Srebrenica 14 years later: still no justice

The remains of 534 identified victims of the July 11, 1995 Srebrenica massacre were buried in a ceremony attended by tens of thousands of relatives and survivors at the Potocari Memorial Park outside the town in eastern Bosnia on the 14th anniversary of Europe’s worst atrocity since World War II. The bodies, which had been unearthed from mass graves, were buried alongside nearly 3,300 others at the memorial site. The victims were aged between 14 and 72 at the time of their deaths. Forensic experts have now identified more than 6,000 of the estimated 8,000 victims of the massacre through DNA analysis. The memorial opened in 2003 as a final resting place for remains uncovered from some 70 mass graves.

Massacre officially commemorated in Europe—but not Bosnia
The massacre was officially commemorated for the first time this year across Europe—but not in ethnically divided Bosnia itself. The European Parliament in January proclaimed July 11 a day of commemoration and urged European countries to support the resolution. The parliaments in both Croatia and Montenegro passed resolutions this week proclaiming the date as a day of remembrance. But there was no such initiative in Serbia. And in Bosnia, ethnic Serb deputies in parliament blocked the resolution.

Speaking to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Bosnia’s grand mufti, Mustafa Ceric, said that Bosnian legislators “missed the historic opportunity to say to their children that they earned their salary.” Ceric added that Bosnia’s Muslims have “lived for 14 years with this defiance and this denial of genocide—which is the most difficult stage of the genocidal processes. Genocide has many stages. So the final stage is denial of the genocide after accusing the victims of genocide that they are responsible for what has been done to them.”

Mladic still at large
The Srebrenica massacre has been termed genocide by both the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic, charged as the main culprit behind the atrocity, is awaiting trial before the ICTY. But his army chief and co-accused, Ratko Mladic, remains at large. Haris Silajdzic, a member of Bosnia’s tripartite presidency, said Bosnia seeks good relations with Serbia, but this won’t be possible until Mladic is brought to justice. (RFE/RL, AlJazeera, July 11)

Serbian President Boris Tadic in his own statement on the anniversary said that Serbia is doing everything in its power to arrest Mladic, but added that no one people have collective guilt, as those who committed crimes “have names.” (Radio Srbija, July 11)

Karadzic immunity claim rejected
Days before the Srebrenica anniversary, the ICTY at The Hague rejected Karadzic’s claim that he should not be prosecuted because of an immunity deal he had supposedly received from former US peace envoy Richard Holbrooke. The ICTY ruled that even if the deal existed, it would have no legal standing. Holbrooke, now the US envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan, has repeatedly denied there was any such deal, calling the claim “laughable” and a “lie.” Karadzic, 64, faces 11 charges including genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. The Tribunal filed a not guilty plea on his behalf after he refused to cooperate, asserting the court lacks jurisdiction. (BBC News, July 8)

Srebrenica survivor arrested
There was also tension around the commemoration this year when a massacre survivor living in Sweden, Midhat Salihovic, returned to attend the funeral of his father and brother (both killed in the massacre)—and was detained July 7 by Bosnian Serb authorities, allegedly on suspicion of war crimes. He was released after protest by rights groups. A joint statement from Women in Black (Belgrade), the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia, the Youth Initiative for Human Rights and other groups called the arrest a “cynical and criminal move.” (B-92, Belgrade, July 7; Balkan Insight, July 6)

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    1. Evidence, please
      “Izetbergovic [sic] created this aleged [sic] masacre [sic]”?

      Evidence please.

      Naser Oric spent three years in jail. Ratko Mladic has never served a day.

  1. Evil propaganda
    In the interests of disclosure, I inform readers that I have deleted a lengthy comment from an anonymous poster purporting to be an excerpt from a new book just published in Belgrade entitled Screams and the Omen by Ljiljana Bulatovic-Medic, alleging the existence of “Bosnian Muslim death camps” at Srebrenica and detailing the supposed suffering of Serbs there in lurid and sensationalist terms. If the anonymous poster cares to repackage these outrageous lies in his or her own words, or at least condense the excerpt down to what will fit on a screen page, I will consider approving it—despite the danger of legitimizing such claptrap by giving it a forum.

  2. Serbian Apologist
    It is truly sad and frustrating to see that there are so many Serb apologists still out there. Unfortunately it is not just the work of individuals but a number of organisations, political groups and even members of the Serbian Orthodox church that advocate the theory of eternally victimised Serbian nation.

    Even Serb media helps out when it comes to down playing Serbian crimes whilst exaggerating crimes committed against Serbs. Radijo Srbija, B92, Kurir, Politika and many more, often deliberately choose not to report on anything relating to Serbian war crimes though the rest of the media world reports on length on them due to the seriousness these issues.

    So it is no wonder that Serb politicians from Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina continue to deny Srebrenica just like they deny the Holocaust in Serbia.

  3. Does anyone have answers?
    If killing (murdering) 8000 is “genocide” then there must have been at least 200 such genocides during WW2 alone. Like at Hiroshima where 60.000 were sent to their deaths instantly and were subsequently to be joined by 140.000 others who had their lives shortened by injuries and radiation effects.

    The killing at Srebrenica occurred during a civil war. Could the “genocide” also be rephrased more credibly by referring to it as a “military operation in which no prisoners were taken”? The key fact is that for its execution genocide requires the killing to have been planned in advance with the purpose of eliminating a racial, ethnic or national group. Since when could such a plan have been in existence bearing in mind that the war in Bosnia raged during 1992-95 and the Srebrenica operation (i.e. wartime killing, execution, massacre and/or genocide) took place only near its very end in July 1995?. And WHO were the genocide target group? Were they war enemies or some other group of people. If they were killed only because they were “Muslims” that would suggest a plan by the Bosnian Serbs to ultimately eliminate the billion and a half Muslim believers throughout the world. If they were more likely killed not as war enemies but as “Bosnian Muslims” then one would surely expect the Serbs to have been somewhat more consistent in their executions throughout Bosnia. For example throughout the war they were allied with the Muslims in the Autonomous Province of Western Bosnia under the leadership of Mr Fikret Abdic, who fought the US supported Izetbegovic forces directed from Sarajevo. This would confine the genocide target group to “Izetbegovic Muslims”. However since the genocide took place solely in Srebrenica (as matters currently stand) then the target group for genocide could only be the “Srebrenica Muslims”. This of course brings up the issue of why ONLY Srebrenica Muslims?

    However some reports qualify the target group as “Bosniacs” who are not entirely equivalent to “Bosnian Muslims” as there are atheists among the Bosniacs. Yet all the bodies at Srebrenica have been buried according to Islamic rites. Some reports have also referred to the victim group as “Bosnians” and Western mainline media has massively promoted the fact that the (US supported) Izetbegovic group was promoting a “multiethnic” and “tolerant” Bosnia where there was a place for Serbs, Croats, Bosniacs and others as Bosnians. So why were all the victims exclusively Muslims? Were there no non-Muslims in Srebrenica to defend against the evil “Karadzic Serbs”? Clearly not! Or maybe after the taking of Srebrenica the Bosnian Serb Army not only divided women and children from their men folk but also filtered out the Serbs, Croats and Bosniac non-believers among the Bosnians before executing them.

    These are some questions I have been asking myself and others for a while and have never managed to get an answer. Maybe someone on this site/blog can answer them?

    1. Genocide
      You don’t seem to understand what it is. I suggest you study the definition. From the UN Convention on Genocide:

      Article II: In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

      (a) Killing members of the group;
      (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
      (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
      (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
      (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

      If you study these words you will find that your points about the failure of the Serb leadership to aspire to kill all of the earth’s 1.5 billion Muslims and the tolerance of the collaborationist Fikret Abdic are utterly irrelevant. You may also wish to consult so readily available a source as Wikipedia to determine that Srebrenica was an overwhelmingly Muslim city. Your distinction between Bosnian Muslims and Bosniaks is similarly irrelevant; there were plenty of atheist Jews who died in Hitler’s death camps.

      Good luck.

      1. Genocide
        Thank you for your response. Only now realised that you have replied to my post. Thank you also for the useful Srebrenica wikipedia article.

        According to the criteria you have posted from the UN Convention on Genocide, item “a) Killing members of a group” is the relevant one. This brings me however back to the main question I posed. If 8,000 at Srebrenica are classed as “genocide” then the 60,000 killed in an instant at Hiroshima easily qualify as well. The principal difference is that at Srebrenica the women and children were spared and as far as one can see from ages of the missing, only men of military age were selected. Morevoer there was direct fighting in and around Srebrenica and both the Izetbegovic Muslims and Karadzic (or Mladic) Serbs were killed. By contrast no women or children were spared at Hiroshima. The entire town literally disappeared.

        Also do we have hard information about any orderly surrender of the Izetbegovic men? You will surely know that in a war one is a legitimate target unless surrender has taken place. There are penty of cases in WW2 of e.g. German soldiers being shot dead by both British and American forces in 1944 and 1945 even when they surrendered but where the extra effort to deal with them would have affected an ongoing military operation. At Srebrenica the issue of orderly surrender has so far not even been mentioned as an issue, which makes me suspicious. Of course in Hiroshima 1945 there was no option for surrender for the Japenese men, women and children whose lives were ended by a US bomb delivered in a meticulously planned manner.

        1. Hiroshima
          I am certainly not arguing that what happened at Hiroshima wasn’t genocide. It was a far greater atrocity even than Srebrenica. Those who split legalistic hairs will point out that the aim wasn’t to reduce the Japanese population, but to make a demonstration of mass murder to intimidate the high command (and Russia). It doesn’t make any difference to the dead.

          The “orderly surrender” argument is utterly irrelevant. It is well established that those killed at Srebrenica had either already surrendered or were never even combatants. They were not battle-field deaths. Learn the facts.

          1. war is itself an atrocity
            Unclear what comparing one slaughter to the other accomplishes. For some reason I feel compelled to mention that 60,000 is very low for the Hiroshima casualties. 140,000 is the number on the always infallible wikipedia.

            There is also the question of whether Curtis LeMay’s “aim wasn’t to reduce the Japanese population”. While Truman at least allegedly felt bad “… all those kids”, LeMay was angry that he couldn’t nuke Kyoto, and later mad that Kennedy wouldn’t let him nuke Eastern Europe and all of Asia.

            1. A Political Agenda
              The comparison Srebrenica v. Hiroshima relates to the use of the word GENOCIDE! The official US position is that Srebrenica = genocide and Hiroshima = legitimate military operation. Since English is a world language and the USA is the world’s sole superpower, official US positions tend to have a considerable effect on people’s brains. To check this I have just carried out a simple exercise via google search that anyone can repeat. These are the results obtained:

              Srebrenica (alone) = 448,000 hits
              “Srebrenica genocide” = 10,700
              “Srebrenica massacre” = 31,400
              “Srebrenica slaughter” = 73

              Hiroshima (alone) = 2,130,000
              “Hiroshima genocide” = 24 (!!!)
              “Hiroshima massacre” = 28 (!)
              “Hiroshima slaughter” = 1

              So Bill’s view above in accepting that Hiroshima is genocide does not exactly enjoy wide support. The above does however perfectly illustrate the degree of brainwashing that OFFICIAL POWER can impart on people. Note also that “slaughter” which has a similar meaning to “massacre” is hardly used at all. Even then it occurs 73x more often in the (lesser) Srebrenica case.

              When such massive discrepancies manifest themselves I am surely right to try locate the cause. In my view one does not have to look too far. The victims here were of a US SUPPORTED side in a civil war in Bosnia and the perpetrators a side AGAINST whom the US was to conduct its first WAR in Europe since May 1945. In other words the chief promoter who adds “genocide” to “Srebrenica” is a WAR PARTICIPANT and can thus hardly claim NEUTRALITY and OBJECTIVITY. In the US, as in other big powers, they know this very well so they establish a whole plethora of “non-governmental”, “free” and “independent” groups whose primary purpose appears to be to sing in the same choir as CNN. It should not come as a surprise that the manifestly anti-Serbian US sentiment is not shared in countries that have not intervened in the Balkans and have not dropped a bomb on anyone as the US (and its allies) have done massively. None of the “facts” relating to Srebrenica have been confirmed or validated by say Russia or China, two of the five Security Council members who have so far not (yet) broken the UN Charter by instigating an aggressive war as the US and its NATO allies have done with respect to Serbia (FR Yugoslavia at the time). The present characterisation of Srebrenica as “genocide”, even when accepting all the facts by such bodies as the Washington-controlled ICTY still cannot show any INTENT to destroy the “Bosnian Muslims” as a group in Bosnia. Especially since the actors were themselves allied with Bosnian Muslim entity, but one that had no US support. That is also one of the main reasons why the Western media was silent about Mr Fikret Abdic who, in free elections, actually obtained more votes among Muslims in Bosnia than the US backed Izetbegovic did. In WW2 terms the event at Srebrenica would be characterised as a “military operation in which no prisoners were taken”. Now that is certainly a war crime, but to claim genocide merely exposes the political agenda behind the claim.

              NB:
              The figure of 60,000 dead at Hiroshima were those killed immediately. For others it was a case of delayed deaths though injuries and radiation. I have seen figures as high as 140,000 for such people (i. e. 200,000 overall killed). However this also includes premature deaths that occured several decades later and are thus not always easily attributable to the A-bomb.

              1. Are you finished yet?
                There are numerous reasons that Hiroshima is not popularly perceived (in the US) as genocide, but rather than counting Google hits, you might want to read what has been written on the question in places like Harvard Human Rights Journal. Failure to call Hiroshima a “massacre” is probably because of broad understanding that destroying an entire city constitutes something far worse than a “massacre.” More to the point, the double standard about Hiroshima has absolutely nothing to say about whether Srebrenica was genocide. A “military operation in which no prisoners were taken” doesn’t even rise to the level of euphemism: it is a simple lie. It has been well established that the 8,000 Srebrenica dead were not killed on the battlefield, and many (perhaps most) of them were not even combatants. They had been disarmed and taken prisoner, and were summarily killed in clear contravention of the laws of war. If it wasn’t an attempt “to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group,” one wonders what it was all about.

                I would ask you again to familiarize yourself with the facts, except it is becoming clearer that you don’t really care about them. I’m sure Carla del Ponte and Patrick Robinson would be interested to know that they are pawns of the US. Meanwhile, you betray your bad faith by putting “Bosnian Muslim” in scare quotes. You might want to think about that before you accuse others of a “political agenda.”

                You are tiresome and I wish you would go away. I can tell you that if you do not confine your odious genocide-apologias to a single screen page, they will definitely not be approved. And even if you do, I think maybe this thread should be closed. Get your own damn blog.