COURT DISMISSES LEGAL IMMUNITY FOR THE UNITED NATIONS and NETHERLANDS
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Banner contains photo of indicted war criminal on the run – Gen Ratko Mladic – and a message: “Thanks to NL (Netherlands)”. In 1995, the U.N. Dutch peacekeepers stood helplessly when Serb forces massacred over 8,000 Srebrenica refugees who sought help in the U.N. Compound of Potocari. The Dutch state has always said its troops were abandoned by the U.N. which gave them no air support, but public documents show a network of Dutch military officials within the U.N. blocked air support because they feared their soldiers could be hit by friendly fire.
“The U.N. has the duty to prevent genocide. An appeal to immunity in a case of genocide, as in the Srebrenica drama, is irreconcilable with the U.N.’s own objectives and its international obligations.”
Dutch court ruled Tuesday that the United Nations and the Netherlands should face trial for the 1995 Srebrenica genocide, Bosnian lawyer Semir Guzin confirmed in Sarajevo.
Guzin told local Bosnian media that the county court based in The Hague had set a legal precedent, dismissing UN legal immunity in the case in which more than 6,000 survivors of the massacre sued the world organization and the Dutch government for failing to protect them.
On July 11, 1995, units of the Bosnian Serb Army led by General Ratko Mladic overran the Dutch peacekeeping forces protecting Bosniak refugees in the UN “safe area” of Srebrenica and began the systematic execution of over 8,000 men and boys, close to 500 of them were underage children.
Many of Srebrenica refugees were rounded up, separated from their families and shot on the spot or in the neighboring villages.
Others, who tried to make their ways through Serb-captured territory, were captured later and executed or shelled and gunned down in ambushes.
Although some of the perpetrators have been since sentenced or are standing trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague, these actions, the largest genocide in Europe since the end of the Second World War, took place amidst the silent neglect of most of the international community.
Instead of preventing the massacre, the Dutch even actively participated in the selection and separation of Bosnian women and men and their forcible removal and detention. The Bosniak men, elderly, and underage boys were almost all murdered.
Quick recap from eye-witness testimonies (warning: graphic content):
Quote Start: The Serbs began to “march girls and young women away from the group of refugees. They were raped.” ….A Dutch soldier stood by and watched as the women were raped, even listening to music on his Walkman…. A Serb [soldier], says Subasic, “told the mother to make the child stop crying. But when the baby continued to cry, he took it from the mother and slit its throat. Then he laughed. A Dutch soldier also witnessed the murder of the baby, she says, and yet he “didn’t react at all”… The Muslim men, some as young as 12, were almost all murdered. The scenes that transpired in the camp are indescribable. The Serbs would pick out girls from groups. “I saw the Bosnian women begging the Dutchbat soldiers to bring the girls back,” Kadira Gabeljic, one of the plaintiffs, recalls. But they only responded: “no, no, no.” Ramiza Gurdic, another plaintiff, witnessed an incident that she is unlikely to ever forget. She describes a scene in which a 10-year-old boy was placed in his mother’s lap and literally slaughtered. “His little head was chopped off, and the body remained in the mother’s lap.” Quote End
Over 8,000 Bosniak men were massacred after Bosnian Serb troops captured the town of Srebrenica on July 11, 1995, during the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The former eastern Bosniak enclave was at that time a UN safe haven and was under the protection of Dutch UN troops. Over 8,000 victims of Srebrenica genocide were dug into mass graves, only to be reburied at different locations later in an attempt to hide the crime (see photo below).
“For the first time the UN will have to show up in a process in which many things about wrong moves taken in Srebrenica are to be explained,” said Guzin, a member of the Bosnian legal team representing the Mothers of Srebrenica association.
The decision of the court to dismiss UN legal immunity, he said, would now help create a better position for a possible agreement between the Srebrenica survivors and the accused side — the UN and the Netherlands.
“I am happy. Justice will finally find its place,” Munira Subasic of the Srebrenica mothers’ association said, adding that the genocide in Srebrenica happened under the UN flag.
The Mothers of Srebrenica, represented by Bosnian and international lawyers, three years ago sued the UN and the Dutch government demanding 1 billion dollars’ compensation for their failure to prevent the massacre and protect innocent civilians in Srebrenica.
A court in the Hague ruled the case could proceed, dismissing pleas by public prosecutors that it should be dropped after the United Nations invoked its legal immunity and said it would not take part.
Lawyer Marco Gerritsen, representing the victims’ families, said on Tuesday the court had supported their argument that the U.N. could not be granted automatic immunity.
“The U.N. has the duty to prevent genocide. An appeal to immunity in a case of genocide, as in the Srebrenica drama, is irreconcilable with the U.N.’s own objectives and its international obligations,” he added in a statement.
Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and former Bosnian Serb Army chief Ratko Mladic, both wanted by the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague on genocide charges over Srebrenica, are still on the run.
Dismayed by the failure to bring to justice the two chief suspects, victims’ families say they have turned to a Dutch court for recognition and redress for the tragedy.
The Dutch state has always said its troops were abandoned by the U.N. which gave them no air support, but public documents show a network of Dutch military officials within the U.N. blocked air support because they feared their soldiers could be hit by friendly fire, the families’ lawyers said.
In 2002 the entire Dutch government of former prime minister Wim Kok resigned. During his visit to Srebrenica in 2002, Wim Kok expressed remorse, but refused to apologize.
Process of DNA-identification of Srebrenica massacre victims. Photo by the ICMP (the International Commission on Missing Persons).
Photo Caption: Personal remains of Srebrenica massacre victims. Photo by the ICMP (the Internationa Commission on Missing Persons).
Photo Caption: Log books at the Tuzla Center of the International Commission on Missing Persons. Photo by Iain Page, 2004.
MORE VICTIMS OF SREBRENICA GENOCIDE EXCAVATED
Photo Caption: Forensic expert Rene Kosalka of Toronto, Canada, member of team from the International Commission for Missing Persons (ICMP) inspects human remains at a mass-grave site in remote mountain area in the village of Kamenica B&H, on Friday, Nov. 16, 2007. The site is a secondary mass graves found in Kamenica, where Bosnian Serbs brought bodies from other sites in order to cover up the crime.
Forensic experts have unearthed the remains of 616 more Bosniak victims of the 1995 Srebrenica genocide from a mass grave, the biggest such site found this year. The village of Kamenica lies in an area nicknamed “Death Valley”. Nine graves have been found there, containing remains of many of the 8,000 men and boys killed by Bosnian Serb forces as they fled Srebrenica in the last months of the 1992-95 Bosnian war.
Nearly 3,600 complete and incomplete bodies of Srebrenica victims have so far been exhumed from 10 mass graves in the Kamenica valley. This brings the total number of exhumed bodies to over 4,200 just from the “Death Valley” area alone.
Experts believe there are more such graves in the Kamenica area. Last year, another grave in the valley yielded more than 1,000 body parts, making it the biggest such site in Bosnia.
Forensic experts also announced the possibility of opening a new mass grave at another location in Kamenica soon.
Photo Caption: Forensic expert Rene Kosalka of Toronto, Canada, a member of team from the International Commission for Missing Persons (ICMP) inspects human remains at a mass-grave site in remote mountain area in the village of Kamenica.
“We found 76 complete and 540 incomplete bodies,” said Ismet Musić, an official of the regional commission for missing persons, standing on the edge of a muddy grave where white-clad forensic pathologists cleaned up bones.
Some bodies are very well preserved due to an extraordinary microclimate in the grave. Musić said some faces were almost intact, with eyes staring wide open.
“It was quite a creepy sight,” he said.
A total 8,000 Bosniak Muslim men and boys were killed after the town was overrun by the Bosnian Serbs despite having been declared a “safe area” where United Nations troops had been stationed.
Bosnian Serb general Ratko Mladic, indicted for genocide over the atrocity, is still on the run.
Documents found at the newly-excavated site and on many of the bodies reveal their identities. Bodies have been unearthed with eyes blindfolded, hands bound, and bullet wounds.
Photo Caption: A team from the International Commission for Missing Persons (ICMP) inspects personal ID’s found during exhumation at a mass-grave site in a remote mountain area in the village of Kamenica.
“It is obvious how they were executed,” Musić said.
Many victims of the Srebrenica genocide were hunted down while running through the woods in small groups and shot.
The Bosnian Serbs first buried them near the execution sites but then dug up many of them up again with bulldozers and reburied them in so-called “secondary” mass graves, in an attempt to cover up the crime.
More than 3,000 victims have been DNA identified and buried. The remains of as many more, often dismembered, still await identification through DNA analysis.
Photo Caption: Forensic experts Sharna Daley of London U.K. left, and Rene Kosalka of Toronto, Canada, members of a team from the International Commission for Missing Persons (ICMP) inspect human remains at a mass-grave site in remote mountain area in the village of Kamenica, Bosnia, on Friday, Nov. 16, 2007. Exhumed human remains will be identified by DNA examination . The exhumation of the Kamenica mass grave began last month. It is one of many secondary mass graves found in Kamenica, where Bosnian Serbs brought bodies from other sites in order to cover up the crime.
SUSPECTS AGREE TO BE DEPORTED TO BOSNIA
…Now that Veselin Vidacak and Ugljesa Pantic are being deported to Bosnia – we can only hope they will be re-arrested and tried on genocide charges. – Blog Editor
Two Bosnian Serbs who covered up their service in a military brigade that took part in the Srebrenica genocide gave up their fight to stay in the US on Monday and agreed to be deported to Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Veselin Vidacak and Ugljesa Pantic were convicted of lying about serving in the breakaway Republika Srpska’s Zvornik Brigade when applying for refugee status. The brigade took part in the massacre of over 8,000 Srebrenica Bosniaks in July 1995.
The two have been ferried between federal detention centers for the better part of a year, and in federal immigration court Monday they decided to leave the country rather than continue the legal fight.
Vidacak, 32, and Pantic, 56, were convicted in May of concealing their involvement in the notorious brigade after they were arrested as part of a national sweep that netted dozens of Serb suspects. The two had lived in High Point, N.C. before their arrests.
Vidacak — who claimed he was on sick leave during the massacre — said he was pressed into service by the Bosnian Serb government of Republika Srpska, then a breakaway self-declared state within Bosnia-Herzegovina. Pantic argued he was not a soldier and that he did more menial tasks, such as digging canals and splitting wood.
The two had fought deportation since their December arrests. But Monday they decided to drop the battle rather than risk a government appeal — and months more in federal detention centers.
“They wanted to move on with their lives,” said Jeremy McKinney, the defense lawyer who represented the men.
A third North Carolina man accused of lying on his immigration papers by concealing his involvement in the brigade, Milivoje Jankovic, was exonerated of the charges but still faces a deportation hearing.
Research Corner: Here is a list of some of the cases we covered in connection with the Serb suspects of Srebrenica genocide hiding in the United States:
1. List of Serb suspects hiding in the U.S. and getting away with Genocide
2. Sixteen charged with concealing Bosnian Serb military when entering U.S. – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (December 15, 2006)
3. Former member of brutal Bosnian Serb military unit sentenced to jail for concealing his military past – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (November 20, 2006)
4. ICE probe leads to indictement of four former members of Bosnian Serb military for immigration fraud – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (June 8 2006)
5. Thirteen past members of Serbian military indicted for immigration fraud – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (September 14, 2005)
6. Four Serb suspects arrested in Chicago
7. Four Serbs on trial for Srebrenica genocide; Two of them deported from the U.S.
8. Butchers of Srebrenica hiding in the U.S.
9. The United States deports two Serbs wanted for Srebrenica massacre
10. Bosnian Serb immigrants failed to disclose their past service in Genocidal military
11. Marko Boskic – Srebrenica murderer
12. Butcher of Srebrenica wants his own admission kept silent
13. Srebrenica massacre gunmen will not face torture charges
14. Elusive Justice: a man who gunned down 1,200 Srebrenica Bosniaks
15. Phoenix, Arizona: Mecca for Serb suspects of Srebrenica genocide
“THE CENTRE FOR PEACE IN THE BALKANS”
BEWARE: This organization was established by the Serbian nationalists in Toronto (Canada) and serves as an extended hand of Belgrade propaganda
Above: Screenshot of “The Centre for Peace in the Balkans” promoting Srebrenica genocide denial material with Edward Herman’s article: “The Politics of the Srebrenica Massacre.” Many similar articles (written by infamous genocide deniers) can be found on their site. To read response to Herman’s denials and conspiracy theories, click here.
Full article continues below…
The Centre for Peace in the Balkans (balkanpeace.org) is a Serbian propaganda media outlet based in Toronto, Canada. Here is a quick overview of this organization:
This organization presents itself as “balanced and accurate,” “non-profit corporation” with appealing ‘non-partisan’ name working for “peace” and against “the West’s flawed Balkan strategy” in the Balkans, “striving to advocate a balanced and accurate presentation” of the situation in the Balkans and to bring “NATO and military political leaders to stand trial.”
The main objective of this Serbian organization is to manipulate the public opinion with misinterpretation of facts concerning the recent conflict in the Former Yugoslavia. While there is plenty of material on their website portraying Bosniaks, Croats, and Albanians as “terrorists”, there is not a single piece of material on their web site condemning widespread human rights violations and massacres committed by the Serbs. In fact, this seemingly “peace-oriented” web site contains Srebrenica genocide denial material from many disgraced conspiracy theorists (see screenshot).
Who is behind ‘The Centre for Peace in the Balkans’?
‘The Centre for Peace in the Balkans’ was founded by a young Serbian nationalist – Nikola Rajkovic – who was (according to the Serbian Unity Congres) “born in Montreal, but now permanently resides in Toronto, Canada.” Rajkovic is actively involved in regularly updating the site with copyrighted material lifted from the Reuters, Associated Press, and other stories he finds interesting.
In January 2002, Nikola Rajkovic was elected to serve as a member of FR Yugoslav Council of Diaspora by then Serbian-run Government in Belgrade. The Council is better known as the Canadian-Serbian Council. Nikola Rajkovic is also a Vice-President of Serbian National Shield Society in Canada – an organization run by Serbian immigrants.
According to the Serbian Unity Congress, “Council members from the Motherland have been named on the basis of recommendations received from the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church.”
This same Church – namely the Serbian Orthodox Church – has been actively involved in encouraging their own people to support imprisoned Serb war criminals at the International Criminal Court for the Former Yugoslavia at the Hague. The Orthodox priest, Father Vojislav Bilbija, even laughed at their indictments for genocide and human rights violations, quote: “[the] individual prisoners have told him that their indictments are so unbelievable that the only thing left for them to do during court trials is smile bitterly.” (See “Loneliness worse than imprisonment for Hague prisoners,” The Path or Orthodoxy, January 2002)
‘The Centre for Peace in the Balkans’ & Srebrenica Genocide Denial
The interesting aim of ‘The Centre for Peace in the Balkans’ seems to be the creation of an atmosphere of exaggerated and false messages of pure Serbian ‘innocence’ in the conflict. Those views deemed to be fit to serve Serbian propaganda are gladly published on their web site. Their favorite essays are republished from such widely circulated Srebrenica genocide denial sources as Edward S. Herman, Stella L. Jatras, Jared Israel, Diana Johnstone, George Pumphrey, Milivoje Ivanisevic, Yossef Bodansky, Nebojsa Malic, David Peterson, and other conspiracy theorists (see here).
As respected British historian Marko Attila Hoare noted:
Quote: “Not a single respectable work of scholarship has been produced by any member of this political category in the West, though they have produced an enormous quantity of what can most charitably be described as extended political tracts, based…largely on other political tracts by other Balkan genocide deniers…. the ‘anti-war’ people in the West write propaganda rather than history about the Balkans; necessarily so, since they believe Yugoslavia was destroyed by a Western or German imperialist conspiracy, and this is not a viewpoint that anyone who actually does research on the subject can sustain. The average MPhil student here at Cambridge would be embarrassed to produce the sort of rubbish churned out by Michael Parenti, Diane Johnstone, Kate Hudson and other ill-informed genocide deniers, whose sole purpose is to confirm other lefties in their anti-Western prejudices.” End Quote (Srebrenica and the London Bombings: The ‘Anti-War’ Link)
The one of the saddest activism by this ‘Centre for Peace in the Balkans’ is the denial and manipulation of Srebrenica genocide. Even though more than 6000 bodies were recovered from Srebrenica’s mass graves and await DNA identification, Serbian propagandists and their revisionist friends hold onto their fictious belief that the number of killed was actually less than 2,500 and that Srebrenica genocide never happened. They even refuse to acknowledge the term Genocide when refering to the Srebrenica massacre and they regularly quote each other in every source they publish (it’s a well established circle of conspiracy theorists drawing opinions from each others’ pre-determined conclusions).
New York – Srebrenica Sisterhood: 7/11 and 9/11
The friendship between the New York and Srebrenica was viewed as a main threat to the twisted nationalist minds running this, so called, ‘Centre for Peace in the Balkans.’ As a result, ‘The Centre for Peace in the Balkans’ voiced its anger against the Srebrenica-New York sisterhood proposal – a symbolic link between Bosnian and American tragedy (9/11 and 6/11). In fact, according to Nikola Rajkovic’s logic published on his web site:
Quote: “Implying that the terror suffered by 9-11 victims in New York is similar to civil war suffering in Srebrenica is factually wrong. As such, a sister-city relationship between New York City and Srebrenica should not be established since it would be an insult to the memory of 9-11 victims.” End Quote
Of course, Nikola Rajkovic and his make-belief “Centre for Peace in the Balkans” fail to grasp that Srebrenica massacre is not just a “civil war suffering” – it’s a genocide. More clearly, it’s a genocide perpetrated by the forces under the command of former Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and his war-time General Ratko Mladic. Both of these fugitives from justice succeeded in executing planned genocide (read Karadzic’s words) with full logistical support of Serbia. Therefore, Nikola Rajkovic’s hate-inspired statements are insult not only to the victims of 7/11 and 9/11, but also step back for any chance of lasting peace and ethnic reconciliation. As of today, Rajkovic’s “Centre for Peace in the Balkans” still refuses to call for an arrest of indicted Serb war criminals who committed genocide in Srebrenica.
Nikola Rajkovic Fears Serb Children Will Learn About Genocide
The founder of ‘The Centre for Peace in the Balkans’ – Serbian nationalist Nikola Rajkovic – is obsessed with perceived bias of anything “Western” against Serbia. One has to glance over his article, “Serbdom in the 21st Century” (which he published at Serbian Unity Congress web site), to understand the level of his obsession against Western influence on Serbs and Serbia:
Quote: “…the Serbian name and identity has been under a constant media and public relations attack… there is an identifiable group of foreign journalists and foreign policy makers who have built their entire careers on denigrating the Serb name and reputation…. Serbdom will continue to suffer catastrophic consequences… Are the Serbs of Yugoslavia prepared to be made the scapegoats for the wars of the 1990s? …picking up the local (foreign) newspaper or turning on the television usually means enduring the following headline, Evil Serb convicted of genocide. What kind of effect will such unchallenged propaganda have on Serbian children living abroad? What will Serbian children say when they are asked to identity their heritage? …the long-term consequences of unchallenged propaganda and racism in foreign languages will be catastrophic to our identity and culture. If you need more proof, just read the foreign newspapers of the last ten years.” End Quote
And again, ‘The Center for Peace in the Balkans’ founder, refuses to challenge his own logic. He plays innocent card by suggesting that he does not understand why his people were in the news and why individuals from his people were accused and convicted of genocide, wide scale massacres, ethnic cleansings and other evils. For him, Serbs and Serbia are pure victims and he is more frustrated about Serb children learning that individual Serb people committed genocide against Bosniaks, than condemning those same crimes of genocide (let alone calling for war criminals hiding in Serbia to be arrested).
Rajkovic is disturbed by “foreign newspapers” for documenting wide scale massacres in Bosnia and Kosovo; these massacres were overhelmingly committed by the Serb (para)-military forces under the leadership of indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic and his indicted partner in crime General Ratko Mladic, both wanted on genocide charges and both fugitives from the international justice. He avoids condemning them or publishing any material criticising Serbs or Serbia.
Recommending Denial of Reality
‘The centre for Peace in the Balkans’ does not hide it’s bias; it recommends links to other web sites containing Srebrenica genocide denial material, and some of them include “Emperor’s Clothes,” “AntiWar,” “CounterPunch,” “ZNet,” “FrontPage Magazine” and sources of fiction and conspiracy.
Five Principles by De La Brosse
The fundamental principles of Serbian propaganda, highlighted by de la Brosse, haven’t changed. Five key principles are:
1. Keep it simple;
2. Project one’s own faults onto the enemy;
3. Use the news to one’s own advantage through exaggeration, distortion and omission;
4. Repeat the message endlesly; rely on myths and (revisionist) history; and
5. Create a national consensus.
The Serbian propaganda has been based on the same techniques as used by Adolf Hitler, with the added power of television and the Internet. To weld the population together, official propaganda draws on the sources of the Serbian mystique, that of a people who are ‘mistreated’ victims and ‘martyrs’ of history and that of Greater Serbia, indissolubly linked to the Orthodox religion and Eastern-Orthodox allies (e.g. Russia, Greece).
This type of propaganda clearly operates as a denial movement whose real aim is to fully absolve Serbia and Serbs of any responsibility for widespread war crimes, ethnic cleansings, and genocide in Srebrenica perpetrated for the sake of unfulfilled “Greater Serbia” dream.