Home > srebrenica massacre > WOMEN & SREBRENICA MASSACRE


June 8, 2006


[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. [See: Prosecutor vs. Krstic Judgement]

Rape was used by psychiatrist Karadzic’s (Serb) troops as a tactic of war in Bosnia-Herzegovina.Genocide is a crime so enormous and so heartrending that it seems to defy understanding. It is also the most serious of international crimes and the most difficult to prove. Serb General Radislav Krstic was found guilty of Srebrenica Genocide and sentenced to 46 years imprisonment by the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). On appeal, Krstic’s sentence was cut by 11 years as the court redefined his involvement.

As a result, The Court confirmed, for the second time, that the 1995 massacre of Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims) in Srebrenica was indeed an act of Genocide.

In a landmark ruling, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia widened the definition of genocide when it found Bosnian Serb General Radislav Krstic guilty of “aiding and abetting genocide” for his role in the systematic murders of Bosniak men and underage boys (children) in Srebrenica in July 1995. The Krstic ruling expanded the legal definition of genocide to cover mass killing on the basis of gender. While the defence argued that “the VRS 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”.

Over 8,000 Bosniaks perished in the Srebrenica massacre (also see attempts to deny Srebrenica massacre). Most of them were men and boys (children). Women were also victimized, raped, and as a result of UN negotiations with Serbs – herded into busses and deported. Over twenty thousands Bosnian women were raped during the war. This figure is undoubtedly an underestimate due to underreporting (Lene Hansen, “Gender, Nation, Rape: Bosnia and the Construction of Security”).

The International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia (ICTY) handed down a verdict in February 2001 that found three Bosnian Serb men (Dragoljub Kunarac, Radomir Kovac, and Zoran Vukovic) guilty of rape, sexual torture and enslavement. This landmark verdict was the first time individuals were convicted of war crimes solely for sexual violence and the decision set a legal standard for sexual enslavement as a crime against humanity.

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 conviction:

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 a tractor-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 thecrowd 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.
45. That night, a Dutch Bat medical orderly came across two Serb soldiers raping a young woman:
[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.”
46. Bosnian Muslim refugees nearby could see the rape, but could do nothing about it becauseof 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.

According to the Secretary-General’s Report, A/54/549:

389. The same day [17 July 1995], 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.

General Krstic thus incurs liability also for the incidental murders, rapes, beatings and abuses committed in the execution of this criminal enterprise at Potocari.

You can read 260-pages Judgement, in the case of Prosecutor vs. Krstic, here.

Here is an excerpt from Der Spiegel article titled Srebrenica Massacre Widows Sue UN, Dutch Government: Toast to the Dead, originally published July 4th 2006:

Sabaheta Fejzic and her husband ran with their baby to a Dutch military base….The Serbs also took her husband, and literally tore her son from her arms. Sabaheta Fejzic never saw either of them again. [read full article here]

I have said it before, and I will say it again: Only because of exhaustive UN negotiations with Serb troops, Srebrenica women were ‘spared’ from executions by being forcibly bussed to the Government-controlled territory. Had UN negotiations with Serb troops failed, 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.” One of his captors at one point complained that they were not getting a good choice of the Muslim women from Srebrenica. [source]

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.

  1. Anonymous
    August 6, 2007 at 5:02 am


    Thank you for gathering the infomration in this blog. It is crucial that the world continue to remember the evil that occured by Serb forces in Srebrenica and other areas. The world left the Bosnian muslims to die at the hands of cowards. I feel even worse for the criminals who must live with the memory of killing children and raping helpless girls…and forever dividing a nation. I wish them luck in the hereafter. They will need it.

  2. Anonymous
    January 5, 2008 at 6:18 am

    Another example of rape is the horrific story of Abeer Qassim Al-Janabi, a 14-year old Iraqi girl who was raped by American soliders.

    They arrived at her house, took Abeer’s father, mother, and 5-year old sister to a room and shot them.

    Abeer knew they had been killed.

    3 soliders raped her.They poured kerosene over her body and set her on fire.

    one of the soliders who raped her got a 9-month sentence.

  3. Anonymous
    August 1, 2008 at 9:20 am


  4. John Maszka
    April 10, 2009 at 9:56 pm


    I’m doing research on how American foreign policy affects popular support for terrorism. My theory is that America’s hegemonic activity fuels popular support for terrorism, but I need data to support that hypothesis. I plan to conduct a large international survey in order to collect that data. Before I conduct the survey, however, I need to devise a survey instrument that is non-biased (non-western, non-white). I strongly believe that the biggest reason that America is losing the war on terror is that we aren’t listening to the people that matter the most—everyone else. The same principal applies to my survey: it won’t do any good if I’m not asking the right questions.

    So I’m asking for your help.

    I’ve put together a pre-survey questionnaire to help fashion a survey that hopefully will ask the right questions― one that takes race, religion, and gender issues into consideration rather than just making the same old geopolitical assumptions that political scientists in my field tend to make. I’m particularly interested in incorporating the views of women, non-whites, and people living outside of America and Western Europe. The final survey will go out once the pre-survey data has been collected and analyzed.

    The survey can be accessed at


    Please take a moment and fill out the survey.

    Thank you!
    Take care,

    John Maszka

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