In their appeal, the Mothers of Srebrenica draw support from the judgement of the European Court of Justice of 3 September 2008 (Kadi & Al-Barakaat) in which the European Court ruled that the UN does not have absolute immunity. In the case Al-Barakaat the European Court ruled among other things that an absolute immunity is not legitimate. The European Court furthermore ruled that an effective remedy is a fundamental right within the legal order of the European Community, which may not be violated. In view of this ruling, the argument that the UN can uphold its immunity successfully cannot be upheld.
Amsterdam, 7 April 2009
Dr. Axel Hagedorn & Marco Gerritsen
Van Diepen Van der Kroef Advocaten
1077 BL Amsterdam
Tel +31 (0)20 5747474
Fax +31 (0)20 5747475
Foundation: Mothers of Srebrenica
Address: Dijsselhofplantsoen 16-18
1077 BL Amsterdam
Bank: ABN-AMRO Bank
Account no: 188.8.131.525
IBAN: NL 30 ABNA 054 15 56 355
Continue your research:
1. Srebrenica genocide survivors attend a hearing against the Dutch state
2. Dutch graffiti and a sickening legacy of the United Nations in Srebrenica
3. U.N. & Dutch complicity in the Srebrenica genocide
4. Court dismisses legal immunity for the United Nations and the Netherlands
5. Srebrenica genocide survivors sue Netherlands and the United Nations
6. Mothers of Srebrenica vs Netherlands: Case Dismissed
INTRO: In July 1995, Serbian journalist Zoran Petrovic filmed the Srebrenica genocide unfolding, and then he attempted to cover up the evidence by cutting out and erasing important scenes. We invite you to read the following article and then watch the full documentary [Bosnia – Lost Images, 29 minutes, originally aired June 30th 2003].
Under the watch of Dutchbat soldiers, queues of Muslim men and women are separated by one of General Mladic’s men. They are familiar images, broadcast by TV stations around the world in the wake of the Srebrenica massacre. The War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague used Zoran Petrovic’s tape to secure several prosecutions for the massacres in the early 1990s and to investigate the involvement of Dutch peacekeepers Dutchbat.
But the footage shot by Petrovic appears to be incomplete. There is only one 60 minute tape for two days of filming, and throughout the rushes there are black gaps, cutting right through scenes and camera movements. Petrovic insists he was told to black over those sections by officious checkpoint guards on the roadside: “Everyone wants to be a smart guy. I was told – ‘Don’t film these guys. You erase this’”.
But Jean René Ruez, the man charged with analysing film evidence for the War Crimes Tribunal is adamant Petrovic is lying: “The cuts were done later. Sure”. Journalist John Block agrees. He was granted access to the rushes when they were first aired on Belgrade’s Studio 3 that same day – July 14th 1995. He insists he saw two tapes. He remembers clearly seeing unadulterated shots of piles of bodies – the material now missing from Petrovic’s sole remaining tape. When the BBC called Studio 3 the next day, the incriminating tape was gone, and the other tape was blacked.
A copy of a copy of a copy of the original Studio 3 documentary proves they are right. Although the quality of the footage is poor, there are no gaps. “This is of exceptional importance to the prosecutor” smiles Ruez. “They let you see what the witnesses are talking about. The recordings will help to furnish proof at a future trial of Mladic.”
Among other things – such as the use of German shepherd dogs to hunt Bosnian Muslims and the indiscriminate shelling of refugees – the previously missing pictures show the physical evidence of the Srebrenica massacre. Dead bodies are piled up at the Gravica warehouse. Shooting is clearly audible in the background.
The massacre has long been known about, but until now there has been little hard evidence. Only two survivors from over 1000 refugees seeking shelter in the warehouse survived to give testimony – the only witnesses to talk of a massacre. Both were Bosnian Muslims. “The witnesses are from warring factions” explains Ruez, “so you have to be careful what they say. This confirms the testimonies”.
Chief prosecutor at the War Crimes Tribunal Mark Harmon agrees: “It’s very important footage. Pictures do not lie. This is a very graphic image confirming the massacres took place. It’s important to enlighten the public in Srpska if there is going to be any kind of reconciliation”.
So far, the Yugoslavia Tribunal has never spoken to cameraman Zoran Petrovic. He still denies he was part of any cover-up operation and even offers our journalist a “last warning” when pressed. But these shocking new images had certainly been covered up by someone and their disappearance has hampered moves towards justice and reconciliation. Their discovery is a key step in helping bring Yugoslavia closer to closure.
Director: Gert Corba
Optional: If you wish to buy DVD quality of this documentary, you can do it from Journeyman Pictures here. It’s €24.50 including shipping and handling.
He wasn’t even present during the terrible events of July 1995 but still feels qualified to pronounce about them and is anxious to testify before the International Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in defence of Radovan Karadzic, the former Bosnian Serb leader who publicly vowed to commit genocide by destroying Bosnian Muslims from the face of Earth.
Did Dutchbat troops witness crimes against Bosniaks at Srebrenica?
Recently Marco Van Hees met with Srebrenica genocide denier Milivoje Ivanisevic in Belgrade and informed him that no Dutch soldier had witnessed any crimes committed against the Bosniak (Muslim) population of Srebrenica – a claim easily dismissed by evidence previously offered by Dutch soldiers.
“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.”
In another incident recorded in the ICTY’s 260 page-ruling in the case of Prosecutor vs. Krstic, “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.”
Hans Thijsen, now President of Reünieverband Dutchbat 3, the association of Dutchbat 3 veterans who served in Srebrenica in 1995, has angrily condemned former Dutchbat member Marco Van Hees for denying genocide at Srebrenica and also for misrepresenting the Dutchbat III web site in Vecernje Novosti. This is Thijsen’s press release translated into English:
We Got You – Fraud Unveiled!
Dutchbat troops,This week in the Serbian media an interview was conducted with the so-called Dutchbat 3 member who has claimed that he represents 15 Dutchbat troops wanting to testify on Karadzic’s behalf and deny genocide at Srebrenica. He also passes himself off as someone associated with our web site. His name is Marco Van Hees (who served in Dutchbat2 from June 1994 to January 1995). The board of the Reunion Connection for Dutchbat 3 members wish to make it clear that this Marco DOES NOT and MUST NOT speak for us. On behalf of all our members we distance ourselves from this individual and his claims about us, and we will take the necessary steps to prevent any repetition.
Voorzitter reünieverband Dutchbat 3
We would like to thank Hans Thijsen for his heartfelt support. Hans Thijsen appeared in a documentary “Monument to Unresolved Grief” commemorating the tragic events and his emotional visit to Srebrenica 10 years after the genocide. For more information, click here.
“One could not have expected a different verdict, because we are dealing with the state, which doesn’t want to accept its responsibility.” – Munira Subasic.
PHOTO: Relatives Mehida Mustafic-Majic, sitting left, her daughter Alma, center, and her son Damir, right, leave the court after the verdict at the District Court in The Hague, Netherlands, Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2008.
The lawsuit against the Netherlands was brought by Hasan Nuhanovic and the family of Rizo Mustafic. Nuhanovic is a survivor of Srebrenica genocide who lost his mother, father and brother in the massacre. Mustafic, who worked as an electrician in the U.N. force’s Dutch battalion (Dutchbat), also died during the Srebrenica genocide. The plaintiffs claimed that both the UN and the Dutch troops failed to take effective action to prevent the massacre, thus violating the UN Convention on genocide.
In June, the Dutch court also rejected another lawsuit brought forward by the association Mothers of Srebrenica, which sought to sue the UN for damages for having failed to protect local civilians and to prevent the massacre.
PHOTO: Hasan Nuhanovic talks to the media after the judgement at the District Court in The Hague, Netherlands, Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2008.
The president of the Mothers of Srebrenica association, Munira Subasic, who lost 22 members of her family in the massacres said that “One could not have expected a different verdict, because we are dealing with the state, which doesn’t want to accept its responsibility.”
“Many Dutch soldiers became mentally ill after their Srebrenica mandate where they witnessed mass slaughter and killings,” Subasic said. “It is also known that the Netherlands was sued by its own soldiers,” she added.
“None of the points we presented as evidence to the court over the last six years has been accepted. They have all been rejected. This is a total denial of all accusations presented by the two families,” said Hasan Nuhanovic.
“I have repeated thousands of times that I am not here to blame Dutchbat for their passivity,” Nuhanovic said. “I am accusing them of being active – in violation of the human rights of my family and other refugees. I noticed the judge read several times the sentence ‘under the UN flag’. They referred to the flag under which these Duchbat actions were conducted. However, these actions were conducted under the flag of the Netherlands as well.”
Hasan Nuhanovic said that he feels betrayed by the Dutchbat, “I have been betrayed so many times before by people in my life. The moment I was betrayed was 13 years ago was when I was working with Dutch battalion soldiers, UN officials who knew me and my family personally, they sent my family out to die.”
Why were Ibro, Nasiha and Muhamed Nuhanovic and Rizo Mustafic sent to their deaths when the United Nations had promised to ensure their safety?
Today the Netherlands District Court in The Hague will deliver its verdict on whether the Dutch state and its contingent of United Nations peace-keeping troops can be held responsible for handing over Bosnian refugees who had looked to them for protection to be murdered by Serb soldiers in July 1995.
“We hope that the Dutch government, along with the international community, will finally accept responsibility for the deaths of 8376 men and boys from the town and for their surviving relatives”, declared GfbV/STP General Secretary Tilman Zülch, speaking in Göttingen, Germany, today. “The eyes and thoughts of all the survivors of the massacre who hold the Dutch UN troops and the Dutch government responsible for the the death of their defenceless relatives are focused on The Hague. The judges must not disappoint them.”
In July 1995 Bosnians who had sought refuge In the UN forces’ base at Potocari were ordered by Dutch UN peacekeepers to leave the safety of the base and sent to face the prospect of certain death with Bosnian refugees already being killed and raped by Serb soldiers only a few metres outside the area under UN protection . The UN forces even denied protection to Bosnians who were known personally to them and to the family of their interpreter.
Six years ago the family of electrician Rizo Mustafic, who was murdered at Srebrenica, and Hasan Nuhanovic, whose parents and brother were also among those killed, began their civil action in the District Court at The Hague. They sought to hold the Dutch state accountable for the failings of the Dutch UN battalion. What the court has to determine is whether the Dutch government and the Dutch command within UNPROFOR should be held accountable for the shameful conduct of Dutch forces who were more concerned for their own safety than they were for the protection of the civilians in their care.
Hasan Nuhanovic lost his parents and his younger brother. His father’s remains have been found in a mass grave and identified but the fate of his mother and brother remains unknown. Many mass graves were subsequently dug up by Serb troops using bulldozers to conceal the evidence. The remains were reburied elsewhere.
Alma Mustafic, daughter of the murdered Rizo Mustafic, has written to GfbV that, “Deep in my heart I am hoping that the court will deliver a just verdict and that these crimes will not be trivialised or denied.”
Background: the tragedy of the Nuhanovic family: Hasan Nuhanovic spent the night of 12-13 July 1995 with his parents and brother in a makeshift office on the UNPROFOR base at Potocari, on the outskirts of Srebrenica, working to the orders of the Dutch officer Andre de Haan. De Haan, who was staying in the same room with them and a doctor and nurse, had in the past been a welcome guest of the family and had enjoyed Mrs Nuhanovic’s cooking.
Nuhanovic has painstakingly researched the story of the terrible events at Srebrenica which he documented in meticulous detail in his 550-page book, “Under the UN Flag”, before taking his case to court.
Jasna Causevic, GfbV/STP’s Southern Europe desk officer, can be contacted in The Hague by telephone on +49 179 524 35 38.
DISTRICT COURT’S RULING AWAITED ON THE DUTCH STATE’S FAILURE TO PROTECT CIVILIAN REFUGEES FROM GENOCIDE AT SREBRENICA
On 10 September 2008 the District Court at The Hague will give its decision in the first civil actions brought against the Dutch State by relatives of the victims of genocide at Srebrenica. Hasan Nuhanovic and the family of Rizo Mustafic are seeking to establish that the Dutch state is responsible for the failure of Dutch troops acting under a United Nations mandate to protect their family members who were massacred at Srebrenica in July 1995.
Hasan Nuhanovic, a U.N. interpreter who lost his father, mother and younger brother, and the family of Rizo Mustafic, an electrician employed by the Dutch battalion of the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR), claim that the Dutch government failed to protect the lives of their relatives after the safe area established by U.N. Security Council Resolution around the town of Srebrenica in Eastern Bosnia was allowed to fall into the hands of the Bosnian Serb Army.
The Nuhanovic and Mustafic families were among thousands of refugees who sought protection inside the compound of the U.N. base at Potocari but were handed over by the Dutch UNPROFOR forces to Serb General Ratko Mladic. Dutch soldiers in U.N. blue helmets are alleged to have watched on as women and young girls were taken away and raped and men and boys separated before being taken away for summary execution.
In a tort action against the Dutch state in which much of the legal debate has revolved around the division of responsibility between the United Nations and national states, the plaintiffs’ lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld has argued that the Dutch government and the Dutch command within UNPROFOR were responsible for the gross negligence shown by Dutch troops, they were primarily concerned for the safety of their national contingent and they showed scant regard for the safety of the civilian population entrusted to their care.
The families have been concerned above all to establish the truth about why Ibro, Nasiha and Muhamed Nuhanovic and Rizo Mustafic were sent to their deaths in brutal circumstances when the United Nations had promised to ensure their safety.
The final hearing before the District Court on 16 June 2008 took place before the arrest of Radovan Karadzic, President of the Bosnian Serb Republika Srpska. Since the hearing Karadzic has been charged with responsibility for the genocide at Srebrenica and is currently in The Hague awaiting trial before the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.
Contact person:Prof. Dr Liesbeth Zegveld, Böhler Franken Koppe Wijngaarden (BFKW) , Attorneys, Keizersgracht 560-562, Amsterdam 1017 EM, Tel.: +31 20 – 344 62 00, Fax: +31 20 – 344 62 01, e-mail: <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Prof. Dr. Liesbeth Zegveld studied law at Utrecht. She obtained her doctorate with distinction in 2000 and was sworn in as an attorney in Amsterdam the same year. In 2005 she became a partner at Böhler Franken Koppe Wijngaarden, where she is a member of the international law & human rights department. She has written many articles on issues in the field of international humanitarian law. She is a guest lecturer at the University of Amsterdam and a member of the International Law Association’s Committee for Compensation for War Victims. In September 2006 she was appointed professor of International Humanitarian Law, in particular the Rights of Women and Children, at Leiden University.
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.