March 6, 2009

Trying to gain wider media exposure and promote their already discredited version of the number of individual Serb casualties around Srebrenica, a group of Bosnian Serbs based in the Netherlands have filed a lawsuit at the Dutch District Court in The Hague claiming the United Nations and the Netherlands failed to protect them around Srebrenica during the 1992-1995 war.

As a result of military operations conducted against the Bosniak Muslim civilians in and around Srebrenica (1992-1995), Serbs suffered 151 civilian casualties. Now, in order to justify the genocide committed against the Bosniak Muslim population of Srebrenica, Serbian nationalists propagate grossly inflated claims that over 3,000 Serb civilians were murdered around Srebrenica. Milivoje Ivanisevic (background), who came up with this number, is a Srebrenica genocide denier himself. Ivanisevic’s claim that there are about “3,000+ Serb victims” have been discredited by the International Criminal Tribunal (source), Human Rights Watch (source), and Bosnia’s State-level Research and Documentation Center (source).

In 1993, the U.N. forces were sent to Srebrenica to protect Bosniaks (Muslims) from Serbs, not the other way around. During the Bosnian war, 1992-1995, Serbs kept Srebrenica under deadly siege and terrorized Bosniak civilians in the most horrible ways. In order to prolong the suffering of innocent Bosniak Muslim victims from 1992-1995, Serbs in villages around Srebrenica barricaded Muslim women, children, and elderly men in abandoned houses and then set them on fire alive (click here to see photos of Muslim victims around Srebrenica). Nonetheless to remind our readers that Serbs started killing Bosniak Muslim civilians around Srebrenica in 1992 and they never stopped until they committed genocide against the Bosniak Muslim population of Srebrenica in July 1995.

The latest lawsuit against the U.N. was filed by Stephen Karganovic (aka: Stefan Karganovic), who happens to be a founder of the Srebrenica genocide denial NGO known as “The Historical Project Srebrenica” (Historijski Projekat Srebrenica). He is also a close associate of Dr. Darko Trifunovic (background) and Milivoje Ivanisevic (background) – both of them discredited Srebrenica genocide deniers.

Karganovic uses careful words in the media and passes himself as a man who does not deny “Srebrenica massacre.” As many Srebrenica genocide deniers do, Karganovic accepts the term “massacre,” but refuses to acknowledge the proper term – Genocide. For him, there was no genocide against the Bosniak population of Srebrenica.

Recently, he stated: “Our parallel task is to investigate the allegations of genocide against Moslem prisoners and correct the record on that score.” Note that he used the term “allegations” in referring to the Srebrenica genocide.

“All we want to achieve is that the Serb victims from around Srebrenica get the same attention as the Muslim victims in Srebrenica,” he said. In other words, Karganovic’s purpose is to equate the genocide perpetrated against the Bosniak Muslim population of Srebrenica with individual war crimes against the Serbs.

Serb sources maintain that casualties and losses during the period prior to the creation of the safe area gave rise to Serb demands for revenge against the Bosniaks based in Srebrenica. The ARBiH raids are presented as a key motivating factor for the July 1995 genocide. This view is echoed by international sources including the 2002 report commissioned by the Dutch government on events leading to the fall of Srebrenica (the NIOD report [see Answer to Question #10]). However these sources also cite misleading figures for the number of Serb casualties in the region. The NIOD report, for instance, repeats the erroneous claim that the raid on Kravica resulted in the total annihilation of its population. Many consider these efforts to explain the motivation behind the Srebrenica massacre are merely revisionist attempts to justify the genocide. To quote the report to the UN Secretary-General on the Fall 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.” – UN Report on Srebrenica

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.”

Serbian media is also circulating gruesome photo forgeries alleging they represent Serb ‘victims’ around Srebrenica. Take a look at a sample photo forgery of alleged “Serb victim” around Srebrenica at this link.

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.

The accuracy of these numbers is challenged: the OTP noted that although Ivanisevic’s book estimated that around 1200 Serbs were killed, personal details were only available for 624 victims. The validity of labeling some of the casualties as “victims” is also contested: studies have found a significant majority of military casualties compared to civilian casualties. This is in line with the nature of the conflict—Serb casualties died in raids by Bosniak forces on outlying villages used as military outposts for attacks on Srebrenica (many of which had been ethnically cleansed of their Bosniak majority population in 1992).

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.” – Office of the United Nations Prosecutor

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 up by international 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.

United Nations Srebrenica Report (1999) – Online PDF version available in 6 languages.
Srebrenica Numbers – Quick Facts

Editorial Reminder: All content on our blog is free to be republished unless otherwise noted. Please circulate and translate in other languages.

  1. Kirk Johnson
    March 6, 2009 at 2:09 pm

    This is great news–they’re so deluded by their own propaganda and lies that they’re willing to step beyond their normal tactics and are now actually putting their “case” on the line. Now, in a court, they will be asked to prove their allegations by the same legal and fact-based standards that the genocide at Srebrenica was established by.

    There will be no looking back from this point on; they were safe scurrying behind the scenes, casting doubts on the official story through a stealth campaign of conspiracy-mongering and so forth, but now they are actually going to step up and show their cards.

    I really hope the court allows this to go through. It’s time for them to put up or shut up.

  2. Anonymous
    March 8, 2009 at 11:28 am

    Serbs are just after publicity stunts.Their gola is to reach the mainstream media trough accusations.It is not in their interest to have this layed before the court because they can’t proove anything.Their goal is for the court to dissmis this accusation before so they can continue with their “martyr victimhood” of how the “world” is against them.They are just aiming for more widespread rumours they live by for last 20 years.The same happened when Croatia sued Serbia for Genocide in the 90’s,Serbia immidietly tried to oush their crap about WW2 on the table eventhou they know they don’t stand a chance in court.It’s all about propaganda and influencing the public opinion.

  3. Kanita
    March 10, 2009 at 4:22 pm

    I totally agree with the previous comment. And this kind of propaganda is what makes people from outside countries dismiss the Bosnian war with the thought that “there were casualties on all sides, who knows what really happened”. To someone that was actually in Bosnia during the war, these Serbian accusations and propaganda are ridiculous,but to the rest of the world, it definitely puts a doubt in their mind that Serbs were the bad guy once they read the Serb propaganda. They must think there’s some truth to it since the numbers are so high and exaggerated, but that is the exact reasoning behind those exaggerations. Most people don’t research the matter enough to know what really happened, so when they see that both sides are claiming thousands of civilians dead, they tend to assume that this was a civil war situation with equal casualties on all sides, and that is very sad. What also really sad is that they actually make their children believe these lies. I go to school in the US and at my University the Islam Club was hosting a Bosnian Genocide talk, with speakers who were in Bosnia during the war. Two of my classmates who are girls I knew from High School, and who are both Bosnian Serbs, (and coincidentally one of their fathers escaped from America to hide in Serbia after the American police were looking for him for lying about war involvement in his immigration papers)stood up and interrupted the speakers and tried to tell the audience that the speakers were lying and that Naser Oric killed a comparable number of Serbian civilians. Then when the speaker answered that Naser was found not guilty by the international courts, the girls very loudly made a scene and walked out of the auditorium. I was speechless and really wanted to just cry from both anger and sadness.

  4. Owen
    March 26, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    Kirk, I agree with you. When the case is thrown out (if the court agrees to hear it) there’ll be the whole package of victimhood and biased courts to follow. But that won’t wipe out the fact that there’s now an objective legal finding to judge them by.

    Kanita, take courage from the fact that your classmates were reduced to walking out. If you won’t see, you can’t see, and what those girls can’t see is that the world has effectively made its mind up. Srebrenica happened. Karadzic and Mladic were responsible. And who is Naser Oric?

    Don’t ever let yourself get upset by these people again, the world knows the basics, and for anyone who wants to go beyond the basics there’s plenty enough information in the public domain – including legal judgments – to work out who’s telling the truth and who’s lying.

  1. No trackbacks yet.
Comments are closed.
%d bloggers like this: