrar, kusiner och andra släktingar som mördades i den våg av systematisk våld som svepte in över Bosnien under den initiala invasionen av landet.

Men 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, 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 så är börjar det bli ensamt ifall man är historierevisionist eller folkmordsförnekare.

På det sättet så verkar ju just Tomasica ha haft förödande effekt på de som fortfarande förnekar folkmordet i Bosnien. Det har också stärkt reformistiska krafter i området. De som söker genuin försoning, Srdjan Puhalo känd psykolog och debattör baserad i Banja Luka nära Prijedor skrev ett inlägg på sin blogg under titeln ”Våra Älskade Krigsförbrytare” där han ställde frågan hur är vi som människor? Hurdant är vårt samhälle? Om vi kan hålla tyst i tjugo år om en sådan sak som massgraven i Tomasica. Han tillade också att det var för honom märkligt det serbiska folket, som hade lidit enormt under andra världskriget inte kunde känna empati med varken offren eller de anhöriga. ”Vi är helt enkelt medskyldiga” skrev Puhalo, ”medskyldiga på grund av vår tystnad. Men, krigsbrott kan inte sopas under mattan! Den filosofi som våra ledare och vår ”elit” har tillämpat där om man inte har ett lik så har man inte ett brott funkar inte längre. Detta är 2000-talet”

”Jag kan förstå att medborgare i Prijedor har tusen olika problem, alla har sina bekymmer, men jag kan inte förstå bristen på empati med folk vars nära och kära mördades och som än idag inte vet vart de är begravna. Att så länge hålla tyst om Tomasica visar tydligt att vi som folk och som gemenskap har inte vänt ”våra” krigsförbrytare ryggen eller tagit avstånd från deras handligar och för det ska vi skämmas. Och det finns ingen; men…”

För oss bosniaker och svenskbosnier var upptäckten av massgraven i Tomasica återigen en påminnelse om vad vi alla hade gått igenom. Det var också en påminnelse om vad som hände ungefär samma tid för tio år sen här i Sverige. Nämligen Ordfrontskandalen. Än en anledning till varför Tomasica är så monumentalt viktigt, för tio år sen så såg jag för första gången i Sverige, det jag hade fått se på olika serbiska propagandakanaler, fascistiska och serbnationalistiska bloggar och sajter vars enda mål var att sprida lögner och hat. Jag kunde inte tro att det var sant att det hade hittat ett plats i svensk media. Hjältarna då var som så många gånger förr Ed Vulliamy och Maciej Zaremba. Framförallt Zarembas artiklar i DN och tillsammans med Expressen under titeln : ( Så förvanskar svenska kulturprofiler historien om offren i ex-Jugoslavien ) så påpekade man att de konspirationsteorier, och smörjan av historiska lögner kort sagt krigsförbrytarnas version av historien hade hittat ett plats på sidor av ett respektabel svensk tidskrift.

I sin artikel : ”Ordfront förnekar folkmord på Balkan” belyste Zaremba problematiken i det artikel som Ordfront och Björn Eklund hade valt att publicera. Zaremba pekar på det faktum att i artikeln så till stora delar består av en intervju med amerikanska författarinnan Diane Johnstone så förnekas de systematiska övergrepp som Milosevic-understödda bosnienserbiska styrkor begick mot Bosniens icke-serbiska befolkning. Folkmordet i Srebrenica förnekas, enligt Johnstone så har det inte skett något folkmord i Srebrenica eller Bosnien, utan att det hela är en del av lysande mediakampanj.

Zaremba skriver :

Enligt Ordfront har folkmordet i Bosnien inte ägt rum. I själva verket var bilden ovan, som i augusti 1992 väckte världsopinionen, bara en lysande början på en gigantisk lögnkampanj. I verkligheten finns det inga bevis för organiserad etnisk rensning, systematisk tortyr eller folkmord. Srebrenica? En myt. Ingen vet vad som egentligen hänt. Men måhända var det USA som låg bakom. Man kan inte heller lita på de experter som identifierar benknotorna, de kommer “naturligtvis att tjäna amerikanska intressen”. Massvåldtäkterna? Fanns inte, läser jag. Och Milosevic? “Den största myten av alla är att Milosevic ville eliminera de andra folken genom etnisk rensning. Milosevic ansåg att det var en styrka för Serbien att vara uppbyggt av många nationaliteter.” Så vad är det som pågår i Haag? En Dreyfusaffär, står det, med Slobodan Milosevic som den oskyldigt anklagade. Tribunalen är inte att lita på, ty även den går USA:s intressen. Vi är alla grundligt lurade av USA, förklarar Ordfront, av Nato, av de bosniska muslimerna, av deras pr-firma samt, på ett obestämt men tydligen effektivt sätt, av “den judiska opinionen”.

Skandalen kulminerade med att dåvarande chefsredaktören för Ordfront, Leif Ericsson var tvungen att göra avbön, och medgav att Johnstones berättelse var till stora delar osann, och att hon valde fakta tendensiöst för att kunna styrka sin berättelse. Ericsson skrev så här om Diane 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.

Det hela slutade med att Eklund fick gå från Ordfront som en följd av skandalen men också den inre strid inom Ordfront. Björn Eklund själv, men också serbiska nationalister och folkmordsförnekare här i Sverige har försökt utmåla Eklund som offer för en hetsjakt från Expressen och DN, att det pågick en intern diskussion inom Ordfront om Eklunds artikel och hans ihärdiga försvar av densamma kringgår man. Man kringgår det faktum att det var just stora delar av Ordfronts redaktion som revolterade mot det faktum att Eklund hade valt publicera en artikel som förnekade folkmord. Eklund är ett offer för ”etablissemanget” heter det, där om man inte rättar sig efter vad Expressen och DN så får man leta efter annat jobb. Personligen kan jag inte uttala mig om vad det var som ledde till hans avskedande, hur jobbigt det än kan vara så har även folkmordförnekare rätten till att uttrycka sig, däremot så har vi andra rätten att kalla det vid dess rätta namn.

Tyvärr så slutade inte sagan Eklund där, 8 år senare skulle hans namn dyka upp igen i samband med den numera avpolletterade norsk-serbiska propagandafilmen Staden som Offrades. Filmen fällds av både den norska och svenska granskningsnämnden för bristande opartiskhet och för att den förnekade folkmord. Ett rörande enig svensk presskår ansåg att det den svenska allmänheten fick i bästa sändningstid se återanvänd serbnationalistisk propaganda, av den typen man kunde se under Milosevic-åren. ( Läs mer om det här) Däremot så hade filmen sina supportar också, socialdemokratiske kommunpolitikern Krister Kronlid ( Uddevalla) gick ut på både SVT debatt och på sin blogg tillsammans med Drago Drangel, ordförande för någonting som heter Justitia Pax Veritas och försvarade filmen och Eva Hamilton allt för att det enligt honom en mer nyanserad bild av folkmordet i Srebrenica. Av någon outgrundlig anledning så åberopade han Eklunds försvarstal efter ordfrontskandalen: Hans och Drangels artikel kan läsas här. Min dissektion av Kronlids försvar av filmen kan man hitta här och här. Jag rekommenderar också Jonas Paulssons och Alen Musaefendic utmärkta artiklar om ämnet. Dessa kan hittas här och här.

En av de första sakerna jag tänkte på efter upptäckten av massgraven i Tomasica var just Ordfrontskandalen, jag mindes hur det kändes att det som jag hade själv stött på Internet, folk som Nebojsa Malic, en självutnämnd historiker som spred diverse konspirationsteorier genom sin hemsida, eller Carl Savich, Srdja Trifkovic som är en del av Counterjihadrörelsen och som Expo Research skrev om nyligen hade nu hittat en plats i en respektabel svensk tidskrift. Hade detta skett 2013 istället för 2003 så kunde Zaremba och Vulliamy pekat på den 5000 kvadratmeter stora massgraven i Tomasica där man hittills har grävt upp kvarlevor efter 430 Bosniaker och Kroater, många av dem hade mördats på ställen som Omarska och Trnopolje, och begravts där. Skulle man tro Johnstone och Eklund så fanns ingen grav i närheten av koncentrationslägren eftersom inga övergrepp begicks.

INTERVIEW: Greek journalist sued for writing about the presence of Greek paramilitaries in Bosnia/ Unholy Alliance: Greece and Milosevic´s Serbia

Members of the Greek Volunteer Guard enter Srebrenica on July 11th
Members of the Greek Volunteer Guard enter Srebrenica on July 11th

About 10 years ago I read Greek journalist and author Takis Michas book on the role Greece had played during the wars in former Yugoslavia and the close relationship Serbia and Greece during those wars. A relationship that included Greece breaking the oil-embargo imposed on Serbia as a result of the sanctions on the Milosevic regime. During the entire war Greece had been at odds with the EU and NATO, a member of both it had actively participated in obstructing the UN sanctions against Serbia. However the one thing that stands out in all this is the role of the Greek Volunteer Guard played in the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, more precisely the role they played in the fall of Srebrenica and the genocide that took place. Takis Michas has been subjected to various forms of harassment and intimidation from Greek nationalists and chauvinists that had wanted to keep him silent over the years. Including a libel suit from one of the former volunteers. However Michas faced an even bigger challange in trying to confront the Greek state with its compilcity in the wars waged by Slobodan Milosevic´s regime. A while back I came across an interview Daniel Toljaga had conducted with Takis Michas in august 2009. At that time a former member of the Greek Volunteer Guard who been in Srebrenica had filed a libel suit against Takis Michas. Now this is all a while back and the matter has been settled. However I do think that his book is worth revisiting, and deserves a bigger audience. I have been given permission by The Congress of the North American Bosniaks to re-publish Daniel´s interview from 2009. I have also tried to compliment Daniel´s excellent interview with more material on the matter hoping that it will create more intrest in Takis Michas book. I plan on revisiting it myself soon. I am thrilled to be able to re-publish Daniel´s interview with the permission of the CNAB and I hope that the added information will both create interest and give a more complete picture.

August 5, 2009

Interviewer: Daniel Toljaga

On 27 July 2009 Mr. Stavros Vitalis, representing the Panhellenic Macedonian Front, filed a libel suit against the acclaimed journalist Mr. Takis Michas, best known for his authorship of the book “Unholy Alliance: Greece and Milosevic’s Serbia.” He is suing the journalist for describing- in the daily “Eleftherotypia” – Greek mercenaries as “paramilitaries who took part in the slaughter in Srebrenica.”

Mr. Vitalis is one of the leading Greek volunteers who have admitted taking part in the Srebrenica genocide. But, that’s not how he sees it.

In a statement distributed to the media, he claimed that the Greek volunteers who fought in Bosnia under the command of General Mladic were there in order to help the Serbs “who were being slaughtered by international gangs that were also stealing their houses, their country and their dignity.”

DANIEL TOLJAGA: Mr. Michas, thank you for agreeing to take part in this interview. To begin with, what is the Panhellenic Macedonian Front that has filed this suit against you through its representative Mr. Vitalis?

TAKIS MICHAS: It is a Greek nationalist political organization which also includes socialists and conservative former politicians. Up until now its central campaign theme has been its advocacy of the view that Macedonia along with everything related to it (history, symbols, etc.) is exclusively Greek.

DANIEL TOLJAGA: What exactly does Mr. Vitalis hope to achieve with this lawsuit?

TAKIS MICHAS: Bearing in mind that Karadzic’s trial will also be taking place next year, what they will be hoping is to create an alternative debate in which the substance of what happened at Srebrenica will be called into question. In other words, while the world is trying the war crimes perpetrated at Srebrenica, in Greece they will be putting the critics of the war crimes at Srebrenica on trial!

DANIEL TOLJAGA: Do you have any comments about the lawsuit and the press statements Mr. Vitalis has made?

TAKIS MICHAS: Yes. First of all Mr. Vitalis explicitly admits that Greeks (i.e. himself) took part in the planning and execution of the Serb “re-occupation” (as he calls it) of Srebrenica. As he says in his press statement “I was present with a group of senior Serb officers in all the operations for the re-occupation of Srebrenica by the Serbs”.

Secondly, Mr Vitalis admits that the recruitment of Greek volunteers for the war against the legitimate government of Bosnia took place with the implicit approval of the leading Greek politicians Andreas Papandreou and (to a lesser extent) Constantine Mitsotakis. As he puts it:

“The whole of Greece knows that the Greek volunteers had the broad support of Greek society as a whole as well as the support of politicians, mainly belonging to PASOK, because of the warm friendship between Andreas Papandreou and Radovan Karadzic. They also enjoyed the support of New Democracy, through the friendly diplomatic initiatives of Constantine Mitsotakis.”

This reinforces the point I have repeatedly made, namely that Greek support for the Serb war effort was not only moral, economic, diplomatic and political but also military.

DANIEL TOLJAGA: Was Mr. Vitalis present during and after the fall of Srebrenica when Greek paramilitaries hoisted the Greek flag over the town?

TAKIS MICHAS: Well in his own statement he said that together with high ranking Serb officers he took part in all the operations that dealt with the “reoccupation” (as he calls it) of Srebrenica. Now as to whether he was physically present in the hoisting of the flag this is something that only Mr. Mladic knows (and perhaps Mr. Karadzic)!

DANIEL TOLJAGA: It is interesting that he publicly admitted being present himself “in all the military operations” related to the “re-occupation” of Srebrenica. Do you have any idea why Mr. Vitalis has not been investigated for possible war crimes?

TAKIS MICHAS: Because, as I have shown in my book, in Greece Serb actions during the war in Bosnia are not regarded as “crimes” but as “heroic deeds”. This applies to Srebrenica as well. No Greek government has made any statement at any time during the last 15 years explicitly condemning the killings at Srebrenica – this is a unique state of affairs for a European country.

DANIEL TOLJAGA: In the words of U.N. Judge Theodor Meron, who served as the President of the ICTY, Serbs – and I quote – “targeted for extinction the forty thousand Bosnian Muslims living in Srebrenica.” In your opinion, is Mr. Vitalis fully aware that the military operations he took part in resulted in the summary killings of more than 8,000 and the ethnic cleansing of approximately 30,000 people in July 1995? Is he aware that he took part in genocide?

Greek Volunteers in Srebrenica
Greek Volunteers in Srebrenica

TAKIS MICHAS: According to his own admissions, yes. However, just like Holocaust deniers, these people refuse to accept that mass killings took place in Srebrenica.

DANIEL TOLJAGA: Your book revealed for the first time the presence of Greek paramilitaries in Bosnia. Why has Mr. Vitalis waited so many years since the publication of your book to file a suit?

TAKIS MICHAS: This is an interesting question. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that as I have hinted in other articles I am now in possession of confidential diplomatic documents that show the Greek authorities for the first time admitting the presence of Greek paramilitaries in Bosnia. Possibly they think that by putting pressure on me now they will prevent me publishing these documents. But this of course is only one explanation. There may be others.

DANIEL TOLJAGA: Mr. Vitalis has claimed that the operations of the Greek volunteers “were widely endorsed by Greek society because of the warm friendship that existed between Andreas Papandreou and Radovan Karadzic.” To what extent did this friendship suggest that the government may have been involved?

TAKIS MICHAS: Obviously it involves government in the sense of knowing, tolerating and endorsing the open recruitment of Greek citizens with the aim of fighting against the legally recognized government of Bosnia. It certainly implicates the government of PASOK under Andreas Papandreou.

DANIEL TOLJAGA: I remember, and you also referred to this in your book, that leading Greek judges had publicly refused to cooperate with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). Considering that your right to a fair trial may be seriously impaired by the extreme ultranationalist atmosphere in Greece and the fact that Mr. Vitalis has announced that he plans to call leading Greek nationalist politicians as witnesses, I would like to know whether you intend to seek support from prominent international organizations that specialize in the protection of journalistic freedom?

TAKIS MICHAS: I will certainly be trying to spread the word. Judging from the lawsuit they have filed against me, I guess that from now on they will also be making the glorification of the Serb war effort in Bosnia one of their campaign themes.

DANIEL TOLJAGA: Are you worried about the forthcoming trial?

TAKIS MICHAS: In any other European country this lawsuit would have been thrown out of court. But as I have said repeatedly Greece is not a normal European country. Given the spirit of extreme nationalism that permeates the country and the fact that Karadzic and Mladic are venerated as saints by the majority of the public and the political class, I have every reason to feel worried.

DANIEL TOLJAGA: Thank you for taking part in this interview. We will be keeping a close eye on the progress of your case.


 

UPPDATE 2013-8-31: In 2010 Stavros Vitalis the Greek business man and former member of the Greek Volunteers in Bosnia and Herzegovina who had suied Takis Michas for libel abandoned the case. On 17 september 2010 Reporters Without Borders ( Reporters Sans Frontières) had urged the Athens Court to dismiss the charges against Takis Michas, calling the libel action against Michas;

surreal, and is clear case of judicial harassment. The only logical and acceptable response by the court would be to dismiss the case. Although he was not mentioned in the article, Vital claims that he was personally targeted. His lawsuit cannot be taken seriously. Despite claiming that his record as an officer in the Republika Srpska’s army is “well known,” Vitalis does not seem to want the media to take too much interest in his past.

Many Greek military officers and politicians do not want the veil lifted on this inglorious part of Greece’s modern history. Michas’ articles are courageous and salutary and he deserves more support from his fellow journalists, who should be calling for his acquittal.

Several years prior to Daniel Toljaga´s interview with Takis Michas, Dutch journalist Ingeborg Beugel had in the documentary “The Greek Way” (2002) by Dutch public broadcaster IKON interviewed Takis Michas regarding his book and tried to lift the veil on the role played by Greece´s political elite during the Bosnian War and their collaboration with Slobodan Milosevic and Radovan Karadzic.

The documentary points to the fact that Greece was at that point still at odds with the rest of the Europian Union when it came to the causes for the break up of Yugoslavia and the wars that followed as well as the ethnic cleansing and genocide that took place in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Takis Michas points out in the documentary as he did in the interview with Daniel and his book that Greece was the only country in the world that at the height of the Bosnian War recieved the former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic with honors and that Karadzic was honored as a “fighter for peace” by Greece´s political elite including PASOK and New Democracy as well as the the Greek Orthodox Church.

Ingeborg Beugel´s investigation led her to the archives of greek newspaper ETHNOS where she found the first proof of the presence of Greek volounteers in Srebrenica, the greek word for mercenary is; volunteer. In total over 100 Greek volunteers fought in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the war, and according to one of the articles 20 members were present at Srebrenica. In an article dated 13th of July 1995 two days after the fall of Srebrenica Greek volunteeers hoisted the greek flag over the town. The volunteers that fought in Srebrenica recived medals from Karadzic for their service. Michas also pointed to the fact that he had several times contacted Greek authorites and asked them to interveine, if not arrest then at least to try and bring some of this people in for interviews since they did take part in the takeover of Srebrenica and were on the ground during the genocide.

In 2002 the NIOD report that the Dutch goverment commissioned into the 1995 Srebrenica Genocide, showed that Greece had sent deliveries of light arms and ammunition to the Bosnian Serbs between 1994 and 1995. The report shows how Greek volunteers were asked to hoist the Greek flag in Srebrenica. Intercepted army telephone conversations, revealed that General Ratko Mladic asked that they record the scene on video for propaganda purposes. Around 100 soldiers made up the Greek Volunteer Guard, formed at Mladic’s request. The unit, which fought alongside Russians and Ukrainians, was led by Serb officers and had its own insignia, the double-headed eagle of Byzantium. According to the report: “Greek and Russian mercenaries were also involved in the attack on Srebrenica. A Greek Volunteer Guard, a unit based in Vlasenica, was formed in March 1995 and was fully incorporated in the Drina Corps”At least four of its members were awarded the White Eagle medal of honour by Karadzic. ( page 2787 )

In April 2011 Bosnian Federal TV (FTV) program 60 minutes (60 minuta) aired never before seen footage after the fall of Srebrenica.

On the footage we could see the bishop of the Serb Orthodox Church for Tuzla and Zvornik Vasilje Kacavenda arrive at a gathering on 13th of July in the town of Vlasenica. Vlasenica is only a short drive away from Srebrenica. He was joined by a of number of Bosnian Serb officers including the former commander of the Drina Corps, Milenko Zivanovic. He was replaced as commander on the same day by Radislav Krstic. In 2001 Krstic became the first person to be convicted for the crime of genocide in Srebrenica. Amongst those at the gathering were several Greek Volunteers. During his speech general Zivanovic pointed out to the fact that when he entered Srebrenica he saw a minaret, pointing up towards the sky. The minaret from the town’s main mosque. He continued by saying: “that minaret should by now be in ruins”

After general Zivanovic, bishop Kacavenda took the floor and began by congratulating the general and his brave soldiers on their glorious victory and praised them for; “always fearlesly going into battle for Serbdom and the values of the Orthodox Church carrying in front of them the holy cross in order to achieve their golden freedom” a reference to the battle of Kosovo in 1389, he then went on to say that he would wish for general Zivanovic to convey the bishop´s gratitude to the soldiers for “liberating” Srebrenica from “nekrsta i kriza” the first being Islam ( nekrst is an old expression meaning non-Christian or in this context Muslim or Bosniak) and the second being “kriza” or “kriz” meaning non-Orthodox or Catholic, or in this context; Croat. Kacavenda ended by saying: “It´s no coincidence that even the Croats are mourning the loss of Srebrenica to the Serbs” after that the he began to speak of blood and vengeance.

Kacavenda started by saying : “Krv vapije za osvetom” meaning that once blood has been spilled it must be avenged. And continued by saying that; ”In vengeance the Serbian people had destroyed empires. And now after this we eagerly await those joyful days which are slowly approaching. After the Battle of Kosovo, we long for that moment when the Serbian nation will once more be united. Whether it be great or small it´s not important, what is important is that Serbs are allowed to live free in her, to breathe freely to work freely (…) Dear god, please allow us to return the favour to our Greek brethren in their efforts to liberate the whole of Cyprus from the Turks, allow them to liberate Constantinople (Istanbul) so that it may once again be the center, the very focus of Orthodox spirituality”

While the gathering was taking place the wholesale slaughter was already underway. On July 13th In the village of Kravica, between 1,000 and 1,500 men had been captured and brought to the largest of four warehouses (farm sheds) in Kravica and summerily executed. Kravica is some 30-35 kilometers from Vlasenica. On december 12th 2012 the ICTY convicted Zdravko Tolimir for genocide in Srebrenica, Tolimir was assistant Commander of Intelligence and Security for the Bosnian Serb army and reported directly to the commander, General Ratko Mladic. He was Mladic right hand man. The judgement mentioned the massacre in Kravica:

 

In the late afternoon of 13 July, hundreds of Bosnian Muslim men were transported from a meadow in Sandići by bus, and some directed by foot, to a one storey building known as the Kravica Warehouse, in the Bratunac area. When the warehouse was packed full, Bosnian Serb Forces started firing at the men inside, using machineguns as well as hand and rocket propelled grenades. They fired for hours, with intermittent lulls in the shooting in which the wounded moaned and called out names. These executions continued into the morning of 14 July. The Accused’s immediate subordinate, Beara, was directly involved in the burial operation of between 600 and 1,000 Bosnian Muslim men who the Chamber found had been murdered at the warehouse between 13 and 14 July 1995.

On the evening of 13, and morning of 14 July, hundreds of Bosnian Muslim men were transported by bus to a school in Grbavci located near Orahovac. There, they were crammed into the gymnasium of the school building. In the afternoon of 14 July, they were transported by bus to two separate killings sites nearby. Upon disembarking, they were shot by Bosnian Serb Forces. Some of the wounded prisoners were cursed, and left to suffer in agony before they were finally killed. One of the groups of prisoners included a boy of approximately five to six years old, who, after being shot at, stood up from the pile of bodies and called out for his father. Up to 2,500 Bosnian Muslim men were murdered at Grbavci school on this day. They, too, were buried in a mass grave.

 

The Dayton Accords effectively split the country and redrew it´s map and in the process awarded ethnic cleansing all out aggression and genocide and giving legitimacy to the very ideals that Vasilije Kacavenda mentioned in his speech. He gave his blessing to genocide during that hellish day and the international community rewarded it by granting legitimacy to Republika Srpska in November that same year. An entity whose sole purpose was to serve as place for Serbs to ; “live freely in her, to breathe freely to work freely” a “lebesnraum” if you will for Serbs. In order to achieve that those “others” had to be “removed”

Kacavenda himself continued to serve as bishop of Tuzla and Zvornik until April 2013 when he resigned his clerical duties following a sex scandal that rocked the Serb Orthodox Church. According to a statement given by a former theology student in Bjeljina, the seat of kacavenda´s diocese: ” He observed numerous orgies organized by the 74-year-old bishop and attended by fellow clerics and prominent businessmen. According to the student Kacavenda personally appealed to him to supply young children for sexual purposes and frequently called on high-ranking church officials to organize trysts with young theological students.”

Prior to that a Bosniak girl (Bosnian Muslim) had come forward with accusations against Kacavenda, saying that he had raped her when she was 16 years old and then forced her to convert to Christianity. In 2010 rumors started to spread when a photograph of Kacavenda and a wellknown Belgrade stripper Dejan Nestorovic started to circulate. Nestorovic himself had admitted to having a personal relationship with Kacavenda. However in the beginning of April 2013 Serbian daily “Blic” reported that it had seen pornographic videos of the bishop. In these videos he engaged in oral sex and other sexual activities with young men in various locations. The videos subsequently appeared on various social media outlets and other sites thus proving beyond any doubt Kacavenda´s involvement.

When it comes to the GVG or Greek Volunteer Guard, to this day Greek authorities have not charged any of the Greek Volunteer Guard members that participated in the fall and subsequent genocide in Srebrenica. On July 10th 2005 163 Greek academics, politicians, journalists and political activists issued a statement asking for Greece to officially apologise to the victims of Srebrenica genocide. In June 2006 the minister of justice Anastasios Papaligouras, commissioned an inquiry- the report has not yet been complited.

For further reading I strongly recommend Daniel´s report on the Serb Orthodox Church´s continued support for war criminals, it can be accessed here.

As well as Takis Michas article for The Wall Street Journal called Greece´s Balkan Closets, it can be accessed here.

Vasilije Kacavenda´s speech in Vlasenica can be found in Serbian on the website of Serbian portal e-novine: here

Daniel´s original interview for The Congress of North American Bosniaks can be accessed here.

Det politik som ledde till folkmord i Bosnien är långt ifrån besegrad, nu genomförs den med andra medel

Ballonger med namn på de mördade fångar i Omarska koncentrationslägret, släpps loss, vid en minnesceremoni i augusti 2012
Ballonger med namn på de mördade fångar i Omarska koncentrationslägret, släpps loss, vid en minnesceremoni i augusti 2012

13 Augusti 2013 publicerade Västerbottens-Kuriren denna inlägg, den kan hittas här.

Föreställ dig att du gick längs ner på en gata tjugo efter att du hade varit med om ditt livs i särklass största trauma och hade kommit undan med ditt liv i behåll genom ren tur, då du råkar stöta på din plågoande. Den som var ansvarig för alla de fysiska och mentala ärr som du bär på, som har förföljt dig genom ditt liv, än värre föreställ dig att denna person hade nu som uppgift skydda dig som medborgare och upprätthålla lagen i din hemstad, i ditt län och ditt land.

Det är vad som nu väntar de som har återvänt till sina hem i den bosniska entiteten Republika Srpska. Republika Srpska är dels ett resultat av Slobodan Milosevic och Radovan Karadzic numera havererade storserbiska projekt som syftade till att skapa ett etnisk ren stat för alla serber eller ”Storserbien” och dels den eftergiftspolitik som fördes av bla flera av EU:s ledande länder där man såg förstörelsen av staten Bosnien Hercegovina som ”ett nödvändigt ont” för att kunna förhindra skapandet av ett ”muslimskt Bosnien” d.v.s. ett muslimskt land mitt i Europa. Det ledde till ohindrat etnisk rensning, koncentrationsläger, massvåldtäkter, massmord och tillslut folkmord i form av Srebrenicamassakern. Daytonavtalet som kom i slutet av 1995 stoppade kriget, men den lyckades genom Republika Srpska belöna aggression och folkmord. Daytonavtalet gav RS en form av legitimitet som den aldrig hade haft innan, och de politiska krafterna i RS har sett till att missbruka den legitimiteten till max.

2012 rapporterade USHMM (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum ) att Republika Srpska hade under ett fem års period spenderat flera miljoner i skattemedel på att förneka grundläggande fakta om folkmordet i Srebrenica, samma år rapporterade Amnesty International att myndigheterna i staden Prijedor hade förhindrat genomförandet av ett fredsmarsch i staden utan att ge någon förklarning till det och i maj i fjol så försökte stadens borgmästare förhindra en minnesceremoni som hölls till ära av de drygt 3000 civila som hade mördats av serbiska styrkor i Prijedor området, däribland många kvinnor och barn pga. att man använde sig av ordet ”folkmord” och i år så kallade samma borgmästare den samling anhöriga till offren, de överlevande och fredsaktivister som hade samlats i staden för att hylla offren för ett; ”simpelt gay pride parad” ett fruktansvärd homofobisk uttalande som är den tydligaste tecknet på de extremistiska och nationalistiska strömningar som råder i RS.

Nu i slutet av juli så kom den senaste smällen mot offren och de överlevande då polismyndigheterna i RS bestämde sig för att återanställa poliser som har blivit fråntagna sina certifikat efter kriget då de var vakter i olika koncentrationsläger eller deltog i de olika pogromerna av icke-serber i Bosnien Hercegovina under kriget. Dessa poliser agerade som vakter i koncentrationslägren, många av dem deltog i de illegala massgripanden och deportation av icke-serber som skedde i början av kriget och en del kan ha deltagit i den systematiska misshandeln av fångar som skedde i dessa läger.

I samband med minneshögtiden för folkmordet i Srebrenica uttalade sig flertal svenska politiker om behovet av att minnas folkmordet och dra lärdom av det samt pekade på Srebrenica som den yttersta faran med nationalism, och behovet av försoning samt talade sig varmt för minoriters rättigheter och behovet av EU-integration. Efter kriget i Bosnien så är icke-serber dock främst Bosniaker (Muslimer) en klar minoritet i RS och nu 18 år efter folkmordet i Srebrenica dras de överlevande, de anhöriga och de som återvänder till Republika Srpska med olika former av öppet diskrimination, historierevisionism och folkmordsförnekelse som gör att alla försök till sann försoning är bortkastade och det blir till en plattytid som man kan slänga in i en debattartikel.

Speciellt då landet är uppdelad och Daytonavtalet används för att förstärka den uppdelningen, och bidrar till diskrimination av minoriteter så som misslyckandet att implementera Sejdic-Finci domslutet från 2009 men också folkmordsförenkelse, och institutionaliserad historierevisionism i Republika Srpska vars politiska ledning har sedan 2006 sakta men säkert undergrävt statliga institutioner som skapats efter kriget. Det uppskattas onekligen att även svenska politiker pratar om folkmordet i Srebrenica och faror med extremnationalism samt Milosevic storserbiska projekt och det lidande det medförde, dock så är det dags för de som pekar på Srebrenica och Bosnien som exemplen där nationalism har fått härja fritt, och behovet av ett starkt EU att inse att det ideologi och politik som ledde till folkmord i Bosnien är långt ifrån besegrad, nu genomförs den med andra medel.

Mirza Hota Bosnienbloggen 2013-08-08

UPPDATERING: 17 augusti 2013 kom dokumentären A Conspiracy of Silence? The forgotten genocide of Omarska, Prijedor. Om folkmordet i Prijedor och den systematiska och institutionaliserade förnekelsen av detta folkmord.