GROSSLY INFLATED NUMBERS OF SERB “VICTIMS” AROUND SREBRENICA USED TO JUSTIFY GENOCIDE OF BOSNIAKS
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
[Updated Version 18:00 p.m.]
Srebrenica genocide claimed at least 8,000 Bosniak (Muslim) lives – men, children, and elderly – who were summarily executed, dumped into mass graves, then relocated to the secondary mass graves to hide the crime. Many genocide victims were dumped into the Drina river and will likely never be found.
Every year around this time, Serbian ultra-nationalist media actively promotes grossly inflated number of 3,000+ “Serb victims” around Srebrenica to justify genocide of more than 8,000 Bosniaks in Srebrenica. Here is what the public should know:
In order to justify Srebrenica genocide, Serbian nationalists propagate grossly inflated claims that over 3,000 Serb civilians were murdered around Srebrenica. Milivoje Ivanisevic, who came up with this number, is a Srebrenica genocide denier himself. Ivanisevic’s claims were discredited by the International Criminal Tribunal, Serbia’s Human Rights Watch, and Bosnia’s State-level Research and Documentation Center.
FACTS: In an attempt to justify genocide of more than 8,000 Bosniaks, 151 Serb civilian victims around Srebrenica were grossly inflated to a number of 3,000 by Serbian radical nationalist Milivoje Ivanisevic.
It is agreed by all sides that Serbs suffered a number of casualties during military forays led byNaser Oric, considering that Serbs used surrounding villages around Srebrenica to launch attacks on Srebrenica. The controversy over the nature and number of the casualties came to a head in 2005, the 10th anniversary of the massacre. According to Human Rights Watch, the ultra-nationalist Serbian Radical Party “launched an aggressive campaign to prove that Muslims had committed crimes against thousands of Serbs in the area” which “was intended to diminish the significance of the July 1995 crime.”
A press briefing by the ICTY Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) dated 6 July 2005 noted that the number of Serb deaths in the region alleged by the Serbian authorities had increased from 1,400 to 3,500, a figure the OTP stated “[does] not reflect the reality.” The briefing cited previous accounts:
The Republika Srpska’s Commission for War Crimes gave the number of Serb victims in the municipalities of Bratunac, Srebrenica and Skelani as 995; 520 in Bratunac and 475 in Srebrenica. The Chronicle of Our Graves by Milivoje Ivanisevic, president of the Belgrade Center for Investigating Crimes Committed against the Serbs, estimates the number of people killed at around 1,200. For the Honorable Cross and Golden Freedom, a book published by the RS Ministry of Interior, referred to 641 Serb victims in the Bratunac-Srebrenica-Skelani region.
For example the village of Kravica was attacked by Bosniak forces on Orthodox Christmas Day, 7 January 1993. Some Serb sources such as Ivanisevic allege that the village’s 353 inhabitants were “virtually completely destroyed”. In fact, the VRS’ own internal records state that 46 Serbs died in the Kravica attack: 35 soldiers and 11 civilians, while the ICTY Prosecutor’s Office’s investigation of casualties on 7 and 8 January in Kravica and the surrounding villages found that 43 people were killed, of whom 13 were obviously civilians. Nevertheless the event continues to be cited by Serb sources as the key example of heinous crimes committed by Bosniak forces around Srebrenica.
As for the destruction and casualties in the villages of Kravica, Siljkovići, Bjelovac, Fakovići and Sikirić, the judgment states that the prosecution failed to present convincing evidence that the Bosnian forces were responsible for them, because the Serb forces used artillery in the fighting in those villages. In the case of the village of Bjelovac, Serbs even used the warplanes.
The most up-to-date analysis of Serb casualties in the region comes from the Sarajevo-based Research and Documentation Center, a non-partisan institution with a multiethnic staff, whose data have been collected, processed, checked, compared and evaluated by international team of experts. The RDC’s extensive review of casualty data found that Serb casualties in the Bratunac municipality amounted to 119 civilians and 424 soldiers. It also established that although the 383 Serb victims buried in the Bratunac military cemetery are presented as casualties of ARBiH units from Srebrenica, 139 (more than one third of the total) had fought and died elsewhere in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Bosnian Book of the Dead, which was backed down byinternational experts (including Ewa Tabeau, head of the Demographic Unit research team of the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague), lists 151 Serb civilian victims.
The Serbsnever demilitarized around Srebrenica. The Bosnian Government had entered into demilitarization agreements with the Bosnian Serbs. On 21 April 1993, the UNPROFOR issued press release saying that the process of demilitarization of Bosnian defenders of Srebrenica had been a success. According to the Agreement, the Serbs should withdraw their heavy weapons before the Bosniaks gave up their weapons. The Serbs refused to demilitarize. They never honored their part of agreement. Instead, Serb military and paramilitary troops continued using surrounding Serb villages as a base for attacks on (and brutal siege of) Srebrenica.
Even though this accusation is often repeated by international sources, there is no credible evidence to support it… The Serbs repeatedly exaggerated the extent of the raids out of Srebrenica as a pretext for the prosecution of a central war aim: to create a geographically contiguous and ethnically pure territory along the Drina, while freeing their troops to fight in other parts of the country. The extent to which this pretext was accepted at face value by international actors and observers reflected the prism of ‘moral equivalency’ through which the conflict in Bosnia was viewed by too many for too long.