Srebrenica: The Untold Story
By Carl Savich
Introduction: What Really Happened in Srebrenica in 1992-1993?
On Thursday, February 12, 2004, the former UN commander in Bosnia-Hercegovina, French General Philippe Morillon, testified at the Hague trial of Slobodan Milosevic. He was the last major prosecution witness against Milosevic before the prosecution finished its case. He was supposed to provide “the smoking gun” against Milosevic by showing that Milosevic bore responsibility for the fall of Srebrenica on July 11, 1995 and for the alleged massacre of “7,000 Muslim men and boys”. He failed, however, to provide a smoking gun. Instead, Morillon inadvertently revealed what had lead up to the fall of Srebrenica. He stated that “in Srebrenica something terrible could happen” and that he “foresaw Srebrenica”, that “there was going to be terrible tragedy in Srebrenica.” The fall of Srebenica was the result of and a reaction to Bosnian Muslim attacks against Bosnian Serbs in the Srebrenica area. Morillon was the commander of UN troops in Bosnia-Hercegovina from September, 1992 to July, 1993. He was referring to the fall of Srebrenica in 1995 and the alleged executions of Bosnian Muslim troops and irregular forces. In 1993 he had established the “safe haven” of Srebrenica to save it from military defeat after the Bosnian Muslim offensives had failed.
But why did Morillon suspect that “something terrible could happen” in Srebrenica? What happened in Srebrenica before its fall in 1995 that would lead him to this conclusion? This part of the Srebrenica story is suppressed and stringently censored by the US government and media and the historians and the news services. This is the story that is covered-up by the so-called West. What happened in Srebrenica in 1992 and 1993? This is the untold story of Srebrenica.
Why was Morillon concerned for Srebrenica? What happened to warrant his fears and concerns? In the BBC article “UN General ‘foresaw Srebrenica'”, February 12, 2004, it was reported:
He told the tribunal that he feared that attacks by Muslim forces in which Serbian civilians had been targeted, had enraged the Bosnian Serbs and would result in fierce retaliation in the city.
In the February 12, 2004 AP article by Toby Sterling, “French General Says He Warned Milosevic”, Morillon testified that he had talked to Milosevic to intervene “to prevent a massacre” in Sreberenica in 1993. Milosevic pressured the Bosnian Serbs to halt their offensive and to allow the UN to set up a “safe haven” for Srebrenica. Milosevic had influence or power over the Bosnian Serbs until May, 1993.
Why was Morillon imploring Milosevic to intervene in Bosnia? What precipitated the Srebrenica crisis? The AP story alluded to this in the following statement:
Morillon feared that attacks by Muslim forces on Serbian civilians had enraged the Bosnian Serbs and would result in fierce retaliation.
The Western media used the euphemistic terminology of “attacks” to diminish and lessen the impact of Bosnian Muslim crimes against humanity and violations of international law. Bosnian Muslim Government troops had in fact engaged in a planned and systematic policy of murdering Serbian civilians in the Srebrenica pocket, by terrorizing them to leave their villages. By using the sanitized term of “attacks”, the Western media seeks to negate the fact that these Muslim attacks were war crimes and even constitute genocide against Bosnian Serbs. In other words, the terms were carefully and judiciously chosen to cover-up facts and crimes by the Bosnian Muslims. Ironically, this cover-up of Bosnian Muslim war crimes was perpetrated during a so-called war crimes trial.
Why couldn’t the truth be told about Srebrenica? Why did the Western media engage in propagandistic falsifications of the facts and in infowar brainwashing? This is because the media does not want to inform its readers or listeners that the Bosnian Muslim Government committed war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide against the Bosnian Serb population. Why not tell the truth? After all, this is supposed to be the “free world”, the “democratic” world, the New World Order? Why the media brainwashing and propaganda? To tell the truth about Srebrenica would result in an objective and factual account of the events that occurred during the Bosnian civil war of 1992-1995. This would undermine the position of the US/NATO and ultimately the purpose of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). The US/NATO/EU rationale is based on a scenario of good guys and bad guys, a simplistic black and white dichotomy that assigns sole criminal culpability or responsibility on the Serbian people. Culpability is denied to US/NATO proxies/client states. By telling the truth about Srebrenica, this dichotomy would be negated and a complex picture of a civil war would emerge where culpability was shared by all the actors and participants. This is why what happened in Srebrenica remains censored and covered-up.
Civil War in Eastern Bosnia
The civil war in eastern Bosnia erupted in April, 1992, when Bosnian Serbs, Muslims, and Croats began seizing territory. On April 6, the European Community (EC), later the European Union (EU), recognized Bosnia as an independent state. The US followed on the next day. Bosnian Serb forces seized Srebrenica and held it for three weeks. On April 20, 1992 Bosnian Serb militiamen were ambushed by Bosnian Muslim forces near Potocari. Half a dozen of the Bosnian Serbs were killed. This started the killing in the Srebrenica area. The Bosnian Serbs then retaliated. On May 3, Bosnian Serb forces killed thirteen Bosnian Muslims. Four days later, the Bosnian Muslims retaliated, in an attack in which an elderly Serb farmer with poor eyesight “was burned up in his house.” On May 8, one of Naser Oric’s men shot Bosnian Serb political leader Goran Zekic in the head and attempted to throw a grenade in his car as he was driving from Srebrenica to Bratunac, killing him. Zekic was the leader of the Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) as the representative from Srebrenica in the Bosnia-Hercegovina Parliament and had been a judge in Srebrenica. His assassination exacerbated the conflict. The remaining Serbs in Srebrenica fled to Bratunac, while Bosnian Muslims in Bratunac were driven out.
The Bosnian conflict was a classic civil war in which differing and opposing factions seize territory and mutually expel populations of the opposing faction. What happened in Bosnia was not different from any other civil war. The same happened in the ethnic and religious conflict in Cyprus between Greeks and Turks. Each ethnic faction established control of territory driving out the population of the opposing faction. Cyprus was divided into two ethnic zones, a northern Turkish zone and a southern Greek zone, divided by the UN Green Line of separation. An estimated 200,000 Greek Cypriots were forced out of the north while 60,000 Turkish Cypriots left the south zone. In 1974, 40,000 Turkish troops invaded Cyprus and occupied 37% of the island. Cyprus thus was divided into two zones. The same happened in the Lebanese civil war that erupted in 1975 between Muslim and Christian factions. The Shi’ite, Sunni, and Druze Muslim factions were opposed by the Christian Phalangist and Maronite factions. Both factions were made up of Arabs. The city of Beirut became a war zone and was divided by the Green Line into Muslim and Christian sectors. During the civil war, 44,000 were killed, 180,000 were injured, while thousands were displaced and became refugees. During the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in 1948, Israeli forces occupied Palestinian territory and drove out the Palestinian population, settling the territory with Jewish settlers and refugees from Europe. Israeli forces are alleged to have destroyed 400 Palestinian villages and to have driven out 840,000 Palestinians while killing 15,000 Palestinians.
Bosnia was not different from these conflicts, indeed, from any civil war that preceded it. US/NATO/EU propaganda made the Bosnian civil war a focus of attention because the US/NATO/EU sought the dismemberment of the former Yugoslavia, the “Balkanization” of the former Yugoslavia, because it would facilitate NATO and EU expansion into eastern Europe and the Balkans. The way US/EU/NATO expansion could be facilitated was by isolating a single faction that was perceived to hinder that expansion. Creating a propaganda rationale based on genocide and the Holocaust was what the US government devised as a way to intervene militarily to ensure the expansion of US/NATO/EU interests. This is the reason why the genocide/Holocaust propaganda was utilized by NATO. It was the way to make an end run around international law and sovereignty and achieve military intervention and occupation by NATO. And, indeed, that is precisely and exactly what resulted. NATO still occupies Bosnia-Hercegovina in 2004.
Srebrenica became a Muslim enclave and stronghold early in the civil war. The Muslim military command at Muslim-held Tuzla pumped weapons and equipment and Bosnian Muslim troops into the Srebrenica pocket. Bosnian Muslim military offensives were then launched from Srebrenica against Bosnian Serb-held villages. A major goal of the military operations was to establish a link with Muslim-held territory near Tuzla. The military offensives out of Srebrenica were lead by Naser Oric. His forces had taken and burned over 50 Serbian villages and killed hundreds of Serbian civilians and soldiers. He even reached the Serbian border at Skelani and threatened to cross over and occupy Serbian territory. Who was Naser Oric? On April 17, 1992, at the beginning of the Bosnian civil war, Naser Oric was made commander of the Potocari Territorial Defense. Naser Oric was born on March 3, 1967 in Potocari, a neighboring village of Srebrenica. His parents were Dzemal Oric and Hata Mustafic. Chuck Sudetic noted in Blood and Vengeance that “Naser Oric’s grandfather had been a member of the Ustase during World War II.” He went to a trade school where he learned metalworking. In 1985 and 1986 he served his compulsory military service in the armed forces of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia where he was part of a special unit for the nuclear and chemical defense of the JNA, the Yugoslav National Army. He achieved the rank of Corporal in the JNA. In 1988, he took a six-month course in Zemun, Serbia, to become a police officer. Oric worked as a bouncer in a Belgrade disco in the late 1980s. He enlisted in a special police unit as part of the Serbian Ministry of Internal Affairs (MUP) that Milosevic assembled in Kosovo to combat Albanian separatists who were engaged in a terrorist war against Kosovo civilians and police. He then became a bodyguard to Milosevic. He was then transferred as a police officer to Ilidza, a suburb of Sarajevo. In late 1991, Oric was moved to the police station in Srebrenica. On April 8, 1992, he was made police chief of Potocari. On April 17, the Potocari Territorial Defence was created and Oric was made commander. On May 20, Oric was appointed commander of the Srebrenica Territorial Defence. On June 27, 1992, Sefer Halilovic, the Chief of Staff of the Supreme Command Staff of the Army of Bosnia-Hercegovina, confirmed Oric as commander. On August 8, 1992, his position as commander was re-confirmed by the Presidency of Bosnia-Hercegovina. In 1995, the 8th Operation group Srebrenica HQ was re-designated the 2nd Corps, 28th Division. On March 1, 1994, Oric was awarded a “Golden Lily”, the highest military award by Chief of Staff of the Supreme Command. On April 15, 1993, he had been awarded a Certificate of Merit. On July 17, 1994, he was promoted to the rank of Brigadier. Oric had de facto and de jure control over the Muslim military units and irregulars in the Srebrenica area, including the two infantry brigades of the 28th Division.
Naser Oric’s forces killed over a thousand Bosnian Serb civilians and troops in the Srebrenica area and burned and destroyed at least 50 Serbian villages. It was these Bosnian Muslim attacks that caused a Bosnian Serb reaction and ultimately culminated in the Bosnian Serb takeover of Srebrenica on July 11, 1995. In Endgame: The Betrayal and Fall of Srebrenica, Europe’s Worst Massacre since World War II, Christian Science Monitor reporter-turned-historian David Rohde conceded that “Serbs estimated that 2,000 Serbs—mostly soldiers but also several hundred civilians—had died around Srebrenica since the outbreak of the war. Over 50 Serb villages were burned, according to Serbs, and dozens of Serb graves desecrated….”
According to Bosnian Serb General Milenko Zivanovic, the commander of the Drina Corps, “Naser Oric’s soldiers burned his village and his house to the ground on June 21, 1995. Twenty-seven Serbs died in eleven towns around Ratkovici. Naser’s men desecrated the graves of his mother and other Serbs by knocking over their headstones.…”
Rohde chronicled the string of attacks and atrocities committed by Oric’s forces in Srebrenica: “Forty-six Serb men were allegedly missing after the attack on Zalazje on the Serb holiday of St. George’s Day in May 1992. A St. Peter’s Day attack on July 12, 1992, left 120 dead in Zalazje. In Kravica, more than 100 Serbs, including ten to fifteen women, were allegedly killed; civilians were burned alive in their houses when the Muslims took the town in the surprise Orthodox Christmas attack in January 1993….”
Rohde discussed many of Oric’s atrocities as “spectacular accounts” by Serb nationalists or propagandists, or Serb “claims”: “Some of the more spectacular accounts involved Muslims beheading Serbs, cutting bodies in half with chain saws, nailing men to trees and skinning them alive. One story Serb propagandists seized on was that Muslims kept sheep in the Serbian Orthodox church in Srebrenica. The story was partially true. One group of men returning from a successful trip to Zepa or a raid on an outlying Serb village had corralled several dozen sheep in he local church. The sheep were held there for several days before they were sold for as much as 100 deutsche marks apiece.”
Rohde admitted that “Oric’s men did commit atrocities, but how many is unclear. He was cavalier enough to show a videotape of a burned-down Serb village and headless Serb corpses to foreign journalists visiting the enclave in February 1994. Several Muslims and Dutch peacekeepers reported seeing a photo of Oric standing over a Serb corpse in the ruins of a village. ”
Rohde is disingenuous and intellectually dishonest here. The atrocities and war crimes that Oric committed were well-documented and the evidence incontrovertible. The Bosnian Serbs had statements of eyewitnesses, affidavits, police reports, reports submitted to the UN, MUP reports, autopsy reports, photograph and video documentation, and Bosnian Serb prosecution documents. Indeed, Naser Oric’s forces had videotaped many of their atrocities and war crimes against Bosnian Serbs. The evidence was overwhelming, but Rohde made a conscious decision to ignore and sicount it because it ran counter to the US government and media propaganda or information war. Oric himself provided the self-incriminating evidence by videotaping his atrocities.
The Bosnian Muslim forces chose Orthodox festivals and holidays to launch their attacks on Serbian villages. On May 6, 1992, on the Orthodox religious feast of St. George (Djurdjevdan), the village of Bljeceva in the Bratunac municipality was attacked by Muslim forces under Hasib Ibrahimovic. The Gniona attack was led by Naser Oric himself. An elderly Bosnian Serb woman, Kosana Zekic, “whose throat was slit inside her house,” was one of the civilians killed. In Gniona, an ailing and half-blind man, Radojko Milosevic (born 1928) was burned to death in his own house and the village was destroyed and burned. In this attack, Oric used loudspeakers to announce himself: “This is Naser Oric speaking…” He demanded that Serbs surrender or they would be killed. Gniona was the first Serbian village completely burned and destroyed in eastern Bosnia.
On May 7, 1992, in an attack on the village of Osmace in the Srebrenica municipality, seven Serbs were killed. Naser Oric organized and ordered this attack.
On May 21, a truck taking eleven Serbian civilians from Podravanje to Milici was attacked and eight Serbs were killed.
On June 21, in an attack on Ratkovici, 18 Serbs were killed. Radenko Stanojevic had his throat cut while Desanka Stanojevic was burned in her house.
On August 8, 1992, Jezestica was attacked. Andjelko Bogicevic, born in 1965, had his head cut off and taken away by Muslim forces.
On June 30, Brezani was attacked and 19 residents killed. Milos Novkovic was beheaded while Vido Lazic was crucified and set on fire. Kristina Lazic was set on fire in her house.
On July 5, 1992, Krnjici and Oricevi were attacked and 16 killed. The throat of elderly Bosnian Serb Vaso Paraca, born in 1912, was slit.
Rohde sarcastically dismissed Bosnian Serb claims that the Srebrenica area was an “epicenter of genocide” where Serbian civilians were being systematically killed, mutilated, having their throats slit, beheaded, tortured, and driven from their villages. Rohde attributed the irrefutable evidence of Bosnian Muslim war crimes in the Srebrenica area to “Serb nationalists”. Rohde did concede that Oric and his forces deserved punishment: “Naser Oric and the Muslim soldiers who may have deserved retribution were in Tuzla….” According to Rohde, “Serb nationalists” did not care. This is a bit of sophistry and self-delusion on the part of Rohde. His implication is that Oric and his forces were guilty of committing atrocities and deserved punishment, but because they were evacuated from Srebrenica by helicopter to Muslim-held Tuzla, then the Muslim military forces in Srebrenica should be let off the hook and amnestied. But why did the Bosnian Muslim Government and the military command abandon their troops in such a cowardly manner in Srebrenica, knowing they would face punishment and retribution for atrocities and war crimes that they committed? Why did Oric flee? By committing massacres and atrocities against Bosnian Serb civilians and soldiers, was it reasonable and logical to expect that the Bosnian Serb forces would not take Srebrenica as they did in 1995? Rohde is a self-deluded propagandist.
In the Srebrenica pocket, it was Naser Oric’s forces who were attacking villages and occupying territory. These Bosnian Muslim offensives and attacks forced the Bosnian Serbs to launch a counterattack. Morillon explained why the Bosnian Serb forces were counterattacking in Srebrenica: “Oric was responsible for several massacres in which dozens of women and children had been killed, and it seemed to me there was more hatred in that one small corner of Bosnia than anywhere else… Mladic wanted to avenge his dead.”
Oric’s war crimes and atrocities provoked the Bosnian Serb response. New York Times journalist Roger Cohen emphasized the war crimes committed by Oric’s forces as a cause for the Bosnian Serb retaliation: “Naser Oric, a former bodyguard to Milosevic, who placed himself at the head of an increasingly effective Bosnian guerrilla force that, in the fall and winter of 1992, wreaked havoc on surrounding Serb villages. Oric liked to show visitors videos of piles of Serb bodies. He would boast about the number killed in a succession of lightning raids in the Bratunac area in which Serb communities were massacred and buildings torched. …Mladic liked to usher United Nations officials into desecrated Serb cemeteries in Bosnia in order to explain why he could never trust “the Turk”.
Several news accounts managed to sneak through the US government and media censorship. These news accounts brazenly and arrogantly detailed the war crimes committed against Bosnian Serbs. In The Toronto Star article “Fearsome Muslim Warlord Eludes Bosnian Serb Forces”, July 16, 1995, Bill Schiller described his visit to Oric’s headquarters in Srebrenica in 1994:
I met him in January, 1994…Oric, as blood-thirsty a warrior as ever crossed a battlefield, escaped Srebrenica before it fell…On a cold and snowy night, I sat in his living room watching a shocking video version of what might have been called Naser Oric’s Greatest Hits….There were burning houses, dead bodies, severed heads, and people fleeing….Oric grinned throughout, admiring his handiwork. “We ambushed them,” he said, when a number of dead bodies appeared on the screen. ..The next sequence of dead bodies had been done in by explosives: “We launched those guys to the moon,” he boasted. …When footage of a bullet-marked ghost town appeared without any visible bodies, Oric hastened to announce: “We killed 114 Serbs there.”…Later there were celebrations, with singers with wobbly voices chanting his praises…Lately, however, Oric increased his hit-and-run attacks at night. And in Mladic’s view, it was far too successful for a community that was supposed to be suppressed….The Serbs regard Oric…as a war criminal.
But because Oric was a proxy and client of US/NATO, he was not regarded a war criminal by the US/NATO.
In the February 16, 1994 Washington Post article “Weapons, Cash and Chaos Lend Clout to Srebrenica’s Tough Guy”, John Promfret described Oric’s atrocities and war crimes: “Nasir Oric’s war trophies don’t line the wall… They’re on a videocassette tape: burned Serb houses and headless Serb men, their bodies crumpled in a pathetic heap…. “We had to use cold weapons that night,” Oric explains as scenes of dead men sliced by knives roll over his 21-inch Sony.”
Pomfret acknowledged that the Muslim troops in Srebrenica sneaked past the U.N. Canadian observation posts to take “pot shots” at Serbian troops.
The US government and media propaganda claimed that the Bosnian Muslim faction supported a “multi-ethnic”, “secular”, and “tolerant” state. This US infowar was conducted on behalf of their Bosnian Muslim proxies. But what the US government/media propaganda censored were the following facts. In Srebrenica, the Bosnian Muslim Government forces blew up and demolished the Orthodox Church of the Shroud of the Holy Mother of God built in 1903, even though it was outside the zone of military operations. The parish hall was also demolished by Bosnian Muslim forces. The Church of the Holy Archangel Michael built in 1971 was blown up and completely destroyed. In Kravica, north of Srebrenica, the interior of the parish church was plundered and damaged. The parish hall was completely burned down. The church cemetery was partly damaged. When the Bosnian Serb forces retook Serbian villages, they found that the Bosnian Muslim Army had written on a Serbian house “Izlam ce pobedi” (Islam will win). Bosnian Serb civilians and soldiers had their throats slit, their eyes gouged out, their brains extracted; they were mutilated, burned, roasted on spits like animals, circumcised, massacred on Orthodox holidays. Only US government and media propaganda could claim that these actions represented a “multi-ethnic”, “tolerant”, “pluralist”, and “secular” Bosnian Muslim Government and Army. How credible and believable was this US government and media propaganda?
On September, 1992, Oric planned an attack on the Serbian village of Podravanje which was on the road between Srebrenica and Zepa. Oric sought to drive out and ethnically cleanse the Serbs from the Srebrenica/Zepa area to clear the road between the two towns. Oric assembled troops with the commander of Zepa, Avdo Palic. Oric made use of torbari, or the bag people. These were “a horde of Muslim refugees, men and women, young and old.” Sudetic described them as follows: “Thousands strong, these people would lurk behind the first wave of attacking soldiers and run amok when the defenses around Serb villages collapsed. Some of the refugees used pistols to do the killing; others used knives, bats, and hatchets.”
In Podravanje, history was repeating itself. During World War I, Austrian and Bosnian Muslim troops had burned the Serbian village down. During World War II, Bosnian Muslim troops in the Ustasha formations had murdered 250 Bosnian Serbs and had also burned the village down a second time. Sudetic explained these genocidal attacks against Serbs in Podravanje as follows: “They had not forgotten that the Austrian army, which included many local Muslims, had burned their village in 1914 and that the Ustase, who also included many Muslims from neighboring villages, had killed over 250 Serbs and burned the place in 1942 and 1943.”
This is how Sudetic described the Bosnian Muslim attack on Podravanje: “At six o’clock in the morning on September 24, 1992, Muslim soldiers opened fire on Podravanje from three sides. The Serbs tried to defend the village but panicked and ran when they realized how grossly outnumbered they and how quickly the Muslims were coming at them. The Serb fighters left behind men and women who had been wounded and killed by Muslim gunfire. Then the torbari rushed in. Muslim men shot the wounded. They fired their guns into the bodies of the Serb dead. They plunged knives into their stomachs and chests. They smashed their heads with axes and clubs, and they burned the bodies inside buildings. Oric’s men grabbed half a dozen prisoners; one, a fighter from Serbia who had relatives in Podravanje, was beaten to death, and the others emerged bruised and battered when they were exchanged a month later. …The torbari plundered everything else.”
The 31 Serbs killed in Podrovanje had their throats slit, others were beheaded, burned, and some had their stomachs slit open.
On September 24-26, 1992, 37 Serbs were killed when Oric’s forces attacked the villages of Nedeljista and Rogosija in the Milici municipality. Most of the victims were first wounded in the legs and then were burned. Two victims were impaled. Those who were wounded had their throats slit, others were decapitated, some had their skulls smashed with axes and sledge hammers and their brains extracted. Some of the dead and wounded were circumcised and several were castrated. These atrocities and war crimes were carried out under the command of Naser Oric, Fadil Turkovic, and Becir Mekanic.
Two weeks later, on October 5, Oric attacked the Serbian villages along the Drina River by the Grabovacka Rijeka. The Muslim forces attacked in overwhelming numbers of troops who were followed by the torbari. Sudetic described the attack as follows: “Again the Serbs panicked. Again the stragglers were killed and their bodies mutilated. Again Oric’s men captured weapons, and the torbari streamed back to Srebrenica with bags stuffed with food.”
On November 28, the first UN humanitarian aid convoys reached Srebrenica. Forty tons of food were brought in. The Muslim military command along with the torbari called on Oric to organize more attacks against Serbian villages and civilians. The Muslim military command in Sarajevo sought to use Oric’s offensives to create a diversion as a diversionary tactic. The Muslims wanted to tie down Bosnian Serb troops in the Srebrenica pocket to allow the Muslim forces to launch an offensive north of Tuzla. They also wanted to maintain a crisis situation in eastern Bosnia to gain media attention and intervention by NATO.
On December 14, Oric’s forces attacked the Serbian villages astride the Drina River in Loznicka Rijeka. Sudetic described the attack: “The Serbs, caught completely off guard, waged war from the windows of their houses. Women picked up automatics and blasted away. Villagers scurried toward the river and were pinned down on the bank. Muslims cut many of them down at almost point-blank range as they tried to cross the river in panic. About 130 Serbs had been living in Loznicka Rijeka, and by midnight a quarter of them had been killed. Scores more Serbs had perished in the villages to the north. The Muslims had seized about forty square miles of territory….”
On January 7, 1993, Orthodox Christmas, “a high holy day for the Serbs, a national as much as a religious occasion” according to Sudetic, the Bosnian Muslim forces based in Srebrenica launched a massive attack against the Serbian village of Kravica, northwest of Srebrenica. Cakes, bread, salads, and meat were prepared for the Orthodox Christmas festivities. Two weeks before the attack on Kravica, Oric’s forces had taken the neighboring town of Glogova killing “a number of Serb men” and critically wounding the military commander of Kravica, Jovan Nikolic. The Muslim troops were able to surround the town and to cut the only asphalt paved road to Bratunac. The only access to Kravica now was a dirt path that was constructed across the mountains to the Drina River two years earlier. There were about 300 Bosnian Serb defenders at Kravica.
Sudetic described the Muslim attack on Kravica as a calculated, premeditated assault: “Naser Oric had spent days preparing his attack. It came with anything but surprise. After dark on Christmas Eve, some three thousand Muslim troops assembled on the slushy slopes hilltops around Kravica. Behind them lurked a host of torbari who lit campfires to warm themselves. At dawn they started clattering pots and pans. “Allahu ekber! God is great!” the men shouted. The women shrieked. Shooting began. The Serb men in Kravica scrambled into their trenches. They told their wives and mothers they would be home in a few hours.”
The Muslim attack was from the direction of Potocari. Muslim troops were burning houses in Serb hamlets above Kravica under a Muslim assault from Glogova. The Serbs attempted to hold out but were overwhelmed by the overwhelming numbers of Muslim troops, ten to one.
Sudetic described the scene when Muslim troops entered Kravica: “The first of the torbari to arrive in Kravica found entire Christmas dinners that had been waiting to be eaten by Serb men who had gone off to fight that morning thinking they would be back by noon. Three Muslim soldiers barged into one home and stood there as if paralyzed at the sight of the pastries and the jelly, the bottles of brandy and the roast pork on the stove. They laughed and shouted and plunged into a cake. The ashes of burning houses and stalls fell like snow on the hillside. The pigs ran wild. Sheep were butchered and roasted on the spit or herded back to Srebrenica with the cows and oxen. The dead lay unburied, and within days the pigs, dogs, and wild animals had begun to tear away at the bodies….The torbari combed the homes in Kravica for the next two weeks scavenging for food.”
The torbari located frozen potatoes, pickled peppers, a sack of oats, and a pair of bell-bottom pants. Forty-five Serbs died in the Kravica attack, thirty-five of them were soldiers. All 690 houses in Kravica were looted and set on fire. Bosnian Muslim Mirsad Sulejmanovic “Skejo” said that “after the attack on Kravica, Naser’s soldiers caught five or six Serbs in the village of Kajici and they slit their throats.” Oric now had occupied 350 square miles of territory in eastern Bosnia.
In January, 1993, Oric attacked the town of Skelani on the Drina River. Hundreds of Serbian civilians fled eastward across the Drina River into Serbia in boats. Muslim troops advanced to about a hundred yards from the steel-girder bridge in Skelani. The Muslim forces sought to take the bridge and to blow it up. Sudetic described the attack as follows: “gunfire ripped back and forth across the river, but the Serbs held the Muslims off. During the gun battle, a Muslim machine gunner cut down panicked Serb villagers, including women and children, as they tried to scurry across the bridge to the safety of the Serbian side.” The images of Bosnian Serb civilians fleeing across the Drina River from Bosnia into Serbia were similar to those in World War II when Serbian refugees fled from Bosnian Muslim and Croat Ustasha troops.
Bosnian Muslims fired artillery shells into Serbia. The Serbian town of Banja Koviljaca was hit by three 82 mm caliber artillery shells fired by Bosnian Muslim units from Bosnia into Serbia. A 79 year old woman, Vera Vukasinovic, was killed, while another Serbian civilian was seriously injured.
Sudetic described the effect the border attack had in Serbia: “The stories of the fleeing civilians shot down on the Skelani bridge enraged all of Serbia.” Mladic was able to launch a counterattack that drove northwest and pushed the Muslim forces back into Srebrenica. The Bosnian Serb forces stopped at Kara Marko’s Territory ten miles southwest of Srebrenica. In Srebrenica itself, the Muslim troops retaliated against Serbian civilians in the town. Sudetic described what happened in Srebrenica as a result of the counterattack: “A double murder had been committed the night before in the apartment building just below the Celik house. A Muslim soldier seeking revenge for the death of a relative, a military-police chief killed near Skelani, had used the butt of his revolver to smash the skulls of a Serb man and his elderly mother.” They were Slobodan Zekic and his mother Zagorka. Dragica Vasic knew them both. Sudetic described the murder: “Dragica had known both of the victims; Slobodan Zekic and his mother, Zagorka, were the second Serb family that Dragica had seen murdered since the war began. Zagorka, an elderly woman, had suffered a stroke and had been bedridden for years; and Slobodan, a middle-aged former factory worker, had stayed on in Srebrenica to care for her.”
Oric’s offensives now provoked a Bosnian Serb counteroffensive. This is when the so-called Western media began covering the conflict in eastern Bosnia. So long as the Bosnian Muslim troops were killing Serbian soldiers and burning Serbian villages and massacring Serbian civilians, the West did not cover events in eastern Bosnia. There was a virtual news blackout in the West of Oric’s offensives in eastern Bosnia. The systematic slaughter of Serbian civilians and the burning of Serbian villages was not news. As Misha Glenny explained in The Fall of Yugoslavia: The Third Balkan War: “The Bosnian Government troops moved swiftly through Serbian villages, slaughtering a large number of civilians on the way. Because the atrocities were being perpetrated by Muslims, they received relatively little attention in the world media.” But once Mladic launched a counteroffensive, then the spotlight was focused on eastern Bosnia and it became the major news story in the world and became a primary focus of the Bosnian civil war. Then Srebrenica became the front page news story around the world.
Oric’s attacks had led to counterattacks and refugees fleeing the scene of the fighting. The Serbs claimed that “the Muslims fired on their own civilians fleeing toward Tuzla.” By February 9, 1993, Mladic had launched a full-scale counteroffensive against Oric’s troops. Five days later, Bosnian Serb troops took the town of Kamenica north of Srebrenica. Sudetic described how journalists were shown incontrovertible evidence of Bosnian Muslim war crimes and atrocities: “Foreign journalists escorted to the Kamenica area by the Serb army were shown corpses that had been devoured by animals and other bodies that had been pulled from a pond and exhumed from three muddy graves on a forested ridge. The Serbs alleged that the bodies belonged to prisoners whom the Muslims had tortured and killed.”
Even when they witnessed Bosnian Muslim atrocities and war crimes with their own eyes, the Western media still was able to dismiss them with the phrase “Serbs allege”.
At this stage a major propaganda operation was launched. The Muslim leadership in Sarajevo then demanded that the UN deliver food to the Srebrenica pocket. The Bosnian Muslim leadership boycotted UN aid deliveries to Sarajevo, demanding aid be sent to Srebrenica. It was a form or extortion or blackmail. Philippe Morillon reacted against this Muslim blackmail. According to Sudetic, Morillon saw through the Muslim plan: “He condemned the Muslim aid boycott as a ploy to lure the Western nations into intervening militarily.” Morillon alleged that the Muslims and the media were exaggerating the events in eastern Bosnia to get the US/NATO to fight on the Muslim side against the Bosnian Serbs. This is when the infamous Muslim ham radio operators appeared on the scene detailing preposterous propaganda stories which the US media and government lapped up as truth. Morillion, however, “dismissed these reports as lies.”
This all resulted in a crisis. The Muslim boycott and media propaganda allowed the US to push the lift and strike strategy. US Secretary of State Warren Christopher argued for more aggressive aid deliveries to Srebrenica. On February 27, two US Air Force C-130 cargo planes clandestinely flew with their running lights shut off from Rhein-Main air base in Frankfort, Germany, into Bosnian air space and delivered a million leaflets over Srebrenica and Zepa notifying them that aid shipments would be dropped. The next night, four C-130s parachuted supplies north of Srebrenica in Muslim-held Cerska. But by this time, the Bosnian Serb troops had taken most of the town and seized the US aid packets.
What followed was the ratcheting up of the US propaganda war on behalf of its surrogate forces, the Bosnian Muslim army. Anders Levinsen from Denmark, who headed the UNHCR office in Tuzla, wanted to get the US/NATO to intervene against the Bosnian Serbs. So he compiled summaries of the reports from the Muslim ham radio operators. These were passed on to Sadako Ogata, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, who quoted Levinsen’s line: “Civilians, women, children and old people, are being killed, usually by having their throats cut.” These reports came from Bosnian Muslim “government officials” and Muslim ham radio operators. And as Ogata emphasized, they had an interest to exaggerate and falsify the facts. They were in fact propaganda. Nevertheless, Ogata stated that:” If only ten percent of the information is true, we are witnessing a massacre in the enclaves without being able to do anything about it.”
This was an example of propaganda projection, or inversion, “zamena teza” in Serbian, psychologically projecting one’s own crimes onto the enemy. The Bosnian Muslim forces were routinely and systematically cutting or slitting the throats of Bosnian Serb civilians and soldiers. This Bosnian Muslim war crime was then imputed to the Bosnian Serbs. Swiss psychologist Carl Gustav Jung termed this “the shadow”, projecting the worst vices and crimes onto an Enemy or Other. The person consciously blocks out his or her own guilt or knowledge of culpability, denies or suppresses it, while projection into onto another, or the Other, the Enemy, the Shadow. A schizophrenic orientation results where all positive traits are conscious while all negative traits are transferred to the Other. It is the result of a paranoid orientation. Moreover, the paranoid exhibits infantile characteristics that vacillate between sadistic domination to submissive or masochistic victimization. This is demonstrated in the Srebrenica case where Bosnian Muslim troops slit the throats of Serbs and decapitate them and mutilate their bodies in the sadistic domination cycle or phase but then shift to the victimization phase when they become victims. The infantile paranoid personality is unbalanced and unstable and thus vacillates between sadistic cruelty to passive victimization. It takes one to know one. The propagandist accuses the enemy of committing crimes which in fact the propagandist himself is guilty of. The propagandist merely projects these crimes on the Enemy. In short, the propagandist looks into a mirror when devising a propaganda construct for the Enemy. This can be seen in the Srebrenica case. The Bosnian Muslim ham radio operators accused the Bosnian Serbs of cutting the throats of Muslims when in fact the Bosnian Muslims were guilty of this. The Bosnian Muslims decapitated Bosnian Serbs, mutilated their bodies, burned their bodies, roasted them on spits, gouged and cut out eyes, performed circumcisions. Bosnian Muslim troops routinely and systematically decapitated Bosnian Serb soldiers and civilians. When the Bosnian Muslim forces exchanged bodies with Bosnian Serb forces, the Bosnian Serbs discovered that the Muslims routinely and systematically decapitated Bosnian Serb troops. In 1994, Bosnian Muslim troops violated a UN exclusion zone around Sarajevo and slit the throats of 20 Bosnian Serb soldiers and military support personnel, including four female nurses, and then mutilated and burned the corpses. Bosnian Muslim troops routinely cut the throats of Bosnian Serb soldiers and civilians. These Bosnian Muslim crimes were projected on the Bosnian Serb people and leaders.
Morillon was able to verify and determine for himself that the Bosnian Muslim claims were lies and propaganda constructs. Morillon went to Konjevic Polje north of Srebrenica and found no fighting or starvation there. Morillon concluded: “I did not see any trace of massacres.” It was only a ploy to get the US/NATO to save Oric’s troops from military defeat. The Bosnian Serbs wanted to exchange the Serbs in Tuzla for Muslim civilians in the Srebrenica pocket. But Oric and Izetbegovic wanted to use the Muslim civilians as hostages and human shields in the conflict. The torbari were also useful as scavengers and paramilitaries for Oric’s forces.
Srebrenica Safe Haven
On April 17, 1993, Srebrenica was made a “safe haven”, but Muslims continued to kill Serbian civilians and engage in sabotage activities. On May 27, 1995, Muslims from Srebrenica attacked Rupovo Brdo in the Milici municipality and killed five Serbian civilians who were cutting wood in the forest. On June 23, four Serb civilians were killed in the Skelani municipality. Three days later, Visnjica in the Milici municipality was attacked and one Serb killed and two injured and the village was burned down.
Nazi and Ustasha Legacy in Srebrenica
US government and media propaganda sought to censor and suppress the Nazi and Ustasha legacy in Srebrenica. US propaganda presented the Srebrenica crisis as sui generic, as a conflict with no prior history. By censoring and suppressing the Nazi and Ustasha legacy of Srebrenica, the US/NATO falsified the motivations of the Bosnian Serb leaders, many of whom had lost relatives to Bosnian Muslim and Croat Nazis and Ustashas during World War II. Roger Cohen explained that this Nazi/Ustasha legacy motivated Ratko Mladic: “Mladic, born in the Bosnian village of Bozinovici in 1943, lost his father in 1945 to the combined forces of Nazism and Croatian fascism. It was through this prism that he saw the war.” An inscription in Srebrenica noted that 145 Serbs were killed in the town during World War II, 36 of them being children under the age of seven. In 1914, the Austrians had tried 20 of the most prominent Serbs in Srebrenica for “treason” and several thousand Serb families were expelled from Srebrenica.
Mladic saw the recognition of Croatia and then Bosnia by first the Vatican, then a re-united Germany, derisively dismissed as the “Fourth Reich”, as a repeat of history, as occurred on April 10, 1941 when the Vatican and Germany recognized the Croat and Bosnian Muslim Independent State of Croatia, Nezavisna Drzava Hrvatska (NDH). Cohen noted that the unilateral German recognition was perceived by Mladic as reflecting an anti-Serbian agenda:
When, in December 1991, the European Union was browbeaten by Germany into recognition of Croatia, Mladic called the decision “a second Munich.” In the barracks of the Bosnian Serb army posters showed soldiers wearing Nazi uniforms above a screaming slogan—“Are you ready for Deutschmocracy?”
Mladic asked Lt. General Lars Wahlgren of the UN forces: “General, do you remember your father?” “In my case,” Mladic continued, “my son is the first in many generations to know his father. Because there have been so many attacks on the Serb people, children do not know their fathers.”
Simplistic Good Guys and Bad Guys Scenario
Dutch Lt. Colonel Ton Karremans explained that culpability should not be assigned to one faction: “The Muslims burned 192 villages in Eastern Bosnia. Therefore I am saying that in this war there are no ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’.”
Honig and Both noted that the Bosnian Muslims bore responsibility for the crisis in Srebrenica:
Dutch contacts with the members of the Srebrenica presidency were far from easy. The Dutch were blamed for the perceived failure of the UN to do enough for the people of Srebrenica. Matters were not helped by the character and behaviour of the dominant personalities in the enclave. Naser Oric, the overall military commander, and his two main ‘brigade’ commanders, Zulfo Tursunovic (281 Bde) and Hakija Meholjic, appeared to the Dutch to be little more than gangsters, who terrorized the refugee population and profited greatly from the war. These men jealously protected their own fiefdoms. As the refugees were not represented in the local government, international aid agencies suggested in the second half of 1993 that the refugees should elect their own representative to assist in the distribution of food. The man was found murdered the day after his election.
Honig and Both also explained that Oric’s attacks on Serbian villages and civilians around Srebrenica had led to the recent fighting and the strained relations:
Oric and his cronies were also responsible for much of the trouble with the Serbs, which stemmed from Muslim raids on Serb communities just outside the enclave. Also, Oric’s men had the disconcerting habit of taking up positions close to the Dutch and then opening fire on the Serbs, hoping to entice them and the Dutch into a firefight. At times, when the Presidency found the Dutch insufficiently accommodating at supplying them with desired items, they would turn off the water supply to the Dutch compounds. Local commanders would stop Dutch patrols when it suited them. The Dutch were not at all impressed by the behaviour of the Bosnian Army, and many of the Dutch soldiers had little sympathy for the Muslims. Most shared the judgement of General Nikolai’s predecessor, Dutch general Jan Willem Brinkman, that the Bosnian conflict was ‘not a matter of good guys against bad guys’.
In The Fall of Yugoslavia: The Third Balkan War, Misha Glenny noted the “complex origins of the Bosnian conflict for which the Serbs are not solely responsible.” The first UN commander in Bosnia, Canadian Major General Lewis MacKenzie, described the Bosnian civil war as follows: “Dealing with Bosnia is a little bit like dealing with three serial killers.” He noted that all three factions had committed war crimes and atrocities. UN Secretary-General Bhutros Bhutros Ghali, an Egyptian, dismissed Bosnia as “a rich man’s war”, noting that there were a dozen places around the world that greater humanitarian disasters than Bosnia. In Rwanda, a real genocide was allowed to occur because it was totally ignored by the US and the West. Why? The victims were black and US/NATO/EU interests could not be advanced. The US/NATO did not seek expansion in Rwanda.
The Bosnian Muslims alienated and lost the support of UN personnel by killing UN troops and even their people merely to gain sympathy and score propaganda points to induce US/NATO military intervention against the Bosnian Serbs. UN commander Sir Michael Rose from the UK dismissed Muslim propaganda as “images of war” meant to induce NATO/US bombing against the Bosnian Serbs.
The Bosnian Muslim troops alienated the Dutch UN contingent by killing a Dutch UN soldier. UN Dutch Private Raviv van Renssen, a gunner, was killed when Bosnian Muslim troops threw a grenade at his armored vehicle. He failed to close his hatch in time and was hit in the head by shrapnel.
Morillon went to Srebrenica to prevent a humanitarian disaster. “I wanted to avert a catastrophe,” Morillon said. Morillon established the safe haven of Srebrenica but no provision was made for the demilitarization of the enclave. What resulted was that the Muslim military sent reinforcements and arms and weapons into the so-called safe haven. UNHCR humanitarian aid convoys delivered a total of 5,858 tons of aid in 1994. In 1993, 8,916 tons were delivered. The Dutch UN battalion, Dutchbat III, was assigned to protect UNHCR aid deliveries. The Bosnian Muslim forces continued to engage in hit and run tactics, however, killing Bosnian Serb civilians and soldiers. Srebrenica became a military base for the Bosnian Muslims, who were using the Muslim civilians as human shields.
Chetniks, Ustashas, and Turks
All three factions in the Bosnian civil war referred to each other not as Bosnian Serbs, Muslims, or Croats, but as “Chetniks”, “Ustashas”, and “Turks”. Why? The US government and media never delved into this phenomenon. These were ethnic stereotypes or archetypes, caricatures, that were ingrained during World War II when Bosnia was engulfed in a civil war between the same factions. The Western media never sought to explain or comprehend the roots to the Bosnian conflict. The US government and media carefully suppressed and covered up the historical background to the civil war during World War II. For example, although the Bosnian Muslim Nazi SS Division Handzar/Handschar was one of the largest and most photographed SS divisions during World War II, US and Western historians, analysts, and pundits could never locate any photographs or any historical information or documentation of the famous division. There was even a famous German news reel from 1944 showing Heinrich Himmler reviewing the Bosnian Muslim Nazi SS troops. But all of this was meticulously and carefully covered up by the US government, media, and historians. Similarly, the US government, media, and scholars could never obtain any information about the Ustasha NDH regime in World War II. The US government and media knew nothing about Jasenovac, the largest concentration and extermination camp in the Balkans during World War II. The US position was that by presenting the World War II background it would be helping the Serbian position so it was meticulously suppressed, censored, and deleted.
The Bosnian civil war of 1992-1995 was merely the continuation of the civil war of 1941-45. It was the final chapter or denouement of that earlier conflict. The ethnic animosity or ethnic hatreds could be explained and understood if the World War II civil war was examined and analyzed. But the US government and media sought to explain the Bosnian conflict as sui generis, with no connection to World War II. Moreover, by perceiving each other as “Chetniks”, “Ustashas”, and “Turks”, all three factions sought to dehumanize and objectify the others in stereotypes created by the Communist regime of Josip Broz Tito, which defined the national identities of all three groups in this way. What resulted was a caricature and propaganda construct or image of the enemy which allowed for the killing of that Other. It was much easier to cut the throat and cut the head off of a caricature and Communist-created stereotype than it was of a human being not so dehumanized. The US propaganda machine failed to take into account this Communist era dehumanization that had occurred. All three factions were programmed and brainwashed to see each other in these negative stereotypes by the Communist regime. This stereotyping was one of the reasons that compromise was not possible.
Morillon explained this historical animosity as follows:
They were in this hellish circle of revenge. It was more than revenge that animated them all. Not only the men, women, the entire population was imbued with this. It wasn’t the sickness of fear that had infected the entire population of Bosnia-Hercegovina, the fear of being dominated, of being eliminated. It was pure hatred.
War Crimes Indictment
Naser Oric was arrested on April 10, 1993 by SFOR/NATO forces in Tuzla. He was indicted by the ICTY for violating the Laws and Customs of War by committing murders, wanton destruction, and plunder. His arrest and indictment reflected a change in the policy of the Hague, which assigned sole criminal culpability to the Serbian faction in the civil war. In an April 11, 2003 Globe and Mail article, it was noted that “the Muslims have been seen so far only as victims in Srebrenica.” Nevertheless, Oric was not seen as a war criminal by Bosnian Muslims: “Mr. Oric is considered a hero by Bosnian Muslims.” In a news report by Voice of America (VOA) of April 16, 2003, it was noted that “Naser Oric is considered a hero to many Bosnian Muslims.” One man’s terrorist and war criminal is another man’s patriot and freedom fighter. The Women of Srebrenica Union protested in front of the UN Mission building maintaining that the arrest of Oric “is an act of hatred towards the Moslems” because “he defended his own people in 1992.” NATO secretary-general George Robertson stated that “each fugitive sent to The Hague makes it easier to build a lasting peace in the Balkans.” NATO wanted to dispel the impression that it was anti-Serbian.
Naser Oric had been questioned and released in 2001. In the AP story “Protesters Storm U.N. Building in Bosnia” by Aida Cerkez-Robinson for April 2, 2001, it was noted that Oric was questioned and released: “U.N. officials, however, said Oric had been brought in for questioning, but had left the building and has not been indicted.” “We want Naser!” Bosnian Muslims screamed in support of Oric. Jim Landale, an ICTY spokesman, noted that Oric was “called in for questioning about a routine investigation.”
Naser Oric was finally indicted for war crimes in an indictment dated March 28, 2003 by ICTY prosecutor Carl Del Ponte in Case No: IT-03-68-I. In Counts 1-2, Oric was charged with Murder and Cruel Treatment.
Oric was charged with the following killings. On September 25, 1992, Dragutin Kukic was beaten to death in the Srebrenica Police Station. Between February 6 and March 20, 1993, Jakov Dokic, Dragan Ilic, Milisav Milovanovic, Kostadin Popovic, Branko Sekulic, and Bogdan Zivanovic were killed in the building behind the Srebrenica Municipal Building.
Oric was charged with Cruel Treatment for the treatment of Bosnian Serb detainees between September 24 and October, 1992 at the Srebrenica Police Station by the Bosnian Muslim Military Police. Nedeljko Radic was beaten with wooden poles and iron bars, punched and kicked. His teeth were forcibly extracted using pliers. Muslim soldiers then urinated in his mouth and he was forced to swallow urine. His teeth were broken and his ribs were fractured. Slavoljub Zikic was punched with fists and beaten with boots. He was beaten with rifle butts. He was beaten unconsciousness. His teeth in his upper jaw were broken and his ribs fractured. One of his shoulders was broken. His vision and hearing were impaired. Zoran Brankovic, Nevenko Bubanj, and Veselin Sarac were punched, kicked, and beaten with wooden poles and iron bars.
Between December 15, 1992 and March 20, 1993, Ilija Ivanovic was beaten with fists, wooden poles, metal bars, baseball bats, and kicked with boots. He was stabbed with knives. His ribs were fractured, his teeth, nose, and cheekbone were broken. His head was smashed against metal bars and concrete walls, until losing consciousness. Bosnian Serb civilians Rado Pejic, Stanko Mitrovic, Miloje Obradovic, Mile Trifunovic were beaten with wooden poles, baseball bats and metal bars, kicked and punched, losing consciousness. Pejic lost so much weight as a result of the beatings and inhumane treatment that he was unable to walk and was exchanged on a stretcher.
Oric was charged as follows: Count 1: Murder, a violation of the Laws and Customs of War under the ICTY and Geneva Conventions. Count 2: Cruel Treatment under the tribunal and Geneva Conventions. Counts 3-6 were wanton destruction of cities, towns or villages, not justified by military necessity, plunder of public or private property. From May 1992 to February 1993, his forces burnt, destroyed, plundered a minimum of 50 predominantly Serbian villages and hamlets. “As a result, thousands of Serb individuals fled the area.” Cattle, furniture, and television sets were plundered.
In a 1998 UN Report to the Secretary-General termed the Srebrenica Report, the UN conceded that Naser Orc’s forces “used techniques of ethnic cleansing” in burning Serbian villages and terrorizing Serbian civilians to flee. It was also conceded that they “apparently tortured and mutilated” Bosnian Serb civilians and soldiers. The Report also acknowledged that “Serb sources claim that over 1,300 people were killed” in the Srebrenica area by Naser Oric’s forces based in Srebrenica. The UN further acknowledged that the Bosnian Muslims had the 28th Division in Srebrenica, made up of 3,000 to 4,000 Bosnian Muslim soldiers.
US/NATO propaganda claimed that Srebrenica was made up of unarmed, Bosnian Muslim civilians. The ICTY indictment of Naser Oric for war crimes, however, lists the following military formations in the Srebrenica area: Company Srebrenica from Independent Battalion Srebrenica, Brigade Potocari, Brigade Suceska, Brigade “3 Maj” Kragljivoda, Independent Battalion Osmace, Company Pusmulici of the Srebrenica Independent Battalion, Independent Battalion Skenderovici, 114th East Bosnian Brigade, Independent Battalion Voljavica, Independent Battalion Biljeg, 1st Cerani Detachment, Company Kazani from Independent Battalion Srebrenica, Independent Battalion “5 Juli” Tokoljaci, 6th Detachment Kamenica, and Company Stari Grad. The Bosnian Muslims were organized in military formations and were equipped with AK-47 assault rifles, machine guns, grenades, grenade launchers, mortars, artillery, anti-tank missiles, and even tanks. Helicopters were used to transport arms and personnel from Tuzla. In the US propaganda on Srebrenica, it is erroneously stated that civilians were executed after the fall of the town. The AP and the Detroit Free Press stated that Srebrenica was the worst “massacre of civilians” since World War II. But this is untrue. When Srebrenica fell, the Bosnian Serb forces made certain that civilians, women, and children would not be harmed. Srebrenica was made up of armed formations of the Bosnian Muslim Army. They were combatants. By the same token, the killing of thousands of Bosnian Serb combatants would be an instance of a massacre. But the US government and media apply differing and contradictory standards. The number of Bosnian Muslim troops or POWs allegedly executed at Srebrenica is disputed. CNN gave a figure of 6,000 Muslim men and boys executed. AP and The Detroit Free Press gave a number as 8,000 Muslim men and boys executed. The New York Times and the US State Department number is 7,000. Other figures are of 7,000-9,000 executed. None of these figures have been substantiated. The propagandistic term “Muslim men and boys” is purposely misleading. These men were members of the armed forces, i.e., the Bosnian Muslim Army, they were combatants who had violated the Geneva Conventions on the treatment of POWs by torturing, mutilating, and executing Bosnian Serb POWs. These Bosnian Muslim solders had also burned at least 50 Serbian villages in eastern Bosnia and had tortured, mutilated, and murdered Serbian civilians.
One of the problems with the “safe area” or “safe haven” concept was that it failed to adequately provide for the demilitarization of the safe areas. The Bosnian Muslim military and political leaders took advantage of this loop hole to turn Srebrenica into an armed military base. This is something that has been covered up about the safe havens. Also covered up is the fact that Srebrenica was captured after the Bosnian Muslims violated a cease-fire and launched multiple offensives against Bosnian Serb forces, seizing Bosnian Serb territory and killing and injuring Bosnian Serb troops. The Bosnian Muslim violations of the cease-fire accords and the bombing of Bosnian Serb targets by the UN/NATO forces made the safe haven agreements null and void and Srebrenica became a legitimate military target. As Lewis MacKenzie noted, the capture of Srebrenica was “all very explainable”.
On November 6, 1992, Bosnian Muslim military units from Srebrenica attacked and captured the village of Kamenica in the Zvornik district, in which action Bosnian Serb soldiers were captured. When the troops of the Republika Srpska recaptured Kamenica in February, 1993, they discovered seven mass graves containing the bodies of 41 Bosnian Serb soldiers. The exhumed bodies were examined by pathologist Major Zoran Stankovic, who was able to establish that the arms and legs of the majority of the bodies had been broken and the heads had been smashed and cut off. Some of the bodies still had the wires, belts, and cables, with which they were tied up and tortured. Eight of the bodies were so badly mutilated that they could not be identified. The Bosnian Muslim units murdered not only Bosnian Serb civilians, but also Bosnian Serb POWs in violation of the laws and customs of war and the Geneva Conventions on the treatment of POWs. When enemy combatants commit blatant and incontrovertible war crimes, they abrogate reciprocity. When they are taken prisoner themselves and became POWs, they are subject to execution by the opposing armed forces. During the Battle of the Bulge in 1944 in World War II, German troops wore US military uniforms and spoke English to create chaos and confusion behind US lines. When captured, these German troops were executed by American firing squads because they had violated the laws and customs of war. Similarly, the German armed forces executed US and British POWs who attempted to escape from German POW camps because they violated the laws of the combatant country. This is why there are conventions and international guidelines for the reciprocal treatment of POWs. But once the Bosnian Muslim armed forces were executing, torturing and mutilating Bosnian Serb POWs, they were committing clear-cut war crimes that abrogated the application of the Geneva Conventions with respect to themselves. The Bosnian Muslim troops were war criminals that could justifiably be executed when captured by Bosnian Serb troops. This is an aspect of the Srebrenica story that is ignored. Bosnian Muslim troops abrogated the requirement that they be treated as POWs under the Geneva Conventions and international law because they had committed war crimes against Bosnian Serb civilians and soldiers.
ICTY Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte’s indictment of Naser Oric for war crimes in Srebrenica is a whitewash while at the same time a belated attempt to acknowledge the war crimes committed by the Bosnian Muslim Government and armed forces against Bosnian Serbs. The indictment seeks to minimize the war crimes committed by Oric and to limit their scope to Oric, exculpating Bosnian Muslim military leaders and the Muslim political leadership. Alija Izetbegovic and Ejup Ganic escaped culpability and criminal liability. Oric was indicted in 2003 after being apprehended by NATO forces in Tuzla where he had lived with his family since 1995 after he was evacuated from Srebrenica by helicopter to Muslim-held Tuzla. The war crimes with which he is charged by Del Ponte are limited to killing seven Serbs and torturing several civilians in Srebrenica and for burning and destroying at least 50 Serbian villages in the Srebrenica area. But the nature of the crimes committed by Oric constitutes crimes against humanity and genocide. Bosnian Serb civilians were systematically murdered by having their throats slit, their bodies mutilated, their heads cut off, and their corpses burned. Serbian villages were systematically burned and destroyed in a policy even the UN termed “ethnic cleansing.” Why wasn’t Oric charged with crimes against humanity and genocide? The reason is to preserve the US/NATO position that the Bosnian Serbs bear sole culpability for the Bosnian civil war. Only the Bosnian Serbs are culpable of the serious crimes of crimes against humanity and genocide according to the US and NATO. The ICTY is merely a puppet/proxy of the US/NATO. So the ICTY is implementing the political agenda and policy of the US and NATO. The result is the absurd charging document by Del Ponte against Oric.
Oric is charged with seven counts of murder by beating to death seven Bosnian Serbs. Even though Oric is alleged to have killed over a thousand Bosnian Serb civilians in eastern Bosnia by slitting their throats, torturing and mutilating and burning their bodies, he was charged with only the murder of seven Bosnian Serbs. The premeditated and systematic burning and destruction of at least 50 Serbian majority villages was deemed merely wanton destruction not necessitated by the war. There can be no doubt here that Oric was getting a slap on the wrist while he should be tried for committing crimes against humanity and genocide.
What is genocide? The Polish jurist Rafael Lemkin defined the concept of genocide: “The word is made from the ancient Greek word genos (race, clan) and the Latin suffix cide (killing) … Genocide is the crime of destroying national, racial or religious groups.” According to Lemkin, “the conscience of mankind has been shocked by this type of mass barbarity.” The Genocide Convention defined genocide as any act committed with the intent to destroy an ethnic group, in whole or in part, including killing members of the group, causing serious harm to the group, inflicting on the group living conditions calculated to bring about its physical destruction, imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group, or forcibly transferring children of the group to another group. Attacks against the life, liberty and property of a group are deemed to be genocide when part of a conspiracy to destroy a national, ethnic, or religious group. The criminal intent to kill or destroy all members of a group shows premeditation, deliberation, and a state of systematic criminality. Under these criteria, why wasn’t Naser Oric charged with crimes against humanity and genocide for his systematic and planned murders of Serbian civilians and the burning of at least 50 Serbian villages?
The US government and media ignored the link or connection between Naser Oric’s genocidal attacks against Bosnian Serb civilians and villages and the 1995 fall and capture of Srebrenica. There is an obvious link between the two. But the Western NATO governments, the ICTY, and the media have purposely sought to negate the connection between the two. Morillon made this connection at the Hague tribunal during his testimony. Morillon stated that the capture of Srebrenica in 1995 was a reaction to the crimes the Bosnian Muslim army committed against Srebrenica Serbs. This admission was unacceptable to the US/NATO governments and media because it imputed culpability to the Bosnian Muslims. The Bosnian Muslim response was to threaten to sue Morrillon for his testimony. In a February 15, 2004 article in Vecernji List, a Croatian news magazine, it was noted that the Srebrenica association of Bosnian Muslim residents of Srebrenica planned to sue Morillon as “an accessory to genocide” because he testified in court that the capture or fall of Srebrenica was in reaction to Oric’s war crimes. This is reminiscent of what happened to former UNPROFOR commander in Bosnia Major General Lewis MacKenzie. MacKenzie had made the statement that all sides in the Bosnian civil war were committing atrocities. This claim was counter to the US/NATO/EU propaganda position that only the Bosnian Serbs were committing atrocities, only the Bosnian Serbs were culpable. The Bosnian Muslim faction reacted by charging that MacKenzie had raped four Muslim girls who he had subsequently killed. MacKenzie recounted that “a witness had seen me come by and pick up four Muslim girls, who were taken away and presumably raped and murdered.” Now it was Morillon’s turn to be attacked by the Bosnian Muslims. Both MacKenzie and Morillon, and later Sir Michael Rose, were ostracized and attacked because they challenged the US/NATO/EU propaganda falsifications.
The Srebrenica story was never fully told because it would undermine the US/NATO/EU propaganda line. This is why the events of 1992-1993 in Srebrenica were censored and suppressed by the US government and media.
Cohen, Roger. Hearts Grown Brutal: Sagas of Sarajevo. NY: Random House, 1998.
Honig, Jan Willem, and Norbert Both. Srebrenica: Record of a War Crime. NY: Penguin Books, 1996.
Jovanovic, Drago, and Gordana Bundalo and Milos Govedarica, eds. The Eradication of Serbs in Bosnia and Herzegovina, 1992-1993. Belgrade: IP RAD, 1995.
Rohde, David. Endgame: The Betrayal and Fall of Srebrenica, Europe’s Worst Massacre Since World War II. NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1997.
Sudetic, Chuck. Blood and Vengeance: One Family’s Story of the War in Bosnia. NY: W.W. Norton, 1998.