GRIM ANNIVERSARY: FIVE YEARS SINCE THE FIRST SREBRENICA GENOCIDE VICTIMS WERE BURIED IN POTOCARI
Tuzla, in northeast Bosnia-Hercegovina, has become the temporary resting home for thousands of Srebrenica Genocide victims. According to the British Medical Journal, between 5000 and 6000 unidentified bodies are contained in more than 12,000 body bags of human remains that are currently stored in giant refrigerators, hospital morgues, and a disused salt mine. The first victims of the genocide in Srebrenica were buried at the Srebrenica Genocide Memorial and Cemetery in Potocari five years ago today. 600 victims were buried on March 31, 2003. Since then a further 2,907 people have been buried.
The international community will continue to support the process of exhumation and identification of the mortal remains so that the families of the victims can bury their loved ones with dignity, OHR/EUSR said.
“Our thoughts are again with all those who have lost family members in the genocide at Srebrenica. Without justice there can be no reconciliation”, said High Representative and EU Special Representative Miroslav Lajcak today. “OHR is committed to supporting a more effective strategy for conducting investigations and trials of war crimes through a national war crimes strategy, and I have confirmed my full support to the ICTY.”
Truckloads of Victims Thrown into Drina River
Construction workers recently discovered a mass grave near village Klotijevac, Srebrenica, in which 15 bodies were found. These are Bosniaks from this area whose bodies were taken from the Drina River by villagers from Klotijevac and buried.
Amor Masovic, the President for the Commission on Missing Persons in Bosnia and Herzegovina, said that the Srebrenica exhumations will not continue until the Council of Ministers of Bosnia-Herzegovina adopts a rulebook about the budget spending. The exception is mass grave in Klotijevac, which will be financed from the last-year’s budget.
If the budget is adopted soon, then exhumations of other Srebrenica Genocide mass graves could continue as early as April.
SHIPMENTS OF U.S. ARMS PREPARING FOR REPUBLIC OF KOSOVO
Serbia, acting as an extended hand of Russia, will not be able to pose military threat to the neighbouring Republic of Kosovo anylonger. Serbian Prime Minister should stop invoking international law with respect to Kosovo, because Serbia has repeatedly violated it.
PHOTO ABOVE: U.S. Military prepares for shipment of arms to
Republic of Kosovo, which has been authorized by President Bush.
President George W. Bush authorized Wednesday supplying Republic of Kosovo with the U.S. weapons.
Serbia is an extended hand of Russia in the Balkans. Even today, you can see billboards of Russian president Vladimir Putin throughout Serbia and some parts of neighbouring Republic of Kosovo. In a photo (on the left), you can see a billboard with picture of former Russian President Putin in the town of Leposavic in north Kosovo. The text on billboard reads “Russia”.
Serbia was at war against the NATO alliance in 1999 and anti-Western sentiment is at an all time high in this country.
The United Nations in Kosovo accused Serbian officials on Tuesday of orchestrating violent clashes in the neighbouring Republic of Kosovo in which one Ukrainian policeman was killed and dozens of other officers were wounded. Serbian demonstrators attacked international peacekeepers with rocks, hand grenades and firebombs on Monday as the UN police were removing protesters from inside a UN courthouse. The two sides traded gunfire, and more than 60 UN and NATO forces and 70 protesters were hurt.
On Wednesday, Bush signed a Presidential Determination granting Kosovo eligibility to receive defense articles and defense services under the Foreign Assistance Act and the Arms Export Control Act, which require that the president determine that military assistance “will strengthen the security of the United States and promote world peace.”
“I hereby find that the furnishing of defense articles and defense services to Kosovo will strengthen the security of the United States and promote world peace.”
The United States was among the first countries to recognize Kosovo after its Feb. 17 declaration of independence.
The White House said Bush’s move would strengthen U.S. security relations with Kosovo, promote security and stability throughout the Balkans and improve Kosovo’s capacity to take part in peacekeeping activities, deter terrorists and deal with humanitarian emergencies.
“The actual provision of defense articles or defense services will be considered on a case-by-case basis, including with respect to relevant guidelines and criteria established in the existing Conventional Arms Transfer policy,” the White House said.
“Each request will also be reviewed to ensure that all legal requirements and constraints existing at the time with regard to the sale, lease, or other transfer are satisfied.”
Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica has slammed President Bush’s decision to send arms to Kosovo by reminding President Bush of internatonal law – the very same law Serbia has repeatedly violated and the very same law Serbia has shown utter disregard for.
“There are already too many weapons in Kosovo and, instead of further arming the ethnic Albanians, it would be much better if America were to start respecting international law and the United Nations (UN) Charter again. It’s not new weapons that are required for Kosovo, but new negotiations,” said Kostunica.
As Andras Riedlmayer pointed out in his recent piece titled “Belgrade and international law“, quote:
“Belgrade government officials, especially PM Kostunica, like to invoke international law with respect to Serbia’s future relations with the EU and its objections to Kosovo’s independence. What is almost never mentioned is Serbia’s own record with respect to its international legal obligations.”
Between 8,000 and 10,000 Bosniaks were summarily executed during Srebrenica genocide. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) found Serbia responsible for violating the obligation to prevent genocide, under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, in respect of the genocide in Srebrenica in July 1995.
The ICJ ordered Serbia to immediately take effective steps to ensure full compliance with its obligation under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide to punish acts of genocide as defined by Article II of the Convention, or any of the other acts proscribed by Article III of the Convention, and to transfer individuals accused of genocide or any of those other acts for trial by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, and to co-operate fully with that Tribunal.
Since ICJ handed its judgment against Serbia, a year has gone by and Belgrade has done nothing to comply with the ruling.
AFP reported that the US official, who asked not to be identified, said the US weapons deliveries were preparing the ground for the future, adding that the United States had struck similar relations with other countries in the region.
PHOTO CAPTION: Face of a Serbian extremist, a member of radical Serbian association ‘Sloga’, screaming against the independence of Kosovo, in Berlin March 8, 2008.
Minor Update: October 18, 2008.
Over 8,000 and up to 10,000 lives perished in Srebrenica Genocide, mostly men and elderly. At least 500 children were summarily executed by the Serb Army. The International Court of Justice (ICJ), the highest U.N. court, ruled Serbia failed to prevent genocide in Srebrenica, but cleared Serbia of direct responsibility. Instead, the blame was shifted to the Bosnian Serb Government (RS) which was de facto under Slobodan Milosevic control. He even signed the Dayton Peace Agreement for them…
“Memorandum on War Crimes and Crimes of Genocide in Eastern Bosnia (communes of Bratunac, Skelani and Srebrenica) committed against the Serbian population from April 1992 to April 1993.” (UN id # A/46/171 and S/25635) [also see:Dissecting Milosevic Propaganda]
Srebrenica genocide denial web sites have been circulating above document as “official U.N. conclusions” about alleged “Moslem terror” against Serb civilians around Srebrenica. The problem is that these Serb allegations are NOT official U.N. conclusions – as deniers tirelesly portray them. In fact, the document “A/46/171 and S/25635”, does NOT contain any official U.N. conclusions. This document had been carefully drafted by Slobodan Milosevic’s “Yugoslav State Commission for War Crimes and Genocide” and submitted to the U.N. on June 2 1993 by a right-wing Serbian ambassador Dragomir Djokic. The Serb allegations contained in the above document have been discredited bythe United Nations War Crimes Court, Serbia’s Human Rights Watch, as well as internationally backed Research and Documentation Center in Sarajevo. When Djokic submitted these allegations about “Moslem terror” against “Serb civilians” to the U.N. in 1993, he conveniently avoided mentioning that Bosnian Serb forces, with full logistical support of his Government, killed about 15,000 Bosniaks in various parts of Eastern Bosnia and ethnically cleansed over 90% of predominantly Bosniak territory of Podrinje. He conveniently left that part out, because Djokic was nothing more than disposable hand of Slobodan Milosevic’s propaganda machine of the 90’s.
Serbian Propaganda About Srebrenica Demilitarization
Serbian nationalists justify Serb attacks on Srebrenica by claiming that Bosniaks never demilitarized in Srebrenica and that Bosniaks attacked surrounding Serb-held villages, so somehow “heroic” Serbs had to committ genocide against Bosniaks (read more). What they avoid mentioning is that the Serb Army is the one that never demilitarized around Srebrenica and that Serb villages were used as military bases from which Serb Army launched brutal attacks on the Srebrenica enclave (read more). In 1990’s, Serbs had no business in even being present on a predominantly Bosniak territory of Eastern Bosnia, let alone committing genocide against innocent people.
Serbian Propaganda About Markale Market Massacres
Despite overhelming evidence against the Serb side, their propaganda has for a long time claimed that Sarajevo citizens bombed themselves to gain world sympathy and get the Bosnian-Serb army ‘in trouble’; Serbs even claimed that the markale market massacre in Sarajevo was “staged”.
Five mortar rounds landed in a crowded area of downtown Sarajevo on 28 August 1995 (Markale Massacre 2). Four of the rounds caused only minimal material damage; one round, however, landed in the Markale marketplace, the scene of a similar attack on 5 February 1994 (Markale Massacre 1). Thirty-seven people, most of them civilians, were killed in and around the marketplace, and approximately 90 were injured. A confidential report to the UNPROFOR Commander concluded that the five rounds had been fired from the Serb-held area of Lukavica, to the west of Sarajevo. The secrecy surrounding the UNPROFOR investigation into this incident gave rise to speculation, fueled by the Serbs, that there was doubt as to which side had fired the mortar rounds. A review of United Nations documentation, however, confirms that UNPROFOR considered the evidence clear: all five rounds had been fired by the Bosnian Serbs. To learn more about Markale Massacres, read the following articles:UN Conclussions: Markale Massacres, UN Court: Serbs Responsible, Serb Gen. Stanislav Galic Convicted on Terrorism Charges, David Harland Testimony, and another Serb General Dragoljub Milosevic Convicted for Sarajevo Terrorism.
“Another lie meant to feed the hatred of the enemy that was bandied about in the Serbian media concerned the allegation that the besieged Muslims of Sarajevo were feeding Serb children to the municipal zoo’s starving animals.”
Acording to the prosecution at the ICTY trial of Milosevic, Serbian television and radio’s repetitive use of pejorative descriptions, such as “Ustashe hordes”, “Vatican fascists”, “Mujahedin fighters”, “fundamentalist warriors of Jihad”, and “Albanian terrorists”, became part of common usage. Two members of the Federal Security Service (KOG) testified for the Prosecution in Milosevic’s trial about their involvement in Milosevic’s propaganda campaign. Slobodan Lazarevic revealed alleged KOG clandestine activities designed to undermine the peace process, including mining a soccer field, a water tower and the reopened railway between Zagreb and Belgrade. These actions were blamed on Croats. The other KOG operative, Mustafa Candic, described the use of technology to fabricate conversations, making it sound as if Croat authorities were telling Croats in Serbia to leave for an ethnically pure Croatia. The conversation was broadcast following a Serb attack on Croatians living in Serbia, forcing them to flee. He testified that the propaganda war was code named “Operation Opera.” He also testified to another instance of disinformation involving a television broadcast of corpses, described as Serb civilians killed by Croats. Candic testified that he believed they were in fact the bodies of Croats killed by Serbs, though this statement has not been verified. (see:Feeding the Vampire, and we also recommend EXPERT REPORT OF RENAUD DE LA BROSSE “Political Propaganda and the Plan to Create ‘A State For All Serbs:’ Consequences of using media for ultra-nationalist ends” in five parts: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5),
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Update note, March 10, 2008: Thank you for your comments. I am moving excerpts of Owen’s comment (quoting the Judge Al-Khasawneh) on top:
“The ‘effective control’ test for attribution established in the Nicaragua case is not suitable to questions of State responsibility for international crimes committed with a common purpose. The ‘overall control’ test for attribution established in the Tadić case is more appropriate when the commission of international crimes is the common objective of the controlling State and the non-State actors. The Court’s refusal to infer genocidal intent from a consistent pattern of conduct in Bosnia and Herzegovina is inconsistent with the established jurisprudence of the ICTY. The FRY’s knowledge of the genocide set to unfold in Srebrenica is clearly established. The Court should have treated the Scorpions as a de jure organ of the FRY. The statement by the Serbian Council of Ministers in response to the massacre of Muslim men by the Scorpions amounted to an admission of responsibility. The Court failed to appreciate the definitional complexity of the crime of genocide and to assess the facts before it accordingly.”
The article details some of the steps Serbia took to successfully block the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia from disclosing extremely sensitive transcripts of meetings the Serbian Supreme Defence Council held between 1992 and 1995.As Slobodan Kostic points out and we agree with him, quote:
“It is widely believed that the transcripts, which record the meetings of top officials, contain evidence of Belgrade’s direct involvement in the wars in Croatia and Bosnia in the 1990s.”
PHOTO CAPTION: Photos of the Srebrenica Genocide billboard in Belgrade vandalized with the message threatening a repeat of Srebrenica genocide: ‘There’s going to be a rerun’.
The question remains: If one day victims get their way and Serbia makes sensitive transcripts public, will the authenticity of these transcripts be compromised in the meantime? After all, Serbia had plenty of time to forge whatever documents they wished. What stops Serbia and Republika Srpska from forging military orders so they comply with Geneva Convention?
It is important to note – and most people don’t realize this fact – the Prosecution at the International Criminal Tribunal proved an international armed conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina no less than five times, confirming Serbia’s direct involvement in a full blown international attack on Bosnia-Herzegovina. Here is an excerpt of ICTY judgment confirming Belgrade’s full control over Bosnian Serbs (financial, logistical, and more importantly in direction, coordination and supervision of the activities of the Serb Army, VRS):
Tadic, (Appeals Chamber), July 15, 1999, paras. 156, 162: “It is sufficient to show that [the Yugoslav Army] exercised overall control over the Bosnian Serb Forces. Such control manifested itself not only in financial, logistical and other assistance and support, but also, and more importantly, in terms of participation in the general direction, coordination and supervision of the activities and operations of the VRS [the Army ofthe Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina/Republika Srpska]. This sort of control is sufficient for the purposes of the legal criteria required by international law.” “[F]or the period material to this case (1992), the armed forces of the Republika Srpska were to be regarded as acting under the overall control of and on behalf of the FRY [the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro)]. Hence, even after 19 May 1992 the armed conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina between the Bosnian Serbs and the central authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina must be classified as an international armed conflict.” See also Tadic, (Appeals Chamber), July 15, 1999, para. 87. [read more…]
Nevertheless, there was Genocide in Bosnia. While ICJ confirmed Srebrenica genocide, another European Court handed down Bosnian genocide judgment. It should be noted that on September 26th 1997, Germany handed down the first Bosnian Genocide conviction to Serb soldier Nikola Jorgic for crimes committed in Bosnia-Herzegovina. In reviewing the case in the judgement of Nikola Jorgic v. Germany on 12 July 2007 the European Court of Human Rights upheld Bosnian Genocide conviction.