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SREBRENICA NUMBERS (QUICK FACTS)

December 10, 2007
40,000 Bosniaks were targeted for extinction in Srebrenica, according to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (source).

LATEST UPDATE: DNA results support a figure of 8,100 genocide victims

DNA results of the International Commission on Missing Persons support an estimate of 8,100 Srebrenica genocide victims. So far, the identities of 6,186 genocide victims have been revealed by the DNA analysis. For more information and a source link, read here (as of July 11, 2009).

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On June 5, 2005 Bosnia’s Federal Commission for Missing Persons issued a list of the names, parents’ names, dates of birth, and unique citizen’s registration numbers of 8,106 Bosniaks who have been reliably established, from multiple independent sources, to have gone missing and/or been killed in and around Srebrenica in the summer of 1995. Here is a copy of the list in PDF format. We received an update from the Federal Commission for Missing Persons confirming that the current number of Srebrenica Genocide victims stands at 8,372 victims, read here.

Kathryne Bomberger, the director general of the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), “We can for the first time say that the 8,000—maybe more but certainly not less missing from Srebrenica is accurate. We can tell this based on the rate of blood-sample collection [DNA]. You have to collect at least three different family members’ blood samples for every missing person. The 85,000 blood samples [collected so far] accounts for 28,000 different individuals missing from the conflict. In 1999 we had hit a brick wall in making identifications—if there was no body there was no crime. After [former U.S. secretary of State] Madeleine Albright said [the United States] had satellite photos showing mass graves, the perpetrators went out and dug the bodies and moved them. We found one body in four different locations 50km [30 miles] apart.” (Source: Published by Newsweek on May 11th, 2007 – Digging Up the Secrets of the Dead.)

On June 21 2007, the Research and Documentation Center in Sarajevo released the results of the three year study compiling the largest database on Bosnian war victims in existence – the Bosnia’s Book of the Dead (covering period 1992-95). An international team of experts evaluated the findings before they were released.

The team worked for three years with thousands of sources, collecting 21 facts about each victim, including names, nationality, time and place of birth and death, circumstances of death and other data. The Book aimed to identify each single victim of the war and to prevent any type of manipulation of numbers. According to the research results, the breakdown of killed and missing in the Srebrenica region is the following:

Bosniaks (94.58%): 6,565 civilians + 1,895 soldiers = 8,460
Important note: In a case of Srebrenica genocide, the research established that many genocide survivors requested that their family members be buried as soldiers, for various reasons although they died as civilians or as soldiers away from front lines. The most common reason for these requests was access to social support for families of killed soldiers. The evaluation indicates that such practices leadto over-reporting of soldiers and under-reporting of civilians; however, Srebrenica genocide POWs were victims of summary executions in violation of Geneva Convention.

Non-genocide war casualties around Srebrenica (from 1992-95):
– Serbs (5.37%): 151 civilians + 329 soldiers = 480
– Croats (0.02%): 1 civilian + 1 soldier = 2
– Others (0.03%): 3 civilians

“These results might be an extremely efficient tool in fighting myths, but only if there is a will in the society to deal with the past in terms of facts, not myths,” said Ewa Tabeau, who worked as a project manager in the demographic unit of the International Criminal Tribunal’s prosecution office. In this role, she studied the demographic consequences of conflicts in the former Yugoslavia, with a main focus on the number of victims during the wars in this region.

Patrick Ball, a member of the evaluation team who took part in the work of nine truth commission across the world, said the Bosnia’s “Book of the Dead” database “is better than any I worked with so far.”

Philip Verwimp, a researcher in the field of political economy in developing and post-war countries, human rights and genocide, and a statistician who has specialised on the war in Rwanda stated that the RDC’s database does not mean that work on determining the number of war victims in Bosnia is over.

The figures include both the missing and those who died due to military activities or torture. The project does not include people who died during the war in accidents, through reckless handling of weapons, due to starvation or lack of medication.

“What comes to mind are 12 babies that died in Banja Luka because the hospital had no oxygen or six civilians in Gorazde who died because an airdropped American humanitarian aid package fell right on them,” said Mirsad Tokaca, head of the research project. “Such cases were not counted as they are regarded indirect deaths.”

LATEST UPDATE: DNA results of the International Commission on Missing Persons support an estimate of 8,100 Srebrenica genocide victims. So far, the identities of 6,186 genocide victims have been revealed by the DNA analysis. For more information and a source link, read here (as of July 11, 2009).

  1. Taras
    December 12, 2007 at 11:23 am

    Bosnia and the whole world must never forget these people, and how and why they died.

    I learned about the White House’s initial softness on the genocide in the Balkans after reading WAR IN A TIME OF PEACE: Bush, Clinton, and the Generals by David Halberstam.

  2. Shaina
    December 14, 2007 at 2:46 am

    This article is in German, but even using babelfish-it was one of the best summaries of the RDC’s findings for the entire country.

    http://www.faz.net/s/RubDDBDABB9457A437BAA85A49C26FB23A0/
    Doc~ED911C0E9D68B48508DD3169819AEDC9E~ATpl~Ecommon~Scontent.html

    Understandably, the total numbers, ethnic division has been getting the most attention-but the RDC data also has stats that point to other trends that has gotten much less attention.
    One, is the gendered aspects of the atrocities. Even excluding military casualties, the overwhelming number of total civilian casualties %76.40 according to page 18 of “Civilians” were male.
    Yet, this trend has seemignly been ignored by local & international media, NGOs and observers (with some notable exceptions-such as Adam Jones-see http://www.gendercide.org). Even the RDC-while they had a separate study on children & female victims, had no seprate study on male victims-even though-as the stats clearly show, adult male civilians were more vulnerable to killings than other groups. I’m sort of hoping, that these numbers from the RDC and similar organizations will give even more statistical proof of the specific vulnerability of male civilians during war time-a subject that has been either ignored or brushed under the table.

    ————

    Trying to find the most statitically accurate account of how many people were killed is an ineviable task; but it is necessary in order to prevent wild exaggerations in either direction. (And even then that doesn’t prevent manipulations or misinterpretations of the data).

    As your own article points out, the RDC has recieved much acclaim from international experts on their methodology and database. But, even the most scrupuliously researched database can never be 100& accurate-to the exact number.
    Each person on the database is confirmed missing/deceased by at least two sources.
    Even excluding people who died of “secondary” war causes-accidents, war related suicides, lack of provisions; there are also people who might not be accounted for because they had no surviving relatives to declare them missing. Related to this issue, is that of mass graves. This issue is particularly accute when it comes to Srebrenica-and the deliberate effort to conceal what occured by burying and reburying the bodies.

    I don’t make these points to dismiss the RDC’s research-just the opposite, they appear to be a thorough, professional organization-and the number of international NGOs, and Balkan human rights groups, staticians, ICTY trial chambers/prosecutors who either aid or use the RDC’s research is evidence of this. And while I’m certainly no expert, and am limited to what reading English language articles-I’ve been impressed with what I have read about the RDC and their work.
    I make these points to point out the obvious: That numbers (and we should not forget that each one represents a human being) are not the entire story-and should not be interpreted as the end all be all account of what occured. Stats and data can perhaps aid, but numbers strictly by themselves can neither prove nor disprove genocide, crimes against humanity, etc. Other aspects of the RDC’s database, such as oral history, eyewitness accounts, reports, documentations, multimedia all can give a more complete version of what occured. In many ways, the RDC’s data simply gives statistical confirmaion to many major points made in the UN Committee of experts report, Mazowiecki reports, etc.
    And even all of the data, stats, reports, and even oral histories and personal accounts can only given an outsider like myself a sliver of knowledge of the horror.

  3. Shaina
    December 14, 2007 at 3:02 am

    Hi Taras;

    I also read War In A Time of Peace and thought it was an insightful overview of foreign policy during Bush Sr. & Clinton’s presidency. David Halberstram is an excellent journalist-he also wrote books on the civil rights movement as well.

    Another book you might be interested in is “A Problem From Hell: America in the Age of Genocide” by Samantha Power.

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