Monday, September 26, 2005

The story of my life!



This is Srebrenica, a small town in eastern Bosnia. I was born there on September 18 1979. On April 8, 1992 my family and I had to flee the town because we had been told that it was no longer safe to remain there. No one knew why. I had noticed that many of my Serb friends were for some reason absent from class. I remember that day perfectly well when my headmaster remarked that the Serb students were missing. It turned out that they had been forewarned and urged to leave Srebrenica immediately. Oblivious as to what was going to happen, a large Muslim population stayed behind. Alarmed by the fact that the overwhelming majority of the Serb population had already left the town, some Muslims decided that it would be wise to leave Srebrenica if only for a short while. Little did they know that many of them would never return to Srebrenica again...

My family and I decided to go to our aunt who lives in Ivangrad, Montenegro. We thought that we would stay only for a couple of days before heading back to Srebrenica. Meanwhile the situation in Bosnia was rapidly deteriorating, tension was rampant. I was beginning to fear the worst: war. Approximately a month after our arrival in Montenegro a war broke out in Bosnia. People who had remained in Srebrenica were unable to leave the town. They had been trapped. My grandparents had remained in Srebrenica. Bosnian Serb forces occupied Srebrenica and began shelling the town from the surrounding mountains. Heavily armed, Bosnian Serbs inflicted tremendous damage to the town, whose defenders were practically unarmed. Mortar attacks occurred daily in which many civilians were killed. I was watching the slow but extremely painful demise of Srebrenica on Serbian TV, unable to do anything to help the people trapped in the town. Watching news on the TV became a torture causing permanent damage to the soul.

At that time when Srebrenica was under siege, the Montengrin authorities were capturing Muslim men who had fled to Montenegro from the war in Bosnia. The Montenegrin authorities later deported the captives to Bosnian Serb authorities, sending them to a certain death. My cousins' father and his brother were deported from Herceg Novi (Montenegro) to Bosnian Serb authorities. Presumed dead, their bodies still have not been recovered. May Asim Begic's and Azem Begic's souls forever rest in peace and may those who executed them be severely punished for their heinous atrocities that left a permanent scar on my cousins.

Fearing that my father might be captured as well, we decided to flee Montenegro. The situation at that time was chaotic; we thought we were not going to make it out of the country. My brother and I suffered severe trauma, having had to cope both with what was happening in Bosnia and with the fact that our cousins' father had just been abducted. Also, we were deeply concerned what was going to happen to our father; all of this proved too much for two little boys. We were praying that the Yugoslav authorities would allow us to pass the border and they did. Even though we were facing an uncertain future, we had made it, we were finally safe. We ended up in Sweden and I have since been living here.

On July 12 1995 Srebrenica was overrun by Bosnian Serb army. What happened in the ensuing days constitutes one of the worst massacres in Europe since World War II. Bosnian Serb forces summarily executed approximately 8,000 Muslim men, one of whom was my grandfather Alija Salihovic. My grandmother had managed to get out of the town and later joined us here in Sweden. My grandfather was unfortunately not that lucky. May his soul rest in peace. Today when I ask my grandmother about her three years in Srebrenica while under constant bombardment, with no clean water, electricity and little food, all she says is that she was in hell. One gruesome event that will never be effaced from her memory is a massacre of approximately 30 children who were playing football in the schoolyard. The pool of blood that was there that day has been forever imprinted on her memory. At this point, the two men most responsible for the massacre in Srebrenica Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic are still at large.

A legitimate question emerges here:

Is the international community really putting an honest effort into apprehending them?


Dedicated to Asim Begic, Azem Begic, Alija Salihovic and all Bosnian people who lost their lives in the war in Bosnia.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

The Myth of the Islamic Fundamentalism in Bosnia


Some terrorist experts contend that there is a rising Islamic threat in Bosnia and that it was the Islamic fundamentalism that caused the war in Bosnia. Is there any truth to these assertions or are they only myths invented by Serb nationalists and certain left revisionists in the West?

Noel Malcolm, a foremost authority on the history of Bosnia and Herzegovina, has written a book called Bosnia a Short History. In this author’s opinion, Noel Malcolm’s book offers without a doubt one of the most balanced and comprehensive accounts of the history of this region. Extremely well documented and brilliantly researched, Bosnia a Short history explains the root causes of the war in Bosnia and easily dispels some of the prevailing myths about the ancient ethnic hatreds in Bosnia frequently put forth by many Western commentators. Malcolm points out in his book that the Muslims of Bosnia constitute one of the most secularized Islamic communities in the world. This contention is supported by the fact that there were approximately 30% mixed marriages in Bosnia before the war began in 1992. According to Malcolm, religion has always had a rather insignificant role for the Muslims of Bosnia and was considered by the overwhelming majority of Bosnian Muslims a private matter. As Malcolm astutely observes: “for many rural Muslims and the vast majority of urban ones, being a Muslim was reduced to a set of cultural traditions: Muslim names, circumcision, baklava, and the celebration of Ramazan Bajram…” (p. 222). With no hesitation, Malcolm strongly rejects the idea that there exists an Islamic threat in Bosnia: “talk of a fundamentalist threat in Bosnia was in any case particularly inappropriate, because the Bosnian Muslims were by now among the most secularized Muslim populations in the world” (p.221). Even so, many Western experts frequently refuse to make a distinction between the Muslims of Bosnia and the Muslims of the Arab world (not that there is anything wrong with the latter; the present author is merely trying to demonstrate the actual differences between the two), as if all Muslims were homogenous. A closer examination reveals that the Muslims of Bosnia have little in common with the Arab Muslims: they do not speak the same languages, they do not have the same histories, traditions and mores.
Professor of Religion at Haverford College, Michael Sells, believes that it was this simplistic and parochial perception of Islam that blocked a military intervention in Bosnia: “the refusal of European governments to either defend Bosnians against genocide or allow them to obtain arms to defend themselves has been based in part on stereotypes about Islam” (p. 122). Elaborating, Mr. Sells argues that :”central to the Orientalist stereotype is a confusion in the presentation of Islam between religious observance and religious militancy. While few would argue that the militant wing of the Irish Republican Army represents all observant Catholics, the association of observant Muslims with religious militancy is widespread” (p.122-123). Thus unwillingness, writes Sells, to help the Muslims of Bosnia only further increased the gap between the Christian and the Muslim world (p. 124). While the Muslims of Srebrenica were being brutally slaughtered by Bosnian Serb forces the West did nothing to prevent nor to stop the gruesome massacre in which 8,000 Muslim men were killed. As Zeyno Baran, director of the International Security Program at the Nixon Center, correctly points out: “the war in Bosnia, particularly the arms embargo imposed on the Muslim population while the Serbs were massacring them, became the major turning point for the global Muslim consciousness. Even secular, non-political Muslims were furious about what they perceived as Western indifference to the mass killings of their co-religionists” (The Baltimore Sun, July 25 2005). Also the fact that the two individuals most responsible for the massacre in Srebrenica Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic are still at large seriously undermines and threatens the relationship between the Christian and the Muslim world. Many Muslims presumably ask themselves the inevitable question: is the West really putting an honest effort into apprehending and bringing to justice Karadzic and Mladic? It is a legitimate question worthy of considerable consideration.
Now, while keeping this mind, consider a book titled Al-Qaida’s Jihad in Europe: The Afghan-Bosnian Network by Evan F. Kohlmann. In this book, Mr. Kohlmann suggests that the Muslims of Bosnia were collaborating with the Muslims of Afghanistan in a joint effort to unleash unprecedented terror throughout the Christian world. To support his thesis, Kohlmann correctly points out that an insignificant number of Mujahidins arrived in Bosnia in 1992 to aid Bosnian Muslims. What Mr. Kohlmann however does not mention is that the Muslims of Bosnia were poorly armed when compared to the extremely powerful Serbian aggressor. Bosnian Serbs were heavily armed; they possessed sophisticated weaponry (tanks, military jets etc) and also they received full diplomatic and military support from the neighboring Serbia. Not to mention the fact many Serbian paramilitary units (Vojislav Seselj’s Chetniks, Mirko Jovic’s White Eagles and Arkan’s troops) also engaged in the ethnic cleansing of Bosnian Muslims. According to Mr. Sells: “the advantage of the Serb army in heavy weapons over the Bosnians was estimated in anywhere from 20-1 to 100-1” (p.116-117). Noel Malcolm writes that :”although the U.N. itself recognized Bosnia and admitted it as a member-state distinct and separate from Yugoslavia on 22 May 1992, it continued to apply the embargo as if nothing had changed. Of course it continued to apply it to Serbia too; but Serbia held most of the stockpiles of the former federal army, and had a large armaments industry of its own” (p.243).
In his book, Mr. Kohlmann also fails to mention the fact that many Greek and Russian volunteers came to Bosnia in order to aid the already heavily armed aggressor-Bosnian Serbs. Mr. Sells asserts that this fact received little if any attention in the Western media. I agree with Mr. Sells that there is no doubt that the Islamic fundamentalism frequently creates headlines in the media while the Christian fundamentalism rarely if ever received any coverage at all. During the war in Bosnia, Orthodox priests many times encouraged the ethnic cleansing of Bosnian Muslims. According to Sells: “in an Orthodox monastery near Sarajevo, a Serb priest blessed the followers of the ethno-fascist warlord Vojislav Seselj, after the names of the towns associated with the worst atrocities against Muslims were read aloud in triumph” (p 80). Elaborating, Sells further writes: “Trebinje’s 500-year-old mosque and elegant Turkish-style buildings were burned and its Muslim population killed and expelled immediately following celebrations of the feast day of St. Sava, the founder of the Serbian Church. Mirko Jovic, leader of the White Eagles terror squad, called for a “Christian, Orthodox Serbia with no Muslims and no unbelievers” (p.80). Sells also analyzes Serbian literature demonstrating its highly stereotypical and prejudiced view of Bosnian Muslims, a view which of course had no basis in fact. For example, books by the extremely popular Serbian authors Vuk Draskovic and Petar Petrovic Njegos contain numerous elements of vicious anti-Islamic propaganda. Even Serb psychiatrists have made some bizarre and absurd statements about Muslims. Jovan Raskovic, a famous Serb psychiatrist, came to a conclusion that Muslims have an “anal erotic fixation” and that they are materialistic and greedy. Raskovic’s conclusions about Croats were equally bewildering and preposterous; in Raskovic’s opinion, Croats are afraid of everything. Concerning the Serbs, Raskovic lauded them for their bravery since only the Serbs had effectively dealt with the Oedipus complex. It remains a mystery how s person like Raskovic could have been considered a serious and respected psychiatrist. If the Serbian people believed in this sheer nonsense and apparently many did, then it is not difficult to trace the origins of Islamophobia that is still very much present in the Serbian society. In point of fact, this is how you justify genocide: you begin spreading vicious lies and gross misinformation about your enemy. Then you hire “experts” to corroborate these so called “truths”. What better person to verify these “truths” than a respected psychiatrist?
In order to understand the root causes of the war in Bosnia it is imperative to look into this highly sophisticated and elaborate anti-Islamic propaganda. There is no doubt that this propaganda had played a pivotal if not critical role in enabling and justifying genocide of Bosnian Muslims. In Love Thy Neighbor, Peter Maass explains how malicious Serbian propagandists did everything to portray Bosnian Muslims as Islamic fundamentalists whose goal had always been a creation of an Islamic state in Bosnia. Here is what Maass writes of one Serbian propaganda film: “if there was an Academy Award for the Crudest, Goriest Propaganda Film, then the Serbs would win, hands down” (p.88).

Some Western commentators have asserted that the war in Bosnia was a result of ancient ethnic strives and the inability of Muslims and Christians to co-exist peacefully. Of course, this explanation is a flagrant misrepresentation of the facts, as Noel Malcolm’s book has so clearly demonstrated. The same Western experts somehow always tend to overlook the importance of the covert agreement between Milosevic and Tudjman to divide Bosnia between themselves. Needless to say, to realize this goal they had to either expel or annihilate the Muslim population of Bosnia. As Chuck Sudetic points out in his book Blood and Vengeance: “the war in Bosnia had to be presented as a civil war, an ethnic war, a religious war, the latest tremor along an unstable cultural fault line, an age-old struggle between Christianity and Islam, anything but what it was: a land grab managed from Belgrade with help from Zagreb” (p.128). That is exactly what it was.



List of References


Malcolm, Noel. Bosnia a Short History (1996). New York University.

Sells, Michael. The Bridge Betrayed (1998). University of California Press.

Zeyno, Baran. Bosnia and Terrorism. The Baltimore Sun July 25 2005.

Kohlmann, Evan. Al-Qaida’s Jihad in Europe: The Afghan-Bosnian Network (2004).

For a detailed account of Jovan Raskovic see http://www.freedommag.org/english/1993-may/page02.htm

Maass, Peter. Love Thy Neighbor (1996). First Vintage Books Edition.

Sudetic Chuck. Blood and Vengeance. (1998). Penguin Books.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Rebuttal of Francisco Gil-White's Gross Misrepresentation of the Bosnian War


This is a response to Francisco Gil-White’s view of the war in
Bosnia, as expressed at http://www.emperors-clothes.com/.

Mr. Francisco contends that Alija Izetbegovic, the late President of Bosnia-Herzegovina, was an Islamic fundamentalist and that it was his book Islamic Declaration that caused the war in Bosnia. According to Francisco, Izetbegovic’s principal objective had always been a creation of an Islamic state in Bosnia. One particular passage from Izetbegovic’s book is frequently used to support this thesis: "…the implementation of Islam in all fields of individuals' personal lives, in family and in society, by renewal of the Islamic religious thought and creating a uniform Muslim community from Morocco to Indonesia. ...". Francisco believes that there can only be one interpretation of the above and that is the forcible creation of an Islamic state in Bosnia. I beg to differ. This quote was taken out of its proper context. Consider for example the introduction to this book: “The Declaration which we today present to the public is not prescribed reading, intended to demonstrate to foreigners or doubters the superiority of Islam over any particular system or school of thought” (all quotes from this book will henceforth be taken from this website). Basically what this introduction means is that Izetbegovic from the start acknowledges that he does not believe that Islam is superior to any other religion. This particular point is reiterated throughout the book, as exemplified in the following passage: “Class distinction is equally unjust, morally and humanly unacceptable, as national and other division and differentiation among people”. Moreover, Izetbegovic asserts that it is imperative that we judge people based on the content of their character only: “As a religious and moral movement, it finds unacceptable any differentiation between people which does not include moral criteria”. I will leave to the reader of this paper to decide whether or not the views expressed in Izetbegovic’s book in any way characterize a fundamentalist view of Islam. Consider the following passage: “Harems must be abolished. No one has the right to refer to Islam as a reason to keep women disenfranchised; abuse of this kind must be brought to an end…It is an underlining of the equal values of men and women, together with the underlining of the differences between them, which should be preserved”. Izetbegovic further strongly opposed the increasing exploitation of the female body for pornographic purposes.

As for the alleged implementation of an Islamic state in Bosnia, the following passage renders all comments superfluous: “In the struggle for the Islamic order, all means are permissible, except one-crime” (emphasis added). This non-violent approach is omnipresent in Izetbegovic's book. Thus, Izetbegovic denounces violence and lauds justice and forgiveness. Izetbegovic also seeks to bridge the gap between the Christian and the Muslim world by calling for cooperation and tolerance: “If Christians so wish, the future may offer an example of understanding and cooperation between two great religions for the well-being of people and mankind, just as the past has been the battlefield of their senseless intolerance and strife” (emphasis added). I ask the reader the following question: is this quote in any way indicative of religious intolerance? Similar views are expressed about Judaism.

After I finished reading Islamic Declaration, I reached the inevitable conclusion that Izetbegovic’s message had been grossly misrepresented by Mr. Francisco and the emperors-clothes website. Izetbegovic’s vision was a united Muslim world, the chief characteristics of which would be solidarity, empathy, tolerance, social justice and education. By the term “united Muslim world”, Izetbegovic did not refer to the geographical aspect; what he meant was that the Muslims should empathize with each other whether they happen to live in Pakistan or Turkey. One example is the question of Palestine. According to Izetbegovic, many Arab nations are completely indifferent to the plight of the Palestinian people and Izetbegovic strongly denounces this apathy and moral relativism. Instead of being a passive bystander, the Arab world should express its solidarity with the Palestinian people. This is what Izetbegovic meant when he was calling for a united Muslim world.

In an interview for START in August 2003 Izetbegovic said that Bosnia must remain a secular state. As far as I know, all fundamentalists abhor secularism. I am therefore bewildered by Francisco’s perception of Izetbegovic. What is even more perplexing is the incontrovertible fact that Izetbegovic never makes a single reference to Bosnia in his book and yet Mr. Francisco immediately draws the conclusion that Izetbegovic’s vision also applied to Bosnia. I strongly urge everyone to read this book and then make up their own minds about it.

Radovan Karadzic, former Bosnian Serb leader, who is being sought for war crimes, has however said that “the road to which you want to take Bosnia and Herzegovina is the same highway of hell which Slovenia and Croatia took. Don’t think you won’t take Bosnia and Herzegovina to hell and the Muslims into annihilation…Muslims cannot defend themselves if there is war here”. If this is not an explicit threat to exterminate the Muslims of Bosnia then I don’t know what it is. I wonder how this managed to escape Francisco’s attention. I also wonder how Francisco explains the fact that every single church remained intact in the area controlled by Bosnian Muslims when the war in Bosnia ended. Conversely I am looking forward to an explanation as to why every single mosque was destroyed in the area controlled by Bosnian Serbs. If the Muslims of Bosnia are such fundamentalists as Francisco so strongly suggests, should not the situation described above have been reversed?

Moreover I am deeply concerned by the fact that Mr. Francisco refused to consult one of the most authoritative books on Bosnia - Bosnia a Short History - by a noted expert on the subject, Noel Malcolm, before he began spreading misinformation about Bosnian Muslims. According to Malcolm, Bosnian Muslims are without a doubt one of the most secularized Muslims in the world. This is corroborated by the fact that there were approximately 30% mixed marriages in Bosnia before the war began in 1992. Francisco, I strongly suggest that you read this book.

The war in Bosnia was genocide of Bosnian Muslims. Consider the results of one of the most meticulous investigations of the human rights abuses in Bosnia. Cherif Bassiouni, Professor of Law at De Paul University, conducted a thorough investigation of human rights abuses in Bosnia, the results of which were later submitted to the U.N. Security Council (the title of the report: Final Report of the Commission of Experts Established Pursuant to Security Council Resolution 780 from 1992). It is frequently asserted that this highly meticulous and exhaustive study offers the definitive account of the war crimes perpetrated in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Bassiouni’s commission of experts found that all parties in the war committed gross violations of human rights. None the less, the study also emphasized that the Serbs committed the overwhelming majority of the war crimes in Bosnia. Most importantly, the commission concluded that the crimes perpetrated by the Serbs were part of a greater Serbian ideology, namely the creation of a “Greater Serbia”. Here is what the report said: “with respect to the practices by Serbs in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia, “ethnic cleansing” is commonly used as a term to describe a policy conducted in furtherance of political doctrines relating to “Greater Serbia” (p. 33). Thus, achieving hegemony was the primary objective of the Serbs. The report further disclosed that Zeljko Raznjatovic’s and Vojislav Seselj’s paramilitary forces were found responsible for gross human rights abuses in Bosnia. The commission also implicated the JNA and Bosnian Serb leaders in allowing and even encouraging the ethnic cleansing of non-Serbs (p.35). Regarding the war crimes committed by the Bosnian Muslims, the report said that: “Bosnian Government forces have also committed the same type of grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions against Serbs and Croats, but not as part of a policy of “ethnic cleansing”. The number of these violations, as reported, is significantly less than the reported violations allegedly committed by the other warring factions” (p. 36 emphasis added). The commission also found that all warring parties had detention camps, Serbs had 237, Muslims 89 and Croats 77 (p. 51). However, the worst atrocities were committed in the detention camps held by Bosnian Serbs. According to the report: “camps operated by Serbs in Bosnia and Herzegovina are by far the ones where the largest numbers of detainees have been held and where the cruelest and largest number of violations occurred” (p.52). Moreover, Serb camps were used as an instrument of ethnic cleansing where killing and appalling torture of prisoners occurred daily (p.53-54). Subsequently, even though the Muslims committed sporadic atrocities, the Serbs committed systematic and extremely well organized war crimes in order to exterminate the non-Serb population. Proponents of “collective guilt” theory thus correctly contend that all sides in the Bosnian war committed atrocities. None the less, as this authoritative report makes perfectly clear, only the Serbs were guilty of systematic war crimes.

I am looking forward to Francisco's response and then we will let the readers decide whose side of the story represents the truth.

List of References

www.emperors-clothes.com/gilwhite/alija1.htm

as adopted from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radovan_Karadzic

Malcolm, Noel. Bosnia a Short History (1996). New York University Press.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Atrocity denial over Bosnia!



Paradoxically, there are people who still claim that there was no massacre in Srebrenica despite the abundant and incontrovertible evidence to the contrary. Thousands of corroborated eye-witness accounts of the survivors of the Srebrenica massacre do not suffice either; these atrocity deniers simply do not care about the truth. In point of fact, these people abhor the truth and they display a flagrant disregard for all human suffering.
One such example is a webiste called www.emperors-clothes.com. An apologist for Serb atrocities in Bosnia and Kosovo, this website does not contain a single element of truth about the war in Bosnia and Kosovo. When the videotape of the gruesome execution of six Muslim men was released, this website immediately responded by calling it a fraud. According to the emperors-clothes, the videotape had been tempered with in order to dehumanize the Serbs. While the horrific footage no doubt shocked the whole world, the emperors-clothes website questioned the authenticity of the videotape.
In general, atrocity deniers show a complete lack of empathy and solidarity; there is no evidence in the world that can make them change their minds, not even a cold-blooded execution of these powerless and defenseless men. In fact, even if they themselves had witnessed this unfathomable atrocity, they would have denied that they had seen anything. They would probably have claimed that the whole scene had been arranged by the Americans or the Muslims themselves in order to frame the Serbs.
To further their own perverted agendas, atrocity deniers knowingly misrepresent and distort facts. Websites like the emperors-clothes, have no respect whatsoever for the survivors of the Srebrenica massacre nor are they able to empathize with these people whose lives have forever been ruined when Srebrenica fell on 11 July 1995.
What is the principal reason these atrocity deniers refuse to admit the truth about the massacre in Srebrenica and other Serb atrocities in Bosnia and Kosovo? In my opinion, the reason is very simple: they are staunch opponents of NATO and the U.S. foreign policy. In their opinions, the U.S. government is to blame for all evil in the world. Moreover, these atrocity deniers assert that the Western media have always been demonizing the Serbs. It is never explained to the reader what the Western media could possibly gain from being biased towards the Serbs. If anything, the Western media was downplaying Serb atrocities during the war in Bosnia. So, instead of relying on mainstream media, these atrocity deniers use dubious and uncorroborated sources in order to support their preposterous conspiracy theories. I strongly urge everyone to visit this website and see what they write about Milosevic and other notorious war criminals who have committed egregious atrocities in Bosnia.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Appalling Barbarity


Natasha Kandic, a human rights activist from
Serbia, recently released a videotape of a gruesome execution of six Muslim men in Srebrenica. While there is no doubt that this horrific footage shocked the whole world, it has not been able to produce a significant outcry in Serbia, let alone among the Serb population in Republika Srpska. This is evident from the fact that more than 50% of the Serbian population still believes that there was no massacre in Srebrenica. The figure is presumably significantly higher among the Serbs in Bosnia. The Serbs’ immediate reaction to this abhorrent atrocity was thus denial. Many Serbs believe that the videotape had been tempered with for the sole purpose of dehumanizing the Serbs. Some Serbs assign the blame only to the individuals who perpetrated this odious act and refuse to admit that the Srebrenica massacre was planned in advance by Mladic and Karadzic. Noteworthy is the fact that thousands of Serb soldiers participated in the attack on Srebrenica, many of whom also took part in the subsequent execution of 8000 Muslim men.

Serbs frequently assert that all sides in the Bosnian war committed war crimes. None the less, evidence gathered by respected fact-finding organizations such as the Amnesty International and the Human Rights Watch divulges that only the Serb side committed systematic atrocities, the principal objective of which was to create a “Greater Serbia”. Furthermore, only the Serb side (and in some instances the Croats) committed abhorrent atrocities against civilians, as this videotape proves. Granted, even the Muslim side killed civilians but seldom deliberately and never in such a barbaric and cold-blooded manner.

Most people who have seen this videotape become very upset. One cannot but wonder: are human beings really capable of perpetrating such heinous atrocities? How do you execute someone who is defenseless, powerless and innocent and then continue with life as if nothing has happened? How do you live with yourself? Do the terrifying looks on the faces of these poor men haunt you in your sleep? It is beyond my comprehension that a human being can commit such egregious war crimes. For me, the only word that properly explains the perpetrators of this crime is: monsters. To call them animals would be an insult to animals. Animals do not torture their prey!

What is the most suitable punishment for these monsters? Capital punishment is too lenient. I have a much better suggestion: life time imprisonment without the possibility of parole where they are forced to watch this videotape over and over again and then face the family members of their victims. But then again, monsters do not have feelings; they are unable to feel empathy and compassion for other people and they never show repentance. As long as these savages are at large, there will never be justice in Bosnia let alone reconciliation. All war criminals must be severely punished if we want to achieve a long-lasting peace.

In the meantime, let us hope that the perpetrators of this horrible war crime will receive severe punishments and that the facial expressions of their victims will forever haunt them in their sleep.

Download the video here:

http://www.ogrish.com/archives/six_bosnian_muslim_men_from_srebrenica_being_executed_on_video_Jun_02_2005.html

Warning: Viewer's discretion is advised!

Dedicated to the victims of this appalling barbarity! May your soul rest in peace.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Commemorating Srebrenica


Dedicated to the innocent people who were killed in the Srebrenica massacre!


On 11 July 1995 an unfathomable tragedy was taking place in Srebrenica before the eyes of the whole world. After three years of occupation and intensive bombardment, Bosnian Serbs finally entered Srebrenica. What followed in the ensuing days constituted one of the most egregious atrocities in Europe since World War II. Approximately 8000 Muslim men were killed by Bosnian Serb forces despite the fact that Srebrenica had been designated a “safe area” by the U.N. itself. Simply put, this meant that the U.N. was supposed to protect the people of Srebrenica if they came under attack. They failed to keep their promise.

Ten years have passed since the massacre in Srebrenica. Paradoxically, according to some estimates more than 50% of the Serbian population still believes that there was no massacre in Srebrenica. Needless to say, this figure is probably much higher among the Serb population in Bosnia. Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic, the ones held most accountable for the massacre in Srebrenica, are considered heroes in the Serb Republic of Bosnia. Still at large, Mladic and Karadzic are believed to be hiding in Serbia. Why provide shelter for notorious war criminals guilty of having committed heinous war crimes?

Recently, a video tape was released the importance of which cannot be overstressed. The video tape shows a gruesome execution of several Muslim men. These men are taken to an execution site and subsequently shot point-blank. The Bosnian Serb soldiers who committed this abhorrent atrocity appeared completely unaffected by their barbaric war crime. One cannot but wonder: are human beings truly capable of perpetrating such enormities? I strongly doubt it. In my opinion, only a monster can kill a defenseless civilian in cold blood. I sincerely hope that these monsters who committed this despicable atrocity will be severely punished.

This videotape has been shown in Serbia but has not been able to significantly sway the public opinion. Many Serbians still contend that the video has been tampered with and manipulated in some way. What does it take for someone to admit the truth? How can we talk about justice in Bosnia when those responsible for the massacre in Srebrenica are still at large? Moreover, those Bosnian Serbs who have been caught and extradited to the War Tribunal in The Hague have received such lenient sentences that speaking of justice is sheer nonsense. Is it reasonable to sentence someone who has been found guilty of killing many innocent people to six years in prison?

As long as war criminals remain at large there will be no justice. I am not referring to Karadzic and Mladic only even though they masterminded everything. All Bosnian Serbs who participated in the massacre in Srebrenica must be punished. Furthermore, Bosnian Serbs must apologize not only for the massacre in Srebrenica but for committing atrocities throughout Bosnia. Only then, I repeat only then will it be possible to start anew.

This is dedicated to the people of Srebrenica who were brutally massacred by Bosnian Serb forces. May their souls rest in peace because they will never be forgotten!



Recommended reading:

-Endgame: The Betrayal and Fall of Srebrenica, Europe's Worst Massacre Since World War II by David Rohde.

- Srebrenica : Record of a War Crime by Jan Willem Honig and Norbert Both.

- Slaughterhouse: Bosnia and the Failure of the West by David Rieff.

- Love Thy Neighbor : A Story of War by Peter Maass.

See the video of the abominable execution of the young men here:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4605223.stm

Friday, July 08, 2005

Proving Genocide in Bosnia


This is a rebuttal of Diana Johnstone's book Fools' Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO and Western Delusions.

Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it!

Introduction

The purpose of this paper is to offer a rebuttal of Johnstone’s book Fools’ Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO and Western Delusions. Diana Johnstone is a writer who belongs to a group of left intellectuals commonly known as revisionists. Characteristic of this type of historical revisionism is a tendency to blame the U.S. government for the break-up of Yugoslavia. According to these revisionists, the U.S. hegemony and imperialism pose a grave threat to international peace and security. In their continual efforts to depict the U.S. as the main culprit for the breakup of Yugoslavia, revisionists like Diana Johnstone, Edward Herman and Michael Parenti are prepared to seriously downplay the Serb atrocities and what is worse even to deny that genocide of Bosnian Muslims took place. Johnstone even asserts that the U.S. and Germany bear the main responsibility for the break-up of Yugoslavia. While there is little doubt that the U.S. foreign policy is extremely flawed and discriminatory, there is no evidence to corroborate this claim. It was the actions of Milosevic and his regime that caused the collapse of the country. Admittedly, the actions of the late Croatian president Franjo Tudjman and his regime also played a pivotal role in the breakup of Yugoslavia. After all, there is ample evidence that the two former leaders made a tacit agreement to divide Bosnia between themselves (for corroboration, see for example Yugoslavia Death of a Nation by Laura Silber and Allan Little).



Johnstone’s Version of the War in Bosnia

Johnstone postulates that there is no evidence of genocide in Bosnia. She prefers the term “collective guilt”, arguing that all warring parties share equal responsibility for the bloodshed in Bosnia. According to Johnstone, it was the Croat nationalism and Islamic fundamentalism that led to the disintegration of Yugoslavia. Johnstone holds that Germany deliberately fueled Croatian nationalism. By supporting Croatian nationalism, Germany sought to induce dissolution of Yugoslavia. To reassert its military might in Europe, Germany would intervene against Serbia following the collapse of Yugoslavia, writes Johnstone. Germany has always considered Serbia an enemy; this hatred for the Serbs dates back to the World War II.

Another key international player in the breakup of Yugoslavia is the U.S. Elaborating, Johnstone argues that the U.S. wanted to destroy the last communist state in Europe. The unconditional U.S. support for Muslims before and during the war had one major purpose: to boost the Islamic fundamentalism. Also, the U.S. alliance with Turkey and other Islamic countries forced the U.S. to aid Bosnian Muslims. Consequently, the destruction of Yugoslavia was the main objective of the U.S. government. According to Johnstone, the U.S. imperialism and Germany’s quest for European domination played a crucial role in the breakup of Yugoslavia. The Serbs were the victims of this joint U.S./German conspiracy to destroy Yugoslavia.

Johnstone describes Milosevic as a “multiculturalist” who advocated unity and denounced nationalism. Johnstone even makes a comparison between Milosevic and Clinton only to subsequently refer to Clinton as a liar. The former president of Bosnia, the late Alija Izetbegovic, is labeled an Islamic fundamentalist whose primary objective had been to create an Islamic state in Bosnia. Franjo Tudjman is depicted as a Nazi. Johnstone further suggests that there is no compelling proof that Milosevic was the mastermind behind the wars in Bosnia and Kosovo. None the less, at one point, she admits knowing that Milosevic and Tudjman secretly agreed to partition Bosnia into a Croatian and a Serbian part. Paradoxically, she later writes that she sees nothing wrong with this secret agreement, simply divide Bosnia between Croats and Serbs because after all, who cares about Bosnian Muslims. Despite being familiar with this agreement, Johnstone maintains that the Serbs fought to preserve Yugoslavia. How can one fight to preserve something if one wants to divide it in two?

After accounting for the causes of the Yugoslav dissolution, Johnstone goes on to examine the atrocities in Bosnia and Kosovo. According to Johnstone, there is no incriminating evidence that the Serbs were responsible for the abhorrent massacres that took place in Sarajevo. Speculating, she implicitly suggests that the Muslims were targeting their own people to induce NATO intervention against the Serbs. As regards the gruesome massacre in Srebrenica, Johnstone denies that there was any massacre. The notorious prison camps in Omarska, Keraterm and Trnopolje never actually existed. All the images of tortured prisoners surrounded by a wire were manipulated as a part of an anti-Serbian propaganda campaign. When it comes to the atrocities committed by the Serbs, there is simply never sufficient evidence. The same pattern can be found throughout the book. While Johnstone somehow always finds overwhelming evidence of the Muslim and Croat war crimes, the opposite is never true of the war crimes perpetrated by the Bosnian Serbs. According to Johnstone, the West deliberately fabricated the Serb atrocities in Bosnia and Kosovo in order to dehumanize Serbs. This is in fact Johnstone’s central thesis, i.e. the Serbs were the victims.


What really happened?

In the following I will test Johnstone’s claims against the existing evidence. Findings by respectable fact-finding organizations such as the Human Rights Watch and the Amnesty International will be analyzed.

The evidence that the war in Bosnia was genocide is abundant and incontrovertible. In perhaps one of the most authoritative and meticulously researched accounts of the breakup of Yugoslavia, Yugoslavia Death of a Nation (1997), Laura Silber and Allan Little argue that the Serbs and Croats secretly agreed to divide Bosnia between themselves. Moreover, Silber and Little provide compelling evidence that the war in Bosnia was a Serbian aggression. When the war in Bosnia began in 1992, the Serbs from Serbia proper began shelling Zvornik. In point of fact, according to José Maria Mendiluce, a senior official of the UNHCR who himself witnessed the Serbian assault on Zvornik: “there was a big artillery bombardment coming from the Serbian side of the Drina. I even saw smoke coming from the cannons on the Serbian side” (as adopted from Silber and Little p. 223). Among those who participated in the attack on Zvornik and Bijeljina was a notorious war criminal Zeljko Raznjatovic also known as Arkan and his ”Tigers”. Arkan and his paramilitary forces killed and expelled Bosnian Muslims in Zvornik and Bijeljina. This systematic annihilation of a people based on their ethnicity and religion is frequently referred to as “ethnic cleansing”. Even Vojislav Seselj, an ultra-nationalist from Belgrade, acknowledged that the attack on Zvornik had been planned in Serbia (Silber and Little: p. 223). Silber and Little further point out that the JNA, the federal Yugoslav army, fought on the Bosnian Serb side.

Cherif Bassiouni, Professor of Law at De Paul University, conducted a thorough investigation of human rights abuses in Bosnia, the results of which were later submitted to the U.N. Security Council (the title of the report: Final Report of the Commission of Experts Established Pursuant to Security Council Resolution 780 from 1992). It is frequently asserted that this highly meticulous and exhaustive study offers the definitive account of the war crimes perpetrated in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Bassiouni’s commission of experts found that all parties in the war committed gross violations of human rights. None the less, the study also emphasized that the Serbs committed the overwhelming majority of the war crimes in Bosnia. Most importantly, the commission concluded that the crimes perpetrated by the Serbs were part of a greater Serbian ideology, namely the creation of a “Greater Serbia”. Here is what the report said: “with respect to the practices by Serbs in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia, “ethnic cleansing” is commonly used as a term to describe a policy conducted in furtherance of political doctrines relating to “Greater Serbia” (p. 33). Thus, achieving hegemony was the primary objective of the Serbs. The report further disclosed that Zeljko Raznjatovic’s and Vojislav Seselj’s paramilitary forces were found responsible for gross human rights abuses in Bosnia. The commission also implicated JNA and Bosnian Serb leaders in allowing and even encouraging the ethnic cleansing of non-Serbs (p.35). Regarding the war crimes committed by the Bosnian Muslims, the report said that: “Bosnian Government forces have also committed the same type of grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions against Serbs and Croats, but not as part of a policy of “ethnic cleansing”. The number of these violations, as reported, is significantly less than the reported violations allegedly committed by the other warring factions” (p. 36 emphasis added). The commission also found that all warring parties had detention camps, Serbs had 237, Muslims 89 and Croats 77 (p. 51). However, the worst atrocities were committed in the detention camps held by the Bosnian Serbs. According to the report: “camps operated by Serbs in Bosnia and Herzegovina are by far the ones where the largest numbers of detainees have been held and where the cruelest and largest number of violations occurred” (p.52). Moreover, the Serb camps were used as an instrument of ethnic cleansing where killing and odious torture of prisoners occurred daily (p.53-54). Subsequently, even though the Muslims committed sporadic atrocities, the Serbs committed systematic and extremely well organized war crimes in order to exterminate the non-Serb population. Proponents of “collective guilt” theory correctly contend that all sides in the Bosnian war committed atrocities. None the less, as this authoritative report makes perfectly clear, only the Serbs were guilty of systematic war crimes. Johnstone and other revisionists fail to take into account this crucial aspect. The reader will recall that Johnstone’s central thesis was that all warring parties in the Bosnian “civil war” were equally guilty. In light of the results of Bassiouni’s extremely well documented report, how can anyone even begin to talk about “collective guilt”?

However, Johnstone does not stop here, she also implies that the Muslims and Croats committed more war crimes than the Serbs. While there is always insufficient evidence of the Serb atrocities, there is always unequivocal proof of the Muslim and Croat atrocities. All fact-finding organizations that identified Serbs as the main culprits were either anti-Serbian or pro-Muslim, asserts Johnstone. It is never explained to the reader what these organizations could possibly gain from being biased towards the Bosnian Muslims. Contrary to what Johnstone wants us to believe, had the Western powers truly sided with the Muslims then they would have intervened immediately and not waited for three years. Even if it was true that the U.S. was secretly providing Bosnian Muslims with arms, the Serbs would still have been militarily superior. Bosnian Muslims lacked sophisticated weaponry such as tanks and heavy artillery. That Russia and Greece not only provided the Serbs with arms but also with their full diplomatic support does not seem to bother Johnstone at all. The U.S. transgressions, irrespective of the context in which they occur, are always considered much more morally reprehensible than the identical violations of international law perpetrated by Russia, Greece or any other country for that matter. Noteworthy is the fact that Russia and Greece were aiding the already heavily armed aggressor. Supposedly, the U.S. sided with the Muslims in order to further the Islamic fundamentalism in Bosnia. This particular point is so absurd given the long history of secularism in Bosnia. For Bosnian Muslims, religion has always played a rather insignificant role in social life. In one of the most authoritative accounts of Bosnian history in the English language, Bosnia a Short History, Noel Malcolm writes: “talk of a fundamentalist threat in Bosnia was in any case particularly inappropriate, because the Bosnian Muslims were by now among the most secularized Muslim populations in the world” (p. 221). Elaborating, Malcolm points out that there were many mixed marriages (approximately 30%) in Bosnia, adding further support to the fact that religion was only of minor importance to Bosnian Muslims (p. 222). According to Malcolm: “for many rural Muslims and the vast majority of urban ones, being a Muslim was reduced to a set of cultural traditions: Muslim names, circumcision, baklava, and the celebration of Ramazan Bajram…”(p. 222). Second, perhaps even more important, Johnstone fails to explain what motive the U.S. could possibly have had to boost the Islamic fundamentalism in Bosnia. Preposterous and completely unfounded, Johnstone’s principal thesis is readily disproved.

In stark contrast to Johnstone’s assertions, Thomas Cushman and Stjepan Mestrovic offer in This Time We Knew: Western Responses to Genocide in Bosnia (1996) a completely different picture of the war in Bosnia. Analyzing the findings by the CIA, the UN, the U.S. State Department, Helsinki Watch and the Red Cross, Mestrovic and Cushman demonstrate without a doubt that genocide took place in Bosnia. Elaborating, Cushman and Mestrovic write: “genocide has occurred in Bosnia-Herzegovina and it has been perpetuated by the Belgrade regime and its proxies” (p.16). They then add that all sides in the conflict committed atrocities but only the Serb side committed systematic war crimes the goal of which was to cleanse Bosnia of non-Serbs. In Bosnia a Short History (1996), referring to the war in Bosnia, Noel Malcolm writes that “this was predominantly an invasion of Bosnia planned and directed from Serbian soil” (p. 238). According to some estimates, there were approximately 94,000 Serbian soldiers in Bosnia fighting for the Bosnian Serbs. Furthermore, in addition to having received manpower from Serbia, the Bosnian Serbs also received sophisticated weaponry (Malcolm: p.239).

Michael Sells, Professor of Religion at Haverford College, maintains that even though no warring side in the Bosnian war was completely innocent, the Bosnian Muslims irrefutably suffered the most (p. 13-14). According to Sells: “the organized persecution in Bosnia from 1992 to 1995 was an effort to destroy both Bosnian Muslim culture and Bosnian multireligious culture and to destroy the Bosnian Muslims as a people” (p. 24-25). A mere fact that every single mosque (approximately 600) in the Serb controlled territory was destroyed divulges an attempt to systematically eradicate every trace of the Islamic heritage in Bosnia (Sells: p.3). Similarly, the destruction of the National Library (Vijecnica) in Sarajevo which contained a great amount of ancient Islamic and Jewish literature speaks of the immense Serb hatred for Islam (p. 1-2). Analyzing the root causes of the Serb hatred for Islam, Sells concludes that it was the Serb mythology and propaganda that facilitated the genocide of Bosnian Muslims. An event that played an important role in the rise of the Serbian nationalism was the infamous battle between the Serbs and the Ottomans in Kosovo in 1389. Prince Lazar was killed in this battle and the Muslims have since been considered Christ killers (p.31). Sells further scrutinizes Serb literature demonstrating its enormous hatred of Islam. Containing numerous elements of vicious anti-Islamic propaganda, the Serb literature has had a tremendous importance in fostering the Serb nationalism and islamophobia. Vuk Draskovic's Knife and Njegos’s The Mountain Wrath are the books that perhaps best exemplify this islamophobia.

One important aspect of the Bosnian war was that the Serbs were militarily superior to the Muslims. Malcolm points out that “although the UN itself recognized Bosnia and admitted it as a member-state distinct and separate from Yugoslavia on 22 May 1992, it continued to apply the embargo as if nothing had changed. Of course it continued to apply it to Serbia too; but Serbia held most of the stockpiles of the former federal army, and had a large armaments industry of its own” (p.243). With no heavy weaponry, the Bosnian Muslims remained virtually defenseless throughout the war. Commenting on the arms embargo, Sells claims that its imposition infringed the right of Bosnian Muslims to self-defence because it was in violation of Article 51 of the UN Charter (p.25). Elaborating, Sells writes: “the advantage of the Serb army in heavy weapons over the Bosnians was estimated in anywhere from 20-1 to 100-1” (p.116-117). Thus, the arms embargo severely impaired the ability of the Bosnian Muslims to offer solid resistance. If what Johnstone claims is true, i.e. that the U.S. was supporting the Muslims in the war, why did not the U.S. unilaterally rescind the arms embargo? Johnstone is well aware of the fact that the U.S. had intervened unilaterally on numerous previous occasions, what stopped them this time?


Serb atrocities in Bosnia

The reader will recall that Johnstone claims that there is no evidence that the Serbs committed atrocities in Bosnia. According to Johnstone, there were no detention camps in Omarska and Trnopolje, the Serbs were not responsible for the market square massacre in Sarajevo, there was no massacre in Srebrenica and the Serbs did not conduct ethnic cleansing in Bosnia. Devoting many pages to the massacre in Srebrenica, Johnstone denies that there is compelling proof that it occurred. As regards the notorious detention camps in Omarska and Trnopolje, the images of malnourished men inside a barbed wire were manipulated and fabricated. Johnstone asserts that this “dehumanization” of Serbs was a deliberate Western strategy, the goal of which was to put pressure on NATO to intervene in Bosnia on behalf of the Bosnian Muslims. Let us now analyze whether or not Johnstone’s thesis will be able to withstand close scrutiny. Needless to say, all sides in the Bosnian war committed war crimes. However, did all sides commit systematic atrocities with an explicit aim to annihilate the members of the other ethnic group? No. On this point, evidence is abundant and extremely well documented.

Ed Vulliamy and Penny Marshall were among the first journalists to document the abhorrent atrocities at Omarska and Trnopolje, two of the most notorious detention camps in Bosnia. In addition to collecting countless witness testimonies, Vulliamy managed to obtain visual evidence from Omarska, showing extremely malnourished men. According to BBC news, there were approximately 6000 Croat and Muslim detainees in Omarska. Describing the conditions of the prisoners, BBC news reported: “at Omarska- and smaller camps at Keraterm and Trnopolje, also in northern Bosnia- new arrivals were reportedly beaten with batons and rifle butts, and crammed into stiflingly hot rooms with no beds and meagre sanitary facilities. They were fed a starvation diet”. According to Peter Maass, the conditions in Omarska were appalling; the prisoners were frequently tortured, maltreated and underfed. When Maass and his crew visited Omarska they saw terrified prisoners who when asked how they had been treated refused to respond. With guards overseeing all interviews, the prisoners knew that they could not tell the journalists what was really happening in the detention camp. Telling the truth would have them killed. Maass writes that mass killings occurred every day in Omarska with the guards using every instrument available to torture the prisoners. Comparing Omarska to Nazi camps, Maass asserts that “the Serbs, however, wanted to interrogate their Bosnian prisoners, have sadistic fun by torturing them in the cruelest of ways and then kill them with whatever implement was most convenient, perhaps a gun, perhaps a knife or scissors, perhaps a pair of strong hands wrapped around an emaciated neck. If the Germans had used the same approach, they would have needed decades to kill 6 million Jews” (p. 45). Maass interviewed many survivors from Omarska and Trnopolje who had fled to Croatia. The survivors spoke of unspeakable cruelty and unfathomable suffering. Not only were the prisoners severely beaten, they were also sexually abused. In one horrific case, a prisoner was forced to bite off other prisoners’ testicles. In yet another case of gruesome barbarity, the guards put a wire around one prisoner’s testicles and then attached the wire to a motorcycle and the rest you can figure out I guess. The prisoners were frequently ordered to fight each other and if they refused, they would be beaten by the guards. Moreover, local Serb residents sometimes came to Omarska to torture the detainees (Maass: p. 50-53).

According to Silber and Little (1997): “in a systematic campaign, Serb paramilitary hit-squads swept through northern and eastern Bosnia in the spring and summer months and, municipality by municipality, seized control of the region without, in most places, encountering real military opposition” (p. 244). Not only was this campaign systematic, it also targeted the Muslim elite. Silber and Little further point out that: “a common characteristic of the cleansing operation was this systematic elimination of community leaders- prominent people, intellectuals, members of the SDA, the wealthy” (p. 244-245). That the Serbs conducted ethnic cleansing in Bosnia is evident from the fact that approximately 95% of the Muslims were expelled from Zvornik, Visegrad and Foca (Malcolm p. 237). Noel Malcolm further writes that the primary objective of the Serbs was to annihilate the Muslim intellectuals and those within the Muslim community who held prominent and respectable jobs (p. 245).

In its report on Bosnia-Herzegovina, Gross Abuses of Basic Human Rights, Amnesty International notes the complicity of Serbia in the Bosnian war. According to this report: “the government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the Government of Croatia have a heavy responsibility for abuses to the extent that they have supported politically and materially the various forces within Bosnia-Herzegovina”. Reporting on the war crimes in Bosnia, Human Rights Watch (henceforth HRW) reached the following conclusion: “the overwhelming majority continued to be perpetrated by Bosnian Serbs”. One of the most appalling attacks on civilians took place in Sarajevo on February 5, 1994. HRW writes that 63 people were killed in this attack by Bosnian Serbs. In another gruesome mortar attack, Bosnian Serbs killed 71 civilians in Tuzla, writes HRW. Ethnic cleansing of Muslims from Banja Luka by the notorious war criminal Zeljko Raznjatovic, also known as Arkan, constituted a gross human rights violation. After arriving in the town, Arkan and his forces began expelling non-Serbs. According to estimates by HRW, about 5000 non-Serbs were ethnically cleansed from the area. Other areas from which many Muslims had been expelled were Krajina and Bijeljina. Approximately 10,600 Muslims and Croats were forced to leave their homes.

A 1994 human rights report on Bosnia by the U.S. Department of State gives an exhaustive account of the human rights violations perpetrated in Bosnia. While acknowledging that all sides committed war crimes in Bosnia, the report makes clear that only Bosnian Serbs engaged in the process of ethnic cleansing. The document further reveals that Serbia provided the Bosnian Serbs with extensive military aid. According to the document: “supported by the Serbian authorities in Belgrade, the BSA (Bosnian Serb armed militia) began a brutal campaign of terror- in which acts of genocide took place- to establish an ethnically pure state linking Serb-occupied territory in Croatia with Serbia/Montenegro to form “greater Serbia". Here is what the same report said of Bosnian Muslims: “the Bosnian Government is Muslim-dominated but continues to support a multiethnic society, and elected officials are drawn proportionally from all national groups”. The report further corroborates findings by the HRW that a significant number of Muslims were expelled from Banja Luka and Bijeljina. Several thousand Muslim civilians were killed in the Serb attacks on Sarajevo, Srebrenica, Gorazde and Zepa. According to this report, in order for the Serbs to inflict as much damage as possible, they targeted heavily crowded places such as hospitals etc. Another important strategy of the Bosnian Serbs was to deny the U.N. food convoys entry to Srebrenica, Gorazde, Zepa and Sarajevo. Bosnian Serbs knew that shortage of food, water and medical supplies would inevitably result in malnourishment, starvation, diseases and despair.

After three years of the Serb occupation and intensive bombardment, Srebrenica fell on 11 July, 1995. What followed constituted the most serious human rights violation in Europe since World War II. Ratko Mladic who is now being sought for war crimes and his forces entered Srebrenica and immediately began separating men from women. While women and children were taken to Tuzla, men were taken to various locations to be executed. Approximately 7,000 Muslim men were killed in this gruesome massacre. Here is what one report by the U.S. Department of State said:” the Bosnian Serb occupation of the U.N. “safe area” of Srebrenica in July resulted in one of the worst single reported incidents of genocidal mass killing of members of an ethnic or religious group in Europe since World War II”. Elaborating, the report further pointed out that:” the systematic way in which prisoners were moved to execution sites and the presence of trailers and bulldozers (to transport corpses and to dig mass graves) indicate that the mass killings were planned well in advance. More than 7,000 remain unaccounted for and presumed dead”. According to the same document, there are countless reliable eyewitness accounts of random killings of civilians in Srebrenica. Dutch soldiers themselves witnessed the atrocities; they saw dead bodies by the road, says the report.

HRW writes in its 1996 report: “following the fall of Srebrenica, Bosnian Serb forces summarily executed hundreds, possibly thousands of men and boys at various mass execution sites near the Srebrenica area and during their flight from Bosnian-Serb-held territory to Bosnian-government-controlled areas. Women, children and elderly persons deported from the area were also terrorized, and thousands of persons remained disappeared”. There is evidence that the massacre in Srebrenica was a direct order of Karadzic and Mladic. According to testimonies by two Bosnian Serbs at the War Tribunal in The Hague (Miroslav Deronjic and a Lieutenant Colonel Dragan Obrenovic), Karadzic and Mladic ordered the Srebrenica massacre. The most compelling proof, however, comes from an official Bosnian Serb investigation into the Srebrenica massacre. The results of the investigations are staggering to say the least. Bosnian Serbs admitted for the very first time that they were responsible for the Srebrenica massacre. This admission shocked the world. Furthermore, the commission also found that 6,447 people remain unaccounted for, only 1,332 have been identified. The commission also incriminated senior Bosnian Serb officials in the Srebrenica massacre.

Dutch Institute for War Reporting conducted by far the most meticulous investigation into the Srebrenica massacre. The results of this comprehensive study demonstrate without a doubt that the Bosnian Serbs committed enormities in Srebrenica, killing approximately 7,500 Muslim men. According to this report:” the majority of the missing men were killed during the mass executions”. Furthermore, the report also found that:” the executions began on 13 July. In the ensuing days, prisoners were transported to the execution sites to the north, where most executions took place between 14 and 17 of July”. While Johnstone claims that there is no compelling proof that Bosnian Serbs perpetrated egregious atrocities in Srebrenica, this authoritative report concludes that: “there is absolutely no doubt that the mass murder was committed by Bosnian Serb military units”. It should be added that this study is considered the definitive account of the massacre in Srebrenica. Thus, Johnstone is deliberately ignoring the results of this exhaustive report since they easily refute her assertion, i.e. that there was no massacre in Srebrenica. This refusal to include the results of this study in her book reveals that Johnstone is highly selective with her sources. Johnstone further ignores the fact that many Dutch U.N. soldiers who were stationed in Srebrenica themselves witnessed heinous war crimes. Many of them later developed severe psychological problems as a result of these traumatic events. This does not constitute sufficient proof for Johnstone nor does the fact that the Bosnian Serbs dressed in the U.N. uniforms in order to trick the Muslims hiding in the forest to surrender. Under the impression that they were turning themselves over to the U.N. soldiers these men were easily captured by the Bosnian Serb army. There is even visual evidence of the Bosnian Serb soldiers wearing blue U.N. helmets when urging the Muslims to come out of their hideouts. To Johnstone, this is not incriminating evidence; it is probably the West manipulating the evidence in order to dehumanize the Serbs. In addition, Johnstone displays a flagrant disregard and sheer indifference for thousands of corroborated witness testimonies by the survivors of the Srebrenica massacre. Why does Johnstone ignore these witness accounts? This is an interesting question. You cannot simply ignore so many verified testimonies. Could it be that Johnstone dismisses them because she perceives Bosnian Muslims as unreliable witnesses? Given Johnstone’s completely unfounded and preposterous view of Bosnian Muslims as fundamentalists, it seems logical to assume that this highly prejudiced opinion of Bosnian Muslims grossly biased her thesis. Bosnian Muslims have always been tolerant and secular. This is evident from the fact that almost every single church remained intact in the area controlled by the Bosnian Muslims. Furthermore, there are many Serbs who hold key positions in the territory mainly populated by the Bosnian Muslims. Conversely, the fact that almost every single mosque was destroyed in Republika Srpska speaks for itself. If Muslims are fundamentalists, as Johnstone so strongly suggests, should not the situation described above be reversed? Why is not her assertion supported by the facts on the ground? Why does not Johnstone consult the most authoritative work on the history of Bosnia, Bosnia a Short History, by Noel Malcolm when describing Bosnian Muslims? In this book, the Bosnian Muslims are described as the most secularized Muslims in the world. Malcolm strongly rejects the idea that the Bosnian Muslims are fundamentalists. Johnstone is either completely oblivious to the long history of secularism among the Muslims in Bosnia or she knowingly refuses to include this fact in her book.

British journalist David Rohde, the recipient of the Pulitzer Prize and the author of The Endgame, visited the region of Srebrenica and was able to obtain significant proof of mass graves. According to David Rohde: “large empty ammunition boxes littered the fields where the ground had been dug recently. Diplomas and other personal effects of Srebrenica Muslims were scattered near the areas of disturbed earth. When I reached the site this week, three areas of fresh digging were clearly visible. On the edge of the smallest of the three alleged mass graves, what appeared to be a human femur and tibia jutted from the earth”.

Despite this irrefutable evidence and the Bosnian Serb admission, Johnstone claims that Srebrenica massacre never occurred. Not even the fact that the Bosnian Serbs officially apologized for the Srebrenica massacre constitutes compelling proof for Johnstone. Numerous corroborated testimonies do not suffice either. One would hope that a testimony by Colonel Obrenovic would prove sufficient given that he himself participated in the attack on Srebrenica. That the Srebrenica massacre was considered an act of genocide by the War Tribunal in The Hague makes no difference either. What does it take for some people to admit the truth?



Conclusion


The present author hopes that he has been able to demonstrate that genocide occurred in Bosnia. As shown here, there is overwhelming evidence that Serbia was actively aiding Bosnian Serbs during the war in Bosnia. Bosnian Serbs received enormous military and financial aid from Serbia. The involvement of the JNA in Bosnia strongly indicates that the war in Bosnia had been planned in Serbia. In light of the facts presented in this paper, there is no evidence to substantiate Johnstone’s “collective guilt” theory. In addition, contrary to what Johnstone claims, there is indisputable proof that the Bosnian Serbs committed the majority of atrocities in Bosnia. Srebrenica, Gorazde, Zepa, Maglaj, Sarajevo, Doboj, Banja Luka, Bijeljina and Visegrad all represent places where Bosnian Serbs conducted ethnic cleansing and seriously violated human rights by killing and expelling the non-Serb population. Only in Srebrenica 7,000 Muslims were killed in an abhorrent massacre.

Johnstone’s failure to even take into account these facts seriously undermines her work. By ignoring the sources that do not support her thesis, Johnstone remains highly selective throughout the entire book. Furthermore, Johnstone frequently downplays findings by the Human Rights Watch and the U.S. Department of State because these organizations supposedly were biased towards the Bosnian Muslims. Instead, Johnstone uses dubious and uncorroborated sources to support her thesis. Another technique frequently employed by Johnstone is speculation. This highly efficient strategy enables Johnstone to confuse the reader. Here is how it works: for example, when describing the mortar attack on Sarajevo, Johnstone writes that there is no proof that the Bosnian Serbs fired the shell that killed many civilians. Then she asserts that the shell might actually have been fired by the Muslims. To prompt the NATO intervention, the Muslims would stop at nothing. In this case and numerous others throughout her book Johnstone is deliberately speculative. Inadvertently, the reader will begin to question whether or not the Serbs actually committed these atrocities. Now, we know that Bosnian Serbs had been shelling Sarajevo and many other cities for that matter for three years killing many people. Why would there be controversy this time about who was responsible for the attack? Why, given the Serb admission, should Johnstone question whether or not the massacre in Srebrenica occurred? The most tragic part of it all is that Johnstone completely ignores countless corroborated testimonies by the survivors of the Srebrenica massacre.

Some of Johnstone’s assertions are so bizarre and unfounded that there is no point in addressing them. Consider only two examples. Johnstone’s theory that Germany wanted to destroy Serbia in order to demonstrate its military supremacy in Europe is so preposterous that it warrants no serious comment. Also, Johnstone’s claim that the U.S. sought to boost the Islamic fundamentalism in Bosnia needs no further consideration. Her description of Milosevic as a “multiculturalist” is very alarming and at best extremely naïve. Similarly, Johnstone’s view of Karadzic and Mladic is deeply disturbing given that both have been charged with genocide by the War Tribunal in The Hague.

So many factual errors and absurd postulations lead me to conclude that this book is not even about the war in Bosnia. It is about the U.S. imperialism. The left revisionists such as Diana Johnstone have always considered the U.S. hegemony the greatest threat to world peace. Johnstone cannot possibly imagine a situation warranting a military intervention especially when the U.S. is involved. Admittedly, the U.S. foreign policy is primarily driven by imperialistic motives. Nevertheless, not all U.S. actions fall under this category. It is imperative that we judge each U.S. intervention individually. While it is justifiable and warranted to condemn the U.S. transgressions, it is sad and insulting to the victims to refuse to tell the truth. The least that the people of Bosnia deserve is that we always tell the truth. For three years, Western diplomats had been trying to negotiate an end to the Bosnian carnage and to stop the Serb atrocities in Bosnia but to no avail. The Serbs had been warned many times to immediately refrain from targeting Sarajevo, Gorazde, Zepa and Srebrenica but they simply ignored the warnings. Once someone crosses the line we are obliged to intervene. It is our moral obligation to put an end to someone’s suffering or at least to allow the victim to defend himself. What many left intellectuals fail to understand is that diplomacy does not always work. Sometimes, one has to resort to violence in order to resolve a conflict; Bosnia was a case in point. Johnstone makes no mention in her book of the fact that the NATO had warned the Bosnian Serbs many times that unless they ceased their attack on Srebrenica, they would face air strikes. Bosnian Serbs continued with their advancement towards Srebrenica in a flagrant defiance of the NATO’s warnings. When they finally entered the town, they slaughtered approximately 7,000 people. If the NATO had intervened before the Serbs overrun the town these people would have been saved. One cannot but wonder would Johnstone have opposed the NATO intervention had she herself been trapped in Srebrenica for three years while under constant bombardment, with no food, clean water, electricity and medical supplies.



List of References



Books:

- Cushman Thomas & Mestrovic G. Stjepan. (1996). This Time We Knew: Western Responses to Genocide in Bosnia. New York University Press.

- Johnstone Diana. (2002). Fools’ Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO and Western Delusions. Monthly Review Press.

- Little Allan & Silber Laura (1997). Yugoslavia: Death of a Nation. (2nd edition).

- Maass Peter. Love thy Neighbor A Story of War. (1996). First Vintage Books Edition.

- Noel Malcolm. Bosnia a Short History. (1996). New York University Press.

- Sells Michael. The Bridge Betrayed Religion and Genocide in Bosnia. (1998). University of California Press.


Internet Sources:


http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/1634250.stm

http://www.amnestyusa.org/countries/bosnia_herzegovina/document.do?id=90741F5D96AEDC12802569A600602B93

http://www.hrw.org/reports/1995/WR95/HELSINKI-03.htm

http://dosfan.lib.uic.edu/ERC/democracy/1993_hrp_report/93hrp_report_eur/Bosnia-Herzegovina.html

http://dosfan.lib.uic.edu/ERC/democracy/1995_hrp_report/95hrp_report_eur/Bosnia-Herzegovina.html

http://www.hrw.org/reports/1996/WR96/Helsinki-04.htm

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/3228458.stm

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/3799937.stm

http://www.guardian.co.uk/yugo/article/0,2763,474612,00.html

http://www.law.depaul.edu/institutes_centers/ihrli/_downloads/Secretary_General_letter.pdf

http://213.222.3.5/srebrenica/

Devil's Nest


Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it!

Devil’s Nest


The people of Serbia know what happened in Bosnia and Kosovo. They know that genocide occurred and that the Muslims of Bosnia and Kosovo were the primary victims. Why then do they refuse to extradite Karadzic and Mladic? Why are they refusing to admit the truth about the gruesome massacre in Srebrenica? Is the whole world conspiring against the Serbian people and more important is there a covert Western campaign to dehumanize the Serbian people? The present author will attempt to explain why Serbia keeps providing shelter for notorious war criminals, such as Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic.

Even though he has been accused of committing egregious atrocities in Bosnia, Mladic is still hiding in Serbia under the protection of the Serbian authorities. Considered a national hero in Serbia, Mladic commands great respect and admiration. How does one explain the non-compliance of the Serbian authorities to accommodate the international community?

According to some estimates, more than 50% of the Serbian population still believes that there was no massacre in Srebrenica. The figure is probably much higher among the Bosnian Serb population. I recently watched a debate on Serbian TV about Mladic’s role in the Srebrenica massacre. The central question of the debate was whether or not the massacre in Srebrenica had actually taken place. One participant remarked that there had been no massacre in Srebrenica and that Mladic has always been a Serbian hero. When asked why she believed in Mladic’s innocence and why she held him in such high regard, she replied that Mladic had been killing “bloody Turks” in Srebrenica. She seemed completely oblivious to the fact that more than six hundred years have passed since the Turkish presence in the Balkans. In order to understand the root causes of the Serbian nationalism we will have to return to year 1389. It was in this year that the infamous battle between the Turks and the Serbs took place in Kosovo, the outcome of which had come to play a pivotal role in the rise of the Serbian nationalism. Considered God by many Serbs, Prince Lazar’s death probably still constitutes the most significant event in the Serbian history. Islam has ever since been viewed as Serbia’s primary enemy in spite of the fact that more than six centuries have passed since Lazar’s death.

This enormous hatred of the Turks was easily transferred onto the Muslims of Bosnia and Kosovo, even though their only common denominator was Islam. In point of fact, many Serbs still make no distinction between the Turks and the Bosnian Muslims. In contemporary Serbian literature, Muslims are frequently portrayed as backward, uncivilized and belligerent savages, for corroboration see for example books by Vuk Draskovic and Njegos. Paradoxically, despite their grossly distorted let alone parochial views of Islam, Draskovic and Njegos have many readers in Serbia. What better way to mislead the public than to have “experts” like the notorious Serbian ultra-nationalist Draskovic spread vicious anti-Islamic propaganda? Once these so called experts had managed to create a sense of “victimization” in the Serbian people, justifying a war to defend the Serbian people from the “Islamic threat” and the “Albanian nationalism” was easy. Of course, there were no such threats, if anything, the situation was reversed. The Albanians in Kosovo had been suffering from Serbian repression for years. The Muslims of Bosnia were and still are the most secularized Muslims in the world so all talk of the Islamic fundamentalism in Bosnia has always been nonsensical and completely groundless. For a thorough analysis of Islam in Bosnia see Noel Malcolm’s Bosnia a Short History. Thus, it is clear that the Serbian nationalism has always been fuelled by myths (see Michael Sells’s brilliantly researched The Bridge Betrayed for a comprehensive analysis of the root causes of the Serbian nationalism).

The principal reason Serbia refuses to turn Ratko Mladic over to the War Tribunal in The Hague is the ancient Serbian dream of a “Greater Serbia”. Many Serbs believe that Mladic was fighting for a creation of the “Greater Serbia” and for that reason they tend to deny or at best downplay his atrocities. I think that this also explains the Serbian unwillingness to admit the truth about the Srebrenica massacre. Acknowledging the truth about Mladic’s role in Srebrenica massacre would have severe repercussions for Serbia. First, the Serbian people would finally realize that their government had been deceiving them all the time about the war in Bosnia and Kosovo. More important, they would learn that the Serbs were not the victims as their government had been telling them from the very beginning of the war in Bosnia.


This paper is dedicated to my grandfather Alija Salihovic who was killed in the gruesome massacre in Srebrenica. May his soul rest in peace and may the people of Bosnia never forget the egregious atrocities perpetrated by the Serbian aggressor.