The Helsinki Commission Hearing – The Western Balkans: Challenges for U.S. and European Engagement
REP. SMITH: … Having been involved in the issue even before Bosnia was part of the conflict, I remember visiting Vukovar just weeks before it fell, then meeting with Milosevic in Belgrade, who denied that they were even involved in Vukovar, and we saw the MIGs flying over, and working with the chairman and Ben too with – throughout all of those years, raising the issue that we needed a robust European-American response. At first it wasn’t there, as we all know.
But the concern that I have now is that there is a – almost similar to what we see with Holocaust deniers, there is a Srebrenica denial movement. I recently went online and read for hours some of the garbage that is being promoted by some – it’s hard to say who they are – that Srebrenica never occurred. I was with Ray Sirich (ph) two years ago when a re-internment occurred for those who were brutally butchered in Srebrenica, a so-called U.N. safe haven – and was again greatly impressed by his restraint, by his sense of inclusion. You know, the form of Islam that he believes so passionately in embraces others, does not exclude others, and I do happen to believe that he is a model, frankly, that needs to be emulated because he has done such a wonderful job.
In looking through some of the garbage on the Internet dealing with Srebrenica, there was a picture, Mr. Chairman, when President Clinton – so former president at the time in 2003 – was in Srebrenica, and right below the picture it says, this never happened, and there’s Ray Sirich standing with President Clinton, as I did two years later with him at a re-internment ceremony. So I’m very concerned that that myth-maker, which has real consequences in the real world, might negatively impact and lead to – and I was glad to hear you say you don’t think it will go back to fighting, but it could go back to some very nasty things.
And if you would speak to that, your view on Ray Sirich, if you wouldn’t mind giving that, and secondly on constitutional reform. Like, I think, members of this commission, I believe passionately that, you know, we’re looking at a Bosnia that’s in a Dayton limbo. They simply – you know, the legislators have power but it has been so carefully circumscribed by the rules that they can’t write laws, and we need constitutional reform. We need – you know, for that democracy to break out of the blocks and really come into its own, they have to be able to write laws. And small minorities can object and thereby kill any reforms that that wonderful country needs.
And so if you could speak to the constitutional reform issue but also Ray Sirich, the work that he’s done, perhaps, and this whole issue of denial of the horrific events that occurred in Srebrenica.
LORD ASHDOWN: Thank you, Congressman. You raise two very important points. First of all, I mean, it is a regrettable fact that you will always find denialists, but they tend to be a minority. However, I have to say that you are absolutely right in identifying the baleful effect of this on those who suffered. Now, let’s be very clear: All three ethnicities suffered during the war. There were black deeds done by all sides, but none to the extent of Srebrenica, and indeed of the other killings perpetrated on the Muslim community, largely but not exclusively by the Serbs. It’s not to say the Muslims in Bosnia necessarily had cleaner hands. They were done on the other side as well. But I think my old friend Cliff Bond, who I see sitting behind you, used to always tell me that about 80 percent of those crimes were committed by Serbs. Now, that’s not a reason to condemn the whole nation there of Serbs. They’re a very great nation indeed, and in many ways people regard them as being the fulcrum of the Balkans. But it is the past and we need to recognize the past. So I agree with you about your concern about that.
On Srebrenica, Mr. Chairman, I hope you don’t think it an abuse of the question if I were just to pay tribute to the United States government. One of the best things I did, the thing that gave me personally more pride in Bosnia and Herzegovina – it was not part of my duties but I did it because I really believed in it – was to work with Ambassador Cliff Bond, and the United States government was really extraordinarily generous in enabling this memorial graveyard with its 8,000 potential spaces for graves. I personally believe that, A, it’s very beautiful, and B, it will be one of the places people visit when they remind themselves never to allow genocide to occur again. So the Srebrenica issue is indeed, Congressman, a very important one and one I hope that we will continue to pursue.
On Ray Sarich, my view here is this, that we lack bridges between us and the wider Islamic world. There are not many. But the Bosnian Muslims are European Muslims – not new generation: 400 years old [religiously speaking, although Bosniaks were present in Bosnia since the 7th century – editor]. The great man Alija Izetbegovic used to say I’m a Muslim and I’m a European, and I see no contradiction between the two. And I know that’s Ray Sarich’s view as well.
And I’ve been amazed at the restraint of the Bosnia Muslim population in the face of genocide. And I think they can perform an extremely important role for us as a bridge to the Islamic community, understanding and able to explain to the Islamic community the reality of our Western values – what I would call our European, but of course they’re wider values – and also explain to us about the realities of Islam.
So I think there’s a really important strategic role to play here. You know, and if we did allow Bosnia to become dismembered, what would that say to the wider strategic effort that we have to reach out to the Islamic community and to have a greater degree of understanding, that we allowed Bosnia once again to retreat down to a tiny rump of Muslims, European Muslims surrounded by an enemies. I think that would say very much nor help us in the wider strategic battles so that’s very important.
…. It’s not, Congressman, an accident that when you see al Qaeda propaganda, they will mention along with Jerusalem, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the genocide of Srebrenica. It’s all part of that argument.
PHOTO: The 1995 Srebrenica genocide resulted in a mass scale ethnic cleansing and forcible deportations of 25,000-30,000 people, as well as summary executions of at least 8372 men, boys, and elderly.
On his web site, Stephen Karganovic accuses this blog of being “Moslem-sponsored Srebrenica Genocide Blog.” The founder of this blog is not a Muslim – as Karganovic claims, nor is this blog sponsored by anyone. The nationality of the blog’s editor is none of Karganovic’s business, especially because Karganovic associates himself with people who hate Jews.
Is there a point in arguing with Karadzic’s sympathizers, followers, and apologists? According to the Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel: “No point in arguing – the pigheaded Karadzic denied it all.” Srebrenica genocide deniers are no different than their”role model,” Radovan Karadzic, who is currently on trial for genocide at the Hague.
UNQUALIFIED KARGANOVIC CHALLENGES FORENSIC SCIENCE
Stefan Karganovic’s lack of respect for DNA science is appaling. On his genocide denial web site, conveniently titled “Srebrenica Historical Project,” he alleges the following:
“Out of the 8000 victims who were allegedly shot by the army of the Republic of Srpska, there is no relevant expert evidence for even 10% to prove that. The material cited by the Moslem side as evidence would not pass muster with any professionally responsible crime lab, let alone a serious forensic examination in a court of law in the civilized world.”
Karganovic goes on to claim that “Serbian civilian victims… have been processed according to the highest internationally recognized standards,” while forensic examinations of Bosniak victims “would not pass muster with any professionally responsible crime lab.” Of course, his self-serving allegations are nonsense. Each exhumed victim of the Srebrenica genocide has gone through extensive forensic and DNA analysis by the world renowned ICMP labs with the most advanced DNA system in the World. On the other side, war-time Serb casualties from Bosnia and Croatia had been ‘processed’ and ‘investigated’ mostly by radical Serbian ultra-nationalists in Belgrade. For example, military pathologist Zoran Stankovic – a well known Serbian ultra-nationalist and a personal friend of indicted Serb war criminal Ratko Mladic. Stankovic’s ultanationalist forensics were gratefully accepted by media outlets like Glas Javnosti and Politika – owned and operated by the members of a right-wing ultra-nationalist Serbian Radical Party. In 2007, Glas Javnosti misused photos of Srebrenica genocide mass graves and portrayed them as graveyards Serbs who died as a result of the so called “Muslim-Croat terror.”
Unqualified Karganovic distorts the facts behind forensic evidence, without providing any sources or evidence for his dubious claims. Here is what he said:
“If a public hearing on the merits of the resolution had been held, the parliamentary committee would undoubtedly have been informed that 8000 Muslims were not lined up and shot and that the utmost number of victims of the Srebrenica massacre in July of 1995 is around 3400, assuming that each forensic report is taken at its face value as proof of execution, something that is not even theoretically possible. That is because slightly over 50% of those post-mortem reports refer to body fragments, such as a jaw or a femur, which zealous ICTY forensic experts elevated to the status of ‘cases’ but from which no credible conclusions about the cause and manner of death can be drawn. In fact, in about 50% of the cases, ICTY forensic specialists themselves stated in their reports that they are unable to determine the cause and manner of death, notwithstanding their obvious motivation to present satisfactory results to the institution which hired them.”
On his web site, Karganovic refers to “several thousands” Serb victims in villages around Srebrenica – a number that had been grossly inflated and found to be inaccurate by the UN-endorsed Research and Documentation Center, ICTY’s Office of the Prosecutor, and Human Rights Watch. In reality, between 1992-1995, Serbs suffered 151 civilian casualties around Srebrenica (not “several thousands” as claimed by Karganovic) . During the same period, Bosniaks (Muslims) suffered approximately 1,000 victims as a result of the Bosnian Serb terror from militarized villages around Srebrenica – (no need to remind our readers that this mass scale murder of Muslim civilians in and around Srebrenica occurred well before the July 1995 genocide).
STEFAN KARGANOVIC’S ANTI-SEMITIC FRIEND
On his “Srebrenica Historical Project” web site, Stefan Karganovic devoted a lengthy page to his activist-friend – Dmitar Stoyanov, Bulgarian EU parliament deputy – praising him of saving “the honor of the European Parliament” for his opposition to the Srebrenica Genocide Resolution. Stoyanov is better known as hater of Jewish people or anti-semite. According to IsralNetDaily, Stoyanov said that “Jews have too much media influence and exploit economic crises in poor countries.”
Karganovic’s associate, Dmitar Stoyanov, told Britain’s Daily Telegraph that, “There are a lot of powerful Jews, with a lot of money, who are paying the media to form the social awareness of the people. They are also playing with economic crises in countries like Bulgaria and getting rich. These are the concrete realities.” Stoyanov and his anti-semitic Attack Party are also known for their hatred of Bulgaria’s Roma, or Gypsy population, which they label as criminal and lazy. The Attack Party’s leader, Volen Siderov, who has made numerous anti-Jewish statements, finished second in the first round of Bulgarian presidential elections last October with 21.5 percent of the vote.
EQUALIZATION OF VICTIMS AND CRIMES
In his carefully crafted argument, he presents sugar-coated version of the Srebrenica genocide denial by evoking emotions of Serb casualties to introduce – what he calls – the ‘positive aspect’ of his motivations:
“What we wish to achieve – and now we pass on to the positive aspect of our answer – is to ensure that victims from around Srebrenica during the three year period, 1992-1995, receive the same notice and the same recognition as Moslem victims from Srebrenica during the three day period in July of 1995. Period. That is all. Has anyone anything to say against this?”
First of all, Karganovic’s attempt to label 151 civilian Serb casualties in villages around Srebrenica as victims of genocide is unacceptable and factually wrong. Karganovic’s case for giving them the “same recognition” is based on deliberate and motivated misrepresentations promoted by his own genocide denial “Srebrenica Historical Project” farce. Second of all, there can never be any equivalence or comparison between the individual war crimes and the monstrous crime of genocide. The extreme gravity of genocide makes it the crime of all crimes. Third of all, isn’t it time for Karganovic to recognize genocide at Srebrenica and stop lecturing us what we should and should not do? If Karganovic wants to be taken more seriously (which is impossible considering his public denials of Srebrenica genocide), then why doesn’t he acknowledge that Serbs around Srebrenica slaughtered approximately 1,000 Bosniaks between 1992 and 1995? And we are talking about events before the 1995 Srebrenica genocide.
People like Karganovic are more than willing to accept the version of history that suites their pre-conceived conclusions. This version of ‘history’ is excessively promoted by the Serbian Radical Party establishment. According to Human Rights Watch findings published on July 11, 2006:
“The ultra-nationalist Serbian Radical Party launched an aggressive campaign to prove that Muslims had committed crimes against thousands of Serbs in the area. The campaign was intended to diminish the significance of the July 1995 crime, and many in Serbia were willing to accept that version of history.
But as the Oric judgment makes clear, the facts do not support the equivalence thesis. Take the events in the village of Kravica, on the Serb Orthodox Christmas on January 7, 1993, for example. The alleged killing of scores of Serbs and destruction of their houses in the village is frequently cited in Serbia as the key example of the heinous crimes committed by the Muslim forces around Srebrenica. In fact, the Oric judgment confirms that there were Bosnian Serb military forces present in the village at the time of attack.”
Commenting on the allegations of Serb victims around Srebrenica, the Office of the Prosecutor within the U.N.-based International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia cautioned that Serb casualties around Srebrenica cannot be counted as victims in the same way as victims of the Srebrenica genocide:
“Military or Police casualties from combat should not be considered victims in a criminal investigation context, in the same way people are victims from war crimes, such as summary executions. Before speaking about the whole area of Podrinja, including at least the municipalities of Srebrenica, Bratunac, Vlasenica and Skelani, I would comment on the various figures circulating around the Kravica attack of January 1993. The figures circulating of hundreds of victims or claiming that all 353 inhabitants were ‘virtually completely destroyed do not reflect the reality.”
A CASE OF RETALIATION FOR “EARLIER CRIMES”?
Stefan Karganovic’s logic is based on a false assumption that Srebrenica massacre was a result of the so called Serb ‘retaliation’ for “earlier crimes” that Bosniaks allegedly committed against the ‘demilitarized’ Serbs around Srebrenica. At least, that’s how Karganovic sees his own version of history, based on his own opinion – not facts. But, the reality is different.
What Karganovic refuses to mention is the fact that Serbs stationed in villages around Srebrenica never demilitarized, even though they were required to demilitarize as per the demilitarization agreement. Militarized Serb-held villages around Srebrenica served as the bases from which Serbs launched military attacks on the Enclave – killing Bosnian Muslim civilians at will. For example, in 1993, Serbs from militarized villages around Srebrenica massacred 62 Bosniak children in Srebrenica, and wounded 152 (video link). In a period between 1992 and 1995 (and these events preceded genocide), Serbs in villages around Srebrenica killed approximately 1,000 Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) civilians, torched all Muslim villages in the area, and committed mass scale ethnic cleansing, rapes and murders in the Podrinje region.
In response to Karganovic’s allegation, here is a short excerpt from United Nations’ General Assembly Resolution 53/35, quote:
“A third accusation leveled at the Bosniak defenders of Srebrenica is that they provoked the Serb offensive by attacking out of that safe area. Even though this accusation is often repeated by international sources, there is no credible evidence to support it. Dutchbat personnel on the ground at the time assessed that the few ‘raids’ the Bosniaks mounted out of Srebrenica were of little or no military significance. These raids were often organized in order to gather food, as the Serbs had refused access for humanitarian convoys into the enclave. Even Serb sources approached in the context of this report acknowledged that the Bosniak forces in Srebrenica posed no significant military threat to them. The biggest attack the Bosniaks launched out of Srebrenica during the more than two years which is was designated a safe area appears to have been the raid on the village of Visnjica, on 26 June 1995, in which several houses were burned, up to four Serbs were killed and approximately 100 sheep were stolen. In contrast, the Serbs overran the enclave two weeks later, driving tens of thousands from their homes, and summarily executing thousands of men and boys. 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 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.”
PRAISING DENIERS, CONDEMNING HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISTS
Throughout his genocide denial web site, Karganovic re-publishes outdated and already discredited diatribes written by science-fiction experts advocating Srebrenica genocide denial. No new names here. It’s an old circle of deniers that quote themselves. To name a few: Christopher James – Slobodan Milosevic apologist; Tara McCormack – writer for SPIKED, the successors of Revolutionary Communist Party’s LM/Living Marxism that participated in denial of existence of Serb-operated Concentration Camps in Bosnia (see photos of Bosniak and Croat civilians in Concentration Camps); Lewis MacKenzie – alleged concentration camp rapist who was never at Srebrenica and therefore not someone who argues on the basis of an adequately informed position (MacKenzie’s Srebrenica genocide denial debate is based on a wilful disregard of ICTY deliberations). On Karganovic’s web site, we also find a group of other heavily unreliable sources, like George Bogdanich, Diana Johnstone, Phillip Corwin, Carl Savich, Michael Parenti, Edward Herman, Jonathan Rooper, and other revisionists and apologists for war crimes and genocide.
Karganovic refers to Srebrenica genocide as “the phony Srebrenica narrative,”and labels Serbian human rights activists as “Self-Hating Serbs.” The target of Karganovic’s rage is projected toward respected Serbian human rights activists with an international repute, namely Natasa Kandic, Biljana Kovacevic-Vuco, and Sonja Biserko. He also targets other respected Serb journalists, like Svetlana Lukic and Svetlana Vukovic. Vojvodina political activist Nenad Canak, who argued in support of a change in Serbia’s criminal code to make genocide denial a criminal offense, can also find himself on Karganovic’s “Self-Hating Serbs” list.
Furthermore, Karganovic goes on to condemn legal findings of the Srebrenica genocide handed down by the two highest World Courts (ICJ and ICTY), arguing in his own stupidity that “the truth needs no laws to support it.” His version of the “truth” is, of course, manufactured and promoted by the Serbian ultra-nationalist circles. Karganovic’s “truth” is based on unsubstianted personal opinions, a cricle of sources with no credibility (we already mentioned some of them above), manipulations, fallacies, and distortions used in Srebrenica genocide denial purposes. In other words, his version of the “truth” is a bold faced lie.
KARGANOVIC’S PHOTOS OF SERB GRAVESTONES
Stefan Karganovic published a gallery of Serb gravestones he claims to be located in Srebrenica. He labeled all photos with one word: Srebrenica. In fact, these gravestones are located at a Serb Military Cemetery in a nearby ethnically cleansed town of Bratunac (bordering Srebrenica municipality). The cemetery contains gravestones of Serb soldiers (Chetniks), most of whom died attacking “safe haven” area of Sarajevo. They died under the leadership of two Bosnian Serb terrorists, namely Gen. Stanislav Galic and Gen. Dragoljub Milosevic.
The Bosnian Serb Gen. Stanislav Galic had been convicted on terrorist charges for his involvement in terrorizing citizens of Sarajevo during the longest siege in the modern European history. Galic was sentenced to life imprisonment by the U.N. based court at the Hague. Another Serb General, Dragoljub Milosevic, had also been convicted on terror charges and sentenced to 33 years in jail for his involvement in Sarajevo terror campaign.
According to the Research and Documentation Center in Sarajevo (research data certified by the experts from the U.N.-based International Criminal Tribunal):
“Under the Dayton Peace Accords, the suburbs of Sarajevo held by the VRS [Bosnian Serb Army] were to be re-integrated into the city of Sarajevo . The then leadership of the RS called on the local Serb population to leave Sarajevo and even take the graves of their loved ones with them. In fact, such a large majority followed the instructions that parts of the city of Sarajevo remained deserted for months. The remnants of their loved ones have been buried in Bratunac after the war, but their deaths are presented as the result of actions taken by the Bosnian Army units from Srebrenica.”
WHY KARGANOVIC CHOSE LOCAL CIVIL COURT?
Karganovic’s goal is to make grossly inflated numbers of Serb casualties around Srebrenica “the subject of an official finding by a foreign court,” namely a local Dutch civil court which is unqualified to pass judgments of international importance, especially judgments that concern grave violations of war crimes in another country. Only the UN-sponsored International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia can deliberate serious issues of war crimes in the Former Yugoslavia and make factual verdicts based on the international law. The local Dutch court that Karganovic filed his lawsuit with is the same local court that dismissed the case filed by Mothers of Srebrenica Association against the Netherlands for the failure to prevent Srebrenica genocide in 1995. Karganovic’s case will also likely be dissmissed – and he knows it – but he will use bits and pieces of information from the trial transcripts to support his discredited claims and continue misinforming the public.
AND THE LAST POINT, BUT NOT LEAST
To prove his point about the Serbian ‘victimhood’ in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Stephen Karganovic uses the so called “UN Document” titled “Memorandum on War Crimes and Crimes of Genocide in Eastern Bosnia (communes of Bratunac, Skelani and Srebrenica) committed against the Serbian population from April 1992 to April 1993.” This document, filed under “A/46/171 and S/25635“, does NOT contain any official U.N. conclusions. The copy of this document is used on many Srebrenica genocide denial web sites, one of them being “Emperor’s Clothes” (web site run by Jared Israel, long-time Milosevic’s apologist and disgraced Srebrenica Genocide denier). The document had been carefully drafted by Slobodan Milosevic’s “Yugoslav State Commission for War Crimes and Genocide” and submitted to the U.N. on June 2 1993 by Serbian ambassador Dragomir Djokic. At the time, Djokic had worked in concert with then-Bosnian Serb “Iron Lady” Biljana Plavsic, professor of biology whose ‘scientific research’ included such genetic discoveries as her theory that “Muslims are genetically deformed”.
READ MORE & LEARN MORE:
1. In 1993, Serbs from militarized villages around Srebrenica massacred 62 Bosniak children in Srebrenica, and wounded 152
2. Stefan Karganovic (Stephen Karganovic) – Denier of Genocide at Srebrenica
3. Karganovic’s Genocide Denial Circle of Friends: Alexandar Gavrilovic and Marco Van Hees
4. Serbs File Lawsuit Against the U.N. to Diminish Significance of the Srebrenica Genocide
5. Dutchbat III Veterans Condemn Marco Van Hees’ Claims About Srebrenica
6. Testimony of Christina Schmitz and Daniel O’Brien (Doctors Without Borders / Médecins Sans Frontières)
7. Lost Images of Srebrenica Genocide: Serbs Tried to Hide Evidence of Genocide Against Muslims
8. Dissecting Milosevic’s Propaganda Machine, Spreading Fear and Disinformation
9. Beware of BalkanPeace.org (aka: “Balkan Peace”), Toronto-based Denial NGO
10. So called “Jasenovac Research Institute” run by Srebrenica Genocide Deniers and Serb War Crimes Apologists
11. Photo forgeries of Serb “victims” in Villages Around Srebrenica Used to Justify Genocide against the Bosnian Muslim Population
A Serbian extremist behind Srebrenica genocide denial hate-group has also been actively advocating eradication of Jewish people, just because they happen to be Jews. The group called for a repeat of Srebrenica genocide and claimed it was “for everyone who thinks that Muslims are best served roasted, and swimming in sulfuric acid.”
Over 1,000 supporters joined this extremist group, which claimed it was only “for all those that are against foreign Islam, for all those who are against Muslim fundamentalists and Mujahideen, for everyone who respects the work of General Mladic, and for everyone who thinks that Muslims are best served roasted, and swimming in sulfuric acid.”
Facebook’s Srebrenica genocide denial group was administered by Filip Filipi (aka: Filip Visnjic), who is a part-time rapper known asSizzerb and a self-admitted founder of Anti-semitic web site “Serbian Anti-Defamation League” which happens to be identical to Boris Pribich’s “Serbian Defense League.” Both web sites advocate erradication of Jewish people just because they happen to be Jews. Filip Filipi (aka: Filip Visnjic) also runs another Facebook group with nearly 4,000 members in support of a violent Serbian fugitive Miladin Kovacevic. The group accuses Jews of the so called “one-sided, Zionistic reporting.” Earlier this year, Kovacevic beat down Jewish student, Bryan Steinhauer, into a coma, and then fled to Serbia.
Two Bosniaks from Serbia, Azrudin Pecanin and Enes Hamzagic, demanded Facebook to shut down the Serbian extremist hate group andresponded by creating their own anti- Srebrenica genocide denial group known as “Close Group Noz Zica Srebrenica.” The group is supported by approximately 19,000 members opposing Bosniakophobia and Srebrenica genocide denial.
“Administrator, we ask you to close the group ‘Noz, Zica, Srebrenica‘, which glorifies the acts of genocide that took place in Srebrenica, where 8,000 men and boys were murdered,” read the Bosnian group header on Facebook. “Furthermore, this group propagates hatred to all Muslims according to its description” it said. Bosniaks, who are of Muslim faith, account for nearly half of the population of Bosnia, which they share with Roman Catholic Bosnian Croats and Orthodox Christian Bosnian Serbs.
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.
Updated: October 17, 2008.
PHOTO: Srebrenica genocide mass grave at Pilica farm, twenty feet deep and a hundred feet long, was excavated by forensic pathologists in 1996. Photo by Gilles Peress (from The Graves: Srebrenica and Vukovar [Scalo Books, 1998]). At least 8,372 men, children and elderly were summarily executed and dumped into mass graves during 1995 genocide in Srebrenica. In a U.N. assisted ethnic cleansing, at least 20,000 women were forcibly expelled from the enclave. As the ICTY Judges found, the decision not to kill all women and children may be explained by the Bosnian Serbs’ sensitivity to public opinion.
(Estimated reading time: 15 minutes)
1. Seeking help to deny genocide in Srebrenica
2. Response to Stefan Karganovic, denier of genocide in Srebrenica
3. Generating media attention to deny genocide in Srebrenica
4. Editors’ Pick: Grossly inflated (and UN-discredited) numbers of Serb victims used to deny genocide in Srebrenica
1. Seeking help to deny genocide in Srebrenica
Karganovic is a man of many ‘talents,’ but he is not a lawyer. He is currently in the Netherlands, working as an “interpreter” for the defence of a convicted Serbian war criminal Momcilo Krajisnik at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. Previously, he worked as an interpreter for the Salvation Army in Seattle, WA.
Recently, he tried to pass himself as a person with credibility. He told B92 journalists that the Bosniak victims cannot be denied, but that he wants to talk about “the story of the Serb victims during the war in the Srebrenica area between 1992 and 1995.” He added that “the NGO’s goal is to uncover the truth of what happened during the war in the various municipalities of the Srebrenica region.” He even announced legal action against the UN and the Netherlands.
And then we received an E-mail from krajisnikcase@*****.com, signed by Stefan Karganovic himself, asking for assistance to “investigate the allegations of genocide against Moslem prisoners and correct the record on that score.” Note that he used the term “allegations” when he referred to the Srebrenica genocide. According to Google, his e-mail seems to be associated with Darko Trifunovic, another Srebrenica genocide denier who is also involved with the Krajisnik case. Here is a full copy of Stefan Karganovic’s e-mail sent to us:
I am the head of an NGO based in Den Haag, the Netherlands. Our mission is to collect information about the events surrounding Srebrenica in July 1995, as well as the background of those events, but with a focus on crimes committed against Serb civilians by Moslem forces from the enclave. Our parallel task is to investigate the allegations of genocide against Moslem prisoners and correct the record on that score. In that connection, I am very interested in locating Mr. Carlos Martins Branco, a Portuguese UN official who was in Bosnia at the time, and who has written about these events. I believe that he has valuable first hand information to offer and I would like to interview him. I see that you have published a letter by him on your website. Would you be so kind as to give me his contact information if you have it, or ask him to contact me by giving him my email?
Thank you very much.
President Srebrenica Historical Project
Den Haag, The Netherlands
Telephone: + 31 64 878 **** (Four digits edited for privacy reasons)
2. Response to Stefan Karganovic, denier of genocide in Srebrenica:
We’ve never published any letters from discredited Srebrenica genocide denier Carlos Martins Branco nor we are interested in his opinions. First of all, opinions are cheap, everybody has them. Srebrenica genocide is not a matter of anybody’s opinion; it’s a fact first recognized by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and subsequently by the International Court of Justice.
Srebrenica genocide is an undeniable truth and a historical fact that claimed lives of at least 8,372 men, children, and elderly Bosniaks.
Second of all, you should check your facts straight before you knock on the wrong door and solicit people to assist you in denying Srebrenica genocide. Next time you decide to send solicitation E-mails to unknown addresses, just pause for a moment and look yourself in the mirror. What you will see is an individual who has reduced himself to a Srebrenica genocide denier.
Goodbye and do not contact us again,
3. Seeking media attention to Deny Genocide in Srebrenica
Recently, Stefan Karganovic organized revisionist Srebrenica genocide ‘symphosium’ in Banja Luka. He conveniently dubbed it as the so called “International Symposium About Suffering of the Serbs in Srebrenica.” At this ‘symphosium,’ Karganovic said that he would file a lawsuit against the Netherlands, because Dutchbat (Dutch batallion) troops failed to protect Serbs in Srebrenica. What Karganovic does not understand is the fact that Bosnian Serbs were not even located in Srebrenica, but in the surrounding villages which they conveniently used as military bases to stage attacks against the besieged Bosniak population of the enclave. Nonethless to say that many of these “Serb-held villages” around Srebrenica were ethnically cleansed Bosniak Muslim villages. Dutchbat troops were under the U.N. command and in charge of defending Srebrenica from the Bosnian Serb attacks. Unfortunately, Srebrenica was never safe, because the Serb Army never demilitarized around the enclave even they were required to do so.
One might wonder, what’s the point of Karganovic’s lawsuit against the Dutch state? For example, he knows that Bosniak survivors of genocide recently lost their lawsuit against the Netherlands due to diplomatic immunity enjoyed by the United Nations. Serbs don’t even have any case to begin with, since they had not suffered genocide at Srebrenica, but their Army sure did commit genocide against the Bosniak population of the U.N.-designated “safe area.” But, Karganovic speculates he has nothing to lose. At least, the lawsuit will give him something that he badly needs, namely a better exposure to the mainstream media so he could gain some ‘legitimacy’ promoting innacurate and grossly inflated numbers of Serb casualties around Srebrenica, the same numbers doctored and published by his associate Srebrenica genocide denier – Milivoje Ivanisevic (aka: Milivoj Ivanisevic). Continue reading below….
4. Grossly inflated (and UN-discredited) numbers of Serb victims used to deny genocide in Srebrenica
In order to justify Srebrenica genocide, Serbian right-wing nationalist and a prominent Srebrenice genocide denier – Milivoje Ivanisevic – claimed that more than 3,000 Serb civilians were murdered around Srebrenica. What are the facts?
Florence Hartmann, Spokesperson for the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia at the Hague, made the following statement. Asked to comment on the different number of Serb victims in the Srebrenica region published in Belgrade, Hartmann replied that:
“First of all, the OTP is always very careful in the use of the word ‘victim’. Military or Police casualties from combat should not be considered victims in a criminal investigation context, in the same way people are victims from war crimes, such as summary executions. Before speaking about the whole area of Podrinja, including at least the municipalities of Srebrenica, Bratunac, Vlasenica and Skelani, I would comment on the various figures circulating around the Kravica attack of January 1993. The figures circulating of hundreds of victims or claiming that all 353 inhabitants were “virtually completely destroyed” do not reflect the reality…. For the whole region, i.e the municipalities of Srebrenica, Bratunac, Vlasenica and Skelani, the Serb authorities claimed previously that about 1400 people were killed due to attacks committed by the B&H Army forces for the period of May 1992 to March 1995, when Srebrenica was under the control of Naser Oric. Now the figure has become 3,500 Serbs killed. This figure may have been inflated. Taking the term “victims” as defined previously, these figures just does not reflect the reality.” (source: ICTY Press Release)
In a “Myth of Bratunac: Blatant Numbers Game” the internationally evaluated findings by the Research and Documentation Center examined Ivanisevic’s claims and concluded the following:
“The allegations that Serb casualties in Bratunac, between April 1992 and December 1995 amount to over three thousand is an evident falsification of facts. The RDC research of the actual number of Serb victims in Bratunac [just outside of Srebrenica] has been the most extensive carried out in Bosnia and Herzegovina and proves that the overall number of victims is three to nine times smaller than indicated by Serbia and Montenegro. Perhaps the clearest illustration of gross exaggeration is that of Kravica, a Serb village near Bratunac attacked by the Bosnian Army on the morning of Orthodox Christmas, January 7, 1993 . The allegations that the attack resulted in hundreds of civilian victims have been shown to be false. Insight into the original documentation of the Army of Republika Srpska (VRS) clearly shows that in fact military victims highly outnumber the civilian ones. The document entitled ‘Warpath of the Bratunac brigade’, puts the military victims at 35 killed and 36 wounded; the number of civilian victims of the attack is eleven…” [source: Research and Documentation Center]
Serbian Human Rights Watch’s made similar conclussions , quote:
“The ultra-nationalist Serbian Radical Party launched an aggressive campaign to prove that Muslims had committed crimes against thousands of Serbs in the area. The campaign was intended to diminish the significance of the July 1995 crime, and many in Serbia were willing to accept that version of history. But as the Oric judgment makes clear, the facts do not support the equivalence thesis. Take the events in the village of Kravica, on the Serb Orthodox Christmas on January 7, 1993, for example. The alleged killing of scores of Serbs and destruction of their houses in the village is frequently cited in Serbia as the key example of the heinous crimes committed by the Muslim forces around Srebrenica. In fact, the Oric judgment confirms that there were Bosnian Serb military forces present in the village at the time of attack. In 1998, the wartime New York Times correspondent Chuck Sudetic wrote in his book on Srebrenica that, of forty-five Serbs who died in the Kravica attack, thirty-five were soldiers. Original Bosnian Serb army documents, according to the ICTY prosecutor and the Sarajevo-based Center for Research and Documentation of War Crimes, also indicate that thirty-five soldiers died. The critics also invoke unreliable statistics. A spokesman for the ruling Democratic Party of Serbia in the wake of the Oric judgment, for example, claimed that “we have documents showing that 3,260 people were found dead around Srebrenica from 1992-1995.”
However, the book Hronike nasih grobalja (Chronicles of Our Graveyards) by the Serb historian Milivoje Ivanisevic (the president of the Belgrade ‘Centre for Investigating Crimes Committed against the Serbian People’), uses the significantly lower figure, of “more than 1,000 persons [who] died,” and contains the list, mostly made of men of military age. Among those killed, there were evidently a significant number of Bosnian Serb soldiers who died in the fighting, like in Kravica.” [source: HRW in Serbia]
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.
People Behind Dutchbat Srebrenica Genocide Denial Project: Marco Van Hees and Alexandar Gavrilovic. Plus, Two New Srebrenica Genocide Denial NGOs: Serbian Investigation Society and Historical Project Srebrenica.
PHOTO: Meet two Srebrenica genocide denial activists:
Aleksandar Gavrilovic (left) and Marco Van Hees (right).
Recently, Marco Van Hees and15 former Dutchbat members met with the Belgrade-based Srebrenica genocide denier, Milivoje Ivanisevic, and offered to testify on behalf of Radovan Karadzic – former Bosnian Serb leader who publicly wowed to destroy the Bosnian Muslims from the face of Earth. Activist Dutch veterans, led by Van Hees, 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 men and boys of Srebrenica into surrendering. Then, they killed them.
His Dutch friend of Serbian orgin, Alexandar Gavrilovic (22), recently formed the so called Serbian Investigation Society in Tilburg, Netherlands. According to Serbia’s daily Vecernje Novosti, Gavrilovic’s parents – originally from Cacak, Serbia – came to the Netherlands 25 years ago. The Serbian Investigation Society is NGO active in translating Milivoje Ivanisevic’s genocide denial material and distributing it in the Netherlands.
Their friend, Stefan Karganovic (info), is not by coincidence head of the so called Historical Project Srebrenica (Istorijski Projekat Srebrenica) – another Srebrenica genocide denial NGO located in the Netherlands. He recently announced a lawsuit against the UN and Netherlands because of the alleged “suffering of the Serb population in the UN safe haven.” The Serbs, who never demilitarized around Srebrenica, were not even located inside the U.N. enclave known as ‘Safe Haven’ of Srebrenica. Instead, they were located in ethnically cleansed Muslim villages around Srebrenica. The Serb Army used those villages around the enclave to keep Srebrenicaunder the brutal siege, frequently preventing humanitarian aid from entering the enclave, as well as bombarding the town and killing its civilians.
Marco Van Hees is more popularly known by his outrageous claims that“no Dutchbat soldier saw or heard of either the killing or raping of the Muslim civilians in Bosnia,” a claim Srebrenica genocide survivors fiercely disagree with (read this book: The United Nations on Srebrenica’s Pillar of Shame: 104 testimonies). The Dutch ‘peacekeepers’ cowardly abandoned the people of Srebrenica in 1995 and left disgusting material behind themselves (see photos of Dutch graffiti in Srebrenica).
In a well scripted Srebrenica genocide denial propaganda, Van Hees twists facts and effectively blames victims for genocide,”There was a lot of crime among the Muslims themselves in Srebrenica… We could see the kind of atrocities Muslims were committing against the Serbs,” – he said to Serbia’s Vecernje Novosti.