SREBRENICA GENOCIDE: QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
RESPONDING TO THE GROWING ASSAULT ON TRUTH AND MEMORY
Memento et ne obliviscaris…
Remember and do not forget…
Upamti i ne zaboravi…
July 11th, 1995: one of the worst moments in the history of modern Europe unfolds. The United Nations-declared “safe area” of Srebrenica is effectively handed over to advancing Bosnian Serb forces by the Dutch UN contingent entrusted with defending its civilian population. The result is the continent’s worst massacre since the end of the Second World War. The mass slaughter of Bosniak men and boys at Srebrenica is recognized as the gravest atrocity to take place in Europe since the Nazi genocide. At least 8,000 Bosniak men and boys are killed [list] by the Bosnian Serb army, while the women are singled out for rape and mass ethnic cleansing deportations. Incredibly, the leader of the United Nations’ Dutch contingent then goes on to drink a toast with Serb general Ratko Mladic (click here to see photo), who is in charge of the Bosnian Serb army attacking Srebrenica.
Questions / Answers
[scroll down to read answers/facts]
1. What is Srebrenica massacre?
2. How many Bosniaks died during Srebrenica genocide?
3. Did Serb Army use chemical weapons to gass fleeing Bosniak civilians from Srebrenica/Zepa enclaves?
4. Is Naser Oric (Bosnian commander in charge of defending Srebrenica) responsible for alleged killings of “thousands” of Serb civilians in Serb-militarized villages around Srebrenica – as Belgrade sources claimed?
5. What was the overall number of casualties of 1992-95 war in Bosnia-Herzegovina?
6. What exactly was the role of Bosniak forces on the ground during Srebrenica siege?
7. Were men and boys “only” victims of Srebrenica genocide?
8. Why do Srebrenica massacre revisionists and Srebrenica genocide deniers minimize numbers of Srebrenica victims?
9. Was the war of the 90′s civil or international conflict in Bosnia-Herzegovina which culminated to Srebrenica genocide?
10. Is Netherland’s NIOD Report objective with respect to the events leading to Srebrenica genocide?
11. Will Serbian masterminds of Srebrenica Genocide, Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, ever be captured and brought to justice?
12. Did Bosniaks bombed themselves to win sympathy of the west and force NATO to strike Bosnian Serb positions around Srebrenica, Gorazde, and Sarajevo – as leftist apologist circles liked to argue?
LITTLE KNOWN FACT: Did you know? The Serbs never demilitarized around Srebrenica. The Bosnian Government had entered into demilitarization agreements with the Bosnian Serbs. On 21 April 1993, the UNPROFOR issued press release saying that the process of demilitarization of Bosnian defenders of Srebrenica had been a success. According to the Agreement, the Serbs should withdraw their heavy weapons before the Bosniaks gave up their weapons. The Serbs refused to demilitarize. They never honored their part of agreement. Instead, Serb military and paramilitary troops continued using surrounding Serb villages as a base for attacks on (and brutal siege of) Srebrenica.
 What is Srebrenica Massacre?
Srebrenica massacre is the first legally established case of genocide in Europe by the international courts. It is considered the largest mass murder in Europe since the World War II and one of the most horrific events in recent European history. The slaughter of Bosniaks at Srebrenica is recognized as the gravest atrocity to take place in Europe since the Nazi genocide.
The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) has ruled the Srebrenica massacre officialy a Genocide. Subsequently, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) confirmed ICTY’s ruling in a judgment of Bosnia vs Serbia.
Over 8,000 Bosniaks died in the Srebrenica massacre, mostly men and underage boys.
Srebrenica massacre is unique among genocide studies in its approach, using individual-level data to identify every victim individually by comparing multiple highly reliable sources against each other (ICRC, IDC, Red Cross, local data, inquiries of surviving relatives, etc) and matching identities via DNA identification. Each victim is known by its first and last name, father’s name, date of birth, and matching JMBR number (unique citizen’s registration number, similar to the U.S. SSN or Canadian SIN).
The DNA identification of victims is ongoing process conducted by the International Commission on Missing Persons.
Bosnian Serb General Ratko Mladic and the political leader of Bosnian Serbs Radovan Karadzic have both been indicted for genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of the laws or customs of war at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.
So far, two people have been convicted for Srebrenica genocide by the ICTY – Bosnian Serb general Radislav Krstic and Bosnian Serb Colonel Vidoje Blagojevic. Seven more individuals have been recently put on trial at the Hague and they are: Vujadin Popovic, Ljubisa Beara, Drago Nikolic, Ljubomir Borovcanin, Vinko Pandurevic, Radivoje Miletic and Milan Gvero, and recently aprehended fugitive Zdravko Tolimir (aka: ‘Chemical Tolimir’) who requested use of chemical weapons during genocide. At least eleven more individuals are on genocide trial in Bosnia-Herzegovina and they are: Milos Stupar, Milenko Trifunovic, Petar Mitrovic, Aleksandar Radovanovic, Miladin Stevanovic, Brano Dzinic, Slobodan Jakovljevic, Branislav Medan, Dragisa Zivanovica, Velibor Maksimovic, and Milovan Matic. (Update as of July 29th, 2008: Seven accused found guilty of Srebrenica Genocide!)
During sentencing of Bosnian Serb General Radislav Krstic on August 2nd 2001, the Presiding Judge Almiro Rodrigues stated:
“General Krstic, the crimes of which you stand accused are based on the events which occurred following the attack of the Serbian forces on the town of Srebrenica in July 1995. Srebrenica – the name of a town which has become synonymous with the conflict which devastated the former Yugoslavia. It is a name which immediately calls to mind thousands of people subjected to siege, famine and deprivation of everything – even water and time to breathe. The name of an enclave which the United Nations declared a safe area and which fell almost without a shot being fired. Srebrenica – a name which conjures up images one would prefer not to see: women, children and old people forced to climb into buses leaving for destinations unknown; men separated from their families, stripped of their belongings, men fleeing, men taken prisoner, men never to be seen again, men who would be found – but not always – dead, corpses piled up in mass graves; corpses with their hands tied or their eyes blind-folded – frequently; dismembered corpses as well; unidentified corpses … corpses. Srebrenica is also a name for a post-traumatic syndrome, the syndrome displayed by the women, children and old people who did not die and who, ever since July 1995, six years now, still have no news of their husbands and sons, fathers, brothers, uncles, grandfathers. Thousands of amputated lives six years later, robbed of the affection and love of their kin now reduced to ghosts who return to haunt them day after day, night after night. The Trial Chamber was presented with a great deal of evidence which could be called impressive…. In July 1995, General Krstic, you agreed to evil. This is why the Trial Chamber convicts you today and sentences you to 46 years in prison.”
“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.”
While the defence argued that “the VRS [Serb Army's] decision to transfer, rather than to kill, the women and children of Srebrenica… undermines the finding of genocidal intent”, in its final judgement the Appeals Chamber found that proof of intent to commit genocide by destroying the group physically or biologically was met “by the disastrous consequences for the family structures on which the Srebrenica part of the Bosnian Muslim group was based”.
On November 10, 2004, the government of Republika Srpska issued an official apology. The statement came after government review of the Srebrenica committee’s report. “The report makes it clear that enormous crimes were committed in the area of Srebrenica in July 1995,” the Bosnian Serb government said.
A Serb commission’s final report on the 1995 Srebrenica massacre acknowledged that the mass murder of Bosniak men and boys by Bosnian Serb forces was planned. The report recognized and gave details of the pre-planned murders.
On January 17th 2005, subordinate to Bosnian Serb General Radislav Krstic – Col Vidoje Blagojevic – became second indictee to be convicted on Srebrenica Genocide charges and other human rights violations. He was sentenced to 18 years in prison.
On May 9th, the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia ruled that Col Blagojevic had not been complicit in the genocide at Srebrenica because he had not known his troops intended to commit it. Blagojevic’s sentence was reduced to 15 years.
On June 27, 2005, the United States House of Representatives passed a resolution (H. Res. 199 sponsored by Congressman Christopher Smith and Congressman Benjamin Cardin) commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide.
The resolution was passed with overwhelming majority of 370 – YES votes, 1 – NO vote, and 62 – ABSENT. (Copy of the Resolution)
On February 26, 2007, another United Nations’ court – the International Court of Justice (aka: World Court) – issued judgment in a case of Bosnia vs. Serbia ruling that Serbia failed to prevent the Srebrenica genocide and violated its international obligations by not handing over individuals accused of the crime.
The court reaffirmed that the Srebrenica massacre was an act of Genocide committed by the Bosnian Serb troops, but dissolved Serbia of any direct responsibility for genocide.
Serbia obtained court permission to keep parts of the evidence censored, citing national security, which may have decisively affected ICJ’s judgement in the lawsuit brought against Serbia by Bosnia-Herzegovina.
You may read more about here: Serbia’s Darkest Pages Hidden from Genocide Court.
 How many Bosniaks died during Srebrenica Genocide? On June 5, 2005 Bosnia’s Federal Commission for Missing Persons issued a list of 8,106 individuals who have been reliably established, from multiple independent sources, to have gone missing and/or been killed in and around Srebrenica in the summer of 1995 [click to see list]. The Federal Commission’s list was made public early in June and it included personal names, parents’ names, dates of birth, and unique citizen’s registration numbers victims. A verification process is underway for more victims whose disappearance or death has not yet been verified from two or more independent sources.
A marble stone (click to see photo) at the Srebrenica Genocide Memorial Center Potocari is engraved with 8,370 names of Srebrenica victims (info as of July 6th, 2006).
On June 21st 2007, a four-year study by the internationally evaluated the Bosnian Book of Dead concluded that 8,460 Bosniaks were killed in Srebrenica; 6565 (or 77.6%) were civilians (including 441 children ranging from infants to teens) and 1,895 (or 22.4%) were soldiers [click to read more about this topic].
In a case of Srebrenica massacre, during and after the war, many families asked that their family members be buried as soldiers, for various reasons, although they died as civilians, POW’s or as soldiers away from front lines. The most common reason for these requests was access to social support for families of killed soldiers. In other words and with respect to Srebrenica genocide; POW’s and surrendered soldiers without weapons were clearly non-combatants at the time of their deaths. Both civilians and POW’s were summarily executed, burried in mass graves, and after former U.S. secretary of State Madeleine Albright announced the United States had satellite photos showing mass graves, the perpetrators went out and dug the bodies and moved them. Some bodies could be found in 4 different locations, separated up to 50km from each other. When registering such cases, the Research and Documentation Center was governed by the official data that was available. The evaluation indicates that such practices lead to over-reporting of soldiers and under-reporting of civilians.
The major challenge in Bosnia is the identification of the victims of the 1995 Srebrenica genocide. Their bodies had initially been buried in a dozen of mass graves, but Bosnian Serbs moved them later by buldozers to a number of other locations in order to cover up their crime. Their body parts were separated, and forensic experts have sometimes found parts of a single victim buried in three different mass graves. In a recently given interview to Newsweek, Kathryne Bomberger – the director general of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), confirmed at least 8,000 victims based on DNA identification:
“In 1999 we had hit a brick wall in making identifications—if there was no body there was no crime. After [former U.S. secretary of State] Madeleine Albright said [the United States] had satellite photos showing mass graves, the perpetrators went out and dug the bodies and moved them. We found one body in four different locations 50km [30 miles] apart. So we went to the families and said, ‘We are not sure if [DNA] is going to work but work with us and we will try.’ We had to educate them about this DNA. We had to mount a huge campaign to take blood samples. We had to build a lab, and it was not until 2002 that we had a functioning process. We made our first DNA match of a 15-year-old boy from Srebrenica in 2001 (click here to see photo)…. We can for the first time say that the 8,000 — maybe more but certainly not less — missing from Srebrenica is accurate. We can tell this based on the rate of blood-sample collection. You have to collect at least three different family members’ blood samples for every missing person.”
B-Z is a chemical the army of the former Yugoslavia possessed. (Source: Federation of American Scientists) At that time, the evidence remained “inconclusive” due to inability of Human Rights Watch to properly test the samples.
However, in 1995, a team of the U.S. Defense Department experts interviewed a number of Srebrenica survivors in the summer of 1996, and concluded that their accounts supported allegations of the use of chemical incapacitants. The conclusion was deemed highly significant by the department. This information was sent up the chain of command. In late 1996, the U.S. intelligence community had information that chemical weapons may have been used in Srebrenica. A large investigation, which included physical sampling, was undertaken in late 1996 or early 1997 by the U.S. Government. The results of this investigation are not known to us.
One official told Human Rights Watch in December 1996 that ”we do not see an advantage in declassifying those documents relating to chemical weapons use in Bosnia. We have spoken with people and received assurances that other channels are being pursued that we believe would be more effective and achieve a more favorable outcome than simply publicizing theme.” That is where it’s been left. (Source: The 1998 U.S. Congressional Hearing on Srebrenica Genocide)
In 2006 opening statements, the U.N. Prosecutor McCloskey stated that “criminal orders in war are as a rule issued verbally”, and that a few exceptions existed to the rule. One of the most striking ones is a report sent on 21 July 1995 by Serb General Zdravko Tolimir from Zepa to General Radomir Miletic, acting Chief of General Staff of the VRS (Bosnian Serb Army). Tolimir is asking for help to crush some Bosnian Army strongholds, expressing his view that “the best way to do it would be to use chemical weapons”. In the same report, Chemical Tolimir goes even further,proposing strikes against refugee columns leaving Zepa, because that would “force the Muslim fighters to surrender quickly”, in his opinion. (Source: SENSE Tribunal, 2006.)
The total Yugoslav chemical weapons arsenal contained sarin, mustard gas, BZ, and the tear gases CN and CS (all in large quantities), together with quite traditional products such as phosgene, chlorine picric acid, cyanogen chloride, adamsite, lewisite, and other materials, often only in laboratory quantities. (Source: Federation of American Scientists) Is Naser Oric (Bosnian commander in charge of defending Srebrenica) responsible for alleged killings of “thousands” of Serb civilians in Serb-militarized villages around Srebrenica – as Belgrade sources claimed? Absolutely not. Even the International Criminal Tribunal discredited this Serbian claim which amounted to nothing else but propaganda aimed at justification of Genocide against Bosniaks in Srebrenica. [ Update as of July 4th, 2008: UN Acquits Naser Oric of War Crimes Against the Serbs]
The Research and Documentation Center concluded 480 Serb deaths around Srebrenica; 329 (or 68.5%) were soldiers and 151 (or 31.5%) were civilians. They died as a result of counter-offensive measures taken by starved defenders and civilians of Srebrenica who were forced to attack surrouding Serb military strong holds in search for food and other basic supplies which were blocked by the Serb Army from entering Srebrenica. Long before there were any Serb casualties around Srebrenica, thousands of Bosniaks were killed and ethnically cleansed from predominantly Bosniak area of Podrinje (region where Srebrenica is located).
Serbian politicians have often used grossly inflated numbers of Serbs victims around Srebrenica to justify genocide against Bosniaks. Radical nationalist Belgrade researcher, Milivoje Ivanisevic, was responsible for circulating most of this unreliable and incomplete data about Serb casualties. It is important to note that Ivanisevic recently published a book denying Srebrenica genocide – so much about his credibility.
Office of the Chief United Nations War Crimes Prosecutor also made a statement confirming lack of reliability with respect to Serb sources grossly inflating number of Serb victims around Srebrenica. Asked to comment on the different number of Serb victims in the Srebrenica region published in Belgrade, Florence Hartmann, Spokesperson for the Office of the Prosecutor, made the following statement:
“First of all, the OTP is always very careful in the use of the word ‘victim’. Military or Police casualties from combat should not be considered victims in a criminal investigation context, in the same way people are victims from war crimes, such as summary executions. Before speaking about the whole area of Podrinja, including at least the municipalities of Srebrenica, Bratunac, Vlasenica and Skelani, I would comment on the various figures circulating around the Kravica attack of January 1993. The figures circulating of hundreds of victims or claiming that all 353 inhabitants were “virtually completely destroyed” do not reflect the reality…. For the whole region, i.e the municipalities of Srebrenica, Bratunac, Vlasenica and Skelani, the Serb authorities claimed previously that about 1400 people were killed due to attacks committed by the B&H Army forces for the period of May 1992 to March 1995, when Srebrenica was under the control of Naser Oric. Now the figure has become 3,500 Serbs killed. This figure may have been inflated. Taking the term “victims” as defined previously, these figures just does not reflect the reality.” (source: ICTY Press Release)
“The allegations that Serb casualties in Bratunac, between April 1992 and December 1995 amount to over three thousand is an evident falsification of facts. The RDC research of the actual number of Serb victims in Bratunac [just outside of Srebrenica] has been the most extensive carried out in Bosnia and Herzegovina and proves that the overall number of victims is three to nine times smaller than indicated by Serbia and Montenegro. Perhaps the clearest illustration of gross exaggeration is that of Kravica, a Serb village near Bratunac attacked by the Bosnian Army on the morning of Orthodox Christmas, January 7, 1993 . The allegations that the attack resulted in hundreds of civilian victims have been shown to be false. Insight into the original documentation of the Army of Republika Srpska (VRS) clearly shows that in fact military victims highly outnumber the civilian ones. The document entitled ‘Warpath of the Bratunac brigade’, puts the military victims at 35 killed and 36 wounded; the number of civilian victims of the attack is eleven…”
“The ultra-nationalist Serbian Radical Party launched an aggressive campaign to prove that Muslims had committed crimes against thousands of Serbs in the area. The campaign was intended to diminish the significance of the July 1995 crime, and many in Serbia were willing to accept that version of history. But as the Oric judgment makes clear, the facts do not support the equivalence thesis. Take the events in the village of Kravica, on the Serb Orthodox Christmas on January 7, 1993, for example. The alleged killing of scores of Serbs and destruction of their houses in the village is frequently cited in Serbia as the key example of the heinous crimes committed by the Muslim forces around Srebrenica. In fact, the Oric judgment confirms that there were Bosnian Serb military forces present in the village at the time of attack. In 1998, the wartime New York Times correspondent Chuck Sudetic wrote in his book on Srebrenica that, of forty-five Serbs who died in the Kravica attack, thirty-five were soldiers. Original Bosnian Serb army documents, according to the ICTY prosecutor and the Sarajevo-based Center for Research and Documentation of War Crimes, also indicate that thirty-five soldiers died. The critics also invoke unreliable statistics. A spokesman for the ruling Democratic Party of Serbia in the wake of the Oric judgment, for example, claimed that “we have documents showing that 3,260 people were found dead around Srebrenica from 1992-1995.” However, the book Hronike nasih grobalja (Chronicles of Our Graveyards) by the Serb historian Milivoje Ivanisevic (the president of the Belgrade Centre for Investigating Crimes Committed against the Serbian People), uses the significantly lower figure, of “more than 1,000 persons [who] died,” and contains the list, mostly made of men of military age. Among those killed, there were evidently a significant number of Bosnian Serb soldiers who died in the fighting, like in Kravica.”
Some Serb sources persist in justifying genocide by stating that the Srebrenica Massacre was ‘retaliation’ of Serb forces for Bosniak attacks on Serb-held villages around Srebrenica from which Serb launched brutal offensive on Srebrenica enclave. The U.N. Report 53/35 concluded:
“Even though this accusation [that Srebrenica massacre was 'retaliation' of Serb forces for Bosniak attacks on Serb villages] is often repeated by international sources, there is no credible evidence to support it.” (Read copy of U.N. Report)
The genocide justifiers have consistently ignored the strong VRS (Serb) military presence in some Bosnian Serb villages around Srebrenica. For example, the village of Fakovici was used as a military outpost through which Bosnian Serb forces launched massive attacks on Bosniak civilians. [source]. Secondly, the Oric judgment found the presence of Serb military in several villages that the Bosniak forces launched an offensive on, including the presence of sophisticated weapons such as tanks, anti aircraft, rocket launchers etc. Therefore, putting the offensive actions against those specific villages where there was a VRS presence in much different light than the one purported by the genocide deniers.
In fact, the Oric judgment confirms that there were Bosnian Serb military forces present in the village at the time of attack. In 1998, the wartime New York Times correspondent Chuck Sudetic wrote in his book on Srebrenica that, of forty-five Serbs who died in the Kravica attack, thirty-five were soldiers. Original Bosnian Serb army documents, according to the ICTY prosecutor and the Sarajevo-based Center for Research and Documentation of War Crimes, also indicate that thirty-five soldiers died. (source: Human Rights Watch Serbia)
During the Bosnian war (1992-1995), Srebrenica was under constant siege by Bosnian Serb millitary; no food or medical supplies were allowed into the enclave. Apart from never ending starvation, the civilian population of Srebrenica was subjected to constant Bosnian Serb artillery attacks. The only way to survive was to counter-attack surrounding Bosnian Serb villages (which served as Bosnian Serb military bases) and search for food and other supplies. In fact, long before Naser Oric counter-attacked Bosnian Serb forces around Srebrenica, close to 90% of Bosniak population of Eastern Bosnia was ethnically cleansed by Bosnian Serb and Serbian military forces.
From Simon Mardel, a WHO doctor who was based in Srebrenica at the time, wrote:
“People are completely trapped. The water supply from higher up the valley is now cut off. The present situation can only be described as an impending holocaust.” (source: IWPR)
One cannot even compare the case of genocide with the individual incidents of war crimes, because Srebrenica Bosniaks were subjected to Genocide, not Serbs. It should also be noted that Naser Oric was not on trial for genocide, nor was he on trial for mass murder of Serb civilians.
Many of the 52 witnesses that the Oric prosecution called were members of the Bosnian Serb Army who participated in the seige and massacre of over 8,000 Srebrenica Bosniaks. The prosecution also stood criticised for providing forged documents which three expert witnesess failed to authenticate, and has also been warned but not sancioned for witholding exculpatory evidence. The judges at one point attempted to reduce the time that defence witnesses were allowed to testify, until an appeals chamber overturned this decision. There was also outrage at the 18 year sentence that the prosecution has asked for. Take Drazen Erdemovic as an example; he was a Serb soldier serving in Srebrenica and although he confessed to killing approximately 70 Bosniak civilians during the Srebrenica massacre he only received a 5 year sentance. What was the overall number of casualties of 1992-95 war in Bosnia-Herzegovina? On June 21 2007, the Research and Documentation Center published the most extensive research on Bosnia-Herzegovina’s war casualties titled: The Bosnian Book of the Dead – a database that reveals 97,207 names of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s citizens killed and missing during the 1992-1995 war. An international team of experts evaluated the findings before they were released. More than 240,000 pieces of data have been collected, processed, checked, compared and evaluated by international team of experts in order to get the final number of more than 97,000 of names of victims, belonging to all nationalities. Of the 97,207 documented casualties in Bosnia-Herzegovina, 83 percent of civilian victims were Bosniaks, 10 percent of civilian victims were Bosnian Serbs and more than 5 percent of civilian victims were Bosnian Croats, followed by a small number of others such as Jews or Roma. The percentage of Bosniak victims would be higher had survivors of Srebrenica not reported their loved-ones as ‘soldiers’ to access social services and other government benefits. The figure could rise by a maximum of another 10,000 due to ongoing research.
 What exactly was the role of Bosniak forces on the ground during Srebrenica siege?
Here is what United Nations’ General Assembly concluded [source], quote:
475. Criticisms have also been leveled at the Bosniaks in Srebrenica, among them that they did not fully demilitarize and that they did not do enough to defend the enclave. To a degree, these criticisms appear to be contradictory. Concerning the first criticism, it is right to note that the Bosnian Government had entered into demilitarization agreements with the Bosnian Serbs. They did this with the encouragement of the United Nations. While it is also true that the Bosnian fighters in Srebrenica did not fully demilitarize, they did demilitarize enough for UNPROFOR to issue a press release, on 21 April 1993, saying that the process had been a success. Specific instructions from United Nations Headquarters in New York stated that UNPROFOF should not be too zealous in searching for Bosniak weapons and, later, that the Serbs should withdraw their heavy weapons before the Bosniaks gave up their weapons. The Serbs never did withdraw their heavy weapons.
476. Concerning the accusation that the Bosniaks did not do enough to defend Srebrenica, military experts consulted in connection with this report were largely in agreement that the Bosniaks could not have defended Srebrenica for long in the face of a concerted attack supported by armour and artillery. The defenders were undisciplined, untrained, poorly armed, totally isolated force, lying prone in the crowded valley of Srebrenica. They were ill-equipped even to train themselves in the use of the few heavier weapons that had been smuggled to them by their authorities. After over three years of siege, the population was demoralized, afraid and often hungry. The only leader of stature was absent when the attack occurred. Surrounding them, controlling all the high ground, handsomely equipped with the heavy weapons and logistical train of the Yugoslav army, were the Bosnian Serbs. There was no contest.
477. Despite the odds against them, the Bosniaks requested UNPROFOR to return to them the weapons they had surrendered under the demilitarization agreements of 1993. They requested those weapons at the beginning of the Serb offensive, but the request was rejected by the UNPROFOR because, as one commander explained, “it was our responsibility to defend the enclave, not theirs.” Given the limited number and poor quality of Bosniak weapons held by UNPROFOR, it seems unlikely that releasing those weapons to the Bosniaks would have made a significant difference to the outcome of the battle; but the Bosniaks were under attack at that time, they wanted to resist with whatever means they could muster, and UNPROFOR denied them access to some of their own weapons. With the benefit of hindsight, this decision seems to be particularly ill-advised, given UNPROFOR’s own unwillingness consistently to advocate force as a means deterring attacks on the enclave.
478. Many have accused the Bosniak forces of withdrawing from the enclave as the Serb forces advanced on the day of its fall. However, it must be remembered that on the eve of the final Serb assault the Dutchbat commander urged the Bosniaks to withdraw from defensive positions south of Srebrenica town – the direction from which the Serbs were advancing. He did so because he believed that NATO aircraft would soon be launching widespread air strikes against the advancing Serbs.
479. A third accusation leveled at the Bosniak defenders of Srebrenica is that they provoked the Serb offensive by attacking out of that safe area. Even though this accusation is often repeated by international sources, there is no credible evidence to support it. Dutchbat personnel on the ground at the time assessed that the few “raids” the Bosniaks mounted out of Srebrenica were of little or no military significance. These raids were often organized in order to gather food, as the Serbs had refused access for humanitarian convoys into the enclave. Even Serb sources approached in the context of this report acknowledged that the Bosniak forces in Srebrenica posed no significant military threat to them. The biggest attack the Bosniaks launched out of Srebrenica during the more than two years which is was designated a safe area appears to have been the raid on the village of Visnjica, on 26 June 1995, in which several houses were burned, up to four Serbs were killed and approximately 100 sheep were stolen. In contrast, the Serbs overran the enclave two weeks later, driving tens of thousands from their homes, and summarily executing thousands of men and boys. The Serbs repeatedly exaggerated the extent of the raids out of Srebrenica as a pretext for the prosecution of a central war aim: to create geographically contiguous and ethnically pure territory along the Drina, while freeing their troops to fight in other parts of the country. The extent to which this pretext was accepted at face value by international actors and observers reflected the prism of “moral equivalency” through which the conflict in Bosnia was viewed by too many for too long.
There were also reports of babies being taken away from their mothers and killed. Sabaheta Fejzic’s testimony is a sad one [click here to read testimony re-published from German Der Spiegel]. She witnessed Serb soldiers indiscriminately taking girls, boys, and men out of camp. They also took her husband and son. She never saw either one of them again.
According to the Secretary-General’s Report, A/54/549, quote:
“389. The same day, one of the Dutchbat soldiers, during his brief stay in Zagreb upon return from Serb-held territory, was quoted as telling a member of the press that ‘hunting season [is] in full swing’… it is not only men supposedly belonging to the Bosnian Government who are targeted… women, including pregnant ones, children and old people aren’t spared. Some are shot and wounded, others have had their ears cut off and some women have been raped.” (source: The United Nations)
“[W]e saw two Serb soldiers, one of them was standing guard and the other one was lying on the girl, with his pants off. And we saw a girl lying on the ground, on some kind of mattress. There was blood on the mattress, even she was covered with blood. She had bruises on her legs. There was even blood coming down her legs. She was in total shock. She went totally crazy.” (source: Prosecutor vs. Krstic Judgement)
One of his captors at one point complained that they were not getting a good choice of the Muslim women from Srebrenica. Habibovic’s account corroborates reports from refugees that many Srebrenica women were raped by Bosnian Serb soldiers. Habibovic said the men were taken to a remote location near Rasica Gai late in the evening. When the first group was taken from the truck and shot, he said he leapt from the truck and tumbled down a nearby slope.
Gunfire from the soldiers missed him and he escaped. He later heard a large amount of gunfire, which he believes were the other prisoners being killed. He reached government-held territory on Aug 20, with his wounds still fresh. Hague officials say that the tribunal’s progress in dealing with rape has come from three factors – the courage of the victims and witnesses who testified, the tenacity of the prosecuting lawyers, and the years of tireless lobbying by pressure groups. The breakthrough came when prosecutors established that these rapes were entirely foreseeable.
Judges agreed that the generals in charge should have reasonably predicted that, under these conditions, the sexual assaults were likely. It was concluded that any rapes that took place in Srebrenica were therefore the fault of the commanders. Hague officials say that the tribunal’s progress in dealing with rape has come from three factors – the courage of the victims and witnesses who testified, the tenacity of the prosecuting lawyers, and the years of tireless lobbying by pressure groups.
Here are some excerpts from the ICTY’s (International Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia) 260 page-rulling in the case of Prosecutor vs. Krstic which resulted in Srebrenica genocide verdict:
43. Killings occurred. In the late morning of 12 July 1995, a witness saw a pile of 20 to 30 bodies heaped up behind the Transport Building in Potocari, alongside atractor-like machine. Another testified that, at around 1200 hours on 12 July, he saw a soldier slay a child with a knife in the middle of a crowd of expellees. He also said that he saw Serb soldiers execute more than a hundred Bosnian Muslim men in the area behind the Zinc Factory and then load their bodies onto a truck, although the number and methodical nature of the murders attested to by this witness stand in contrast to other evidence on the Trial Record that indicates that the killings in Potocari were sporadic in nature.
44. As evening fell, the terror deepened.Screams, gunshots and other frightening noises were audible throughout the night and no one could sleep. Soldiers were picking people out of the crowd and taking them away: some returned; others did not. Witness T recounted how three brothers – one merely a child and the others in their teens – were taken out in the night. When the boys’ mother went looking for them, she found them with their throats slit.
46. Bosnian Muslim refugees nearby could see the rape, but could do nothing about it because of Serb soldiers standing nearby. Other people heard women screaming, or saw women being dragged away. Several individuals were so terrified that they committed suicide by hanging themselves. Throughout the night and early the next morning, stories about the rapes and killings spread through the crowd and the terror in the camp escalated.
150. On 12 and 13 July 1995, upon the arrival of Serb forces in Potocari, the Bosnian Muslim refugees taking shelter in and around the compound were subjected to a terror campaign comprised of threats, insults, looting and burning of nearby houses, beatings, rapes, and murders.
517. More significantly, rapes and killings were reported by credible witnesses and some committed suicide out of terror. The entire situation in Potocari has been depicted as a campaign of terror. As an ultimate suffering, some women about to board the buses had their young sons dragged away from them, never to be seen again.
When it comes to Srebrenica massacre, let us consider case of Ed Herman, outspoken Srebrenica genocide denier. Of Herman’s many dubious and outright false assertions about Srebrenica, one of the most contemptible is his attempt to make disappear from history the roughly 8000 Bosnian civilians massacred by Serbian forces. Some of his mystification is couched in slippery deniability, in a half-hearted attempt to deflect the criticism he deserves.
But taken together, his comments comprise a clear endeavor at war-crimes denial. (see citation #1) Herman is perturbed that the estimated number of victims has stayed relatively constant around 8000. (see citation #2) But this estimate has been documented in detail by several independent sources and has been accepted widely, from the corporate media to such progressive reporters as Amy Goodman of “Democracy Now” (Srebrenica 10th anniversary report, July 11, 2005).
Though Herman uses misleading and out-of-date reports to cast doubt on the credibility of the lists of missing, he ignores the detailed documentation of the lists from several sources. The credibility of the lists deserves particular attention in rebuttal to Herman.
On June 5, 2005 Bosnia’s Federal Commission for Missing Persons (Federalna Komisija za nestale osobe) issued a list of the names, parents’ names, dates of birth, and unique citizen’s registration numbers of 8,106 individuals who have been reliably established, from multiple independent sources, to have gone missing and/or been killed in and around Srebrenica in the summer of 1995. The Federal Commission’s list was made public early in June. (see citation #3) A verification process is underway for approximately 500 more victims whose disappearance or death has not yet been verified from two or more independent sources.
Relatives and friends have registered a total of 7,789 names of people missing or known to be dead from the July 1995 events at Srebrenica with another reporting body, the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP).
In addition, the International Committee of the Red Cross has compiled its own list, based on inquiries from friends and relatives. (The ICRC list is slightly shorter because it allows only those reported by relatives. Where entire families were wiped out, the ICRC does not accept reports from friends or neighbors.) The ICRC states that there are still 5500 missing persons from Srebrenica, in addition to the 2000+ identified dead. (July 2005).
Another list appears as an annex to the Republika Srpska Srebrenica Commission’s June 2004 report. It should also be kept in mind that names appear on the missing-persons lists as a result of active inquiries from relatives and others close to the missing/deceased individuals in question. In addition to these names there are other individuals who were among the dead and missing in July 1995 but do not appear on any lists because they had no close friends or relatives there to inquire after them – including cases where whole families (or whole village populations) were killed.
For one of numerous reports on the difficulties faced by forensic investigators in attempting to identify some of the recovered bodies, see Srebrenica: ten years on, by Ed Vulliamy, July 6, 2005. That sort of information should be posted on ZNet as a counter-balance to Herman’s ridiculous denials.
Apparently Herman has never been to Bosnia, so he thinks he is able to preserve his ability to look at the issues with “objectivity,” unlike the surviving victims of the massacre. But his selective reliance on Serbian nationalists, right-wing Republicans, and a handful of leftist ideologues produces historical revisionism that disgraces Z Magazine.
If you are interested in more on this topic, you can also read about General Lewis Mackenzie, the former commander of the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) in Bosnia, who is outspoken Srebrenica genocide denier. He portrays himself as an expert on Srebrenica who can rule on genocide issues, even though he has no legal background and he has never visited Srebrenica in his life, plus he has been accused by eyewitnesses of participating in mass rapes of Bosniak women in Serb-held rape camps. Here is a copy of the 1993 article by the investigative reporter Dennis Bernstein (Pacific News Service): Answers Needed to Charges of U.N. Misconduct in Bosnia.
 Was the war of the 90′s civil or international conflict in Bosnia-Herzegovina which culminated to Srebrenica genocide?
War in Bosnia-Herzegovina cannot be characterized simply as ‘civil war’, as forces loyal to the Bosnian government were composed of members coming from all ethnic backgrounds. For example, high ranking Bosnian General, Jovan Divjak, was a Serb. He was one of Generals in charge of defending Sarajevo from Serb attacks. According to the statement by Chief UN War Crimes Prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte, to the Security Council on June 7 2006, the Prosecution has proven an international armed conflict in Bosnia-Herzegovina no less than five times, quote:
The instrument of the adjudicated facts is therefore a key tool to reduce the scope of the trials. For instance, the Prosecution has proven an international armed conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina no less than five times, wasting months and months on proving the same facts, sometimes with the same witnesses, in case after case. We have to prove it again, for the sixth time, in the on-going Prlic et al. trial. (source: Human Rights Watch / The International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia)
Although the Dutch government refused to apologize for the failure of Dutchbat to prevent the Srebrenica massacre, the NIOD Report was the Netherlands’s attempt to wash their hands of direct involvement in the Srebrenica massacre. The report is extremely biased in some parts, depending on the sources or references used.
For example, Part II – Chapter 2 talks about “The history preceding the conflict in Eastern Bosnia up until the establishment of the Safe Area“. By reading this part of the report, one can easily get the impression that Bosniaks constantly attacked Serb villages while Serbs were constantly defending themselves from Bosniaks. But since this report was Netherland’s attempt to shift blame by virtues of ‘moral equivalency’, no wonder they came up with such grotesque claims. Earlier U.N. Report 53/35 concluded:
Even though this accusation is often repeated by international sources, there is no credible evidence to support it. Dutchbat personnel on the ground at the time assessed that the few “raids” the Bosniaks mounted out of Srebrenica were of little or no military significance. These raids were often organized in order to gather food, as the Serbs had refused access for humanitarian convoys into the enclave. Even Serb sources approached in the context of this report acknowledged that the Bosniak forces in Srebrenica posed no significant military threat to them. (source: read copy of UN Report 53/35)
Between April 1992 and March 1993, Srebrenica town and the villages in the area held by Bosnian Muslims were constantly subjected to Serb military assaults, including artillery attacks, sniper fire, as well as occasional bombing from aircrafts. Each onslaught followed a similar pattern. Serb soldiers and paramilitaries surrounded a Bosnian Muslim village or hamlet, called upon the population to surrender their weapons, and then began with indiscriminate shelling and shooting. In most cases, they then entered the village or hamlet, expelled or killed the population, who offered no significant resistance, and destroyed their homes. During this period, Srebrenica was subjected to indiscriminate shelling from all directions on a daily basis. Potocari in particular was a daily target for Serb artillery and infantry because it was a sensitive point in the defence line around Srebrenica. Other Bosnian Muslim settlements were routinely attacked as well. All this resulted in a great number of refugees and casualties. (source: Naser Oric Judgement, pdf format page 43-51)
Later, a Dutch battalion replaced the Canadian troops. The weapons of Bosnian Muslims were, at least to some extent, turned in or confiscated. Larger military operations by both Bosnian Muslims and Serbs were effectively brought to a halt. However, incidents of Serb military action continued to occur, causing casualties among the Srebrenica population. (Naser Oric Judgement, pdf format, page 52-53)
Serbian Human Rights Watch agrees:
In fact, the Oric judgment confirms that there were Bosnian Serb military forces present in the village at the time of attack. In 1998, the wartime New York Times correspondent Chuck Sudetic wrote in his book on Srebrenica that, of forty-five Serbs who died in the Kravica attack, thirty-five were soldiers. Original Bosnian Serb army documents, according to the ICTY prosecutor and the Sarajevo-based Center for Research and Documentation of War Crimes, also indicate that thirty-five soldiers died. (source: Human Rights Watch in Serbia)
“They [the critics] claim that the government-financed report now provides a ‘one-stop shop’ of information for all sides if the conflict, because it was watered down too much for it to take a real position on anything. According to Jan Willem Honig, senior lecturer in war studies at London’s Kings College and co-author of the highly-praised “Srebrenica, Record of a War Crime”, the truth lies somewhere in between. Although he says the report “has an aura of independent academic research,” Honig is critical of its length, saying the sheer abundance of information makes it possible for anyone to pluck from it whatever they need to make their point. This, he says, is a liability because the report is not always consistent. ‘It’s possible to draw different conclusions from the different parts in the book. Therefore one can imagine it is useful to both defence and prosecution,’ he said. Honig said he found numerous errors in the report as well. For example, he said an explanatory map inserted as a graphic aid to explaining the Bosnian Serb battle plan does not correspond with the plan as described in the text. And neither the written description nor the map accurately describe the actual plan. Worse than the inaccuracies, according to Honig, is the fact that the report has no clear objective. ‘They [the researchers] should have considered better what they wanted to establish with the report. That might have saved thousands of pages. With its leisurely narrative approach they shot themselves in the foot. The project escaped their control; it became too big,’ he said.
Honig is not alone in criticising the report. Many readers have complained that the index is poorly organised and full of errors, particularly regarding peoples’ names. Even those who worked on the NIOD report have been critical of it. One of the nine NIOD-researchers, anthropologist Ger Duijzings recently told the Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad, ‘Information from sources that I found unreliable, I found back in Part 1 [of the report] – used by [fellow-researcher] Bob de Graaf, if he thought it fitted in his argumentation.’”
According to Hasan Nuhanovic, who survived Srebrenica massacre, the NIOD Report has not determined the level of responsibility and guilt of the Dutch troops and officials for genocide in Srebrenica (source: Hasan Nuhanovic / photo on the left) .
According to ambassador Arria, who initiated the visit of the UN Security Council delegation to Srebrenica in April 1993, and was at its head, described the situation in the enclave as “genocide in slow motion”. (source: SENSE Tribunal) Shocking images of poverty, destruction, starvation and squalor were hidden from the public. As the Venezuelan ambassador testified, this was done with the collusion of the UNPROFOR troops deployed in the enclave declared a “protected area” a little while ago.
Arria took the first photographs of the destruction of Srebrenica and its starving inhabitants. Those were the only photographs in existence at the time. He refused to hand over his camera to UN members.
Ambassador Arria testified at the International Tribunal that the international community “did not move its little finger” to protect the Muslims in the enclave and “did not make it possible for them to defend themselves”. He openly accusing the then UN Secretary General Boutros Ghali and his staff of withholding the reports about the real situation in Srebrenica and misinforming the Security Council.
The report on the “humanitarian disaster in Srebrenica”, Arria claims, appeared before the Security Council 12 days after the dramatic appeal by the then UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Sadako Ogata. There was a tendency in the Security Council, he said, to “morally equate the victims and the aggressor”, thus avoiding the need to take action to prevent the humanitarian disaster.
The Venezuelan diplomat claims that the blue helmets in the enclave did nothing to prevent the “gradual genocide”. Quite the contrary, during the visit of the Security Council delegation to Srebrenica, the then UNPROFOR commander, Brigadier Hayes did all he could to prevent them from seeing the real situation and the truth about the area which had already been officially declared as “protected”.
As he said, the international community had been hoping, before the declaration of the safe haven, that the Serbs would overrun the enclave quickly, thereby “solving the problem”. The defenders of Srebrenica, Arria contends, were a problem for the international community. It turned out that the UN-protected enclave was in fact a “scene set for genocide”, Arria said, adding that today he was “sorry [he] proposed the establishment of the protected area together with the other representatives of the non-aligned countries in the Security Council”. Will Serbian masterminds of Srebrenica Genocide, Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, ever be captured and brought to justice? [UPDATE, July 21 2008: Radovan Karadzic is arrested!] It’s hard to speculate. There is no genuine will in Serbia to arrest Radovan Karadzic and/or Ratko Mladic. Serbia has been protecting and financially supporting war criminals for over a decade now. Bosnian Serb war crimes fugitive Ratko Mladic drew his army general’s pension in Serbia up until November last year while on the run from international justice. An investigation had revealed that Mladic’s wife, son and two Army officers, one retired and one still active, had been authorized to pick up the money in 2002, when Mladic dropped out of sight to avoid arrest. He was active in the Yugoslav Army until 2002, one year after Milosevic’s arrest.
On June 7 2006, in a statement to the Security Council, Chief UN War Crimes Prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte, complained that rather than arresting Mladic, the Serbian authorities had wasted time trying to get him to surrender voluntarily. And while a series of operations targeting his support network earlier this year might have succeeded in producing a lot of column inches, she added, they lacked the discretion needed to acquire information that could have led to his arrest. In addition, Del Ponte voiced suspicion that inconsistencies in reports submitted to her office by the Serbian authorities were a sign that the information in them had been “doctored for political reasons”. (source: ICTY Press Release)
According to Del Ponte, there are established leads connecting Serbia to Radovan Karadzic and that it is certain that part of his network and of his family remains in Republika Srpska (Serb part of Bosnia).
During 2005, there was no real attempt to locate and arrest Mladic.Part of Karadzic’s family is living in Montenegro, and he can count on numerous supporters there.
In 2000, the U.S. Jury returned $4.5 billion verdict against Radovan Karadzic. The U.S. Government has offered $5 million reward for information leading to the capture of Radovan Karadzic and/or Ratko Mladic.
 Did Bosniaks bombed themselves to win sympathy of the west and force NATO to strike Bosnian Serb positions around Srebrenica, Gorazde, and Sarajevo – as leftist apologist circles liked to argue?
David Harland, former head of UN Civil Affairs in BH, testified at the International Criminal Tribunal (Dragomir Milosevic Trial) that there is no single evidence that Muslims shelled themselves. Harland admitted he was responsible for the creation of the myth that UNPROFOR was unable to determine who had fired the mortar shells that caused the Markale 2 massacre on 28 August 1995. Forty-three people were killed and seventy-five injured at the entrance to the Town Market in Sarajevo
On the day when the second attack on Markale happened, General Rupert Smith stated “it is unclear who fired the shells, although at that time he already had the technical report of UNPROFOR intelligence section, determining beyond reasonable doubt that they were fired from VRS [Serb] positions at Lukavica”.
Harland’s responsibility lies in the fact that he himself advised General Smith to make “a neutral statement in order not to alarm the Bosnian Serbs who would be alerted to the impending NATO air strikes against their positions had he pointed a finger at them”. That would have jeopardized the safety of UN troops in the territory under VRS [Serb] control or on positions where they might have been vulnerable to retaliatory attacks by Serb forces.
General Rupert Smith confirmed that he had concluded “beyond reasonable doubt” the mortar shell that caused the Markale 2 massacre had come “from the Serb positions around Sarajevo.” He told the court he reached the conclusion by putting together the results of two investigations, undertaken by the UN military observers and the UNPROFOR Sarajevo Sector experts.
In a Report of the Secretary-General pursuant to General Assembly resolution 53/35, “The Fall of Srebrenica”, the United Nations concluded:
D. Attack on the Markale Marketplace in Sarajevo:
438. Five mortar rounds landed in a crowded area of downtown Sarajevo shortly after 1100 hours on 28 August . Four of the rounds caused only minimal material damage; one round, however, landed in the Markale marketplace, the scene of a similar attack on 5 February 1994. Thirty-seven people, most of them civilians, were killed in and around the marketplace, and approximately 90 were injured. A confidential report to the UNPROFOR Commander concluded that the five rounds had been fired from the Serb-held area of Lukavica, to the west of Sarajevo. (The secrecy surrounding the UNPROFOR investigation into this incident gave rise to speculation, fuelled by the Serbs, that there was doubt as to which side had fired the mortar rounds. A review of United Nations documentation, however, confirms that UNPROFOR considered the evidence clear: all five rounds had been fired by the Bosnian Serbs.) [Click here to read full copy of this U.N. Report]
Serb General Stanislav Galic was convicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for terrorizing Sarajevo including for responsibility of 1994 Markale Market massacre in Sarajevo. The judge said that prosecutors proved beyond reasonable doubt 18 of the 26 sniping incidents they charged and all five of the shellings. That includes the 1994 Sarajevo marketplace shelling (markale market massacre) in which 68 people were killed and more than 100 injured, read full report here .
During Slobodan Milosevic trial, Berko Zecevic, an expert in designing ammunition who investigated the mortar shell that killed 68 and wounded 144 in Sarajevo’s Markale Marketplace on February 5, 1994, also concluded that the shell could only have come from the Bosnian Serb Army (VRS) positions, read full report here.