June 5, 2007
Bosnian Serb army Commander General Ratko Mladic, left, drinks a toast with Dutch UN Commander Tom Karremans, second right, while others unidentified look on in village of Potocari, some 5 kilometers north of Srebrenica Wednesday, July 12, 1995.


Lawyers for thousands of survivors of Europe’s worst massacre since World War II were filing suit Monday against the United Nations and the Dutch government for their failure to protect civilians in the Srebrenica safe haven when Bosnian Serb forces overran it in 1995 and slaughtered some 8,000 men.

“In the last three years a strong case has been built against the Dutch state and the U.N., who will be held jointly responsible for the fall of the enclave and the genocide that took place there as a result,” Dutch law firm Van Diepen Van der Kroef said in a statement. “The procedure must lead to a result whereby the relatives who survived this drama can finally get recognition and a sense of satisfaction.”

The lawyers did not give more details of the suit. (Blog Editor’s Note: See “A Toast to the Dead)

About 200 survivors, known as the Mothers of Srebrenica, were traveling from Bosnia to accompany lawyers as they delivered a civil summons to the Dutch government in the early afternoon, the law firm said. Dutch authorities are expected to pass on details to the U.N.

Bosnian Mufti Mustafa Ceric stands by remains of Muslims
found in Budak mass grave.

During the 1992-95 Bosnian war, the United Nations declared Srebrenica — which had been besieged by Serb forces — a U.N.-protected safe area for civilians.

But around 450 soldiers on peacekeeping duty in Srebrenica stood by helplessly and even assisted in separating women from the men when Bosnian Serb forces stormed the region in July 1995. The men were taken away in buses by the Serb forces and murdered, their bodies plowed into mass graves.

An independent study later cleared the Dutch troops of most blame, noting they were outnumbered, lightly armed and under instructions to fire only in self-defense.

However, the 2002 report assigned partial blame to the Dutch government for setting the troops up to fail, prompting the Cabinet of Prime Minister Wim Kok to resign. The study also found that a French U.N. general inexplicably failed to send air support when it was requested, as had been agreed in advance. (Blog Editor’s Note: NIOD Report was published by the Netherlands Institute for War Documentation. This is the document, commissioned by the Dutch government following criticism of the way its peacekeeping force in the Srebrenica behaved at the time of the massacre; therefore, it cannot be considered “independent” or “objective” research tool in the true sense of the meaning).
The Dutch government gives around $20 million (€14.9 million) in aid to Bosnia annually, of which a third is reserved to projects related to rebuilding Srebrenica.

Bosnian Serb military leader Gen. Ratko Mladic and Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic have both been indicted for genocide in the Srebrenica massacre but remain on the run.

The legal move against the U.N. and the Netherlands came on the day Zdravko Tolimir, a senior Mladic aide during the slaughter in Srebrenica, was to appear before judges at the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal for the first time since he was arrested last week.

Tolimir was charged in 2005 by the U.N. tribunal with genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, extermination, murder, persecution, forcible transfer and deportation, as well as murder in connection with the Srebrenica massacre.

Related: “A Toast to the Dead

Published by IHT (International Herald Tribune). Republished for Fair Use Only [Educational / Non-Commercial purposes].

U.N., Dutch Cowards on Trial (analysis)

  1. MSK
    August 4, 2008 at 5:58 am

    i really don’t know what to say. many words in my mind, but just i can say god bless all of you, the victims and survived.
    what the hell of beliefs make mankind to do these terrible killings. i always will remember the memory of Srebrenica and will try for peace Insha Allah.
    روح رفتگان شاد
    با تمام وجودم تا همیشه با اندیشه ای که به جز خودش دیگران را می کشد مبارزه خواهم کرد و برای زندگی همراه با اندیشه و صلح خواهم کوشد.
    یاد رفتگان زنده باد
    و بازماندگان را نیز دعا می کنم
    باشد که از کوشش های همه ی ما برای جامعه ی بشری سودی هر چند کوچک برجا بماند
    ان شاء الله

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