August 8, 2009
Respected Greek journalist, Mr Takis Michas, is under attack by former Greek volunteers who participated in the 1995 Srebrenica genocide. Official reaction of the Chicago-based Congress of North American Bosniaks follows:

PHOTO: Takis Michas, author of the book “Unholy Alliance: Greece and Milošević’s Serbia.”

The Congress of North American Bosniaks, umbrella organization representing approximately 350,000 American and Canadian Bosniaks, strongly condemns a lawsuit against a respectful Greek journalist, Takis Michas for his writing about the presence of Greek paramilitaries in Bosnia supporting the Serbian aggression.

The lawsuit was launched by Stavros Vitalis, a former self-admitted Greek participant in the Srebrenica genocide who claims that the Greek volunteers were there in order to help the Serbs whom he characterizes as the “real victims”.

This is of course a false assessment that is being perpetrated with the intent of distorting the truth and contradicts all the historical facts that have already been established by the international courts, including the decision in which Serbia was found responsible for violating its obligation to prevent genocide in Srebrenica. The facts are that more than 8,000 Bosniak men and boys were slaughtered by Serbian forces, including Greek volunteers, simply because they belonged to a different ethnic and religious group.

The Congress of North American Bosniaks believes it is incomprehensible that participants in the genocide are not only allowed to walk free, unpunished for their crimes, but they are able to harass highly respected journalists for telling the truth. This is a further insult to injury to all the victims of the Srebrenica genocide and their families.

This is simply a case of trying to intimidate journalists, like Takis Michas, from telling the truth and publicly criticizing the Greek involvement and public attitudes towards the Srebrenica genocide. This is not only an attack on free speech but a repulsive attempt at distorting the truth and spreading of hate propaganda that somehow tries to justify war crimes. This also comes at a time when Radovan Karadzic, the former leader of the Bosnian Serbs, is about to face trial for his role in leading and orchestrating the genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is important that journalists are allowed to express their views on all aspects of the events that took place in the region, so that we can prevent them from occurring in the future.

Unfortunately Greek government has not prosecuted those who took part in war crimes in Bosnia and operations that resulted in tragic death of Bosnian civilians, namely around Srebrenica where 8,000 Bosniaks were summarily executed by Serbian forces. As evidenced by the statement from Stavros Vitalis actions of the volunteers “were widely endorsed by Greek society because of the warm friendship that connected Andreas Papandreou with Radovan Karadzic”.

Greek government should take steps to apologize to the families of those who were killed, for their role in not doing anything to prevent the spread of hatred towards Bosniaks and for allowing the Greek volunteers to operate freely without fear of being prosecuted for their crimes. Furthermore, we ask of the Greek justice system to throw out the frivolous charges against Takis Michas, and ensure that freedom of the press is upheld according to the standards of the European Union.

Semir Đulić

  1. Emir
    August 8, 2009 at 3:59 am

    I would like to express my unconditional support for Mr Takis Michas. He is a brave journalist who deserves nothing but respect.

  2. Anonymous
    August 8, 2009 at 8:11 am

    I think you made a mistake by using the term "mercenary" and paramilitary, their official name was Greek Volunteer Guard(Grcka Dobrovoljacka Guarda).Looking at their views and reasons why they came to Bosnia you can conclude that they were Orthodox Christian "Jihadists". We should respect what Vitalis said : that they were members of the regular Bosnian Serb Army which means they have a larger responsibility when Srebrenica is in question.

    Definition of mercenary by GC: "motivated to take part in the hostilities essentially by the desire for private gain and, in fact, is promised, by or on behalf of a party to the conflict, material compensation substantially in excess of that promised or paid to combatants of similar ranks and functions in the armed forces of that Party" (Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Convention of August 1949).

    Does this look like something a mercenary would say:‘‘I am an Orthodox and I must help
    my Serb brethren against the Muslims.’; ‘‘We are fighting
    for a Greater Greece in a Europe free from Muslims and Zionists.’;‘‘The Vatican, the Zionists, the Germans and the Americans conspire against the
    Orthodox nations. Their next target after Serbia will be Greece.’

  3. would-be
    August 8, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    I second what Emir said. My solidarity is with Mr. Michas.

    A very interesting post, thanks for sharing and educating.

  4. Srebrenica Genocide Blog Editor
    August 9, 2009 at 12:14 am

    Anonymous, from the point of Bosnian experience foreign mercenaries and volunteers were considred to be the same thing.

    In Greece, they prefer to call them 'volunteers', while in Bosnia they are mostly refered to as 'foreign mercenaries'. However, I believe your term "Orthodox Christian Jihadists" to be more accurate.

    To avoid confusion in the title of the above article, I have changed it to: "Takis Michas Harassed by Greek Volunteers." Hope that helps.

  5. owen
    August 9, 2009 at 7:54 am

    If they were members of the Bosnian Serb Army were they paid by the Bosnian Serb Army? Presumably Vitalis can confirm that they were on the VRS payroll and produce documentary evidence accordingly. I assume that he is also willing to confirm that they did not receive any payment from external sources.

  6. owen
    August 9, 2009 at 8:04 am

    Anonymous of 8 August, I presume that any reasonably well-prepared mercenary taking part in an organised venture with suspected support from para-official sources would make statements intended to reinforce the credibility of his claimed status.

    The group had an official name. The evidence suggests that this was an organised enterprise, not an ad hoc assembly of raggle-taggle enthusiasts.

    Vitalis might be asked to give details of the original backgrounds of his volunteers and how they were brought together, and also details of the training and other preparation they received, particularly as regards legal status.

  7. omadeon
    August 9, 2009 at 6:47 pm

    As a Greek who loves his country enough to… dislike very strongly the activities of Greek neo-nazi criminals(!!!) in Bosnia, I denounce this preposterous lawsuit!

    I'd also remind you that most "Greek volunteers" in Bosnia were in fact neo-nazis, by their _own admission_, NOT ordinary Greek people!

    Furthermore, another respected Greek journalist and book-author, Mrs. Christiana Loupa, in an article of hers wrote the following (in my own English translation):

    "…There were statements by individuals (Greek volunteers in Bosnia) with their FULL names, in a known Greek magazine, such as:
    -“We felt satisfied when we killed Muslims”,
    -“when we killed Muslims there were moments when we celebrated it, in order to mitigate the intensity of battle” (i.e. as a form of… relaxation)
    -“Muslims fought clumsily and we killed them by the tens, at a time”,
    -“in thirteen minutes we’d kill roughly three hundred of them”.
    Also they (the volunteers) admitted destroying a mosque in Srebrenica just "to pass their time" (!!!) and said they had a Serb commander there, who had spent many years in in the (French) Legion of Foreigners and is WANTED, till today, as a war-criminal, by the Hague International Court…

    [end of quote]

    Well, I wrote an e-mail to Mrs. Loupa, asking for the source of her article. This COULD be very important, of course…
    E.g. if these guys were really able to "kill 300 muslims in only 13 minutes" then they'd only need a modest 6 hours for ANOTHER… Srebrenica massacre!!! Moreover, their victims were UNARMED people -of course- since it's impossible to "kill 300 people in only 13 minutes", otherwise!!!!!

    The URL of Mrs. Loupa's article and other important details are in my blog post of July the 31st, unfortunately (most of it) in Greek at the moment…

    I also wrote some comments in http://genocideinvisegrad.wordpress.com, and will come back on this.
    My sincere sympathy, to genocide victims and also to ANY journalist facing intimidation (Mr. Michas, for example)…

  8. owen
    August 12, 2009 at 7:06 am

    Thanks Omadeon. Well said. It always amazes me how the neo-fascist mindset associates love for country with bullying, hurting and in this case of the Greek Volunteer Guard killing people.

  9. Zlata
    August 13, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    The mindset that condoned the creation of these Greek "Christian Orthodox Jihadists" troops has deep roots. Greek nationalism was never merciful nor sympathetic to any Moslems (Palestinians & Egyptians are a huge exception) or non-Hellenes in their midst. There's a lot of bad blood (historically) between the Turks and Greeks and it's unfortunate that innocent Bosnians had to pay for it.
    If we look at how the Greeks have treated their own ethnic Moslems…we really shouldn't be surprised by their involvement in Srebrenica.
    I realize that there's a new generation of Greeks trying to disassociate itself from traditional Orthodox-Greek-Nationalism (which is so much a part of the modern Greek national identity) but the fact is…for most older Greeks…"Moslem or Turk" may as well be swear words.
    It's really all about historical resentment: Konstantinopolis and Agia Sofia and Smyrni and Aivali and Pontus….and thus…I really don't get it? Why didn't they just cross the Aegean and fight those
    "Bastard Turks" instead of going to Bosnia?
    Their adventure strikes me more as one of a bunch of bloodthirsty psychopaths. Wimps.
    They wouldn't dare venture to Trebzon or Izmir…but in Bosnia…Moslems were an easy pray, a sure kill (an improvized army and few arms).
    And if they'd dare venture into Ayvalik….they'd find themselves confronted by Turks…who may still speak some Greek…and cherish memories of Crete & Greece, their families were forced to flee. Just because they were Moslems.
    While I deeply empathize with countless Greeks whose ancestors were victims of Venizelos' ambition and Kemalists' bloody ruthlessness, I simply do not comprehend…WHY centuries after the liberation from the Ottomans, Greece doesn't take a second look at its own VERY deep ties with today's Turks (including blood ties) and its own history of ethnic cleansing, bloody slaughter and annihilation of its own Moslems.
    And I very much want to convey a message to any Orthodox Greek believer who comes across this blog. My Moslem grandparents were NOT Crypto-Christians. They were very much true believers. Their belief in Allah was real (I'm the one who doubts). Although nor very orthodox in their lifestyle and interpretation of Islam, they weren't just "Moslems of convenience".

  10. omadeon
    August 16, 2009 at 10:07 am

    Well, personally I am not a "Greek Orthodox Believer", to start with.
    Secondly, it seems that you haven't understood exactly WHO these people are, the "Greek volunteers".
    We're talking about less than 100 extremist, blood-thirsty militarist individuals, most of them members of neonazi organization "Golden Dawn", some of them professional murderers. At least one of them was also a mercenary in mass slaughters elsewhere. Their own military commander was arrested by the police for gun-smuggling (From Serbia to Greece) a few years later. The few of them who were in Serajevo had joined Arkan's infamous gang and later on their links with Arkan's Serbian Mafia were revealled.

    And we're also talking about a strange, irrational, preposterous "lawsuit" by another man (Vitalis) who was the organizer of these criminals, by his own admission.

    Excuse me, but these thugs do NOT represent anything Greek at all. I call them traitors: To kill unarmed civilians in another country _is_ treason (apart from being a war-crime) because -here we are- it causes bad impressions about Greece as a whole.

    In fact, Greece as a whole was extremely misinformed (including myself) during the nineties, as regards the war in Bosnia. Nobody had heard of war-crimes, except later on, rather vaguely (and under the false impression that they were committed equally by all sides).

    As regards religions, sorry but I do NOT respect religions. I respect PEOPLE, and respect their right to believe in a religion. However, they ("religious people") don't even respect their OWN CHILDREN, indoctrinating e even their own little children to their filthy minds full of hate, causing SO MUCH bloodshed, eventually, because they are Muslim or Christian or I don't care what…

    (I'd have a lot more to say about the issues you raised, but we'd be off-topic in this post. E.g. the overwhelming majority of Greeks TODAY condemn all atrocities and more than 60% of them also despise the influence of the Church in public affairs, DEMANDING SEPARATION between Church and State in Greece).

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