Home > srebrenica massacre > SREBRENICA MASSACRE: FIVE BASIC QUESTIONS + BONUS QUESTION ANSWERED (and more answers added!)

SREBRENICA MASSACRE: FIVE BASIC QUESTIONS + BONUS QUESTION ANSWERED (and more answers added!)

March 3, 2006

ANNOUNCEMENT: New QnA available!
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SREBRENICA MASSACRE: FIVE BASIC QUESTIONS PLUS BONUS QUESTION ANSWERED (and more!)

Edition Updated: March 16, 2006 (new!)

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Contents:

1. What is Srebrenica Massacre / Srebrenica Genocide?
2. How many Bosniaks were killed during the Srebrenica Massacre?
3. Were Srebrenica Massacre victims only men and older boys?
4. What is Srebrenica Genocide denial and revisionism?
5. Why do Srebrenica Massacre revisionists continue to downplay Srebrenica Genocide?

6. Bonus Question:
– Is it true that Naser Oric (Commander of Srebrenica defence forces) killed thousands of Serb civilians in the villages around Srebrenica? (note: although this story is unfounded, it is frequently promoted by Srebrenica Genocide deniers / revisionists as an excuse for Srebrenica massacre)

7. UN REPORT: THE FALL OF SREBRENICA – ROLE OF BOSNIAK FORCES ON THE GROUND (highly recommended read!)

8. Response to outdated style propaganda that Bosniaks (or Muslims as they like to call us) bombed themselves

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1. What is Srebrenica Massacre / Srebrenica Genocide?
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The Srebrenica Massacre is considered one of the largest mass murders in Europe since World War II and one of the most horrific events in recent European history. The slaughter of Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) at Srebrenica is recognized as the gravest atrocity to take place in Europe since the Nazi genocide. The International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia has ruled the Srebrenica Massacre officialy a Genocide.

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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. In 2001, Radislav Krstic, a Serb commander who had led the assault on Srebrenica alongside Mladic, was convicted by the International Criminal Tribunal on Srebrenica Genocide charges and received 46 years to life in prison (on appeal reduced to 35).
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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 recognised and gave details of the pre-planned murders.
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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 .
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2. How many Bosniaks were killed during the Srebrenica Massacre?
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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.
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3. Were Srebrenica Massacre victims only men and older boys?
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No. It is estimated that hundreds of women and female children were raped during Srebrenica Massacre. The Serb troops abused women and even children who they had herded into makeshift enclosures. Due to cultural stigma attached to rape, many women refused to testify against the rapists. You may visit their website –
Woman-Victim of War.
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As a result of exhaustive UN negotiations with Serb troops, Srebrenica women were bussed to the Government-controlled territory. Had UN negotiations with Serb troops failed, most Srebrenica women would likely meet the fate of Srebrenica men and boys. Some busses never reached the safety. For example, according to the witness accounts given by Srebrenica Massacre survivor – Kadir Habibovic – who hid himself on one of the first buses taking women and children from the Dutch United Nations base in Potocari to government-held territory in Kladanj, “Habibovic saw at least one vehicle full of Muslim women being driven away from Bosnian government-held territory.”
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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.
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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.
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4. What is Srebrenica Genocide denial / revisionism?
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Srebrenica Genocide denial, also called Srebrenica Genocide revisionism, is the belief that the Srebrenica genocide did not occur, or, more specifically: that far fewer than around 8,100 Srebrenica Bosniaks were killed by the Bosnian Serb Army (numbers below 5,000, most often around 2,000 are typically cited); that there never was a centrally-planned Bosnian Serb Army’s attempt to exterminate the Bosniaks of Srebrenica; and/or that there were no mass killings at the extermination sites.
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Those who hold this position often further claim that Bosniaks and/or Western media know that the Srebrenica genocide never occurred, yet that they are engaged in a massive conspiracy to maintain the illusion of a Srebrenica Genocide to further their political agenda. These views are not accepted as credible by objective historians.
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Srebrenica genocide deniers almost always prefer to be called Srebrenica Genocide revisionists. Most scholars contend that the latter term is misleading. Historical revisionism is a well-accepted part of the study of history; it is the reexamination of historical facts, with an eye towards updating histories with newly discovered, more accurate, or less biased information. The implication is that history as it has been traditionally told may not be entirely accurate. The term historical revisionism has a second meaning, the illegitimate manipulation of history for political purposes. For example, Srebrenica Genocide deniers (or Srebrenica Genocide revisionists as they like to be called) typically willfully misuse or ignore historical records in order to attempt to prove their conclusions.
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While historical revisionism is the re-examination of accepted history, with an eye towards updating it with newly discovered, more accurate, and less-biased information, Srebrenica Genocide deniers/revisionists have been using it to seek evidence in support of their own preconceived theory, omitting substantial facts.
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Most Srebrenica Genocide deniers reject the term Genocide and insist that they do not deny the Srebrenica Massacre, prefering to be called “revisionists”. They are nevertheless commonly labeled as Srebrenica Genocide deniers to differentiate them from historical revisionists and because their goal is to deny the existance of the Srebrenica Genocide, by omitting substantial facts, rather than honestly using historical evidence and methodology to examine the event.
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5. Why do Srebrenica Massacre revisionists continue to downplay Srebrenica Genocide?
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Consider Ed Herman. 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. (1)
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Herman is perturbed that the estimated number of victims has stayed relatively constant around 8000. (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).
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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.
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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. (3)
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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.
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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).
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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)
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Another list appears as an annex to the Republika Srpska Srebrenica Commission’s June 2004 report.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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(1) Herman’s denial of the magnitude of the massacre:


> … there is a major issue of how many were executed, as numerous bodies found in local grave sites were victims of fighting, and many Bosnian Muslim men who fled Srebrenica reached Bosnian Muslim territory safely.

> … the evidence for a massacre, certainly of one in which 8,000 men and boys were executed, has always been problematic, to say the least …

> There are also lists of missing, but these lists are badly flawed, with duplications, individuals listed who had died before July 1995, who fled to avoid BSA service, or who registered to vote in 1997, and they include individuals who died in battle or reached safety or were captured and assumed a new existence elsewhere.

> The 8,000 figure is also incompatible with the basic arithmetic of Srebrenica numbers before and after July 1995.


(2) Herman on the list of dead and missing persons:


> One anomaly connected with Srebrenica has been the stability of the figure of Bosnian Muslim victims-8,000 in July 1995 and 8,000 today, despite the crudity of the initial estimate, the evidence that many or most of the 5,000 “missing” reached Bosnian Muslim territory or were killed in the fighting, and the clear failure to produce supportive physical evidence despite a massive effort. In other cases, like the 9/11 fatality estimate, and even the Bosnian killings and Kosovo bombing war estimates, the original figures were radically scaled down as evidence of body counts made the earlier inflated numbers unsustainable. [49]

> But the link of this propaganda triumph to truth and justice is non-existent. The disconnection with truth is epitomized by the fact that the original estimate of 8,000, including 5,000 “missing”–who had left Srebrenica for Bosnian Muslim lines-was maintained even after it had been quickly established that several thousand had reached those lines and that several thousand more had perished in battle. This nice round number lives on today in the face of a failure to find the executed bodies and despite the absence of a single satellite photo showing executions, bodies, digging, or trucks transporting bodies for reburial.

(3) As an alternative to Herman’s make-believe denials, readers might be interested in a couple of documents with much detail about the massacre:

Srebrenica Investigation: Summary of Forensic Evidence – Execution Points and Mass Graves

Dean Manning witness statement on Srebrenica in Milosevic trial

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6. BONUS QUESTION:

Is it true that Naser Oric (Commander of Srebrenica defence forces) killed thousands of Serb civilians in the villages around Srebrenica?

The answer is No. In fact, less than 2,000 Serb civilians died in all of Bosnia (or 1,978 to be exact) – many of them from Bosnian Serb shells hitting besieged government-controlled cities. (Source: The Research and Documentation Centre, as of December 15, 2005). It should also be noted that Naser Oric is not on trial for genocide, nor is he on trial for mass murder of Serb civilians.

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.

Here is a short excerpt from United Nations’ General Assembly Resolution 53/35 that addresses issue of Naser Oric’s raids:

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.

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7. UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY: The Fall of Srebrenica – Role of Bosniak Forces on the Ground
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Fifty-fourth session, Agenda item 42
The situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina
15 November 1999, pages 103-104
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Report of the Secretary-General pursuant to General Assembly resolution 53/35
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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8. Response to outdated style propaganda that Bosniaks (or Muslims as they like to call us) bombed themselves
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So, briefly – what are the facts?
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1. UN Report: Serbs Responsible for 1995 Sarajevo Markale Market Massacre (must read – read this first!)
2. ICTY Ruling: Serb General, Stanislav Galic, guilty for 1994 Sarajevo Markale Market Massacre
3. International Criminal Tribunal: Bosnian Serbs Responsible for Sarajevo Markale Massacre

  1. Ed
    March 4, 2006 at 1:48 pm

    Daniel,

    I can’t argue with what you say, the evidence is both on your blog and out in the open too.

    I sometimes wonder from reading your blog and comments that you leave on other blogs, why you write with such a blatent agenda?

    I think we both have the same aim on our blogs, namely to show how criminal some of the acts carried out by military and political leaders during the war were. You limit yourself to just criticising Serbian crimes. Whilst I realise their crimes were the greatest, and this is a blog about Srebrenica, I just feel you would be more credible if you took a more balanced line of argument. The info about Naser Orić for example, you almost sound like you’re defending his actions, by trying to diminish his crimes. Let’s face it, he didn’t do anywhere near as many murders as Mladić, Karadzić or Milošević, but that isn’t the issue. If Naser Orić even commited one act of unjustified murder, war crime, rape, or commanded his troops to do any of these acts then he deserves to be locked away forever.

    Your blog is great though, I do like reading it, but always do with an open mind. How come you always hassle John (his Republika Srpska connections I guess) but never leave anything on my blog. God, I could have done with having you around on a few occassions after some of the criticism I got from crazy Serbs denying that Serb troops did anything wrong in the war (apparently it was all the fault of Kosovans, Croats, Bosnians, Jihadists, Vatican……!)

    This comment is too long already, so I wish you all the best and leave,

    Take care,
    Ed

  2. Viator
    March 4, 2006 at 7:18 pm

    Does have to have happened to your people so that you get interested? Apparently so. The Simon Wiesenthal Institute has to my knowledge never said anything about the genocide in Rouanda and later in Darfur, Sudan. A genocide that is ongoing b.t.w. without much interest from the world (I´ts true that the muslim Sudanese have stopped burning down villages of heathen Sudanese in the north but thats mostly because there are so few villages left. Today they (the Sudanese nazis mostly attack refuge camps. See how long it takes you to forget about this info!), just like the holocaust was ignored by the world untill the last stages of war and all the genocides in former Yougoslavia as well.
    It seems like its a human instinct is to ignore atrocities that surpass the level their mentality can put up with comfortably. It´s was stressing emotionally for me to hear about the Yougoslavian genocides here up on Iceland, it was just stressing to know that such evil existed in the world. But I have the luxory of distance that you have not, and I wonder, these things are in the past. Is it more important to punish those who so totally sell their souls to evil. Or is it more worthwhile to be a watchdog and try to prevent it from happening again.
    Like I said, the Srebrenica genocide is being played out right now as you read this words, year 2006, in a country called Sudan.

  3. Ed
    March 8, 2006 at 2:30 pm

    I’ve finally got around to linking to you on my blog.

    Take care,
    Ed

  4. ZaiZ
    March 17, 2006 at 7:00 am

    Your blog is turning out very nicely and the materials you have compiled is crucial readings indeed Daniel. Keep up the good work!

    /ZaiZ

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