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Archive for October, 2006

KNIFE, WIRE, SREBRENICA

October 20, 2006 5 comments
Slogans of hate at the stadium

Education and Sport Minister Slobodan Vuksanovic wants strict prohibition of racist behavior at sporting events. Yesterday, the Belgrade police took 152 fans of the Rad football team into custody for promoting national, racial and religious intolerance.

During the game, Rad’s fans shouted slogans such as “Knife, wire, Srebrenica” and “Serbia for the Serbs, out with the Turks.”

Among those arrested there were 47 Rad supporters who are under the age of 18.

Vuksanovic told B92 that he is concerned by this behavior shown by young people and that they have gone astray or have been disregarded at some point in their upbringing.

Vuksanovic said that the state institutions must react strongly to this racist behavior seen frequently at sporting events.

“Without strong reactions from the judicial institutions, quick processes and strict punishments, you cannot expect to have order. We should not make up and guess what the cure will be – we need to do what everyone in the world is doing in the fight against the same exact type of occurrences, which are obviously a problem in many societies.” Vuksanovic said.

Police arrest 152 Belgrade fans for racism

Belgrade police arrested 152 fans for racist insults at a Serbian second division match between local team Rad and Novi Pazar late on Wednesday .

“Police officers have arrested 152 Rad supporters, including 47 juveniles,” police said.

“The offenders shouted slogans inciting racial, ethnic and religious hatred and intolerance.”

The home fans shouted anti-Muslim slogans at Novi Pazar players and police moved in to remove them from the stadium.

Novi Pazar is a Bosniak-majority town in western Serbia. Some ultranationalist Serbs are hostile to Muslims, often glorifying the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of over 8,000 Bosniaks by Bosnian Serbs.

It was a second outbreak of racism at Serbia’s soccer grounds in four days after a black player was abused during a first division match on Saturday.

Borac Cacak’s Zimbabwean striker Mike Tawmanjira was insulted by the club’s fans who wore white hoods with Ku Klux Klan insignia, did a Nazi salute and held a banner saying the player was unwelcome in Serbia.

Eight of them face charges of spreading racial hatred and prison terms up to five years if convicted.

Serbia’s sports and education minister Slobodan Vuksanovic strongly condemned the incidents and said “decisive action must be taken to deal with these people who have lost their way.”

“There will be no order unless the judicial authorities react swiftly and impose harsh penalties on the offenders,” he told B 92 television.

“We don’t need to invent any new solutions, we just have to implement what the whole world already has in order to combat this deviation many societies are obviously prone to.”

Mosque goers threatened in Niš (Serbia)

The Niš police have arrested two individuals from Pirot for threatening and insulting mosque goers in Niš.

Željko C. (21) and Saša Đ. (19) from Pirot, according to the police, “urinated on the walls of the Hadrović mosque building in a visibly intoxicated state” at around midnight last night. After several mosque goers confronted them, the two began to insult and threaten the Muslim individuals and threw stones at the mosque.

The two youths were taken into custody by the Niš police.

MLADIC WILL NEVER BE CAPTURED

October 16, 2006 5 comments

SERBIA REFUSES TO CAPTURE GEN. RATKO MLADIC WHO COMMITTED GENOCIDE IN SREBRENICA

Editor’s note: Why would they arrest him? He is their role-model and hero. It will take long time for sick Serbian society to heal and stop protecting and celebrating genocidal war criminals such as Ratko Mladic (pic 1) and Radovan Karadzic (pic 2)

Ratko Mladic - War Criminal on the RunU.N. war crimes prosecutor Carla Del Ponte said on Monday she saw no political will from Serbia to arrest Ratko Mladic or other major suspects, seen by the European Union as vital to closer ties with Belgrade.

“It’s almost a smokescreen they are describing us and showing us, it’s no real political will and investigative will to locate and arrest Mladic,” Del Ponte told reporters after briefing EU ministers and officials in Luxembourg.

The former Bosnian Serb military commander is wanted for trial by the Hague tribunal on genocide charges relating to the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.

Radovan Karadzic - War Criminal on the RunThe EU suspended talks on a so-called Stabilisation and Association Agreement, the first step to eventual membership, in May to punish Belgrade for its failure to arrest Mladic.

“Most probably they want him to voluntarily surrender, to oblige him to voluntarily surrender, but I think Mladic will never voluntarily surrender,” Del Ponte said, speaking in English.

“They will never achieve to locate or arrest Mladic, and I think they have no political will to arrest Mladic.”

Del Ponte spoke as Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica met EU ministers and officials to discuss Serbia’s stalled ambitions to join the bloc. He made no comments on arrival.

The prosecutor said she hoped the EU would assist in securing the arrest of Mladic and other war crimes fugitives by standing by its decision to suspend talks with Serbia. She said she saw no sign of wavering by EU states on that decision.

Earlier, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana highlighted Serbia’s political and economic progress but said reopening of suspended talks on closer ties with the EU remained dependent on Belgrade’s cooperation with the U.N. tribunal.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said before taking part in the talks with Kostunica he understood Serbia’s cooperation with the Hague tribunal was “not satisfactory”.

“This is decisive for the question when and if we will be able to restart the negotiations on the association agreement,” he told reporters.

BOSNIA: THE HELP THAT MATTERED by ALIJA IZETBEGOVIC

October 6, 2006 3 comments
BOSNIA: The Help That Mattered

Those trying to portray the international crisis as a conflict between the West and Islam should consider the lesson of Bosnia.

By Alija Izetbegovic in Sarajevo
Dated: Nov 16, 2001, Republished Oct 06, 2006

Alija IzetbegovicAfter the tragic events of September 11, the world has seemed polarised between an anti-Islamic West and an anti-American Muslim East. There are important exceptions, little islands of common sense. Despite some strange statements by Western leaders in the first days of rage, efforts have been made, especially by Prime Minister Tony Blair, to insist that this war is against terrorists, not Islam. But still, other less reasoned voices are louder and more persistent.

They should consider the lesson of Bosnia and Herzegovina. We Bosnians understand the feelings of Americans better than most. For nearly four years, we were subjected to irrational terror attacks by Slobodan Milosevic and Radovan Karadzic. More than 200,000 civilians were killed. In the besieged city of Sarajevo alone, almost 15,000 people died from sniper fire and shells.

Sometimes I wonder whether such an on-going terror, which stretched over 1,400 days, is harder to bear than the instantaneous shock that struck New York and Washington. Yet the question is pointless: both are terrible in their own ways, and both beg questions about the meaning and existence of the human race.

Yet Bosnians can attest that the new forms of conflict are not between types of religion but between forms of civilisation. The struggle is between a modern, globalised world and one of traditional values.

Bosnians can testify, from hard experience, that the West has fought for this new world and certainly not against Islam.

True, the United States responded almost instantaneously to the attacks on its own cities, while it needed more than three years to react to the attacks on towns in Bosnia. But the explanation is a deeply human one: any man feels the pain of his own wounds more deeply than those of others. We take from this not that America is anti-Muslim but that we ourselves need to be as strong as possible to defend ourselves.

Army of Bosnia-HerzegovinaIn the early years of the Bosnian war, the United States considered the conflict a European problem and to a great extent it was right. But Europe was impotent. Hampered by its own conflicting interests and complicated decision-making processes, and tinged perhaps with Islamophobic memories, Europe was not ready to take radical steps to stop the killing.

The tragedy of Srebrenica, the greatest genocide since the Second World War, changed everything. But still the United States had to take the initiative. Otherwise there would have been one genocide after another, until all of Bosnia became one big Srebrenica.

Two other reasons may explain these different responses. A truly diverse society, the United States was better positioned to comprehend the ideas, dilemmas and problems of a multi-ethnic Bosnia. Except for rare exceptions, Europe is made up of nation states. The United States, as a young (and inexperienced) nation, also retains a measure of idealism, in contrast to old and cynical Europe.

When the United States mediated peace talks in Dayton, Ohio, and then sent 20,000 of its soldiers, Bosnia became a US project. Whether the new Washington administration will continue to see it this way, I do not know. But I am certain that the presence of international troops, especially American, is indispensable for at least five more years. Otherwise, Bosnia will return to the situation in 1992, when the war began.

This is the general consensus among ordinary people in Bosnia. A crucial fact, often overlooked, is that in nearly six years there has not been a single attack against the international troops here. This is no coincidence. The vast majority of people, and most politicians, believe that these soldiers are here on a peace mission. Far from any kind of civilisational conflict, Western troops are welcome as essential support for our own effort to build a new, modern Bosnia.

Of course, the experience of Bosnia cannot provide any parallel to Afghanistan because there is no Islamic fundamentalism here.

True, we do have many Muslim believers. After a half century of communist repression and unofficial but enforced atheism, it is natural to see a religious revival. But radicalism is alien to the Bosnian spirit, and fundamentalist elements are a tiny minority. In the words of author Tone Bringa, we are Muslims “the Bosnian way”.

For centuries, the line of contact between the East and the West ran right through Bosnia. While our history is marked with violent periods like any country, the friction between these two worlds produced a specific Bosnian mentality marked by tolerance and openness. Even during the most difficult days of war, when passions were running at their highest, in Sarajevo, Zenica and Tuzla, Orthodox and Catholic churches, and synagogues, remained untouched. People displayed remarkable patience and little desire for revenge.

Revisionists are now trying to rewrite this reality by pointing to the presence of mujahedin. During the war, volunteers from Islamic countries did come, mainly to the central Bosnian towns of Travnik and Zenica. But they came uninvited, across borders we did not control, and still do not completely control. While the number of Islamic volunteers never exceeded 300, the Bosnian Army had more than 200,000 fighters. We did need weapons, because we had our own boys whose surnames, origins and intentions we knew.

Dealing now with those few radicals that remain is a separate issue, for a different time, from the period of war, when innocent people were being killed, women raped, and our houses of worship and sacred objects destroyed.

In our desperation, we took whatever help was offered. But the help that mattered, the help that still matters to Muslims and to all religious and ethnic groups in Bosnia, was that provided by a country now enduring its own period of pain, the United States.

Alija Izetbegovic is the former chairman of the presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

REASON WHY KRAJISNIK GOT AWAY WITH GENOCIDE

October 2, 2006 9 comments
As András pointed out:

[It is] also worth keeping in mind that the indictment under which Krajisnik was charged covered ONLY acts that took place in the period 1 July 1991 and 30 December 1992; after December 1992, Krajisnik was no longer a member of the Expanded Presidency of the “Serb Republic” in Bosnia-Herzegovina. While he continued as Speaker in the “RS Assembly”, by the last year of the war Krajisnik no longer had the same direct role in decision- making as he did before December 1992. Which is why he was not charged in the indictment with responsibility for the events that followed the fall of Srebrenica and Zepa. (read full comment)

As Serb Gen. Ratko Mladic pointed out:

‘People are not little stones, or keys in someone’s pocket, that can be moved from one place to another just like that… Therefore, we cannot precisely arrange for only Serbs to stay in one part of the country while removing others painlessly. I do not know how Mr Krajisnik and Mr Karadzic will explain that to the world. That is genocide.’

Bosnia’s ‘Accidental’ Genocide

Author: Edina Becirevic

The acquittal of Krajisnik on genocide charges challenges the very definition of this gravest of all crimes, according to a leading Sarajevo criminal justice authority writing for IWPR’s Tribunal Update 470

On 27 September 2006 Momcilo Krajisnik, a Bosnian Serb leader accused of being one of the architects of ethnic cleansing during the Bosnian 1992-95 war, was found guilty of most of the charges against him and sentenced to 27 years in prison. The tribunal judges said it had been proved beyond reasonable doubt that he was responsible for the extermination, murder, persecution and deportation of non-Serbs during the war, adding that his role in the commission of these crimes was crucial. However, rather surprisingly, Krajisnik was acquitted of the most serious charges – genocide or complicity in genocide.

On first reading, this finding sends a somewhat confusing message. According to the summary of the judgement, read by Presiding Judge Alphons Orie on 27 September, genocide did take place in Bosnia – however, it was not possible to prove the intent of the perpetrators. ‘The Chamber finds that in spite of evidence of acts perpetrated in the municipalities which constituted the actus reus of genocide, the chamber has not received sufficient evidence to establish whether the perpetrators had genocidal intent, that is the intent to destroy, the Bosnian-Muslim or Bosnian-Croat ethnic group, as such,’ says the summary. The only reasonable conclusion that could be taken from this formulation is that genocide took place in Bosnia merely by accident.

The term genocide carries a heavy political burden, and scholars of genocide quite often disagree on the interpretation of the 1951 genocide convention. However, theorists from Raphael Lemkin – the Jewish lawyer who coined the term genocide – to any other contemporary scholar in this field, would agree that it simply does not happen by accident and requires organised action. In his book Axis Rule in Occupied Europe, published in 1944, Lemkin specifically says that genocide could – but does not necessarily – mean destruction of a whole nation. However, he says that genocide requires organised planning aimed at destroying the basic foundations of the life of the national groups. That kind of plan would target ‘political and social institutions, culture, language, economic existence, as well as the personal security, freedom health, dignity, even lives of individuals that belong to those groups’.

Another recognised expert on the subject, Helen Fein, considers that the process of proving genocide involves establishing continuity in attacks aimed at destroying members of a group in an organised manner. Fein also says that two of the preconditions for genocide are the absence of sanctions for the perpetrators and the existence of ideologies that promote the idea of genocide.

Irvin Louis Horowitz, meanwhile, suggests that genocide is the structural and systematic destruction of innocent people.

None of the leading scholars in the field mentions ‘accidental genocide’.

The judgement against Krajisnik says, ‘The common objective of the joint criminal enterprise was to ethnically re-compose the territories targeted by the Bosnian-Serb leadership, by drastically reducing the proportion of Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats through expulsion.’ It is important to note that this conclusion relies on the ‘six strategic aims of the Serb people’, which were adopted by the Bosnian Serb parliament at a session held on 12 May 1992. The first of these goals – to ‘separate Serb people from another two national communities’ – was announced by Radovan Karadzic, the former Bosnian Serb leader also indicted for genocide by the tribunal. As parliamentary speaker, Momcilo Krajisnik presided over this session, and he emphasised the importance of the first strategic goal, which he said should be supported by ethnic division on the ground.

It is noteworthy that at this meeting, both Karadzic and Krajisnik were warned by Bosnian Serb military commander General Ratko Mladic, also indicted on genocide charges, that their plans could not be committed without committed genocide. ‘People are not little stones, or keys in someone’s pocket, that can be moved from one place to another just like that… Therefore, we cannot precisely arrange for only Serbs to stay in one part of the country while removing others painlessly. I do not know how Mr Krajisnik and Mr Karadzic will explain that to the world. That is genocide,’ said Mladic. It was obvious to Mladic that the plan envisaged by the Serb politicial leadership could not be put into practice without a genocide. Even though the general had no qualms about executing this genocidal plan, this quote from the parliamentary transcript shows that Serb military and political leaders were aware of the likely consequences of their actions.

In short, Krajisnik’s judgement seems to go against established definitions of genocide, as well as what General Mladic believed the crime to be. The judges in the Krajisnik case said they had established that genocide took place, but were not convinced the Serb leadership intended to commit it. They appear to lean toward a school of thought which sets extremely high standards of proof for genocide. To them, the Srebrenica massacre was one ‘genocidal incident’ in the broader ethnic cleansing of Bosnia. In his book States of Denial, Stanley Cohen says that avoiding the use of the word genocide in situations of armed conflict gives other countries an excuse not to intervene. This may help explain why the term was so studiously avoided during the Bosnian war.

Edina Becirevic is senior lecturer at the Faculty of Criminal Justice Sciences in Sarajevo. This comment appeared in IWPR’S Tribunal Update No. 470, 29September 2006, see http://www.iwpr.net/

Bosnia’s Accidental Genocide – republished from Bosnian Institute.