A group of former Dutch soldiers with questionable agenda and pro-Serb leanings are on a crusade to deny Srebrenica genocide and get their 15 minutes of shame…
Activist Dutch veterans told Ivanisevic they had to “protect themselves from the Muslims, rather than protect Muslims from the Serbs” in Srebrenica. What they failed to mention is that Serb soldiers wore Dutch helmets and disguised themselves as UN peacekeepers to trick Bosniak population of Srebrenica into surrendering. In this situation, it was impossible to distinguish between real and fake peacekeepers.
Srebrenica genocide resulted in the summary executions of 8,000 Bosniaks, including at last 500 children, and forcible deportations of thousands of women and children. Women would not be spared, but Serbs were sensitive to the public opinion so they opted for forcible deportations instead (read more here) – as concluded by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia at the Hague.
NOTE: Expanded Edition (Reading Time: 10-15 minutes)
Updated: September 17, 2008 / Feel Free to Copy and Redistribute
By: Srebrenica Genocide Blog
31. As the Trial Chamber explained, forcible transfer could be an additional means by which to ensure the physical destruction of the Bosnian Muslim community in Srebrenica. The transfer completed the removal of all Bosnian Muslims from Srebrenica, thereby eliminating even the residual possibility that the Muslim community in the area could reconstitute itself. The decision not to kill the women or children may be explained by the Bosnian Serbs’ sensitivity to public opinion. In contrast to the killing of the captured military men, such an action could not easily be kept secret, or disguised as a military operation, and so carried an increased risk of attracting international censure.32. In determining that genocide occurred at Srebrenica, the cardinal question is whether the intent to commit genocide existed. While this intent must be supported by the factual matrix, the offence of genocide does not require proof that the perpetrator chose the most efficient method to accomplish his objective of destroying the targeted part. Even where the method selected will not implement the perpetrator’s intent to the fullest, leaving that destruction incomplete, this ineffectiveness alone does not preclude a finding of genocidal intent. The international attention focused on Srebrenica, combined with the presence of the UN troops in the area, prevented those members of the VRS [Bosnian Serb Army] Main Staff who devised the genocidal plan from putting it into action in the most direct and efficient way. Constrained by the circumstances, they adopted the method which would allow them to implement the genocidal design while minimizing the risk of retribution.
43. Killings occurred.In the late morning of 12 July 1995, a witness saw a pile of 20 to 30 bodies heaped up behind the Transport Building in Potocari, alongside a tractor-like machine. Another testified that, at around 1200 hours on 12 July, he saw a soldier slay a child with a knife in the middle of a crowd of expellees. He also said that he saw Serb soldiers execute more than a hundred Bosnian Muslim men in the area behind the Zinc Factory and then load their bodies onto a truck, although the number and methodical nature of the murders attested to by this witness stand in contrast to other evidence on the Trial Record that indicates that the killings in Potocari were sporadic in nature.44. As evening fell, the terror deepened.Screams, gunshots and other frightening noises were audible throughout the night and no one could sleep. Soldiers were picking people out of thecrowd and taking them away: some returned; others did not. Witness T recounted how three brothers – one merely a child and the others in their teens – were taken out in the night. When the boys’ mother went looking for them, she found them with their throats slit.45. That night, a Dutch Bat medical orderly came across two Serb soldiers raping a young woman:“[W]e saw two Serb soldiers, one of them was standing guard and the other one was lying on the girl, with his pants off. And we saw a girl lying on the ground, on some kind of mattress. There was blood on the mattress, even she was covered with blood. She had bruises on her legs. There was even blood coming down her legs. She was in total shock. She went totally crazy.”46. Bosnian Muslim refugees nearby could see the rape, but could do nothing about it becauseof Serb soldiers standing nearby. Other people heard women screaming, or saw women being dragged away. Several individuals were so terrified that they committed suicide by hanging themselves. Throughout the night and early the next morning, stories about the rapes and killings spread through the crowd and the terror in the camp escalated.…. … …150. On 12 and 13 July 1995, upon the arrival of Serb forces in Potocari, the Bosnian Muslim refugees taking shelter in and around the compound were subjected to a terror campaign comprised of threats, insults, looting and burning of nearby houses, beatings, rapes, and murders.… … …517. More significantly, rapes and killings were reported by credible witnesses and some committed suicide out of terror. The entire situation in Potocari has been depicted as a campaign of terror. As an ultimate suffering, some women about to board the buses had their young sons dragged away from them, never to be seen again.
389. The same day [17 July 1995], one of the Dutchbat soldiers, during his brief stay in Zagreb upon return from Serb-held territory, was quoted as telling a member of the press that “hunting season [is] in full swing… it is not only men supposedly belonging to the Bosnian Government who are targeted… women, including pregnant ones, children and old people aren’t spared. Some are shot and wounded, others have had their ears cut off and some women have been raped.
Voices on Genocide Prevention is bi-weekly audio series and podcast service, hosted by Committee on Conscience Project Director Bridget Conley-Zilkic, that brings you the voices of human rights defenders, experts, advocates, and government officials.
Hasan Nuhanovic’s family was killed by the Bosnian Serb forces when they overran the UN declared safe haven of Srebrenica in July 1995 and slaughtered more than 8,000 people, including at least 500 children. Mindful of international public opinion they proceeded to complete the ethnic cleansing of the enclave by deporting the thousands of women and children from the enclave (see Appeals’ Judgment, Prosecutor vs Krstic).
We encourage you to contact wonderful people at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Committee on Conscience and thank them for remembering the victims of genocide in Srebrenica. Do your part and thank them. Please use this contact form.
Two of the concentration camps, Omarska and Keraterm, were places where killings, torture, and brutal interrogations were carried out. The third, Trnopolje, had another purpose; it functioned as a staging area for massive deportations of mostly women, children, and elderly men, and killings and rapes also occurred there. The fourth, Manjaca, was referred to by the Bosnian Serbs as a ‘prisoner of war camp,’ although most if not all detainees were civilians… The Commission of Experts determined that the systematic destruction of the Bosniak community in the Prijedor area met the definition of genocide.
After the Serbs took power on April 30, 1992, they opened at least four detention camps in the Prijedor opstina. Two of the concentration camps, Omarska and Keraterm, were places where killings, torture, and brutal interrogations were carried out. The third, Trnopolje, had another purpose; it functioned as a staging area for massive deportations of mostly women, children, and elderly men, and killings and rapes (2) also occurred there. The fourth, Manjaca, was referred to by the Bosnian Serbs as a “prisoner of war camp,” although most if not all detainees were civilians.(3)
“Despite the absence of a real non-Serbian threat, the main objective of the concentration camps, especially Omarska but also Keraterm, seems to have been to eliminate the non-Serb leadership,” the U.N. Commission of Experts found. “From the time when the Serbs took power in the district of Prijedor, non-Serbs in reality became outlaws. At times, non-Serbs were instructed to wear white arm bands to identify themselves…According to Serbianregulations, those leaving the district had to sign over their property rights and accept never to return, being told their names would simultaneously be deleted from the census.” (4)
According to Ed Vulliamy (5), the first journalist to report from the Omarska camp, “Omarska was a monstrosity: an inferno of murder, torture and rape. It was a stain upon our century.” (6)
During the period when many persons were interned in the concentration camps, family members sometimes tried to obtain information from the police station in town. “Instead of receiving information concerning the whereabouts of their family members, they were in some cases offered the alternative of paying for an “exit visa” for the family at large.(7) In order to receive an “exit visa,” sums of money had to be paid to various municipal authorities and to the local “Red Cross,” run by the Bosnian Serb authorities, and real property had to be signed over to the municipality.
The Commission of Experts determined that the systematic destruction of the Bosniak community in the Prijedor area met the definition of genocide. (8)
The persecution of non-Serbs in Prijedor did not ease after international pressure succeeded in forcing the Bosnian Serbs to close the concentration camps in 1992, as evidenced by the ICRC’s attempt to evacuate all remaining non-Serbs from Opstina Prijedor in March 1994. (9)
As documented by Human Rights Watch/Helsinki, a final wave of mass expulsions of non-Serbs from Prijedor and many other towns in Serb-controlled territory occurred in September and October 1995, when the infamous Zeljko “Arkan” Raznatovic joined local forces to conduct “ethnic cleansing” operations. (10) Forced expulsions in Prijedor began on October 5 during which those expelled were again forced to finance their own “ethnic cleansing” by paying transportation fees to the local “Red Cross” and were harassed, robbed, and threatened while waiting for the buses which would later dump them at the confrontation line. (11)
One woman told Human Rights Watch/Helsinki during a 1995 investigation of the expulsions, “All the Muslims from the city [Prijedor] were expelled. We went to the [local] Red Cross, gave them seventy DM for each family member and got on the buses. . .There were thirteen buses in the convoy leaving from Prijedor for Teslic. Men were taken off my bus. . . My husband was taken off the bus in Blatnica, a Serbian village in the woods.” She had not seen her husband since. (12)
Many draft-age males were separated from their families during round-ups in other Bosnian Serb-controlled areas, and transferred to Prijedor, where they were interned at the “Autoprevoz” facility or other local detention centers. Following the official closing of the camps in 1992, and until the present, rumors have abounded about the reopening of the Omarska, Manjaca and Keraterm camps, but Human Rights Watch/Helsinki has been unable to confirm them. Prisoners released from “Autoprevoz” in an exchange told Human Rights Watch/Helsinki that when the International Committee of the Red Cross tried to visit them, they were moved by bus onto the Kozara mountain and hidden until the visitors had gone away. (13)
Oppression of the now-minority Bosniak and Bosnian Croat populations throughout Republika Srpska continues today through restrictions on freedom of movement; evictions and expulsions; arbitrary arrest and detention; ethnically motivated harassment and direct physical attack; denial of employment, humanitarian assistance, medical care, and social insurance; discrimination in access to education; and restrictions on religious freedom.
(3) As of June 23, 1993, according to the United Nations Commission of Experts, which conducted an extensive review of war crimes committed in Prijedor municipality, the total number of killed and deported persons was 52,811 (including limited numbers of refugees and people missing). Camps located in or around Prijedor included Omarska, Manjaca, Keraterm, and Trnopolje. See Final Report of the United Nations Commission of Experts, for a detailed description of events around Prijedor in 1992 and throughout the war.
“How can you ever adequately punish a man who is guilty of ordering the assassination of 8,000 human beings [in Srebrenica]?” – asked Elie Wiesel.
INTRO: Mr. Elie Wiesel is a Jewish writer, professor, political activist, Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor. He is the author of over 40 books, the best known of which is Night, a memoir that describes his experiences during the Holocaust and his imprisonment in several concentration camps. Mr. Wiesel established The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity soon after he was awarded the 1986 Nobel Prize for Peace. The Foundation’s mission, rooted in the memory of the Holocaust, is to combat indifference, intolerance and injustice through international dialogue and youth-focused programs that promote acceptance, understanding and equality.
Copyright: The following OP/ED was republished from the Daily News for educational and non-commercial purposes. It is used for “fair use” only as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law.
HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR ELIE WIESEL REMEMBERS SREBRENICA GENOCIDE ARCHITECT RADOVAN KARADZIC
BY ELIE WIESEL
For 13 long years, we thought he was hiding out in the mountains, surrounded by bodyguards. We looked for him in underground hideouts, tracked him down in the region’s most obscure corners.
All in vain – Radovan Karadzic, the former Yugoslavia’s most infamous, most notorious fugitive, was actually a public figure. People ran into him on the street, in restaurants or at the movies; some people watched him on TV, talking about alternative health options, and no one discovered his real identity.
In fact, examining pictures of him published by the press, with his fluffy white beard and glasses, I wouldn’t have been able to unmask him myself.
And yet I had met him. If I ran into him on the street, I’d remember his face, I thought.
It was in late 1992. I had come to do research on the situation in Bosnia and Serbia. Disturbing, even revolting reports were trickling back to us. Newspapers, radio and TV stations were broadcasting horrendous images: cities bombarded, corpses lying in mass graves, massacred children, mutilated men, raped women.
Reports of odious deeds were circulating: Tuzla, Srebrenica entered the annals of crimes against humanity. The words “Auschwitz in Bosnia” were solemnly pronounced.
Faced with various governments’ nearly official indifference, I responded to Yugoslavian President Dobrica Cosic’s invitation and, with members of Ted Koppel’s “Nightline” team, headed to Belgrade, Sarajevo and Banja Luka. We met with all the leaders in the region except the leader of Croatia. Its president, Franco Tudjman, was a Holocaust denier, and I refused to shake his hand.
But I did talk with Slobodan Milosevic. And with Karadzic, in whose palace – a real fortress – the meeting took place. His gaze was icy, haunted, unearthly. He was the all-powerful master. Why so many executions, so many murders? Was it because of some violent mysticism, a cult of death? No. For him, it was something else: a fascination with holding absolute power over his enemies as well as his allies.
I asked him why he had had the famous Sarajevo National Library burned down. Given that he himself wanted to be known as a psychiatrist and a poet, was he afraid of books and their human and humanist truth?
Red-faced with anger, pounding the table, he claimed it was the Muslims themselves who had burned down the building from the inside.
I objected. I had seen the library in ruins: the damaged walls, the artillery scars. The building had been attacked from the outside.
No point in arguing – the pigheaded Karadzic denied it all.
The idea of creating an international tribunal was mine. One day, when I was in the office of Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger, we talked about the tragic situation in Bosnia. What were the options? Political, humanitarian, military?
That was when I suggested creating an international tribunal. My argument was that only indicting the killers for war crimes and crimes against humanity would frighten them. There would be no statute of limitations, and they would have to be extradited. Eagleburger thought it was a good idea and proposed it in his negotiations with the allies in the U.S. and Europe.
And yes, I think major criminals should be brought to trial before international courts in order to have a historical and also a pedagogical impact on future generations.
People might ask: How can you ever adequately punish a man who is guilty of ordering the assassination of 8,000 human beings? Good question. It seems that, by its sheer scope, the crime outweighs the punishment. And yet, these trials help our collective memory. For that reason alone, they are justified.
The shocking fact remains: Karadzic succeeded in walking free. For 13 long years. He lived without bodyguards, in Bosnian cities and villages, while local and international police and NATO agents were trying to track him down.
Whose fault was it? Who was responsible? Who were the accomplices?
Was his disguise that good, that successful? Perhaps, may God help us, beneath the killer’s mask, there was a failed actor?
Wiesel, Andrew Mellon Professor of the Humanities at Boston University, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986. A Holocaust survivor, he was one of the leading voices to call the world’s attention to atrocities in the former Yugoslavia. This article, written exclusively for the Daily News, was translated from the French by Sharon Bowman.