Home > srebrenica massacre > MILORAD TRBIC, SREBRENICA PROTESTS, & DUTCH GRAFFITI

MILORAD TRBIC, SREBRENICA PROTESTS, & DUTCH GRAFFITI

June 12, 2007
MILORAD TRBIC TRANSFERED TO SARAJEVO ON GENOCIDE TRIAL, WHILE PROTESTERS PUSH FOR SREBRENICA DISTRICT STATUS & PROTEST SHAMEFUL CONDUCT BY DUTCH TROOPS


“We are waiting for 12 years for the problem of Republika Srpska to be solved, for this criminal organization to be dismantled,” said Kada Hotic, a Srebrenica survivor who lost her husband and son in the massacre.


Undated photo of Bosnian Serb Captain Milorad Trbic,
on trial for Srebrenica genocide.

Note: Photos used in the following section are from June 11th 2007 protests in Sarajevo. Bosnian Muslim women from Srebrenica hold banners that read Srebrenica is the symbol of genocide during their protest in Sarajevo, on Monday, June 11, 2007. Thousands of survivors of Europe’s worst massacre since World War II protested Monday, demanding a special administrative status for the town of Srebrenica, saying it should not be run by Bosnian Serb authorities who are responsible for genocide in that town. (Credits: AP Photo/Hidajet Delic – For Fair Use Only)

Earlier today at the Sarajevo International Airport, acting on orders of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), Judicial Police officers took custody of Milorad Trbic, an Accused before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) whose case has been referred to the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina for further processing.

“After having considered various factors, including the gravity of crimes and his alleged level of responsibility, the Referral Bench on 27 April 2007 ordered the referral of the case to the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina,” the tribunal said in a statement.

Serb forces killed about 8,000 Bosniak men and boys after capturing the enclave of Srebrenica in eastern Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1995. International human rights groups call the killings the worst massacre in Europe since World War II.

The transfer of Milorad Trbic to Bosnian authorities came as thousands of Srebrenica survivors demonstrated in Sarajevo to press for a special status for the former U.N.-protected enclave. In Sarajevo, survivors of the Srebrenica massacre took to the streets demanding that their eastern town be removed from the jurisdiction of the Serb Republic, which together with the Bosniak-Croat federation comprises Bosnia under the 1995 Dayton peace accords. The town came under Serb jurisdiction after the war, but Bosniaks there have been demanding self-rule, a move vehemently opposed by authorities in the Serb Republic.

“The international community, all member states of the United Nations, are requested by international law not to recognize as lawful the results of genocide and to work together to eliminate the consequences of genocide,” said Bosnian leader Haris Silajdzic, a member of the country’s presidency. But Srebrenica status could change only as part of a constitutional reform, which has been blocked for more than a year over disagreement between Serb and Bosniak politicians.

Protesters carried banners saying “Justice for all,” and demanded Srebrenica no longer be part of the Bosnian Serb entity, Republika Srpska, but to become an independent district within the state of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

“We are waiting for 12 years for the problem of Republika Srpska to be solved, for this criminal organization to be dismantled,” said Kada Hotic, a Srebrenica survivor who lost her husband and son in the massacre.

The indictment against Trbic charges him with genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, extermination, murder, persecutions and forcible transfer committed against the civilians of the Srebrenica area from July to November 1995. According to this indictment, as deputy chief of security of the Zvornik Brigade of the Army of Republika Srpska, Milorad Trbic helped manage the Military Police Company during the events in Srebrenica in July 1995.

The indictment alleges that the Accused was inter alia in charge of supervising the detention and execution of Bosniak victims at various sites in the area around the city of Zvornik .

According to the indictment, on 14 July 1995, at the Grabovac School in Orahovac, together with the chief of security of the Zvornik brigade, the Accused supervised the Military Police in guarding Bosniak detainees and transporting them to a nearby field where they were summarily executed.

The indictment alleges that Trbic entered an agreement with several others, including Generals Ratko Mladic, Milenko Zivanovic, Zdravko Tolimir (‘Chemical Tolimir’) and Radislav Krstic, to kill the able-bodied Bosnian Muslim men from Srebrenica that were captured or surrendered after the fall of Srebrenica on 11 July 1995 and remove the remaining Bosniak population of Srebrenica and Zepa from Republika Srpska with the intent to destroy those Muslims.

In addition, it is alleged that from about 1 August 1995 through about 1 November 1995, Bosnian Serb Army and police personnel including Trbic participated in an organised and comprehensive effort to conceal the killings and executions by reburying bodies exhumed from initial mass graves to secondary graves.

Trbic and others are accused of also plotting to remove the remaining Bosniak population of Srebrenica and Zepa from Republika Srpska with the intent to destroy that population.

The indictment states that Trbic participated with other Bosnian Serb army personnel in an organized effort to conceal the killings and executions of those men and boys by exhuming bodies from initial mass graves and reburying them in secondary graves.

The ICTY which sits at The Hague, has so transferred 10 accused to Bosnia and Herzegovina for trial, as well as two accused to Croatia and one to Serbia. The transfers of cases involving low or intermediate-level accused to courts in the countries of the former Yugoslavia are part of the Tribunal’s completion strategy, designed to allow it to concentrate its resources upon the most serious cases.

The ICTY has indicted 161 persons and completed proceedings in the cases of 108 accused since it held its first hearing in November 1994. Under the completion strategy, the Tribunal is scheduled to finish its work by the end of 2010.

After the war, some Bosniaks returned to Srebrenica but describe life there as hard and humiliating. At the beginning of March, the returnees called for a change in the Bosnian constitution to erase the ethnic division of the country, claiming it was impossible to live in a town that offers few jobs and where, they claim, perpetrators of genocide still live. The International Court of Justice in The Hague declared in February that Bosnian Serb troops committed genocide in Srebrenica.

The survivors base their claim for exemption of Srebrenica from Republika Srpska on this court verdict. The idea of changing the constitution is supported by forces in the federation of Muslim Bosniaks and Catholic Croats, who seek to unify the entire country, but the Bosnian Serb authorities vehemently oppose any change of the status of the town.

More about Dutch shame from previous, June 4th 2007, protests:
(photo credits: Reuters/WFA Frank van Rossum, Netherlands – For Fair Use Only)

Photo (look down): Unidentified women, relatives of the Srebrenica victims, react during a march to Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende’s office in the Hague June 4, 2007. Angry relatives of victims of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre on Monday sued the Dutch state and the United Nations for allowing thousands of Bosniaks to be killed by Bosnian Serb forces in the U.N. protected ‘safe haven’ enclave of Srebrenica that was guarded by Dutch troops in 1995. Women are holding a portrait of a “Bosnian Girl” with shameful graffiti written by an unknown Dutch soldier.

Graffiti “No teeth…? A mustache…? Smel like shit…? Bosnian Girl!” written by the unknown Dutch soldier on the wall of the army barracks in Potocari, Srebrenica ’94/’95. The Royal Netherlands Army Troops, as a part of the UN Peace Keeping Forces UNPROFOR in Bosnia and Herzegovina 1992-95 were responsible for protection of Srebrenica safe area.

Shameful Dutch graffiti were transformed into artwork, by Sejla Kameric:

Related readings:
Chemical Weapons Use in Srebrenica Requested by Zdravko Tolimir
U.N., Dutch Cowards on Trial (analysis of shameful failures)
U.N., Dutch Complicity in Srebrenica Genocide

  1. Owen
    June 13, 2007 at 10:32 pm

    That graffiti puzzles me. It’s strange that a Dutch soldier in a Bosnian enclave would choose to write something as offensive as that in English. Who was the person who was going to read it and be amused/offended by it? What a memorial to the Unknown Dutch Soldier.

  2. Lake
    June 18, 2007 at 12:13 am

    Owen, Dutch simply did not care. I bet, deep down in their hearts, they are proud of their involvement in Srebrenica because they have gotten historic international publicity as a result of Srebrenica Genocide. Netherlands has always been “irrelevant” in the World. Imagine how much international publicity Dutch received as a result of all these war crimes proceedings happening in the Hague, as well as endless debates about their involvement? Irrelevant Netherlands has hit the jackpot with Srebrenica massacre in terms of getting more visibility and prominence in the world. True, it’s not ideal publicity – but is there really such thing as “bad publicity”? Think about it.

  3. frederik
    June 20, 2007 at 11:00 am

    “I bet, deep down in their hearts, they are proud of their involvement in Srebrenica because they have gotten historic international publicity as a result of Srebrenica Genocide”

    “Irrelevant Netherlands has hit the jackpot with Srebrenica massacre in terms of getting more visibility and prominence in the world. True, it’s not ideal publicity – but is there really such thing as “bad publicity”? Think about it.”

    Ok I thought about it, and I really don’t think you need to paint an entire people more evil than they are, and I sincerely think that the above statement is absurd, only making sense in a reality even more warped, evil and cynical than the one I live in. In your logic they should be very happy about the lawsuit as well since that’s even more publicity right there(so maybe it should be dropped). But even staying in your reality I don’t really think that the Netherlands need that extra publicity, yes they are “irrelevant”, but they’ve had very good publicity for years with the coffeshops, the tolerance, the tulips, the windmills and whatnot. Stayning in the PR lingo, they had/have a really good brand.

    And here The Hague/ICTY/ICC fits nicely, and I’m sure they are very happy about the Hague generated publicity making them “The Country of International Justice” which makes them seem very decent and all. And Srebrenica is messing that up completely.

    And yes, “they” (whoever they are) might not care that much about Srebrenica or for that matter Rwanda, Dafur, Chechnya and all the other absolute evils in this world – but I’m pretty sure most of “them” think that Srebrenica is a giant mark of shame on a self image “they” are otherwise very happy about.

    Just my 2 cents on this,

    All the best
    Frederik

    And in the interest of full disclousure, I might add that maybe I’m biased because of some Dutch family and friends and they really didn’t seem happy about Srebrenica, but I admit I might not have seen deep enough into their hearts.

  4. Anonymous
    June 20, 2007 at 12:36 pm

    Lake: so one Dutch solider is representative of the whole nation? You sound like a xenophobe, a bigot. As far as the Netherlands being irrelevant, you couldn’t be more wrong. Industrially and politically, the Netherlands punches above its weight. After living there for a while I noted that there was a great deal of shame at the Dutch actions at Srebrenica.

  5. Kirk Johnson
    June 20, 2007 at 4:08 pm

    Lake, I can’t imagine that anybody of consequence in the military or government of The Netherlands would have wanted this kind of publicity. At least some Dutch have certainly wrestled with their national responsiblity for Srebrenica.

    Owen–I belive that this picture was mentioned in “Endgame” by David Rohde. I’d never actually seen it before.

    As for why it was in English–I believe that English is a required second language in Dutch schools and essentially all Dutch people speak, read and write English fluently. This was a UN post–most likely the soldier who drew this fully expected his unit to be replaced at some point by other soldiers, quite possibly from another country. He wanted to increase the chances that his offensive–but not particularly witty–joke would be understood by whoever followed.

  6. Philip
    June 20, 2007 at 7:53 pm

    “…but they’ve had very good publicity for years with the coffeshops, the tolerance, the tulips, the windmills and whatnot.”

    Maybe with coffeshops, tulips and windmils, but not with immigrants and Muslims. Netherlands is the most anti-Immigrant and anti-Muslim society in Europe. Have you people done any research before making claims of how ‘nice’ and ‘tolerant’ Netherlands really is?

  7. frederik
    June 21, 2007 at 11:04 am

    @Philip

    No I have not done any research on tolerance in the Netherlands, please send me yours I’ll be very happy to read and learn.

    But as far as I know, we’re not talking facts and reality here, we’re talking branding, image and self image and that is something completely different. My only point was that the Netherlands really didn’t and still doesn’t need the publicity from Srebrenica – and before you ask let me just say, that no I haven’t done research on that either.

    By the way I think the “winner” of the most anti-immigrant and anti-muslim country in Europe has to be found via photo finish, and while the Netherlands for sure is a very sharp contender for both titles, I think having a close to 20% immigrant population does at least put them behind favorites such as Denmark, Austria and (I suspect) Belgium as well, (but then again I all ways suspect Belgium)in the anti-immigration class. And let’s not forget France that suddenly showed up as a surprising contender in the last couple of years or Italy for that matter or…

  8. Shaina
    June 21, 2007 at 2:19 pm

    Tarik Samarah has taken some very powerful photos of survivors/momentos from the victims for his photo book commerating the 10th anniversary. As well as pictures of victims/recovery/survivors; he has also included graffiti left behind on the Potocari base by some of the Dutchbat soldiers.

    Personally, I really can’t imagine that any Dutch government official would ever want the type of “publicity” that Srebrenica garnered.
    And speaking of accountability; I would still like to see more of an assesment/accountability of Akashi (yes probably mispelled his name-sorry) and Javier and the UN top brass as well.

  9. l3
    June 21, 2007 at 6:08 pm

    Anonymous: I think what they mean by “irrelevant” is as military power is concerned. In that scenario, The Netherlands are irrelevant worldy speaking.

  10. Matthijs
    July 4, 2007 at 10:04 am

    Well I globally read this whole thing and I’m a Dutch soldier. Of course there are some rascals in the Dutch army just like there’s in every military organization around the world. I just don’t see how a Dutch soldier could’ve done that, his superior would’ve made him lick it off again as soon as he/she found out!

    The Serbians in Sebrenica did steal some uniforms though, so it might very well be that the Serbians made it look like we did it. But who knows, I talked to a guy who was in the KCT back then (NL Commando Corps) and he said he had more trouble with the Bosnians than he did with the Serbians but I still don’t think it could’ve been a Dutch soldier doing that.

    If it was, why would Bosnians go to that enclave? Doesn’t make sense.

  11. Owen
    July 6, 2007 at 11:12 am

    Matthijs, I think you might find it useful to read Emir Suljagic’s Postcards from the Grave. It’s an honest account by one of the survivors which describes the situation in Srebrenica including relations with the UN troops stationed there. It may cast light on how and why your soldier friend might have “had trouble” with the Bosnians he encountered. Direct experience sometimes has to be related back to its context.

    I don’t understand the sense in which you use the word “enclave” – do you mean Srebrenica itself or are you referring to the compound at Potocari?

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