Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and Hezbollah Terrorists bear direct responsibility for the slaughter of innocence. This time we are reporting about the massacre of Lebanese children in the village of Qana, close to the border with Israel. We also wish to pay respect to all victims regardless of their background. May they rest in peace.
Today, when Israeli war planes attacked Qana, at least 60 civilians were killed, among them at least 37 were children. Conflict between Israeli Defense Forces and Hezbollah is has resulted in many innocent victims being killed on both sides. Recently, Hezbollah’s rockets killed two Israeli-Arab boys (brothers) in a Muslim village in the northern Israel. Both, IDF and Hezbollah are indiscriminately firing rockets on Lebanese and Israeli civilians.
Today, it is the deadliest single strike since Israel unleashed its war on Lebanon. When Israel invaded Lebanon in June 1982, the human and material cost was devastating. Tens of thousands civilians were killed and hundreds of thousands were made homeless. Over 80 percent of the casualties were civilians, Lebanese and Palestinian.
Israel, the US, Hezbollah and several European governments were in no rush to reach a ceasefire until this massacre happened. Israel suspended air attacks on south Lebanon for 48 hours in the face of widespread outrage over an airstrike Sunday that killed at least 60
Lebanese, almost all of them women and children, when it leveled a building where they had taken shelter.
Hezbollah terrorists continued to fire rockets on Israel. Dozens of other villages in the region around the southern port city of Tyre were also bombarded for two hours overnight with fire from the Israeli navy, air force and artillery. Israeli planes also tore up the Masnaa border crossing into Syria, leading to the closure of the main Damascus-Beirut route.
[Update: Despite an agreement to stop airstrikes for 48 hours, both sides continued conflict. Israel dropped bombs in southern Lebanon on Monday and Hezbollah terrorists continued to fire rockets on Israel.]
Israel’s attack on Qana’s residents came shortly after rejecting a UN call for a 72-hour humanitarian truce to allow the delivery of relief items to Lebanon. UN humanitarian chief Jan Egeland had appealed for a truce to allow casualties to be removed and food and medicine to be sent into the war zone.
The Israeli military says Hizbollah bore responsibility for using the town to fire rockets at Israel. “We were attacking launchers that were firing missiles,” said Captain Jacob Dallal, an Israeli army spokesman.
However, the principle of military necessity cannot excuse the massive destruction of buildings and the number of civilian casualties which result from Israel’s assault on Qana.
Diplomats must wonder at what point do the number and catastrophic consequences of ‘mistakes’ allow for the conclusion that Israel has been indiscriminate in its acts of violence. Israeli and Hezbollah’s bombardments have been directed at targets regardless of the consequences for civilians.
There can be no doubt that Israel uses phosphorus and fragmentation weapons in Lebanon and that Hezbollah terrorists have no will to stop firing rockets on Israel. The use of these weapons in an environment where there is a high concentration of civilians, the widespread impact and destructive effects of these weapons and thir delayed-action nature also point to the total disregard of human lives.
As such Israeli attacks on UN posts are not new. Two Indian UN peacekeepers were wounded and four UN military observers were killed last week in an Israeli strike on their observation posts.
On April 18, 1996, when Shimon Peres was Israel’s Prime Minister, approximately 800 civilians were sheltering in the UN base. Most residents of Qana and neighboring villages had fled north a week earlier seeking refuge in Beirut. Middle East correspondent, Robert Fisk has recently reported grave violations of human rights and compared them with Srebrenica massacre:
“It was a massacre. Not since Sabra and Chatila had I seen the innocent slaughtered like this. The Lebanese refugee women and children and men lay in heaps, their heads or arms or legs missing, beheaded or disemboweled. There were well over a hundred of them. A baby lay without a head. The Israeli shells had scythed through them as they lay in the United Nations shelter, believing that they were safe under the world’s protection. Like the Muslims of Srebrenica, the Muslims of Qana were wrong.”
International shock at those 1996 deaths – more than 100, and another 100 injured – led to huge pressure for a ceasefire deal bringing an end to Israel’s last sustained military operation against Hezbollah militants, codenamed Operation Grapes of Wrath. The Qana Massacre, as it is known in Lebanon, remains a powerful symbol for Lebanese people of what they say is Israel’s indiscriminate and disproportionate response to Hezbollah’s rocket attacks.
Israel still insists the 1996 shelling was an accident and that its forces had a legitimate militant target – a Hezbollah military unit that had fired mortars and rockets from near the Qana base. Then, as now, Israel accused Hezbollah of using the civilian population as human shields when they launched their attacks.
However, a UN investigation reported in May 1996 that the deaths at the Qana base were unlikely to have been the result of an accident as claimed by the Israelis. The UN report cited the repeated use of airburst shells over the small UN compound, which sent down a deadly torrent of shrapnel that caused terrible injuries among the unprotected civilians. The UN also noted the presence of
Israeli helicopters and a drone in the skies over Qana which must have witnessed the bloodbath.
In the current round of Israeli bombardments, Qana has again been in the news – the scene of several incidents, such as the bombing by Israel of two Lebanese Red Cross ambulances and the death of a young Lebanese photojournalist, Layal Nejib, also in an air strike on her car.
Looking at the map, it is not hard to see why Qana is never far from the headlines when Israel bombards southern Lebanon.
It lies at the northern edge of the Lebanon’s southern uplands which border Israel and also at the confluence of five strategic roads in the hinterland south-east of the southern city of Tyre.
Israeli officials say leaflets had been dropped in the area warning civilians to leave their homes so it could conduct more anti-Hezbollah operations.
However, it seems clear that, with the number of civilian cars and convoys which have been bombed by Israel on the roads heading to Tyre, many residents chose to ignore the Israeli warnings as a result of panic created when attempting to leave the villages.
The absence of precautions prior to the attack in close proximity to the town of Qana and the UN base located there, as well as the means and methods of attack chosen by the Israeli army (a sustained artillery barrage without lines of sight to the target), put Israel in violation of international humanitarian law.
Like Israel’s assaults today, the US administration gave the green light to Israel’s 1996 campaign against Southern Lebanon. The Clinton administration tried unsuccessfully to suppress a UN report blaming Israel for the massacre.
On April 25, 1996, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution, characterising Israel’s actions during the “Grapes of Wrath” offensive as “grave violations of international laws relating to the protection of civilians during war.”
The US and Israel vigorously contended that the attack had been an unfortunate mistake, and the story gradually disappeared from all but the memories of those civilians, UNIFIL personnel and journalists who had witnessed the carnage at Qana.
The tragedy at Qana today is that this is not unique in its general features. Israel’s wars on Lebanon have been attended by violence, death and destruction of enormous proportions. Israel does not have any grounds to rely on the provision of the Charter of the United Nations concerning self-defence, while the means used to effect Lebanon’s invasion totally lack proportionality.
Israel’s and Hezbollah’s kind of war effort obliterates the very idea of innocence as fully in its own way as does nuclear war. The irony here is very great because it is in these conflicts where the need for law is the greatest – that is, where battlefield tactics often tend to concentrate their firepower on civilians, civilian sanctuaries (hospital, churches, schools) and cultural centres, and to ignore the distinction between military and non-military.
Governments should not designate their enemies as terrorists or criminals for the purpose of treating their conflicts as outside the law.
In 1948 the nations of the world adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which provides that ‘if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, human rights should be protected by the rule of law’.
Israel’s use of terror in military campaigns has been qualitatively and quantitatively much higher than that of the Lebanese and Palestinians. The number of civilians killed as the result of actions by Israel, both before its creation and after, has far exceeded the number of Israeli civilians killed by others. Each human being is precious and victims on both sides deserve our respect.
The predominant terminology employed by Israeli spokespersons, the American administration and Hezbollah terrorists is an additional factor in creating conditions in which human rights violations and gross violations of humanitarian law, including war crimes are tolerated.
The level of what has been tolerated has been moved a step again. Every minute the world remains silent and inactive the level has been set further. More bloodshed instigated by Hezbollah and Israel is tolerated.
Both, IDF and Hezbollah have already taken too many lives of innocent children. Someone has to stop this. Someone has to take action, before it is too late. Lives of innocent children are priceless. Nobody has a right to take their lives, not even by reasons of “collateral damage.”
WAR IN BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA WAS AN INTERNATIONAL CONFLICT BETWEEN BOSNIA, SERBIA AND CROATIA
The ICTY has played a critical role in determining responsibility for the horrific crimes that occurred in the Balkan conflicts during the 1990s, Human Rights Watch said. The tribunal suffered a setback with the death of Slobodan Milosevic and the abrupt end of his four-year trial. Just recently, however, the ICTY has begun important trials involving senior officials accused of crimes including genocide committed at Srebrenica, and war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Kosovo.
The book applies the law to the facts of selected cases covering atrocities such as the Srebrenica massacre (where approximately 8,000 unarmed men and boys were executed by Bosnian-Serb forces), the siege of Sarajevo, and brutalities perpetrated in concentration camps such as the infamous “Omarska camp” in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The 861-page book from Human Rights Watch organizes the tribunal’s decisions by topic, including war crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity, command responsibility, sentences, fair trial rights, and guilty pleas. You can download the book in pdf format free of charge,here. Alternatively, you can order a print copy of the book for $95, here.
Here is a short excerpt from the book with respect to the ICTY’s rullings regarding the question whether or not the international conflict took place in Bosnia-Herzegovina between 1992-95:
(8) application—international armed conflict
(a) Conflict between Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Croatia
Kordic and Cerkez, (Appeals Chamber), December 17, 2004, paras. 342, 350, 355, 360, 361, 369: “The Trial Chamber held that the armed conflict in Central Bosnia was of an international character, owing both to Croatia’s direct intervention and its overall control of the HVO [Croatian Defence Council].” “The Appeals Chamber observes that the appealed counts relate to the period between October 1992 and September 1993, and will thus focus on this period when examining the finding that the conflict was international.”
“The Appeals Chamber finds that on the basis of [the] evidence, even taking into account thatthere was no requirement for Croatian troops to be present in Central Bosnia, that no reasonable trier of fact could have found that Croatia directly intervened in the armed conflict in Central Bosnia.” “The Appeals Chamber is aware that deference is due to these findings by the Trial Chamber, which under the Statute has the primary responsibility for hearing and evaluating the evidence presented before it. However, the evidence is inadequate to an extent that a reasonable trier of fact could not have established beyond reasonable doubt that Croatian troops were indeed sent to Central Bosnia.”
“The Appeals Chamber now turns to the question of whether the HVO [Croatian Defence Council] acted on behalf of Croatia. It will examine whether the Trial Chamber erroneously held that these criteria were satisfied and thus Croatia exercised overall control over the HVO:
a) The provision of financial and training assistance, military equipment and operational support;
b) Participation in the organisation, coordination or planning of militaryo perations.”
“The Appeals Chamber finds that on the basis of the evidence set out above a reasonable trier of fact could have found beyond reasonable doubt that Croatia exercised overall control over the HVO at the relevant time.” (emphasis in original)
Kordic and Cerkez, (Trial Chamber), February 26, 2001, paras. 108-146: The Trial Chamber concluded that the relevant issues were (a) whether Croatia intervened in the armed conflict between the Bosnian Muslims and the Bosnian Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina through its troops and, alternatively, (b) whether the HVO [CroatianDefence Council] acted on behalf of Croatia. “The Chamber concludes that the evidence in this case satisfies each of the alternative criteria set forth . . . for internationalising an internal conflict.”
Blaskic, (Trial Chamber), March 3, 2000, paras. 83-123: The Trial Chambers concluded that “[b]ased on Croatia’s direct intervention in BH [Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina]” there was “ample proof to characterise the conflict as international,” and that Croatia’s “indirect control over the HVO [Croatian Defence Council] and HZHB [Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna]” and “indirect intervention” would “permit the conclusion that the conflict was international.” The Trial Chamber found that “Croatia, and more specifically former President Tudjman, was hoping to partition Bosnia and exercised such a degree of control over the Bosnian Croats and especially the HVO that it is justified to speak of overall control. [T]he close ties between Croatia and the Bosnian Croats did not cease with the establishment of the HVO.”
Prosecutor v. Rajic, Case No. IT-95-12 (Trial Chamber), Review of the Indictment pursuant to Rule 61 of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence, 2 September 13, 1996, paras. 13, 26, 32: “[F]or purposes of the application of the grave breaches provisions of Geneva Convention IV, the significant and continuous military action by the armed forces of Croatia in support of the Bosnian Croats against the forces of the Bosnian Government on the territory of the latter was sufficient to convert the domestic conflict between the Bosnian Croats and the Bosnian Government into an international one.”“[B]etween 5000 to 7000 members of the Croatian Army, as well as some members ofthe Croatian Armed Forces (‘HOS’), were present in the territory of Bosnia and were involved, both directly and through their relations with Croatian Community of Herceg-Bosna (‘HB’) and the Croatian Defence Council (‘HVO’), in clashes with Bosnian Government forces in central and southern Bosnia. [T]he Bosnian Croats can, for the purposes of these proceedings, be regarded as agents of Croatia in respect of discrete acts which are alleged to be violations of the grave breaches provisions of the Geneva Conventions. It appears that Croatia, in addition to assisting the Bosnian Croats… inserted its own armed forces into the conflict on the territory of Bosnia and exercised a high degree of control over both the military and political institutions of the Bosnian Croats.”
(b) Conflict between Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro)
Delalic et al., (Appeals Chamber), February 20, 2001, paras. 33, 48, 50: “The Trial Chamber’s finding as to the nature of the conflict prior to 19 May 1992 is based on a finding of a direct participation of one State on the territory of another State. This constitutes a plain application of the holding of the Appeals Chamber in Tadic that it ‘is indisputable that an armed conflict is international if it takes place between two or more States,’ which reflects the traditional position of international law….” “Although the Trial Chamber did not formally apply the ‘overall control’ test set forth by the Tadic Appeal Judgement, … the Trial Chamber’s legal reasoning is entirely consistent with the previous jurisprudence of the Tribunal.” “The Trial Chamber came to the conclusion, as in the Tadic case, that the armed conflict taking place in Bosnia and Herzegovina after 19 May 1992 could be regarded as international because the FRY [the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro)] remained the controlling force behind the Bosnian Serbs armed forces after 19 May 1992. . . . [T]his Appeals Chamber is satisfied that the facts as found by the Trial Chamber fulfil the legal conditions as set forth in theTadic case.”
Tadic, (Appeals Chamber), July 15, 1999, paras. 156, 162: “It is sufficient to show that [the Yugoslav Army] exercised overall control over the Bosnian Serb Forces. Such control manifested itself not only in financial, logistical and other assistance and support, but also, and more importantly, in terms of participation in the general direction, coordination and supervision of the activities and operations of the VRS [the Army ofthe Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina/Republika Srpska]. This sort of control is sufficient for the purposes of the legal criteria required by international law.” “[F]or the period material to this case (1992), the armed forces of the Republika Srpska were to be regarded as acting under the overall control of and on behalf of the FRY [the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro)]. Hence, even after 19 May 1992 the armed conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina between the Bosnian Serbs and the central authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina must be classified as an international armed conflict.” See also Tadic, (Appeals Chamber), July 15, 1999, para. 87.
For application of the “overall control” test, the issue of “participation,” and the finding that the armed conflict in the Autonomous Region of Krajina from April 1, 1992 through December 31, 1992 was international, see Brdjanin, (Trial Chamber), September 1, 2004, paras. 144-154.
COLONEL AVDO PALIC – DEFENDER OF FORGOTTEN ENCLAVE OF ZEPA – IS STILL MISSING
July 27th 2006 marks the tenth anniversary of the disappearance of Col. Avdo Palic, the commander of Bosnian Government forces defending the United Nations-protected enclave of Zepa during the Bosnian War.
Colonel Palic was seized in front of eye witnesses by Bosnian Serb Army soldiers in Zepa, in July 1995, where he had gone to negotiate with the Bosnian Serb Army, the evacuation of the remaining Bosniak inhabitants from Zepa.
Earlier that month, another UN “safe area”, Srebrenica, had been overrun by Serb forces and over 8,000 Bosniak men and boys had been slaughtered in the worst massacre Europe had seen since the Second World War. (background)
General Radislav Krstic, deputy commander of the Drina Corps, who has since been sentenced to 35 years imprisonment by the Hague tribunal for genocide, gave the order to attack Zepa on July 13.
“I have decided to immediately begin an attack and break the enemy in the enclave of Zepa with the aim of liberating and cleansing Serb Podrinje of Muslim forces and liquidating the enclave,” Krstic wrote in his order to the troops, a copy of which has been seen by the Balkans Crisis Report.
“After breaking the enemy in Srebrenica enclave, our forces will continue action on a mission to break the enemy in Zepa enclave and create conditions for actions towards Gorazde,” the order continued.
Colonel Avdo Palic is assumed to have been killed and the place of burial has been disclosed to the Office of the High Representative in Bosnia who have asked the authorities in Republika Srpska to perform an exhumation so that the body can be retuned to his widow.
In line perhaps with their general intransigence and possibly because criminal investigations are under way the RS authorities seem unlikely to act.
To take advantage of the opportunity of the 11th anniversary of Avdo Palic’s “disappearance” (Thursday, July 27th) the Houston Amnesty Group want to send as many letters as possible to put pressure on the RS authorities to carry out the exhumation and provide Mrs Palic with a final end to the uncertainty she has endured for the last eleven years.
In January 2006, the Republika Srspka (RS) authorities established a commission to gather information about the fate and whereabouts of Colonel Palic. They only did so when ordered by the Office of the High Representative (OHR) and after repeated failures to comply with the 2001 instructions of the Human Rights Chamber of Bosnia and Herzegovina to conduct a full investigation.
The commission submitted its findings to the OHR in April 2006. In a press release on 21 April, the OHR reported that “The report details the fate of Avdo Palic and claims to reveal the location of his mortal remains” but added that it could neither reveal nor comment the findings because “criminal investigations are currently under way”.
We do not know for certain that any remains found in the location allegedly reported in the Palic Commission’s report will in fact be those of Avdo Palic. However, there is evidence that the RS may be close to finding Avdo Palic’s mortal remains and it should be urged to do so urgently.
Its consistent failure to undertake an exhumation in the location allegedly mentioned in the Palic Commission’s report is a matter of great concern. We want as many letters as possible to arrive on July 27 or as near that date as possible.
Please email the RS Prime Minister (firstname.lastname@example.org) A.S.A.P. using the sample below, with copy to the RS Minister of Interior (email@example.com). Please send a blind copy to Phivan of Houston based Amnesty International firstname.lastname@example.org.
Adding your own comments is optional, but appreciated. Here is a sample letter that you can use:
Dear Prime Minister
I’m writing in connection with the “disappearance” of Avdo Palic in July 1995. The Commission that was set up in January 2006 to investigate the fate of Avdo Palic was an important step in ending the ongoing suffering of his family and impunity for his “disappearance”. I welcome the fact that the Commission submitted its report to the Office of the High Representative on time, and that it reportedly gives details of the location of Avdo Palic’s mortal remains.
Bearing in mind official RS statements that the exhumation would be carried out soon, I am concerned about the delay in undertaking the exhumation and the additional suffering this is causing Avdo Palic’s family.
I urge you to take urgent measures to:
- Positively identify the exact location of Avdo Palic’s mortal remains;
- Undertake an exhumation at that location and identify any mortal remains found there;
- Ensure that the relevant forensic procedures are carried out during the exhumation and identification so that those who are responsible for the “disappearance” of Avdo Palic are brought to justice;
- Keep Esma Palic, Avdo Palic’s wife, fully informed of all developments in the exhumation, and if the remains are those of her husband, make them available to her promptly so she can arrange a dignified burial.
Thank you for keeping in mind the continued suffering of Avdo Palic’s family, and for your attention to this urgent matter.
Minister of Interior
478000 Banja Luka
Bosnia and Herzegovina
One of the most wanted Bosnian Serb war crimes suspects, former leader Radovan Karadzic, remains as much an enigma as his whereabouts 11 years after The Hague-based UN War Crimes Tribunal indicted him.
The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) raised the initial indictment against Karadzic and his army commander general Ratko Mladic on 24 July 1995. It charged them with war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity during what was then the ongoing 1992-1995 war in Bosnia- Herzegovina.
The charges included permanent attacks on the Bosnian capital Sarajevo from the surrounding hills held by Bosnian Serb troops, as well as organizing detention facilities for non-Serb population, mostly Muslims, in the areas controlled by Bosnian Serbs.
During the war (1992-95) Sarajevo was under siege longer than any other city in modern history — longer even than Stalingrad.
As soon as the world learned of the massacre in the former eastern Bosniak enclave of Srebrenica, where Bosnian Serb troops massacred 8,100 Bosniak men and children on 11 July 1995 – ranging in age frombabies to the elderly – the ICTY raised another indictment against the two in November 1995, charging them with the Srebrenica massacre.
The initial indictments were further amended in 2000 for Karadzic and in 2002 for Mladic, when more charges were added.
While demands and media speculation over the past year have been rife about Mladic possibly being detained, stories about Karadzic have rarely surfaced.
“I do not know where Karadzic and Mladic are. I do not have any element right now to believe they are in this country,” the commander of some 6,000-strong European Union Force (EUFOR) in Bosnia, Italian Major General Gian Marco Chiarini, told media in Sarajevo.
EUFOR intelligence, he said, would know for sure if the two most wanted fugitives were in Bosnia.
The fact that Karadzic and Mladic were not behind bars yet, according to president of the Association of Victimized People Fadila Memisevic, showed that “the international community is not ready to deal yet with their apprehension,” despite different signals from Washington and Brussels.
“Obviously there is no political will. Karadzic and Mladic were not arrested when they were here 11 years ago, when some 60,000 fully equipped UN peacekeepers were deployed in this country, with the support of probably the strongest concentration of intelligence in the world at that time,” Memisevic told Deutsche Presse-Agentur, dpa.
“Since they did not manage to catch them 11 years ago, I doubt that will happen now,” she said.
Memisevic also said she still believed in a “conspiracy theory” according to which Karadzic made a deal with the US officials to simply disappear from the political and public life of Bosnia- Herzegovina and its Serb entity, the Srpska Republic, in exchange for his freedom.
“If the world and Europe only wished that, Karadzic would have been in The Hague a long time ago,” said Subasic.
But political analyst Tanja Topic from Banja Luka in the Srpska Republic dismisses a conspiracy theory.
“There is so much speculation, but I think the stance of most European officials is the same – Karadzic and Mladic must be apprehended,” said Topic.
The EU, she said, would never soften its demand for Karadzic’s and Mladic’s arrest. “It will continue to insist on that, with no pardon.”
The key of the problem, she said, is hidden in the deep tradition of the Serbs in the Srpska Republic and neighbouring Serbia.
An approach to the problem through the tradition, she believes, would also explain why Mladic’s name was often mentioned in the media, while everyone seemed to have forgotten Karadzic and his deeds.
“Mladic is much more respected than Karadzic. He is considered a soldier, and his eventual arrest would be bigger problem than the arrest of Radovan Karadzic,” said Topic.
Being a soldier was always considered in the Balkans, especially among Serbs, as an honourable and respectable thing that would show a transformation of a boy to a man, she said.
“Karadzic was not a soldier, and he was not given such importance as Mladic was. Besides that, Karadzic’s popularity decreased with gossip about his various criminal acts against his own people.”
Another factor, she said, was that Mladic had been located, which merited more space in newspapers. Karadzic’s whereabouts remained unknown – and so being a stale news for years.
While she strongly hopes the justice will be satisfied one day, Munira Subasic – who lost her family in the Srebrenica massacre – believes Karadzic will never be arrested.
Empty initiatives to get Karadzic before the ICTY, she said, would probably never work. He would remain at large, but would pay for his crimes in another way.
“Let them (Karadzic and Mladic) stay heroes of their own people, while nobody touches them,” she said.
“They have had to change their lives, to cope with the fact that they will have to hide from the rest of the world and abandon a normal, decent, human life in exchange for freedom until they die.”
In 2000, the U.S. Jury returned$4.5 billion verdict against Radovan Karadzic.
The U.S. Government is offering $5 million reward for information leading to the capture ofRadovan Karadzic and/or Ratko Mladic.
“Whoever hoped … something like the genocide of the Nazis against the Jews could never be repeated sees himself cruelly disappointed after the events in the former Yugoslavia.” – German Judge Guenter Krentz said in his judgement.
GERMANY — A Bosnian Serb who was accused of beating a prisoner to death with a plank, ordering executions and committing other crimes against Bosniaks was convicted of genocide and sentenced to life in prison.
Nikola Jorgic, 51, showed no emotion as the court declared him guilty of 11 counts of genocide, 30 counts of murder and numerous lesser charges for crimes committed during the Bosnian war.
Judge Guenter Krentz called Jorgic’s crimes “especially onerous” and sentenced him to life in prison, as prosecutors had asked.
It was the first genocide verdict in Germany. The international war crimes tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, had asked Germany to handle the cases of Jorgic and another Bosnian Serb since its own docket was overloaded and the men were arrested in Germany.
Jorgic, who headed a group of radical-nationalist Bosnian Serbs, had questioned the court’s jurisdiction.
The judge said Jorgic was actively involved in Bosnian Serbs’ efforts to exterminate and expel Bosnian Muslims from their homes in 1992, as war was breaking out in the former Yugoslav republic.
“Whoever hoped … something like the genocide of the Nazis against the Jews could never be repeated sees himself cruelly disappointed after the events in the former Yugoslavia,” Krentz said.
Jorgic, who worked in West Germany’s Ruhr Valley as a locksmith from 1969 until early 1992, claimed he was in prison from May to August 1992 in the Bosnian town of Doboj, near his native village of Kostajnica.
But testimony of more than 30 witnesses proved Jorgic was involved in the crimes, including the June 1992 massacre of 22 Muslims in the village of Grapska, the court ruled.
In this case, the accused, a Bosnian Serb from the Doboj region, was tried for genocide in eleven cases, three of which included the murder (homocide) of a total of 30 persons. The other eight cases involved grievious bodily harm and or unlawful detention.
The accused was sentenced to four terms of life imprisonments and in the other eight cases to imprisonments of seven to nine years, which were then summed up to an additional life imprisonment. The Supreme State Court declared that the guilt of the accused weighed particularly heavy.
It was determined that the accused had been the leader of a paramilitary group located in the Doboj region of Bosnia-Herzegowina, which, in cooperation with the Serbian rulers, was involved in acts of terror against the Bosniak population, in support of their policy of “ethnic cleansing”.
Apart from the arrests, abuse and placement of Bosniaks in concentration camps, the Supreme State Court established in June of 1992 that the accused and one further person executed 22 citizens of Grabska (among them disabled and elderly), who had gathered out doors in fear of the fighting going on around them. Three other Bosniaks were then forced to carry the slain to a mass grave.
A few days later the accused and his followers drove 40 to 50 men from the village of Sevarlije. They were brutally abused and six of them were shot. A seventh victim, who had only been injured in the shootings, died when he was burned with the other six victims in a stall
In September 1992, the accused put a tin pail on the head of a captive in the central jail of Doboj and hammered on it with a wooden club in such a way that the victim died of head wounds.
The 3rd Criminal Court of the Federal high Court rejected the appeal of the accused, because the State Supreme Court had rightfully assumed the jurisdiction of the German courts and because it had also affirmed the constitutent facts of § 220a StGB (genocide) with its results.
The prosecution at the international criminal court for the former Yugoslavia had previously rejected accepting the case. The Federal High Court accepted, on legal grounds, only one case, instead of eleven, of genocide involving the murder of 30 persons, with a life sentence. Additionally, it affirmed the particular weight of guilt, because in this case the content of injustice and guilt had not changed.
Furthermore, the court stated that genocide, according to the Genocide Convention from 9 December 1948 (joined by Germany [in 1954]) is a crime which all nations must prosecute. Therefore, it is the decision of the German law makers, that the prosecution of genocide is subordinate to global principles [of international law], and certainly not to be objected to if legitimate reasons exist for German legal actions.
Following reasons were given: the accused resided in Germany from May 1969 to the beginning of 1992 and after this date he was still even registered there; his German wife and his daughter, whom he visited a number of times after his crimes, still live in Germany, he was arrested in Germany after having entered on his own free will.
The jurisdiction for the sentencing of genocide includes also the jurisdiction for the sentencing of murder in as much as the accused committed deliberate homicide in the perpetration of genocide.
Another three Serbs were convicted in Germany.
Novislav Djajic, was convicted May 24 1997 by a Munich court of being an accessory to murder and sentenced to five years in prison.
In 1999, Maksim Sokolovic was found guilty of five counts of assault and 56 counts of deprivation of liberty during attacks on Muslims near his native village of Osmaci in Bosnia. Based on witnesses who named him as a Serb militiaman, the Duesseldorf court said Sokolovic, 59, beat Muslims with an automatic rifle butt, a fence post, batons and his fists.
Same year, former Bosnian Serb police commander Djuradj Kusljic was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday on the grounds of crimes committed against humanity and six murders.
Kusljic was accused of having taken part in “planned destruction” of Bosniaks in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992 as police commander in the place of Vrbnica, 40km from Banja Luka. He was arrested in Germany where he had lived before the war.
My definition of moral perspectivism is: “Method of reasoning in which things are put into perspecive while both sides of the story are analyzed and given proper attention.”
Bosnia-Herzegovina has been suffering for a long time as a result of both moral equivalism and moral absolutism. Well before and well into the Bosnian war, Serbian media exercised moral absolutism by portraying Serbs as “endangered” people of Yugoslavia whose interests could only be protected by the creation of “Greater Serbia”. During and after the war, Serbian media switched to moral equivalism equating Serbian crimes of genocidal proportions with individual war crimes committed by the troops of Army of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The United Nations condemned “moral equivalency” with respect to theinternational conflict that took place in Bosnia-Herzegovina during 1992-95:
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. [source]
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”. 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.
Even some people who acknowledge Srebrenica genocide tend to fall into trap of moral equivalism. One example is Shaina whom I consider a friend of this blog.
In the following arguments I will demonstrate how moral relativism selectively distorts fairness in which supposed two sides of the story become – what I call – only “bits and pieces” of factual elements. In Shaina’s articleThere was a Genocide in Srebrenica: Part III, she wrote:
It must be understood that all sides in the war committed war crimes, and that people of all ethnicities suffered greatly (and still continue to suffer) as a result of the war.
Actually, this is only half of the story and typical example of moral equivalism. Here you could see typical error in judgement that people make (and I am not blaming her). Serb civilians did suffer, however, their suffering cannot be equated with the suffering of Bosniaks who were subjected to genocide. Basicly, the story goes that everybody committed war crimes, and everybody suffered, so be it – end of story. Well, not quite. What Shaina fails to mention is that not even one Bosnian Serb controlled city was under the siege by forces loyal to the Government of Bosnia-Herzegovina. In other words, Serbian civilians did not starve in enclaves without exits, they were not hunted down and slaughtered by thousands in one day, they were not subjected to planned and organized ethnic cleansing campaigns of genocidal proportions (however, Serbian media did pressure Serb civilians to leave cities under the control of Army of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Even after the Dayton Peace Agreement was signed, Serb civilians moved out of suburbs of Sarajevo voluntarily.) Not even one Serbian Church was destroyed in the cities who stayed under Bosnian-government control from beginning to the end of the Bosnian war (however, some Serb Churches were damaged. For example, Serb Churches of Sarajevo were damaged as a result of Serbian bombardment of the city). On contrast, not even one Muslim Mosque survived in places under Serbian control. Shaina continues her exercise of moral relativism by saying:
Bosnian Serb civilians were without a doubt, victims of war crimes & murder in the Srebrenica area.
The correct argument would be that “some” Serb civilians were victims of war crimes and murder in the Srebrenica area, not all (as implied by the use of plural). We could easily change the wording of Shaina’s argument and apply it to the Holocaust, e.g.: “German civilians were without a doubt, victims of war crimes & murder in the area of occupied Germany.” Well, what does that mean? Does it mean that crimes against German civilians could be equated with the crimes against the victims of the Holocaust, including my grandfather. Over 100,000 Bosniak civilians perished in the Holocaust or about 8.1% of total Bosniak population residing in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Percentage-wise, Bosniak people were hit the hardest in the area. My grandmother still remember how Nazis summarily executed civilians in Muslim villages by hitting their heads with hammers (and other objects) and then throwing lifeless bodies into Sava river. Nazi collaborators, Serbian Chetniks, did the same by burning Bosniak villages and then killing civilians. Had she not survived Holocaust, I would not be alive today.
With respect to the alleged Serb civilian casualties around Srebrenica, let me quote conclusions made by internationaly funded Research & Documentation Center (RDC) in Sarajevo, which is comprised of Bosniak, Croat, Serb, and international investigators. In fact, the allegations that Serb casualties around Srebrenica, between April 1992 and December 1995 amount to over three thousand is an evident falsification of facts and an attempt to moraly equate victims of genocide with victims of individual war crimes:
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. [Read full report]
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]
In fact, less than 2,000 Serb civilians died in all of Bosnia as concluded by RDC (data, as of Dec 15, 2005). Shaina’s next statement is offensively surprising and perfect example of moral equivalism:
To deny that the Srebrenica Commander, individual soldiers or at times individual civilians committed war crimes & atrocities and to deny the very real suffering of Bosnian Serbs in the Srebrenica area is a denial of an historic truth.
Secondly, some individual Bosniak soldiers did in fact commit crimes. Even though every life is precious – there is no perfect war. Even in Iraq, some individual American soldiers commited war crimes, but that does not mean that the American Army should be equated with extremist terrorists (suicide bombers and others) who are killing Muslim civilians in Iraq on a daily basis. Individual crimes are hard to prevent, however, what counts – among other things – is prevention of genocide, prevention of constant and intentional targetting of civilians, not blockading humanitarian convoys, not taking part in planned and organized killings of civilians, including state sponsored ethnic cleansing.
None of these evils can be attributed to the Bosnian-government soldiers on a larger scale, but they can be attributed to the genocidal forces of war crimes fugitives – Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic. It is my belief that Shaina was not trying to equate Srebrenica defence forces with genocidal Serbian thugs who kept Srebrenica under the siege and even refused to let humanitarian convoys with food enter the city. But, Shaina’s arguments seem to “imply” that since Serb forces were bad, so were Bosnian. Of course, this is completely ridicolous argument, which I already explained why.
Thirdly, Oric’s attacks on Serbian military bases around Srebrenica were more justified than Serbian attacks on Srebrenica, because Oric’s raids were conducted to collect food and medical supplies (as already stated in the United Nations’conclusions), while Serbian attacks had to do with wilful bombardments of civilians and completion of planned and well-organized genocide. Individual cases where civilians died as a result of Oric’s raids are also not acceptable. Whether these civilian casualties were collateral damage or victims of wilful killings is debatable, however the fact that some Serb civilians died around Srebrenica cannot be denied (but must be put into perspective).
By further reading her article, one can notice that Shaina quickly switches from moral relativism to moral perspectivism and automatically her arguments automatically become more fair and more balanced than before, as witnessed in the following quote:
Unlike the Srebrenica justifiers, I will never excuse or justify war crimes committed against civilians. For the sake of Bosnia and for the sake of justice, all war crimes must be fully acknowledged and condemned; and all war criminals need to be brought to justice. The Srebrenica genocide deniers do not do this. While they have ignored the evidence of a calculated ethnic cleansing campaign against the Bosniaks; they have over exaggerated Bosniak war crimes in order to justify what happened in 1995. Furthermore, they continue to ignore Bosnian Serb war crimes occurring at the same time. This exposes their extreme hypocrisy.
Bill Weinberg of World War 4 Report has been a long time supporter of human rights. In his article, Why Does Z Magazine Support Genocide (which I republished here), he argued against Srebrenica genocide revisionism.
Shortly after, his opinion was attacked by Ed Herman (also known as Edward Herman) who reduced himself to denying genocide that took place in Srebrenica.
(here you can read rebuttal to Ed Herman’s claims).
In his response to Herman’s make-believe stories, Bill Weinberg said:
Now isn’t this interesting. Herman protests that just because he rejects the “standard narrative” on Srebrenica doesn’t mean he supports genocide (denial is a form of support, as we all understand vis-a-vis Holocaust revisionism), yet he assumes that because I do accept the overwhelming evidence in support of the Srebrenica massacre, this means that I am engaging in “apologetics for war.” It means nothing of the sort. I opposed US military intervention in the Balkans. But that opposition cannot be predicated on genocide denial or bogus moral equivalism or (worse) simply flipping reality on its head and portraying the Serbs as the victims and Bosnian Muslims as the aggressors.
I never claimed the Bosnian Muslim leadership were paragons of virtue who never told a lie. But I find it amusing that Herman is convinced by the names and addresses of Serb victims supplied by the Belgrade ambassador, but not those of the 7,800 men documented as missing from Srebrenica by the ICMP [International Commission on Missing Persons] (which Herman sarcastically calls “Bosnian Muslim truth-tellers” despite the fact that they aren’t Bosnian Muslims)…. The post-Yugoslav wars have been full of ghastly atrocities. Srebrenica was one which clearly crossed the line to genocide. I have never heard leftists contest that the 1981 El Mozote massacre in El Salvador (1,000 dead, by high estimates) or even the 1997 Acteal massacre in Chiapas (45 dead) were acts of genocide. But 8,000 dead at Srebrenica is dismissed as imperialist propaganda. We excoriated the Reagan administration for denying the massacre at El Mozote, but now engage in precisely the same behavior vis-a-vis Srebrenica. So much for moral consistency. (Bill Weinberg Suports Truth, Thank you – July 24, 2005)
There is a term for this attitude: moral relativism. In its far-left variety there are two sides to its coin. Combined with this all-trumping moralism in the left-revisionist mind-set, like the opposite pole of a magnet, is a cold-blooded immoralism, according to which the left-winger is absolutely unmoved by the crimes of the Revolution performed for the greater good. More striking even than the defence or denial of crimes against humanity carried out by the left revisionists is their sheer lack of any positive vision for the future or political raison d’etre whatsoever.
Brief Update: Serb General, Radislav Krstic, who was originally awarded 46-year prison term for his involvement in Srebrenica genocide, is currently serving appealed sentence of 35-years in prison for aiding and abetting Srebrenica genocide. Serb Colonel Vidoje Blagojevic is currently serving his 18-year sentence for complicity in Srebrenica genocide. Seven other Srebrenica genocide suspects are on trial; an eight suspect remains on the run. Other Srebrenica genocide suspects on the run include Serb Gen. Ratko Mladic and former Serb leader Radovan Karadzic. Ratko Mladic hid in Belgrade until January this year. 11 persons accused of Srebrenica genocide are currently on trial in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Charges of genocide make the case against the seven former Bosnian Serb officers one of the most important in the tribunal’s history, especially following the death of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic four months ago before his own genocide trial could be completed.
Tribunal chief prosecutor Carla del Ponte was to give an opening statement Friday before the court adjourns for its summer recess. The case is due to resume in late August.
The trial began in the week that the town in eastern Bosnia — which the U.N. had declared a safe haven — marked the anniversary of that July week in 1995 when Bosnian Serb forces massacred over 8,100 Bosniak men, elderly and children there.It once again highlights the tribunal’s failure to capture and put on trial the two men viewed as chief architects of the slaughter — former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and his military chief Gen. Ratko Mladic, who have been on the run for more than a decade.
Earlier this week, 505 bodies exhumed from mass graves were reburied in Srebrenica after painstaking efforts to formally identify them. Thousands wait for DNA identification, while others are missing.
Del Ponte attended Tuesday’s commemoration in Srebrenica, partly to focus attention on efforts to have the two chief suspects arrested.“I’m here for the ceremony, for the victims, for the survivors and for the criminals Karadzic and Mladic who are still at large,” she told reporters.
The Hague-based court has staged only a handful of trials dealing with the Srebrenica atrocities, but made the landmark ruling that Bosnian Serb forces waged a campaign of genocide in the eastern Bosnian enclave.
Gen. Radislav Krstic, Mladic’s deputy, is serving a 35-year prison term for aiding and abetting genocide, and Col. Vidoje Blagojevic is appealing his 18-year sentence for complicity in genocide.
The suspects in the case which begun July 14th are: Vujadin Popovic, Ljubisa Beara, Drago Nikolic, Ljubomir Borovcanin, Radivoje Miletic, Milan Gvero and Vinko Pandurevic. An eighth suspect, Zdravko Tolimir, remains on the run.
Each faces eight counts, ranging from genocide to murder and persecution. All have pleaded not guilty. They face maximum life sentences if convicted.
Although the defendants have entered their pleas, opening statements in the trial are not due until after the tribunal’s summer recess. The case was adjourned until opening statements on August 21.
Six men have so far been convicted over the Srebrenica massacre, and two of those on genocide charges.“It is good that a few senior people are going to be held hopefully to account, because so few have been,” said Avril McDonald, an international law expert at the Hague-based TMC Asser Institute.
The allegations are hauntingly familiar from television images; Muslim men and boys separated from women and ferried away by bus to locations including schools, farms and river banks around the Srebrenica enclave.
There, they were gunned down and their bodies plowed into mass graves.In one of several massacres listed in the indictment, Bosnian Serb special forces summarily executed more than 1,000 men who had been captured and imprisoned in an agricultural warehouse in the village of Kravica.
“The soldiers used automatic weapons, hand grenades, and other weaponry to kill the Bosnian Muslims inside the warehouse,” the indictment alleges. The victims’ bodies were dumped in two mass graves 11 years ago – on July 14 1995.Serbia – Safe Heaven for War Criminals
War crimes fugitive Ratko Mladic hid in modest flats in the Serbian capital until January this year, according to an indictment against 10 people accused of helping him, the daily Politika reported on Wednesday.
Quoting a source who saw the indictment, Politika said it lists the addresses of flats where the former Bosnian Serb Army commander hid from mid-2002 to January 2006.
Mladic is accused of genocide in the Bosnia war. Serbia must deliver him for trial to the United Nations war crimes tribunal in The Hague in order to resume suspended talks on closer ties with the European Union.
“It is matter of five or more flats in (the neighbourhood of) New Belgrade, and the persons who helped Mladic paid the rent and supplied him with food,” the daily quoted its source as saying.
The flats Mladic used were “relatively modest”, with rents of up to 400 euros (274 pounds) per month, Politika said. New Belgrade is a densely populated area, built in the 1960s as a dormitory suburb of concrete high-rises.A flurry of reports earlier this year said Mladic had been tracked down and was negotiating surrender, but nothing came of them. The government said Mladic had virtually no helpers left and was now on the run, whereabouts unknown.
The European Union suspended pre-membership talks with Serbia in May because it had failed repeatedly to meet deadlines for the handover of Mladic, who is twice indicted along with his wartime political boss Radovan Karadzic, also at large.
Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica this week presented a plan to find and deliver Mladic, which EU officials said could get talks restarted if Belgrade’s efforts to implement it were convincing.It includes a shake-up of the security services, passing of new legislation, and an operative part which is secret, officials said.
Mladic and Karadzic are wanted for the Srebrenica massacre of over 8,100 Bosniak men and children and the 43-month siege of Sarajevo. (see Sarajevo Photo Tour, Summer 2005). Sarajevo was under siege longer than any other city in modern history — longer even than Stalingrad.
The seven men and three women indicted for helping Mladic were arrested following a military intelligence report which listed some 50 people who allegedly helped hide the fugitive, who was last seen in army facilities in mid-2002.The indictment lists a former officer of the Bosnian Serb army who was arrested in January as the key man who organised Mladic’s hideouts in Belgrade.
Mladic has been on the run since 1995 when the United Nations war crimes court charged him with genocide for his part in the Srebrenica massacre.
Carla Del Ponte, the chief U.N. prosecutor, has repeatedly accused the Serbian authorities of knowing Mladic’s location, claiming they could have arrested him before he disappeared again.
11 on Trial in Bosnia (update)
Presiding Judge Hilmo Vucinic and the two foreign judges comprise the Judicial Council in Srebrenica massacre case in which 11 individuals stand accused of Genocide. Tomislav Dukic, a prosecution witness in the case against 11 persons accused of killing around a thousand Bosniaks in Kravica in July 1995, testified that the principal defendant Milos Stupar was seen in the vicinity of the farmon 13 July 1995, the day of the massacre. Witness Dukic is a former member of the Armored Platoon of the Second Squad of the Sekovici Special Police, which was deployed along the road near Kravica during the attack on Srebrenica in July 1995.
Several prosecution witnesses who testified earlier claimed that Stupar was a commander of the Second Squad of the Sekovici Special Police until mid-July 1995.The indictment, confirmed on 19 December 2005 before the Bosnia-Herzegovina Court, accuses Milos Stupar, Milenko Trifunovic, Petar Mitrovic, Brana Dzinic, Aleksandar Radovanovic, Slobodan Jakovljevic, Miladin Stevanovic, Velibor Maksimovic, Dragisa Zivanovic and Branislav Medan of “being members and deliberate perpetrators of a joint criminal enterprise aimed at forcefully evicting women and children from the Srebrenica enclave…and to capture, detain, execute by summary procedure, bury and re-bury thousands of Bosnian Muslim men and boys.”
They all pleaded not guilty.