Naučna istraživanja

Prijedor Genocide

PRIJEDOR GENOCIDE

“T]here existed a joint criminal enterprise, which included members of the Bosnian Serb leadership, the aim and intention of which was to destroy a part of the Bosnian Muslims as a group, and that its participants committed genocide in Brčko, Prijedor, Sanski Most, Srebrenica, Bijeljina, Ključ and Bosanski Novi.”. Judge Patrick L. Robinson

PRIJEDOR GENOCIDE TIMELINE

Prelude to war

  • 4 May 1980: Tito dies; collective Yugoslav presidency is established.
  • 6 December 1989: Slobodan Milosevic elected present of Serbia. He begins his push for a Greater Serbia by laying claim to all areas where Serbs live.
  • April-May 1990: Elections in Slovenia and Croatia set the stage for independence in those republics.
  • November 1990: the SDA (Party of Democratic Action, which had strong Muslim support) wins a plurality but not majority of seats in the Prijedor Assembly. The municipal government of Prijedor is now split between Serbs and Muslims.
  • 25 March 1991: Milosevic and Franjo Tudman secretly agree to divide Bosnia between Croatia and Serbia.
  • Prijedor’s Serbs establish Serb shadow government in Prijedor under Milomir Stakic.
  • April 1991: Serbian politicians declare the Bosanska Krajina Srpska Autonomna Oblast (the Serbian Autonomous Region of the Bosnian Krajina).
  • The Prijedor Assembly votes down a proposal to join what is essentially a secessionist state.
  • 25 June 1991: Croatia and Slovenia proclaim independence.

Prelude to genocide

  • August 1991: War between Croatian forces and the Serb-dominated Yugoslav National Army begins.
  • At the same time, a heavily armed brigade from Serbia arrives in Prijedor. Serbian military authorities fail to persuade the Muslim population to join their war against Croatia.
  • Throughout 1991: Light weaponry is brought in from Serbia and distributed to Serbs in Prijedor under the false pretext of defense against Muslim extremists.
  • Fall 1991: In Prijedor, Serbs secretly begin to set up a parallel administration called the Serb Municipality of Prijedor. They set up nine new police stations and arm the police.
  • September 1991: UN establishes an arms embargo against all of Yugoslavia.
  • October 1991: Bosnian parliament proclaims the sovereignty of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Serb deputies belonging to the SDS (Serb Nationalist Party) walk out.
  • 9 January 1992: The Assembly of the Serbian People in Bosnia and Herzegovina declares a separate Serb Republic.
  • February 1992: In Prijedor and elsewhere, Serbs establish “Crisis Committees” (Krizni Stab).
  • March 1992: Referendum is held on independence of Bosnia-Herzegovina; most Serbs boycott referendum. Of those voting, 99 percent vote in favor of an independent Bosnia-Herzegovina.
  • March 3, 1992: Bosnian Parliament declares Bosnia-Herzegovina an independent republic.
  • March 1992: In Prijedor, Serb artillery is moved into place on Mount Kozara.
  • 21-28 March 1992: Serbs seize control of television transmitter near Prijedor on Mt. Kozara; transmissions from Zagreb and Sarajevo are blocked.
  • 6 April 1992: EEC recognizes independence of Bosnia Herzegovina. In Sarajevo, Serb snipers attack peaceful demonstrators supporting a multiethnic Yugoslavia.
  • 14 April 1992: Serbs erect roadblocks around Prijedor.
  • 27 April 1992: Bosnia-Herzegovina decrees that the JNA (now a Serbian army, formerly the Yugoslav army) must leave the country.
  • 28 April 1992: Due to mounting danger, UN military observers in Prijedor and nearby Banja Luka are withdrawn.
  • 29 April 1992: Forged fax “surfaces”; it purports to order Bosnian territorial defense units to attack the JNA. The effect is to further agitate Serbs.
  • 30 April 1992: The Serb Prijedor Crisis Staff takes over all government offices in Prijedor in order to “secure their survival.”
  • The seizure of government offices takes twenty-five minutes.
  • What had previously been the Serb shadow government assumes control.
  • Identification papers are now required of everyone.
  • Massive firings of non-Serbs begin.
  • Serb police are ordered to follow Serbian law, not Bosnian law.
  • Serb authorities intensify pressure on non-Serbs to give up any weapons.

Mid to late May, 1992: Serbian military personnel remaining in Bosnia convert JNA units into the Bosnian Serb Army, to be commanded by General Ratko Mladic. The Bosnian Serb Army would work jointly with a number of Serb paramilitary units.Mid May, 1992: Men belonging to ultra-nationalist paramilitary group under the leadership of Arkan (Zeljko Raznjatovic) move into Hotel Prijedor.23 May to 1 June 1992: Due to series of ultimatums, non-Serbs in Prijedor surrender remaining weapons to Serb authorities.

Genocide in Prijedor

  • 23 May 1992: Village of Hambarine (pop. 2499) shelled and stormed. Approximately 100 villagers are killed or wounded; many more flee.
  • 24 May 1992: Kozarac area (non-Serb pop. 27,000) shelled and stormed. As many as 5,000 people are killed in the Kozarac area in the days that follow.

·         35 non-Serb police officers are executed in front of the primary school.

·         Serb soldiers fire upon a column of non-Serb citizens leaving Korazac, killing men, women, and children.

·         “Young Muslim women” are “shepherded to Serb military positions,” where they are sexually abused.

·         Eight elderly non-Serbs are “shepherded into a cellar and massacred.”

  • 24-25 May 1992: Serbs open concentration camps at Trnopolje, Omarska, and Keraterm. Serbs focus efforts on imprisoning and otherwise eliminating Muslim and Croat leaders, including business leaders and intellectuals.
  • 30 May 1992 and after: Stari Grad, Prijedor’s “Old Town,” is razed. Civilians who live in the area are transported to Logor Trnopolje, where they are kept without food for several days. Women and children are eventually released; men are detained.
  • 30-31 May 1992: Serbs move through additional parts of the city of Prijedor, targeting and forcing out non-Serb inhabitants. Men not killed are taken to Omarska and Keraterm; women and children who are not killed are taken to Trnopolje. Dozens of corpses of non-Serbs are observed piled throughout the city.
  • Early June 1992: All non-Serbs are required to wear white armbands and hang white flags from the windows of their homes.
  • July 1992: Throughout Prijedor, Serbs destroy buildings “built in a traditional Muslim style.”
  • Starting 20 July 1992: The area on the left bank of the Sana River is shelled.
  • “A total of more than 1500 people [are] killed on 20 July 1992 alone.”
  • Women and children are separated from the men; the latter are executed or transported to concentration camps.
  • When Omarska and Keraterm are filled, men on one bus destined for the camps are shot to death by Serb soldiers.
  • Houses are systematically looted and destroyed.

23 July 1992: Serbs encircle the town of Carakovo, southwest of Prijedor. “Hundreds of people [are] killed—shot, burnt alive, beaten, or tortured to death in other ways.” At least 760 non-Serbs are killed.20-25 July 1992: In Lisina, “between 70 and 100 Muslim civilians [are] killed” by Serbs.End of July 1992: Serbs kill between 100 and 120 Muslim civilians from Jugovci.1 August 1992: In Redak, south of Ljubija, Serbs kill 200 Muslim civilians.Mid-August 1992: Omarska and Keraterm camps are closed; surviving prisoners divided into groups; some are executed, and others are sent to camps at Manjaca and Trnopolje.21 August 1992: 228 prisoners are massacred at Koricanske Stijene on Mount Vlasic. Recounted a survivor, “they brought us to the very edge . . . facing the abyss. Then people started screaming, yelling. . . . I leaped into the abyss. . . . When I became conscious, I realized that through some incredible luck I was not injured. . . So I took a body of a man and I covered myself. . . . And then they started shooting. . . .”5 November 1992: Serbs are observed burning the remains of people killed in Lisina in July. The odor is smelled “kilometers away.”Early October 1992: Trnopolje camp is closed. Many prisoners remain in the camp because their homes have been destroyed or taken.17 December1992: Radovan Karadzic becomes president of a Bosnian Serb state.

Aftermath

  • 1993-1995: Random and targeted killings continue. Many of the Muslims and Catholics remaining in Prijedor and the surrounding area are forcibly deported; their property is confiscated.
  • 22 February 1993: The U.N. Security Council establishes the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY).
  • February 1994: A Croat-Bosniak (Catholic-Muslim) federation is established in Bosnia; joint Croat-Bosniak forces afterwards try to retake territory controlled by Bosnian Serbs.
  • July 1995: U.N. “safe haven” of Srebrenica falls; Serbs massacre of more than 8,000 Bosnian men and boys.
  • 29 August 1995: NATO begins Operation Deliberate Force against the Bosnian Serb insurgents.
  • 16-17 September: The Bosnian army retakes extensive territories in western Bosnia, including KljuÄΩ and Sanski Most. Bosnia forces move towards Prijedor but fail to reach the city.
  • Late September-early October 1995: Serbs fleeing advancing Bosnian forces seek refuge in Prijedor; they initiate a second wave of “ethnic cleansing,” pushing out Prijedor’s remaining Muslims and Catholics.
  • 12 October 1995: General ceasefire takes effect in Bosnia-Herzegovina, before Prijedor can be recaptured.
  • 14 December 1995: The Dayton Peace Accords are signed by Slobodan Milosevic (Serbia), Franjo Tudman (Croatia), and Alija Izetbegovic (Bosnia-Herzegovina). The agreement leaves about half the territory of Bosnia-Herzegovina in the hands of the Bosnian Serbs. The Prijedor municipality remains in the Serb-controlled part of Bosnia.

THE HORRORS OF A CAMP CALLED OMARSKA AND SERB STRATEGY

by Mark Danner

To the hundreds of millions who first beheld them on their television screens that August day in 1992, the faces staring out from behind barbed wire seemed powerfully familiar.[1] Sunken-cheeked, hollow-eyed, their skulls shaved, their bodies wasted and frail, they did not seem men at all but living archetypes, their faces stylized masks of tragedy. One had thought such faces consigned to the century's horde of images-the emaciated figures of the 1940s shuffling about in filthy striped uniforms, the bulldozers pushing into dark ditches great masses of lank white bodies. Yet here, a mere half century later, in 1992, came these gaunt beings, clinging to life in Omarska and Trnopolje and the other camps run by Serbs in northern Bosnia, and now displayed before the eyes of the world like fantastic, rediscovered beasts.

The Germans, creators of millions of such living dead, had christened them Muselmänner-Musulmen, Muslims. At Auschwitz, wrote Primo Levi,

The Muselmänner, the drowned, form the backbone of the camp, an anonymous mass...of non-men who march and labor in silence, the divine spark dead in them.... One hesitates to call them living: one hesitates to call their death death, in the face of which they have no fear, as they are too tired to understand.[2]



In Omarska as in Auschwitz the masters created these walking corpses from healthy men by employing simple methods: withhold all but the barest nourishment, forcing the prisoners' bodies to waste away; impose upon them a ceaseless terror by subjecting them to unremitting physical cruelty; immerse them in degradation and death and decay, destroying all hope and obliterating the will to live.

"We won't waste our bullets on them," a guard at Omarska, which the Serbs set up in a former open-pit iron mine, told a United Nations representative in mid-1992. "They have no roof. There is sun and rain, cold nights, and beatings two times a day. We give them no food and no water. They will starve like animals."[3]

On August 5, 1992, Ed Vulliamy of The Guardian, the first newspaperman admitted into Omarska, stood in the camp's "canteen" and watched, stupefied, as thirty emaciated men stumbled out into the yard, squinting at the sunlight:

... A group of prisoners...have just emerged from a door in the side of a large rust-colored metal shed. [T]hey run in single file across the courtyard.... Above them in an observation post is the watchful eye, hidden behind reflective sunglasses, of a beefy guard who follows their weary canter with the barrel of his heavy machine gun.

 

Their...heads [are] newly shaven, their clothes baggy over their skeletal bodies. Some are barely able to move. In the canteen,... they line up in obedient and submissive silence and collect...a meager, watery portion of beans....



They are given precisely three minutes to run from the shed, wait for the food and gulp it down, and run back to the shed. "Whoever didn't make it would get beaten or killed," a prisoner identified only as Mirsad told Helsinki Watch investigators. "The stew we were given was boiling hot...so we all had 'inside burns.' The inside of my mouth was peeling."[4]

Vulliamy and his colleagues stand and gaze at the creatures struggling to wolf down the rations:

...[T]he bones of their elbows and wrists protrude like pieces of jagged stone from the pencil-thin stalks to which their arms have been reduced. Their skin is putrefied, the complexions...have corroded. [They] are alive but decomposed, debased, degraded, and utterly subservient, and yet they fix their huge hollow eyes on us with [what] looks like blades of knives.



It is an extraordinary confrontation, this mutual stare: Vulliamy and his colleagues are reporting from inside a working concentration camp. All the while, though, Serb guards in combat fatigues, cradling AK-47s and bearing great military knives sheathed at their hips, trudge heavily about the room, their eyes glaring above their beards.

Vulliamy moves forward to speak to a "young man, emaciated, sunken-eyed and attacking his watery bean stew like a famished dog, his spindly hands shaking," but the fellow stops him: "I do not want to tell any lies," he says, "but I cannot tell the truth." It is an eloquent comment: most of these Muselmänner prove "too terrified to talk, bowing their heads and excusing themselves by casting a glance at the pacing soldiers, or else they just stare, opaque, spiritless, and terrified."

The reporters ask to see the hospital and receive a curt refusal. Nor may they look inside that white building-the White House, the prisoners call it-or the great "rust-colored shed" from which the men had come, squinting at the August sun.

Later, survivors describe the shed as "a vast human hen coop, in which thousands of men were crammed for twenty-four hours a day..., living in their own filth and, in many cases, dying from asphyxiation." So tightly were prisoners packed together in the stifling, airless heat, "Sakib R." tells Vulliamy, that lying down was impossible and some lost consciousness standing up, collapsing one against another.

I [counted] seven hundred that I could actually see [around me]. A lot of people went mad...: when they went insane, shuddering and screaming, they were taken out and shot.



Though guards at Omarska and other camps shot many prisoners, this was by no means the preferred method. If Auschwitz's killing tended to be mechanized and bureaucratized, Omarska's was emotional and personal, for it depended on the simple, intimate act of beating. "They beat us with clubs, bats, hoses, rifle butts," one survivor told a Helsinki Watch interviewer. "Their favorite was a thick rubber hose with metal on both ends." They beat us, said another, "with braided cable wires" and with pipes "filled with lead."

Next to the automatic rifle, next even to the knife (which was freely used at Omarska), the club or the pipe is exhausting, time-consuming, inefficient. Yet the guards made it productive. A female prisoner identified only as "J" told Helsinki Watch investigators:

We saw corpses piled one on top of another.... The bodies eventually were gathered with a forklift and put onto trucks-usually two large trucks and a third, smaller truck. The trucks first would unload containers of food, and then the bodies would be loaded [on].... This happened almost every day-sometimes there [were]...twenty or thirty-but usually there were more. Most of the deaths occurred as a result of beatings.[5]



One survivor interviewed by United Nations investigators estimated that "on many occasions, twenty to forty prisoners were killed at night by 'knife, hammer, and burning.' He stated that he had witnessed the killing of one prisoner by seven guards who poured petrol on him, set him on fire, and struck him upon the head with a hammer." All prisoners were beaten, but according to the UN investigators, guards in all the camps meted out especially savage treatment "to intellectuals, politicians, police, and the wealthy."[6] When four guards summoned the president of the local Croatian Democratic Union, Silvije Saric, along with Professor Puskar from nearby Prijedor, for "interrogation," the female prisoner testified,

I heard beating and yelling.... At times it sounded as if wood were being shattered, but those were bones that were being broken.

 

...When they opened the door ..., they started yelling at us, "Ustasa slut, see what we do to them!" ...I saw two piles of blood and flesh in the corner. The two men were so horribly beaten that they no longer had the form of human beings.[7]



Apart from obvious differences in scale and ambition, it is the Serbs' reliance on this laborious kind of murder that most strikingly distinguishes the workings of their camps from those of the German death factories. At many of the latter, healthy arrivals would work as slaves until they were reduced to being Muselmänner; death came when camp bureaucrats judged them no longer fit to provide any useful service to the Reich. The gas chambers-routinized, intentionally impersonal means of killing-had evolved partly out of a concern for the effect that committing mass murder would have on troops, even on men specially trained to do it. As Raul Hilberg observed,

The Germans employed the phrase Seelenbelastung ("burdening of the soul") with reference to machine-gun fire...directed at men, women, and children in prepared ditches. After all, the men that were firing these weapons were themselves fathers. How could they do this day after day? It was then that the technicians developed a gas van designed to lessen the suffering of the perpetrator.[8]



And even within the camps themselves, SS officers worried that violence and sadism would demoralize and corrupt their elite troops. "The SS leaders," Wolfgang Sofsky writes,

were indifferent to the suffering of the victims, but not to the morale of their men. Their attention was aroused...by the sadistic excesses of individual tormenters. As a countermeasure, camp brothels were set up, and the task of punishment was delegated to specially selected prisoners. The leadership also transferred certain thugs whose behavior had become intolerable. [Emphasis added.[9]



At Omarska such men would have been cherished; the out-and-out passion with which a guard administered beatings and devised tortures could greatly bolster his prestige. Acts of flamboyant violence, publicly performed, made of some men celebrities of sadism. In his memoir The Tenth Circle of Hell, Rezak Hukanovic-a Muslim who was a journalist in Prijedor before he was taken to Omarska-describes how guards responded when a prisoner rejected the order to strip and stood immobile amid the cowering naked inmates:

The guard...fired several shots in the air. The man stood stubbornly in place without making the slightest movement. While bluish smoke still rose from the rifle barrel, the guard struck the clothed man in the middle of the head with the rifle butt, once and then again, until the man fell. Then the guard...moved his hand to his belt. A knife flashed in his hand, a long army knife.

 

He bent down, grabbing hold of the poor guy's hair.... Another guard joined in, continuously cursing. He, too, had a flashing knife in his hand.... The guards [used] them to tear away the man's clothes. After only a few seconds, they stood up, their own clothes covered with blood....

 

...The poor man stood up a little, or rather tried to, letting out excruciating screams. He was covered with blood. One guard took a water hose from a nearby hydrant and directed a strong jet at [him]. A mixture of blood and water flowed down his...gaunt, naked body as he bent down repeatedly, like a wounded Cyclops...; his cries were of someone driven to insanity by pain. And then Djemo and everyone else saw clearly what had happened: the guards had cut off the man's sexual organ and half of his behind.



Hukanovic's memoir (in which he writes about himself in the third person as Djemo) and the testimony of other former prisoners overflow with such horror. Reading them, one feels enervated, and also bewildered: What accounts for such unquenchable blood-lust? This is a large subject, to which I shall return; but part of the answer may have to do with the elaborate ideology that stands behind Serb objectives in the war. In order to achieve a "Greater Serbia," which will at last bring together all Serbs in one land, they feel they must "cleanse" what is "their" land of outsiders. Founding-or rather reestablishing-"Greater Serbia" is critical not only because it satisfies an ancient historical claim but because Serbs must protect themselves from the "genocide" others even now are planning for them.

In this thinking, such genocide has already begun-in Croatia, in Kosovo, in Bosnia itself: anywhere Serbs live but lack political dominance. As many writers, including Michael Sells and, especially, Tim Judah, point out, such ideas of vulnerability and betrayal can be traced far back in Serbia's past, and President Slobodan Milosevic, with his control of state radio and television, exploited them brilliantly, building popular hatred by instilling in Serbs a visceral fear and paranoia.

Administering a beating is a deeply personal affirmation of power: with your own hands you seize your enemy-supposedly a mortally threatening enemy, now rendered passive and powerless-and slowly, methodically reduce him from human to nonhuman. Each night at Omarska and other camps guards called prisoners out by name and enacted this atrocity. Some of their enemies they beat to death, dumping their corpses on the tarmac for the forklift driver to find the next morning. Others they beat until the victim still barely clung to life; if he did not die, the guards would wait a week or so and beat him again.

For the Serbs it was a repeated exercise in triumph, in satisfying and vanquishing an accumulated paranoia. As Hukanovic makes clear in his account of the first time his name was called out, this torture is exceedingly, undeniably intimate-not simply because force is administered by hand but also because it comes very often from someone you know:

"In front of me," the [bearded, red-faced] guard ordered, pointing to the White House.... He ranted and raved, cursing and occasionally pounding Djemo on the back with his truncheon....

 

...The next second, something heavy was let loose from above, from the sky, and knocked Djemo over the head. He fell.

 

...Half conscious, sensing that he had to fight to survive, he wiped the blood from his eyes and forehead and raised his head. He saw four creatures, completely drunk, like a pack of starving wolves, with clubs in their hands and unadorned hatred in their eyes. Among them was the frenzied leader, Zoran Zigic, the infamous Ziga.... He was said to have killed over two hundred people, including many children, in the "cleansing" operations around Prijedor.... Scrawny and long-legged, with a big black scar on his face, Ziga seemed like an ancient devil come to visit a time as cruel as his own...

 

"Now then, let me show you how Ziga does it," he said, ordering Djemo to kneel down in the corner by the radiator, "on all fours, just like a dog." The maniac grinned. Djemo knelt down and leaned forward on his hands, feeling humiliated and as helpless as a newborn....



Ziga began hitting Hukanovic on his back and head with a club that had a metal ball on the end. Hukanovic curled up trying to protect his head. Zigic kept hitting him, steadily, methodically, cursing all the while.

The drops of blood on the tiles under Djemo's head [became] denser and denser until they formed a thick, dark red puddle. Ziga kept at it; he stopped only every now and then...to fan himself, waving his shirt tail in front of his contorted face.

 

At some point a man in fatigues appeared.... It was Saponja, a member of the famous Bosna-montaza soccer club from Prijedor; Djemo had once known him quite well.... "Well, well, my old pal Djemo. While I was fighting..., you were pouring down the cold ones in Prijedor." He kicked Djemo right in the face with his combat boot. Then he kicked him again in the chest, so badly that Djemo felt like his ribs had been shattered...Ziga laughed like a maniac...and started hitting Djemo again with his weird club....

 

Djemo received another, even stronger kick to the face. He clutched himself in pain, bent a little to one side, and collapsed, his head sinking into the now-sizable pool of blood beneath him. Ziga grabbed him by the hair...and looked into Djemo's completely disfigured face: "Get up, you scum...."



Then Ziga and the other guards forced Djemo to smear his bloody face in a filthy puddle of water.

..."The boys have been eating strawberries and got themselves a little red," said Ziga, laughing like a madman.... Another prisoner, Slavko Ecimovic,...was kneeling, all curled up, by the radiator. When he lifted his head, where his face should have been was nothing but the bloody, spongy tissue under the skin that had just been ripped off.

 

Instead of eyes, two hollow sockets were filled with black, coagulated blood. "You'll all end up like this, you and your families," Ziga said. "We killed his father and mother. And his wife. We'll get his kids. And yours, we'll kill you all." And with a wide swing of his leg, he kicked Djemo right in the face....



In early April 1992, little more than a week after officers of the newly christened Bosnian Serb Army launched their campaign of limited conquest in Bosnia, officials in Washington began receiving reports of atrocities, among them mass executions, beatings, mutilations, and rape. Jon Western, at the State Department, then working on human rights in Bosnia, recalls that

many of these atrocities looked an awful lot like what we had heard and read about during World War II-the Balkans historically produce a lot of disinformation-and we were trained to look at them critically and decipher what was real. But as reports continued to come in..., it became apparent that they weren't just propaganda.

 

In fact, we were getting reports from a number of sources: eyewitnesses who had been incarcerated in concentration camps begin filtering out in summer 1992 and began giving accounts of atrocities that we could cross-reference with those from other eyewitnesses....[16]



As the Serbs prosecuted their "lightning campaign"-the Bosnian Serb Army of eighty thousand men, which had come fully equipped from the Yugoslav National Army, conquered 60 percent of Bosnian territory in scarcely six weeks-State Department officials compiled testimony of increasingly shocking and gruesome atrocities. Jon Western recalls that children were "systematically raped":

There was one account that affected me: a young girl was raped repeatedly by Serb paramilitary units. Her parents were restrained behind a fence and she was raped repeatedly and they left her in a pool of blood and over the course of a couple of days she finally died, and her parents were not able to tend to her; they were restrained behind a fence. When we first heard this story, it seemed very hard to believe but we heard it from a number of eyewitnesses ...and it became apparent there was validity to it.



Western and his colleagues were struck not only by the cruelty of these abuses but by their systematic nature; they very rapidly came to understand that though the Serb soldiers and, especially, the "paramilitary" troops responsible for "mopping up" were committing wildly sadistic acts of brutality, often under the influence of alcohol, their officers were making rational, systematic use of terror as a method of war. Rather than being a regrettable but unavoidable concomitant of combat, rapes and mass executions and mutilations here served as an essential part of it.

The Serbs fought not only to conquer territory but to "clear" it of all traces of their Muslim or Croat enemies; or, as the notorious Serb phrase has it, to "ethnically cleanse" what they believed to be "their" land. Of course making use of terror in such a way is probably as old-and as widespread-as warfare itself:

Houses and whole villages reduced to ashes, unarmed and innocent populations massacred en masse, incredible acts of violence, pillage and brutality of every kind-such were the means which were employed by the Serbo-Montenegrin soldiery, with a view to the entire transformation of the ethnic character of regions inhabited exclusively by Albanians.



This account is drawn from the Carnegie Endowment's Report of the International Commission to Inquire into the Cause and Conduct of the Balkan Wars, published in 1914.[17] Substitute the word "Muslims" for "Albanians" and the sentence could have been composed in spring or summer of 1992. Not only was the technique of "ethnic cleansing" identical, its purpose-"the entire transformation of the ethnic character of regions"-was clear to all.

The motive force driving Serbs to fight to achieve a "Greater Serbia"- or "all Serbs in one country"- depends however on a fortuitous conjunction of factors: a set of powerful historical legends combined in a cherished nationalist myth; the advent of economic hardship and the uncertainty brought on by the end of the cold war; and the rise of an ambitious, talented, and ruthless politician.

On the nationalist myth in particular Tim Judah writes splendidly, briefly describing the Battle of Kosovo of 1389, and discussing its transformation into the founding epic of the Serbian "exile." The story he tells does much to explain both the Serb obsession with the treachery of outsiders and their quasi-religious faith in the eventual founding, or rather reestablishment, of the Serbian state.

It was at Kosovo that King Lazar and his Serb knights rode boldly out to take the field against the Turks under Sultan Murad and defend Europe against the infidel. The Serbs lost this battle-although, as Judah shows, the evidence for this is ambiguous, as it is for much of the story; they later came to blame the defeat on the (probably imaginary) treachery of Vuk Brankovic, one of Lazar's favorite knights. As Petar Petrovic-Njegos, prince-bishop of Montenegro, wrote in his 1847 epic The Mountain Wreath:

Our Serbia chiefs,
most miserable cowards,
The Serbian stock did heinously betray.
Thou, Brankovic, of stock despicable,
Should one serve so his fatherland,
Thus much is honesty esteem'd.



Judah argues that the "myth of treachery was needed as a way to explain the fall of the medieval state, and it has powerful seeds of self-replications contained within it," which have sprouted into an obsession with betrayal. (During the 1991-1995 war, Judah notes, with "monotonous regularity losses were always put down to secret deals-and treachery.")

In the last supper the night before the battle, Brankovic plays Judas to Lazar's Christ; in causing the Serbs to lose the battle, and thus their country, to the Turks, Brankovic's betrayal made way for the crucifixion of the Serb homeland itself. But, as Judah writes, Lazar's

"idea that it is better to fight honourably and die than to live as slaves" not only "provided for Serbs an explanation for their oppression by the Ottomans,"



it also identified the whole nation with the central guiding raison d'etre of Christianity: resurrection. In other words Lazar opted for the empire of heaven, that is to say truth and justice, so that the state would one day be resurrected. An earthly kingdom was rejected in favor of nobler ideals-victim hood and sacrifice-and this choice is to be compared with the temptations of Christ.

As Jesus would be resurrected so Lazar would be: and so, as well, would Serbia. This becomes a holy certainty, premised on the Serbs' heroism and their sacrifice in losing to the Turks. "That is what people mean when they talk about the Serbs as a 'heavenly people,'" Zarko Korac, a psychology professor at Belgrade University, tells Judah.

In this way the Serbs identify themselves with the Jews. As victims, yes, but also with the idea of "sacred soil." The Jews said "Next year in Jerusalem" and after 2000 years they recreated their state. The message is: "We are victims, but we are going to survive."



Milosevic himself exploits this powerful ideological view of history-Professor Korac believes that for most Serbs "it is not a metaphor, it is primordial"-as a motivating force; but he has not let it limit his own tactical flexibility. Judah rightly emphasizes that Milosevic plainly did not always believe armed conquest and ethnic cleansing central to carrying out his project in Bosnia, for example. Well before the Bosnians declared independence and war broke out in the spring of 1992, Milosevic tried hard to woo Bosnia into remaining in what was left of the Federation-which, of course, Slovenia and Croatia having seceded (and the Serbs of the Krajina now "liberated" from Croatia and loosely tied to Serbia), was now politically dominated by the Serbs.

The Bosnians referred to Milosevic's planned state derisively as "Serboslavia" and it is no wonder they wanted no part of it; but the Serb leader's tenacious attempts to persuade the Bosnians not to follow the Slovenians and Croatians in seceding show him to be much more a ruthless political tactician than an ideologue, a distinction he would confirm by his behavior four years later when he abandoned to the "ethnic cleansing" of the Croatian army the very Krajina Serbs his National Army made such a show of "liberating" in 1991.

In the event, though, and not surprisingly, Bosnia would not be wooed. Although its inexperienced leader, Alija Izetbegovic, understood the danger of declaring independence-his nascent state, a third of whose people were Serb, might instantly collapse in war-his desperate proposals (offered jointly with the Macedonian president) to make of Yugoslavia a loose confederation were hardly of interest to Serbia, Croatia, or Slovenia. Slovenia, a small, prosperous republic with few Serbs and therefore of no real importance to Milosevic, was determined to secede, and once the Slovenes departed, the Croats were bound to follow (in fact, both republics seceded from Yugoslavia on June 25, 1991).

This left the Bosnians with a stark choice: either passively sink into a reconfigured Yugoslavia dominated by Milosevic and the Serbs, or declare independence and pray that the world would recognize the new country and somehow protect it from the onslaught to come. Izetbegovic chose the latter, imploring the "international community" to recognize his new country and to send United Nations monitors to patrol its territory and prevent the war he knew would come. After a referendum on independence was duly held in February 1992 (which the Bosnian Serbs boycotted), the "international community" in early April recognized Bosnia as a sovereign state, and gave it a seat at the United Nations. But sending troops to protect the new state, even lightly armed "monitors," was a different matter. According to John Fox, a regional official on the State Department's Policy Planning Staff at the time,

The French came to the [Bush] administration at very senior levels...once in the early phase of Belgrade's attack on Croatia, and at least once well before the military campaign against Bosnia, and they made a proposal to join with the United States, and other willing states, to put preventive peace-keepers on the ground across Bosnia-to support the legitimate elected government of Bosnia, to stabilize and prevent the outbreak of conflict, and to see Bosnia through that transition process to becoming a new independent state.[18]



One might consider the proposal to dispatch peacekeeping troops as either a relatively inexpensive way to prevent what seemed an inevitable and possibly horrendous war, or as a risky initiative that would involve Americans in a situation that didn't have a clear "exit strategy." In any case, Fox says, "the French never got a very clear answer." His office, the Policy Planning Staff, had proposed that the Americans join the French; but "that proposal was not accepted."

Izetbegovic would be given no "peace keepers"; but after all he had international recognition. The Serbs were not impressed. "Milosevic couldn't care less if Bosnia was recognized," a laughing Dr. Karadzic later told a television interviewer. "He said, 'Caligula proclaimed his horse a senator but the horse never took his seat. Izetbegovic may get recognition but he'll never have a state.'" Karadzic, the self-proclaimed leader of the Bosnian Serbs, now declared, in a famous speech during the waning days of the integral Bosnian parliament in Sarajevo, "I warn you, you'll drag Bosnia down to hell. You Muslims aren't ready for war-you'll face extinction."[19]

He was right. By the time Cyrus Vance, the United Nations negotiator, concluded the ceasefire in Croatia on January 2, 1992, thousands of Serb troops were heading for Bosnia in their tanks and armored personnel carriers. On May 5, all soldiers and officers of the Yugoslav National Army (JNA) who came from Bosnia were taken out of the main force, complete with their equipment, and officially became a "Bosnian Serb Army" of more than eighty thousand fully trained men. Over the objections of the Bosnian government in Sarajevo, the Serb forces took up strategic positions around the country, clearly preparing for war. Jerko Doko, then Bosnia's minister of defense, explained in testimony at The Hague that

this could be seen by the deployment of units; the control of roads by the JNA; the relocation of artillery on hill tops around all the major cities of Bosnia-Herzegovina; their collaboration with extremist forces of the [Bosnian Serbian Democratic Party], arming them and assisting the arming of them.



But Belgrade retained control. "We promised to pay all their costs," said Borislav Jovic, then a close aide of Milosevic's. It was not, he said, as if the Bosnian Serbs had their own state budget to draw on. "They couldn't even pay their officers." Doko remembers the National Army commander, General Blagoje Adzic, visiting troops near Banja Luka and Tuzla toward the end of March 1992 in order to check their preparedness for the coming combat operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

As for the Bosnians, they were, as Karadzic said, unprepared for war. "Before the fighting," David Rieff writes in Slaughterhouse, "Alija Izetbegovic insisted there could be no war because one side-his own-would not fight. To have imagined that carnage could have been averted for this reason was only one of the many culpably naive assumptions the Bosnian presidency made."

The Serb leaders, on the other hand, could not have been more prepared. During the last few years a group of selected senior officers had secretly developed a military strategy to guide the "Bosnia Serb Army" in its campaign to seize control of most of Bosnia. The objectives were in turn based on ideological claims of Serb vulnerability, Serb suffering, and Serb destiny that virtually every Serb who read a newspaper, listened to the radio, or watched television would by now know by heart.

The center of the ideology remained, as it had for six centuries, the redemption of the defeat at Kosovo. In 1889, on the 500th anniversary of the battle, Serbia's foreign minister declared that the Serbs had "continued the battle in the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries when they tried to recover their freedom through countless uprisings." As Judah notes, Milosevic himself would make use of this occasion a century later to invoke "Lazar's ghost" to come to the Serbs' aid.

By this time, Milosevic was making use of an ideological program, drawn up by Serbian intellectuals, that came to be called "the Memorandum," a kind of quasi-sociological rendition of the Lazar legend. In September 1986, extracts from this document, which was drafted by sixteen eminent economists, scientists, and historians in the Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences at the suggestion of the prominent novelist and nationalist Dobrica Cosic, had been leaked to the Belgrade press, and (in Judah's phrase) shook "the whole of Yugoslavia" with "a political earthquake."

In the key section entitled "Position of Serbia and the Serbian People," the writers launch a vigorous, bitter attack on what they call the "Weak Serbia, strong Yugoslavia" policy implicit in the "injustices" of Tito's 1974 constitution (which in effect "divided Serbia in three," by making Vojvodina and Kosovo autonomous provinces; though on Serbia's territory, they both retained a right to vote in national government institutions).

The Serb exodus from the province of Kosovo-which, as Judah shows, has amounted only to a relative decrease of population with respect to the Albanians-the writers repeatedly describe as "the genocide in Kosovo." The shift in population in Kosovo-which results from "a physical, moral and psychological reign of terror"-together with the economic and legal "hardships" all Serbs suffer daily, "are not only threatening the Serbian people but also the stability of Yugoslavia as a whole."

In the Federation's "general process of disintegration," the academicians wrote, the Serbs "have been hit hardest" and in fact the country's difficulties are "directed towards the total breaking up of the national unity among the Serbian people." Observing that 24 percent of all Serbs live outside the Serbian Republic and more than 40 percent outside of so-called "inner Serbia," the writers declare:

A nation which after a long and bloody struggle regained its own state, which fought for and achieved a civil democracy, and which in the last two wars lost 2.5 million of its members, has lived to see the day when a Party committee of apparatchiks decrees that...it alone is not allowed to have its own state. A worse historical defeat in peacetime cannot be imagined.[20]



The roots of Milosevic's, and Karadzic's, ideological campaigns are all here: the near-hysterical sense of historical grievance and betrayal, the resentment over Serbia's "inferior political position," the heightened rhetoric about the "genocide" of the Serbs-a term used to describe the exile of Serbs from their rightful lands but that evokes darker suspicions of the true intentions of Serbia's betrayers.

To combat these injustices Serbs are obliged to seize their fate in their own hands and achieve the long-awaited resurrection of King Lazar: "the territorial unity of the Serbian people." They must act not only to ensure their survival but to lay claim at last to an ancient birthright: "the establishment," the Memorandum says, "of the full national integrity of the Serbian people, regardless of which republic or province it inhabits, is its historic and democratic right."

Dominating the newspapers, television, and radio from the late Eighties onward, Milosevic and the other purveyors of this ideology brilliantly exploited the insecurities and fears of a people caught in a maelstrom of economic decline and political change. In the Serbian press all Muslims became "Islamic fundamentalists," all Croats "Ustase." As Norman Cigar writes in a chapter of his Genocide in Bosnia entitled "Paving the Way to Genocide," well before the actual breakup of Yugoslavia, "influential figures in Serbia had begun to shape a stereotypical image of Muslims as alien, inferior and a threat to all that the Serbs held dear."

Such propaganda, fed incessantly to a people who in many cases had been prepared for it by their own cherished historical myths, served to transform neighbors into "the other"-outsiders, aliens. And Milosevic did not find it difficult, in the bewildering world of nascent popular politics, to portray a relatively new phenomenon for Yugoslavs-the legitimate political opponent-as a mortal threat. By "isolating the entire Muslim community," writes Cigar, such propaganda would ensure that "any steps...taken against Muslims in pursuit of Belgrade's political goals would acquire legitimacy and popular support."

Such "steps" were even then being prepared. During the late 1980s a small group of officers (among them, then Colonel Ratko Mladic) who called themselves the "military line" had begun meeting secretly with members of Serbia's secret police.

By 1990, or perhaps a bit earlier-the timing here is a matter of controversy-the officers had drafted what they called the "RAM plan" which set out schemes for the military conquest of "Serb lands" in Croatia and Bosnia. The plan was called RAM, or "FRAME"-it is not known what the individual letters stand for-because it makes clear the boundaries, or frame, within which the new Serbian-dominated lands will be established. As Jerko Doko, the former Bosnian minister of defense, describes it in his Hague testimony:

The substance of the plan was to create a greater Serbia. That RAM was to follow the lines of Virovitica, Karlovac, Karlobag, which we saw confirmed in reality later on with the decision on the withdrawal of the JNA, the Yugoslav People's Army, from Slovenia and partly from Croatia to those positions.[21]



In their plan, the officers described how artillery, ammunition, and other military equipment would be stored in strategic locations in Croatia and then in Bosnia, and how, with the help of the Secret Police, local Serbian activists would be armed and trained, thereby creating "shadow" police forces and paramilitary units in the towns of the Croatian Krajina and throughout Bosnia. And, as early as July 1990, this is precisely what the Army began to do. In the area of Foca, according to Doko,

The JNA had distributed among the Serb voluntary units about 51,000 pieces of firearms and [among] SDS members, about 23,000..., [the Army] also gave them armoured vehicles, about 400 heavy artillery pieces, 800 mortars....



The leaders of the Bosnian Serb Army would be able to depend upon this "parallel power structure" of dedicated, often fanatical, and now well-armed men to support their troops as they carried out their campaign to conquer Bosnia. For "to conquer" here does not mean simply to subdue. In Bosnia people of different religions tended to be well mixed together; many cities in the Drina Valley, for example, adjacent to the border of Serbia itself, contained large numbers of Muslims.

The officers confronted, then, both a demographic and a strategic challenge. They must create a new state whose contiguous territory bordered the Serbian motherland-and which held most of the "liberated" Serbs. "The fact that Muslims are the majority," Karadzic said, "makes no difference. They won't decide our fate. That is our right." Serb lands were Serb lands, regardless of who happened to live there.

And thus came into use "ethnic cleansing," an ancient and brutally effective technique of war christened by the Serbs with a modern, hygienic name. In city after city, town after town, in the spring and summer of 1992, the Bosnian Serb Army and its commandos and paramilitary units launched their attacks in precisely the same pattern. It was clear these operations of conquest and cleansing were minutely, and centrally, planned. According to Vladimir Srebov, a former Serbian Democratic Party leader who read the "RAM Plan," the officers stipulated a vast program of ethnic cleansing the aim of which "was to destroy Bosnia economically and completely exterminate the Muslim people." As Srebov later told an interviewer:

The plan...envisaged a division of Bosnia into two spheres of interest, leading to the creation of a Greater Serbia and a Greater Croatia. The Muslims were to be subjected to a final solution: more than 50 percent of them were to be killed, a smaller part was to be converted to Orthodoxy, while an even smaller...part-people with money-were to be allowed to buy their lives and leave, probably, through Serbia, for Turkey. The aim was to cleanse Bosnia-Herzegovina completely of the Muslim nation.[22]



This plan was not fully accomplished, although it is astonishing to think that it might have been. With some exceptions, when the Serbs launched their campaign on March 27, 1992, they chose as their first objective to seize those parts of Bosnia closest to Serbia and to the (now Serbian-controlled) Krajina, regardless of who lived there. Within six weeks they controlled 60 percent of the country, and though they would later increase their gains, occupying, at their strongest, some 70 percent of Bosnia's territory-Serbs made up slightly less than a third of Bosnians-and though the fighting and shelling and skirmishing would go on, the front lines would not change dramatically during the next three years of the war.

When the Serb gunners began shelling cities and towns in Bosnia, the pattern of "cleansing" emerged immediately. Army units would form a perimeter around a town, setting up roadblocks. Messages were sent inviting all Serb residents to depart. Then the artillerymen would begin their work, shelling the town with heavy and light guns; if defenders fired back, the Serb bombardment might last many days, destroying the town and killing most of those in it; if there was no resistance, the heavy guns might stop in a day or two. Once the town was considered sufficiently "softened up," the paramilitary shock troops would storm in, and the terror would begin.

Like the camp guards-whom they visited when they could in order to take part in torturing prisoners-the paramilitary troops had one responsibility: to administer terror. After a town had been subdued by artillery fire the paramilitaries "mopped up." Many bore on their person all the iconography of World War II "Chetnik" nationalists: bandoliers across their chests and huge combat knives on their belts; fur hats with symbols of skull and crossbones; black flags, also with skull and crossbones; and the full beard, which, as Ivo Banac says, "in the peasant culture of Serbia is a sign of mourning; somebody dies, one does not shave. This was something that happened in times of war...."[23]

Often the paramilitary troops would arrive at a newly conquered town with lists of influential residents who were to be executed; just as often they simply shot, or stabbed, or mutilated, or raped any resident whom they managed to find. These killers, many of whom were criminals who had been released from prison to "reform themselves" at the front, were attracted to the job by their virulent nationalist beliefs, by simple sadism, and by greed. Looting Muslim houses made many of them rich.

Many of the sadistic, high-living, and colorful paramilitary leaders became celebrities in Serbia. Zeljko Raznatovic, for example, known as Arkan (everyone knew his Serb Volunteer Guard, by far the strongest and best armed of the paramilitaries, as Arkan's Tigers), was a famous criminal-a bank robber by profession who was thought to be wanted in several European countries, in several of which he had been imprisoned and escaped.

Judah speculates that Arkan's legendary prison escapes have owed much to his longstanding contacts with agents of an espionage network run out of the Yugoslav Secretariat for Internal Affairs, for whom he reputedly worked as an assassin abroad. (His day job was running a pastry shop.) Having lately married a Serbian pop singer in a huge wedding, Arkan now is a member of the Yugoslav parliament.

Despite their flamboyance and seeming independence, Arkan's Tigers and the other paramilitaries-Vojislav Seselj's Chetniks, the White Eagles, the Yellow Ants (the name is a testament to their prowess at looting)-were creatures of the Serbian state. As Milos Vasic, an expert on the Yugoslav military, writes, "They were all organized with the consent of Milosevic's secret police and armed, commanded, and controlled by its officers."

Though it is unclear how specifically the officers described actual tactics in the RAM Plan, the similarity of atrocities committed in town after town lends credence to Beverly Allen's assertion, in Rape Warfare, that they debated in detail the most effective means of terror. Allen quotes one document, "a variation of the RAM Plan, written by the army's special services, including...experts in psychological warfare," that offers a chilling sociological rationale for the tactics of ethnic cleansing:

Our analysis of the behavior of the Muslim communities demonstrates that the morale, will, and bellicose nature of their groups can be undermined only if we aim our action at the point where the religious and social structure is most fragile. We refer to the women, especially adolescents, and to the children. Decisive intervention on these social figures would spread confusion..., thus causing first of all fear and then panic, leading to a probable retreat from the territories involved in war activity.



This is why Vasic calls the paramilitaries the "psychological weapon in ethnic cleansing." The men knew that they must be brutal enough, and inventive enough in their cruelty, that stories of their terror would quickly spread and in the next village, says Vasic, "no one would wait for them to come." He estimates that the paramilitaries consisted on average of "80 percent common criminals and 20 percent fanatical nationalists."[24]

Jose Maria Mendiluce, an official of the United Nations High Commission on Refugees, who happened to pass through Zvornik on April 9, was watching the paramilitaries "mopping up" the town, when he suddenly realized that "the Belgrade media had been writing about how there was a plot to kill all Serbs in Zvornik.... This maneuver always precedes the killing of Muslims." As Michael Sells, who includes this quotation in his The Bridge Betrayed, comments,

The national mythology, hatred and unfounded charges of actual genocide in Kosovo and imminent genocide in Bosnia had shaped into a code: the charge of genocide became a signal to begin genocide.



Army gunners-some of them positioned across the Drina in Serbia itself-targeted Zvornik and drove its few, lightly armed defenders out in a matter of hours. Then Vojislav Seselj and his Chetnik paramilitaries moved in.

Mendiluce watched as the soldiers and the paramilitaries did their work:

I saw lorries full of corpses. Soldiers were dumping dead women, children and old people onto lorries. I saw four or five lorries full of corpses. On one bend, my jeep skidded on the blood.[25]



United Nations investigators say Seselj briefed his Chetniks in a local hotel, reading out a list of the names of local Muslims who were to be killed. "Milosevic was in total control," Seselj later told an interviewer, "and the operation was planned...in Belgrade."

The Bosnian Serbs did take part. But the best combat units came from Serbia. These were special police commandos called Red Berets. They're from the Secret Service of Serbia. My forces took part, as did others. We planned the operation very carefully, and everything went exactly according to plan.[26]



According to the United Nations, some two thousand people from Zvornik remain unaccounted for. As for the other 47,000 Muslims, they were expelled, many of them forced onto the roads with only what they wore. Zvornik, which had a thriving community of Muslims for half a millennium, now has none.

Sometimes the cleansing was carried out more gradually. Early in 1992, members of a small paramilitary group seized control of Prijedor's television transmitter, thus ensuring that the town received only programs from Belgrade-programs which, UN investigators wrote, "insinuated that non-Serbs wanted war and threatened the Serbs." Soon Yugoslav National Army troops, fresh from the Croatia war, began arriving in the Prijedor area. The Army officers demanded that Prijedor's leaders permit their troops to take up positions around the city, from which they could control all roads to, and exits from, the district.

It was an ultimatum. The legitimate authorities were invited for a guided sightseeing tour of two Croatian villages...which had been destroyed and left uninhabited. The message was that if the ultimatum was not [accepted], the fate of Prijedor would be the same. ... The ultimatum was accepted.[27]



With Bosnian Serb troops guarding all roads, Prijedor became isolated. The Serbs closed down the bus service. They required that people have permits to visit even nearby villages. They imposed a curfew. The telephones were often not working.

On April 30, in a swift, well-executed coup d'etat, local Serbs seized control of Prijedor itself. According to the United Nations investigators, the Serbs had been preparing to seize power for at least six months, arming themselves with weapons secretly supplied by the Army and developing their own clandestine "parallel" administrations, including a "shadow" police force with its own secret service.

Non-Serbs now began to lose their jobs. Policemen and public officials were the first to be dismissed, but the purge went on until even many manual workers had been fired. The "shadow" administrations already long prepared by the Serbs simply took over the empty offices.

The new Serb policemen, often accompanied by paramilitaries, began to pay visits throughout Prijedor, pounding on the doors of all non-Serbs who held licenses to own firearms and demanding they turn them in.

...The non-Serbs in reality [had become] outlaws. At times, non-Serbs were instructed to wear white armbands to identify themselves.



Finally, near the end of May, the local press-newspapers, radio, and television-began to broadcast a more hysterical version of Belgrade's propaganda, claiming that dangerous Muslim extremists were hiding around and within Prijedor, preparing to seize the town and commit genocide against the Serbs.

By now it had become quite clear what this accusation heralded. Those few Muslims and Croats who still had weapons decided to move first. As the UN investigators describe it:

On 30 May 1992, a group of probably less than 150 armed non-Serbs had made their way to the Old Town in Prijedor to regain control of the town.... They were defeated, and the Old Town was razed. In the central parts of Prijedor..., all non-Serbs were forced to leave their houses as Serbian military, paramilitary, police and civilians advanced street by street with tanks and lighter arms. The non-Serbs had been instructed over the radio to hang a white piece of cloth on their home to signal surrender.



According to the UN Report, "Hundreds, possibly thousands were killed...frequently after maltreatment." Those who survived were divided into two groups: women, children, and the very old were often simply expelled; as for the men, thousands were sent to Keraterm and Omarska, the two nearest concentration camps. Although the fighting on May 30 began a general exodus of non-Serbs-the Muslim population dropped from nearly fifty thousand in 1991 to barely 6,000 in 1993-it very quickly became clear that the Serbs were targeting for actual deportation the elite of the city: political leaders, judges, policemen, academics and intellectuals, officials who had worked in the public administration, important business people, and artists. And, after the burning of the old town, any "other important traces of Muslim and Croatian culture and religion-mosques and Catholic churches included-were destroyed."

On the morning of May 30, 1992, two heavily armed soldiers came to his door and summoned him and, within hours, Rezak Hukanovic, a forty-three-year-old father of two, broadcaster, journalist, and poet, found himself packed into a bus with scores of other frightened men, bent over, his head between his knees, peering out of the corner of his eye at the tongues of flame rising from the Old City of Prijedor. He was on his way to Omarska.

Footnotes

[1.] Roy Gutman of Newsday broke the story of the camps in his article on August 2, 1992; see his collection, A Witness to Genocide (Macmillan, 1993). But it was not until August 6, when Britain's International Television News (ITN) broadcast the first television pictures from the camps, that President Bush found himself forced to defend his "standoffish" policy toward the former Yugoslavia. See the first article in this series, "The US and the Yugoslav Catastrophe," The New York Review, November 20, 1997.

[2.] Primo Levi, Survival in Auschwitz (Simon and Schuster, 1993), p. 90. Perhaps it was this apparent absence of mortal fear, recalling the "supposed fatalism" of the Muslims, that led the SS men to coin the nickname Musulmen; or it may have been the "swaying motions of the upper part of the body," brought on by severe muscle atrophy, which the Germans thought echoed "Islamic prayer rituals." See Wolfgang Sofsky, The Order of Terror: The Concentration Camp, translated by William Templer (1993; reprinted in translation by Princeton University Press, 1997), p. 329, note 5.

[3.] Quoted in Gutman, Witness to Genocide, p. 47.

[4.] See "Omarska Detention Camp," War Crimes in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Volume II (Helsinki Watch, 1993), p. 108.

[5.] "J." worked in the kitchen at Omarska. See War Crimes in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Volume II, p. 103, and, for the earlier quotations about the beatings, p. 101.

[6.] Final Report of the United Nations Commission of Experts Established Pursuant to Security Council Resolution 780, 1992 (United Nations, 1994), Annexes, pp. 48-49.

[7.] See War Crimes in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Volume II, pp. 110-111.

[8.] See Raul Hilberg, "The Anatomy of the Holocaust," in Henry Friedlander and Sybil Milton, editors, The Holocaust: Ideology, Bureaucracy, and Genocide (Kraus International, 1980), pp. 90-91.

[9.] See Sofsky, The Order of Terror, p. 115.

[16.] Drawn from an unbroadcast section of an interview with ABC News, "While America Watched: The Bosnia Tragedy," January 1994.

[17.] Republished as The Other Balkan Wars: A 1913 Carnegie Endowment Inquiry in Retrospect with a New Introduction and Reflections on the Present Conflict by George F. Kennan (Carnegie Endowment, 1993), p. 151.

[18.] Drawn from an unbroadcast section of an interview with ABC News, "While America Watched: The Bosnia Tragedy," January 1994.

[19.] See "The Gates of Hell," Program Four (UK TX version) in The Death of Yugoslavia, Brian Lapping and Associates; Laura Silber, consultant.

[20.] See "The SANU 'Memorandum,'" in Boze Covic, editor, Roots of Serbian Aggression: Debates Documents Cartographic Review (Centar Za Strane Jezeke Vodnikova, Zagreb, 1991).

[21.] Testimony of Jerko Doko, The Prosecutor v. Tadic, case IT-94-I-T, June 6, 1996, pp. 1359-1361, in "Testimony Offered to the International Commission for the Former Yugoslavia," The Hague, June 6, 1996.

[22.] See Adil Kulenovic, "Interview with Vladimir Srebov," Vreme (Belgrade), October 30, 1995.

[23.] See Rabia Ali, "Separating History from Myth: An Interview With Ivo Banac," in Rabia Ali and Lawrence Lifschultz, editors, Why Bosnia? Writings on the Balkan War (Stony Creek, Connecticut: Pamphleteer's Press, 1993), p. 158.

[24.] See Milos Vasic, "The Yugoslav Army and the Post-Yugoslav Armies," in D.A. Dyker and I. Vejvoda, editors, Yugoslavia and After: A Study in Fragmentation, Despair and Rebirth (Longman, 1996), p. 134.

[25.] See "The Gates of Hell," Program Four in The Death of Yugoslavia.

[26.] See "The Gates of Hell," Program Four in The Death of Yugoslavia.

[27.] See United Nations Report, Annex V, "The Prijedor Report," paragraphs 6-13, 16, 19-20.

BOOKS REFERRED TO THIS ARTICLE


WITNESS TO GENOCIDE
By Roy Gutman
180 pages
published by Macmillan

SEASONS IN HELL: UNDERSTANDING BOSNIA’S WAR

By Ed Vulliamy
370 pages
published by Simon and Schuster

THE TENTH CIRCLE OF HELL: A MEMOIR OF LIFE IN THE DEATH CAMPS OF BOSNIA

By Rezak Hukanovic and with a Foreword by Elie Wiesel
164 pages
published by New Republic/Basic Books

LATE-BREAKING FOREIGN POLICY: THE NEWS MEDIA’S INFLUENCE ON PEACE OPERATIONS
By Warren P. Strobel
275 pages
published by United States Institute of Peace

THE SERBS: HISTORY, MYTH AND THE RESURRECTION OF YUGOSLAVIA
By Tim Judah
350 pages
published by Yale University Press

RAPE WARFARE: THE HIDDEN GENOCIDE IN BOSNIA-HERZOGOVINA AND CROATIA
By Beverly Allen 180 pages
published by University of Minnesota Press

THE BRIDGE BETRAYED: RELIGION AND GENOCIDE IN BOSNIA
By Michael A. Sells
244 pages
published by University of California Press

“YUGOSLAVIA: 1989-1996”

By Warren Zimmermann
edited by Jeremy R. Azrael, and Emil A. Pagin
217 pages
published by Rand

THE CONCEIT OF INNOCENCE: LOSING THE CONSCIENCE OF THE WEST IN THE WAR AGAINST BOSNIA
edited by Stjepan G. Mestrovic 259 pages
published by Texas A&M University Press

THIS TIME WE KNOW: WESTERN RESPONSES TO GENOCIDE IN BOSNIA
By Thomas Cushman and Stjepan G. Mestrovic
412 pages
published by New York University Press

GENOCIDE: THE POLICY OF ETHNIC CLEANSING
By Norman Cigar
247 pages
published by Texas A&M University Press

SLAUGHTERHOUSE: BOSNIA AND THE FAILURE OF THE WEST
By David Rieff 274 pages
published by Touchstone

 

 

RAPE MAKES IT MORE DANGEROUS TO BE A WOMAN THAN A SOLDIER IN TIMES OF WAR

 

by Roger-Claude Liwanga

 

Rape is one of the oldest forms of sexual assault. From its Latin origin, rape is derived from the verb "rapere", meaning to seize or take by force. There are numerous forms of rape, but the most common types are acquaintance rape, which is unwanted sexual intercourse with a person known to the victim, often committed by colleagues, classmates and friends; spousal rape; rape by a stranger; gang or multiple rape; and war rape, perpetrated by soldiers or rebel groups or others involved in armed conflict.

 

War rape is a sui generis form of rape and differs from other types in that the primary intention of the perpetrator is to terrorize the rest of the civilian population of the occupied territory. In other words, war rape is not about sex, but power, terror and domination, as Lisa F Jackson has said. Rape in the context of armed conflict serves to generate fear, shame and demoralization among the civilian population and not only in the person assaulted. Communities threatened by mass rape in war may prefer to flee in advance of the enemy attack and may delay their return to the occupied territory.

 

Rape in wartime seems to have similar functions to other weapons used for occupying territories. This tactic proved successful, for example, during World War II, when approximately 200 000 Korean, Taiwanese and Chinese women were said to have been forced into sexual enslavement by the Japanese military and used as so-called "comfort women", while Soviet Red Army soldiers are thought to have raped around two million German women and girls.

 

In today's civil armed conflicts, rape is also used as a tool of war. For instance, the civil war in former Yugoslavia (1992-1995) registered between 10 000 and 60 000 cases of mass rape, mostly of Muslim women. According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, between 23 000 and 45 000 women were raped over one year in Kosovo, between 30 and 50 percent of them by Serbian forces. Human Rights Watch estimated that as many as 33 percent of women were raped during the Democratic Republic of Congo's civil war, with more than 100 000 women raped in the province of South Kivu alone; and an NGO in Darfur documented 9 300 cases of rape, though other observers estimated it was double that.

 

The circumstances under which these mass rapes occurred are very similar. For example, in Darfur and the DRC, most of the mass rapes took place in the context of attacks on villages by militiamen and/or military troops. The men broke into houses, looted everything, killed men and boys and raped women and girls. In Bosnia-Herzegovina's case, mass rapes occurred in the so-called "rape camps" in which the conquered women were forcibly held and raped.

 

The consequences of mass rape affect women physically and psychologically. Unwanted pregnancy is one physical consequence of mass rape in armed conflict. In war conditions, with malnutrition, disease, and infection prevalent, unwanted pregnancy may increase the risks of infant and maternal mortality, especially in developing countries where already about 590 women die for every 100 000 births. Mass rape also increases the prevalence of sexually transmitted disease. The organization Widows of the Genocide in Rwanda tested 1 200 of its 25 000 members and found that 80 percent had been raped and 66 percent were HIV-positive. A study in Ivory Coast found that around 70 percent of Ivorian women raped since 2002 were infected with sexually transmitted disease.

 

In societies where female and male honour is based on a woman's chastity, a man who thinks that a woman had sex with another, whether by force or not, will reject her to retain his male pride. Through fear of rejection and of being dishonoured, many women are keeping silent. This hiding of the rape is easier if the women are "lucky" enough not to fall pregnant and if the rape did not occur in front of others.

 

Similar psychological effects also affect society at large to the extent that members of the community who were forced to experience or watch repetitive acts of rape struggle to deal with traumatic memories.

 

Under international law, rape is recognized as an international crime when committed under particular circumstances. Accordingly, the Geneva conventions grant special protection to women "against any attack on their honour, in particular against rape, enforced prostitution, or any form of indecent assault". And this protection applies in both international and non-international armed conflicts. Similarly, the Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court (ICC) states that rape constitutes "war crimes, in particular when committed as part of a plan or policy or as part of a large-scale commission". The same statute stipulates that "rape ... or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity" amounts to a "crime against humanity" when committed "as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population with knowledge of the attack".

 

In the Jean Paul Akayesu case, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda held that systematic rape committed with the intent to destroy a particular group fits within the statutory definition of genocide.

 

But in spite of all these international instruments and rulings condemning all forms of sexual violence against women and girls during wartime, women and girls are still the victims of such atrocities. Being a woman is more dangerous than being a soldier in armed conflict, noted Christine Deschryver.

 

Why do these atrocities persist? The response seems to be linked to the impunity of the perpetrators. Soldiers and former soldiers or other perpetrators who know that they will not be punished for their wrongdoing will be tempted to commit similar acts again.

 

We should be ashamed that our silence enables these acts to continue unabated in our society today.

 

/Roger-Claude Liwanga is the Racism and Xenophobia Project coordinator at the Southern African Media and Gender Institute./

 

 

THE ROLE OF THE PRIJEDOR AUTHORITIES DURING THE WAR AND AFTER THE SINGING OF THE DAYTON PEACE AGREEMENT

 

The "Crisis Committee" and Co-Conspirators

 

In 1992, the "Crisis Committee of the Serbian District of Prijedor" (Križni Štab Srpske Opštine Prijedor) was established to organize the takeover of the town by Serbs and to eliminate the non-Serb population through a systematic "ethnic cleansing" campaign coordinated with Serbian and Bosnian Serb army and paramilitary units.[14] The goal of the "Crisis Committee" was to establish complete Serb control over the Prijedor opstina, to arm Serbs within that area, to block communications of non-Serbs, to destroy multi-ethnic relations in all sectors of the community through the use of propaganda (to instill within the local Serb population the fear that they were under threat from non-Serbs), to provide logistical support and production for the army through the takeover of industryand production units, and to conduct the organized and meticulous larceny of funds from non-Serbs through control of the bank, expropriation of property, and burglary.[15]

 

Crisis committees were formed in a number of towns and villages in Bosnia and Hercegovina in order to facilitate the takeover by Serb forces and authorities. The "Crisis Committee" in Prijedor, aided by many others, targeted non-Serb community leaders and business owners, many of whom were summarily executed or immediately rounded up and imprisoned in concentration camps, particularly in Omarska camp.[16] During the period when such committees were being set up in various towns in 1992, the Prijedor Bosnian Serb authorities secretly began developing nine new police stations. In early April 1992, Serb police officers in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina simultaneously left the established police forces to form their own police. Simo Drljača headed the secret effort in Opština Prijedor to create such a force. The local Prijedor police, according to numerous witness accounts and independent investigations, played a major role in violations of international humanitarian and human rights law during and after the war. Local police were often involved in paramilitary-type activities, such as armed attacks on civilians in and around Prijedor, and in interrogations and torture in the concentration camps.

 

A number of current officials in Prijedor were members of the Crisis Committee, including the recently-ousted but still powerful police chief, Simo Drljača; current Mayor Milomir Stakić; the president of the local (self-designated) Serbian Red Cross, Srđo Srdić; and Prijedor Hospital Director Milan ("Mico") Kovačević (previously president of the Prijedor Executive Committee, or city council). According to the U.N. Commission of Experts, Slobodan Kuruzović, now director of a local newspaper, was an officer in the Bosnian Serb Army, a key military figure on the "Crisis Committee" and the commander of the Trnopolje concentration camp.

 

Other alleged abettors in the "ethnic cleansing" include Deputy Mayor ,Momčilo Radanović (nom de guerre "Cigo"), who has been accused of atrocities in Kozarac and in the concentration camps; Marko Pavić, director of the PTT (Post Office, Telegraph and Telephone); and Milenko Vukić, director of the electric company.[17]

 

Several police officials and numerous police officers have been accused of participation in war crimes. The civil, secret, and military police provided the camps with guards and interrogators. Joint police and military "intervention units" were used to trace and capture the non-Serb leadership. These units participated in mass killings.

 

According to the Commission of Experts, "members of the `Crisis Committee' ran the community in which all these violations occurred. They participated in administrative decision-making. The gains of the systematic looting of non-Serbian property were shared by many Serbs on different levels."[18]

 

A local resident of Prijedor recently told Human Rights Watch/Helsinki that the "Crisis Committee" "got rich during the war through theft and looting of those killed, and through bribery [i.e. freedom offered for cash]. They also stole businesses of those killed. That is how they got some of the businesses they have now in Prijedor. Others took that money and opened businesses or companies. Only those with connections to these guys can have a business because that is the only way to be sure you are protected."[19] Those without connections or those who refuse to pay protection money run the risk of having their business destroyed or worse.

 

A survivor of Keraterm and Trnopolje told Omarska survivor Jadranka Cigelj in November 1992:

 

    I blame the following for the atrocities that were committed: 1. The entire county authorities -[including] president of the county Milomir Stakić, medic by profession; 2. The local police forces -chief of staff Simo Drljača, lawyer, and head commander Živko Jović; 3.Simo Mišković, leader of the Serbian Democratic Party, a policeman from the communist era, now retired, and successor to Srđo Srdić, now president of the Prijedor Red Cross; 4. An army representative, Colonel Arsić...who was in charge of the brigade which destroyed Pakrac and other Slavonian and Banian towns and villages, he participated in the events and gave orders; he and Major Radmilo Zeljaja practically controlled all of the events until now, therefore, the destroyed town of Kozarac is now called Radmilovo in honor of Major Zeljaja."[20]

 

Another survivor of Keraterm also mentions the names of some of those responsible for "ethnic cleansing":

 

    I have not [yet] described here the horrible sufferings of famished, sick and beaten people, who died in the worst pain imaginable, the bestiality of guards who forced the beaten people to put their genitals in each other's mouths, the beaten up boy who died in his father's arms. According to my estimate, over 300 people were killed in "Keraterm" during my stay from June 10 to August 5, 1992. Besides the already mentioned, the perpetrators of those crimes include: Banović called Čupa, Kondić, Radić, Rodic, Đorđe Dosen called Dole, Lajić, Stojan Madzar, Civerica and others whose names are known by their commanders. The investigators were: Gostimir Modić, Brane Šiljegović, Ranko Bucalo, Dragan Radetić, and Dragan Radaković. Order-issuing authorities were: Simo Mišković (president of the Serbian Democratic Party of Prijedor), Milomir Stakić (Prijedor county supervisor), Simo Drljača (head of the Prijedor police), Dule Janković (the police commander) and Jović (the commander of the military police).[21]

 

Dispatches, a British documentary film series, covered the story of the concentration camps in and around Prijedor in 1992 and featured interviews with survivors of the Omarska, Keraterm, and Trnopolje camps. [22] Some of the witnesses interviewed bravely named those responsible. Among those named were Simo Drljača, Milomir Stakić, Zeljko Meakic [indicted], Mlado Krkan [Mladen "Krkan" Radic, indicted], and Nada Balaban. Dispatches also gained access to the Omarska and Trnopolje camps, resulting in powerful footage of the conditions there. The film makers went to the main office inside Omarska camp, where they met and filmed Simo Drljača with his assistant Nada Balaban. Balaban states in the film, as Drljača stands next to her, "This is not a camp, this is a center, a transit center. Omarska and Trnopolje. Both are centers, not camps." Dispatches interviewed Mayor Stakić in his office after their visit to the camps. Stakić told the crew:

 

Those places like Omarska, Keraterm and Trnopolje were the necessity of the moment and were formed on decisions of the Prijedor civil authorities. . .According to the information there was no mistreatment or violence in the centers themselves. . There were cases [of death] as the commander in charge let me know--natural deaths with medical documentation of death, but not of murder. . .not many [deaths occurred].

 

The U.N. Commission of Experts states: "It is claimed that young women from `inter alia,' the villages Gornja Ravska, Gornji Volar, Stara Rijeka and Šurkovac together with young women from other districts were detained and sexually abused by Serbian military in Korcanica motel [Korcanica is a village near Sanski Most]. It is claimed that they were abused to `give birth to better and more beautiful Serbs.' Among the high ranking Serbian military named as rapists and/or organizers of these sexual orgies are two identified members of the `Križni Štab Srpske Opština Prijedor' [ `Crisis Committee of the Serb Municipality of Prijedor'], whose names are not disclosed for confidentiality or prosecutorial reasons."[23]

 

Human Rights Watch/Helsinki's investigations indicate that the "Crisis Committee" presently continues to operate in Prijedor in much the same way as it did during the war, although more informally and with some changes in the positions of individuals. This conclusion is based upon evidence regarding the continued, well-coordinated involvement of "Crisis Committee" members and their collaborators in preventing the return of non-Serbs and retaining near-total control over the municipality.

 

Footnotes

 

[14] Final Report of the U.N. Commission of Experts, Annex V, Part 2, Section IX. It is important to note that the"Crisis Committee"may have been formed as early as February 1992.

 

[15] Final Report of the U.N. Commission of Experts, Annex V, Part 2, Section V, Subsection C.

 

[16] It is difficult to determine how many people died at the Omarska camp. According to Roy Gutman of Newsday (New York), who conducted numerous interviews with persons who were survivors of Omarska, the U.S. State Department and other Western officials confirmed to him that between 4,000 and 5,000 persons, the vast majority of them non-Serb civilians, were killed in Omarska. Some were held and killed in open pits. Thousands more would probably have died if the camps had not been closed due to international outrage. A number of detainees "disappeared" at the time of the closing of the camp. Some were later found at the Batković camp, having been moved there without proper notification of the ICRC, but at least 130 transferred detainees have never been found.

 

[17] See Appendix A for a list of known members of the Serb "Crisis Committee" of Prijedor. Information about additional members has been documented by the U.N. Commission of Experts and is in the possession of the ICTY. The information is not currently available for public use. Crisis Committees were created in other towns in Bosnian-Serb controlled areas as well.

 

[18] Final Report of the U.N. Commission of Experts, Annex V, Part 2, Section IX.

 

[19] Human Rights Watch/Helsinki interview, Prijedor, Bosnia and Hercegovina, November 1996.

 

[20] Interview conducted by Jadranka Cigelj, Zagreb, Croatia, November 5, 1992.

 

[21] Interview conducted by Jadranka Cigelj, Zagreb, Croatia, January 8, 1993.

 

[22] Dispatches, "A Town Called Kozarac," Gold Hawk Productions, April 2, 1993. Written and directed by Ed Harriman, produced by Alan Lowery.

 

[23] Final Report of the U.N. Commission of Experts, Part 2, Section V, Subsection A.

 

Although Human Rights Watch/Helsinki has not itself conducted a comprehensive investigation into the activities of all of the individuals named in this report, they have been included because they were mentioned by survivors and witnesses to atrocities (and often corroborated by other sources), and it is believed that further investigation of their activities is warranted.

 

 

EVIDENCE OF “ETHNIC CLEANSING

 

By Chris Hedges, 1996 N.Y. Times

 

'We heard shooting night and day'

 

Serbs may be hiding up to 8,000 bodies in Ljubija despite the presence of NATO forces, according to reports in the New York Times and Chicago Tribune. Residents of the northwest Bosnia town told reporters that in the summer of 1992, busloads of Muslims and Croats -- including women and children -- were taken through the gates of the mine and never seen again. "We heard shooting day and night," one resident said. "This went on for over two months." Human rights activists say the mine and suspected mass graves in Srebrenica could be the key to proving Bosnian Serbs methodically launched a campaign of genocide against Muslims and Croats.

In addition to those believed killed at the site, other remains may be those of victims that have been exhumed from other mass graves in the area and taken to the mine, where they are doused with chemicals and reburied under tons of debris, the Times said, citing reports from non-Serb miners in Ljubija. NATO forces have shown no inclination so far to approach the mine or interfere with the Bosnian Serb soldiers, the Times said. "Our job is to separate forces, not look for mass graves," said Col. Benjamin Barry, the commander of British forces, whose headquarters is a mile from the pit.

 

LJUBIJA, Bosnia - The vast open-pit iron mine, the hulks of ore-processing machinery and the bulldozers lie blanketed in snow, but the scene is not abandoned. Outside the gates of the complex, closed for four years, heavily armed soldiers patrol and the dirt roads leading to the heart of the mine are blocked with land mines. This mining complex is believed by residents here and Western officials to be the central collection point and hiding place for thousands of corpses that remain from the Bosnian Serbs' campaign of ``ethnic cleansing'' in northwestern Bosnia. The Bosnian Serbs, according to non-Serb miners in the town, are exhuming the remains of victims from numerous mass graves in the area and transferring the bodies to this mine, where they are often mangled in old mining equipment, doused with chemicals and reburied under tons of debris in the open pits. The effort to collect the bodies in one central location began late last year, but has picked up as NATO troops move into the area, the townspeople say. Two American reporters who passed through the gate of the mine and attempted to make their way by foot towards one of the pits were arrested by the Bosnian Serb police on Saturday, held for the day, and expelled from the territory they control. Senior British commanders, stationed in the mining town with the NATO force, say that British patrols sometimes find corpses, usually badly decomposed, only to have the bodies whisked away by the Bosnian Serbs, often within hours. They speculate that some of these bodies are from executions carried out this fall by paramilitary forces led by Zeljko Anatomic, known as Arkan. Others, they say, may date back four years to one of the earliest waves of ethnic killing in the Bosnian conflict. ``Everyone seems to be in a hurry to cover their killings,'' said one senior British commander, who asked to remain unidentified. ``There are bodies all over this place. We go in to houses and find floorboards ripped up and holes in the basement. They are working very hard.'' The Ljubija mine is seen by human rights officials abroad as one of the keys to documenting the killings in this part of northern Bosnia. Investigators believe the mine, along with a group of suspected mass graves near the Serb-conquered town of Srebrenica, will help prove whether the Bosnian Serbs carried out a deliberate, well-planned policy of genocide against Muslims and Croats living in this region. ``There was a lot of killing in Ljubija,'' said Ivan Zvonimir Cicak, the head of the Croatian Helsinki Committee for Human Rights. ``We think there may be as many as 8,000 bodies in the mine. We have eyewitness testimony from people who saw the bodies. On top of the bodies they dumped lime. This is probably the largest mass grave in Serb-held Bosnia. ``We look at the mine as the key to saving Bosnia,'' he continued. ``We must show that there was a systematic campaign of genocide and to do this we must get to Ljubija and Srebrenica.'' NATO forces so far show no inclination to approach the mine or interfere with the Bosnian Serb soldiers there. ``Our job is to separate forces, not look for mass graves,'' said Lt. Col. Benjamin Barry, the commander of the British forces, whose headquarters are a mile from the pit said to hold thousands of bodies. ``I don't have the resources to go looking for them. It would be a diversion of soldiers from our main goal.'' Those who live in the area, all of whom insisted that they not be identified, said that the main pit used to bury bodies is near the village of Stara Rijeka, about five miles south of the center of Ljubija. While the exact location of the mass grave site remains unconfirmed, there is much circumstantial evidence that such a grave site exists within the mine area. Residents in the town report that during the summer of 1992 busloads of Muslims and Croats, including women and children, went through the gates of the mine. But unlike the Muslims and Croats delivered to the three main concentration camps in the area - Omarska, the Keraterm tile factory, and the railway station in the village of Trnopolje - no one ever returned from the Ljubija mine. The mine, townspeople said, was never used as a detention camp, but only as an execution and burial site. ``The buses would go in day and night,'' said one resident of the town. ``They were filled with people. They always came back from the mine empty. We heard shooting day and night. At first we heard single shots, then we began to hear lots of automatic fire. This went on for over two months.'' Croats who live near the St. Ana Chapel, about 300 yards from the suspected burial pit, said that for several weeks in 1993 they were not permitted by the Bosnian Serbs to leave their homes or even peer out the windows. ``Even the Serbs were not permitted to graze their goats in the area,'' said a 66-year-old retired Croatian miner. ``We heard the sounds of many heavy trucks on the road to the pit. When we were finally allowed back outside, the pit looked different. It was full of dirt. There were earthen barricades around the pit.'' Another Croat who lives near the site said she saw dozens of pairs of sports shoes on a road near the pit. ``These were the kinds of shoes our young men wore,'' she said. In the fall of 1992, following press reports about the camps, the Bosnian Serbs disbanded the detention centers. But last fall, as the war began to turn against them, townspeople say the Bosnian Serbs moved to begin to collect bodies from other grave sites and dump them in a central pit in the Ljubija mine. Bodies, residents in the town said, were also collected from various pits in the mine and transferred to one central location. Those who live near the mine said it was sealed off for one month last fall and large numbers of Bosnian Serb troops and local miners were used to transfer the bodies to one central pit. None of townspeople interviewed admitted to taking part, but many residents told identical stories they said they had heard from neighbors and friends who worked in the mines. According to these reports, the bodies were often mangled by machinery used to crush iron ore and were further disfigured by chemicals. And late last year detonations resounded through the town that local residents say sent tons of earth over the stacks of remains. ``If you go near the site you are killed,'' said one resident. ``It is strictly off-limits. There are guards around the pit day and night. There are lots of land mines there.'' The Bosnian government offensive this fall was halted just a few miles from the Ljubija mine. Bosnian government officials said they had hoped to push their forces into the mining town to capture the mine site. They said much of their reluctance to halt their offensive was due to their failure to take this objective. Despite the presence of NATO troops in the mining town, investigators from The Hague say they are still being refused permission to enter the area around Prijedor. Ljubija is 12 miles south of Prijedor. ``There were certainly thousands killed at various camps around the Prijedor area,'' Graham Blewitt, the deputy prosecutor for war crimes at The Hague, said in a telephone interview. ``We have never had access to the area. We are hoping we will have access to the area to identify the mass graves, wherever they may be, including any mines.''

 

THE FOLLOWING BOOKS ARE RECOMMENDED FOR READING, IN ORDER TO BETTER UNDERSTAND THE PRIJEDOR GENOCIDE

 

History of Bosnia: From the Middle Ages to the Present Day

by Marko Attila Hoare

"Bosnia-Herzegovina dominated news coverage in the 1990s, yet the country remains the most misunderstood in Europe, frequently stereotyped as a land of perennial ethnic violence or occasionally admired as a former haven of multinational coexistence. In this, the first comprehensive study of national identity in Bosnia-Hercegovina, the author seeks to explain what being Bosnian has really meant for successive generations of Muslims, Serbs, Croats, and Jews. Hoare examines the origins of Bosnia and of its constituent peoples, tracing their evolution through periods of Ottoman, Habsburg and Yugoslav rule, through the genocidal atrocities of World War II, Communist-led revolution and dictatorship, the Bosnian declaration of independence in 1992 and the violence that followed. He shows how different Bosnians related to the common homeland in different ways, depending on their religion, class or political persuasion; and how this provided the basis among them both for cooperation and for conflict."

 

Bosnia: A Short History

by Noel Malcolm

"The collapse of former Yugoslavia and the ensuing war have shifted scholarly attention to its successor states. Malcolm's success consists in demonstrating why Bosnia-Hercegovina's distinctive history demands such an approach. The mix of elements include the region's geographic "remoteness" from other centers of power, its unusual Slav and non-Slav blend of population, and its status as an object of neighboring rivalry. The author cogently dispels the myths of forcible conversion to Islam by the Ottomans as well as the notion of a "fundamentalist threat" from an Islamic Bosnia. Although Malcolm is least comfortable in dealing with the segment of Bosnia's history as a part of Yugoslavia, he makes the case that its subsequent destruction was an object of "rational strategy" rather than religious hatred. Recommended for public and academic libraries."

 

Love Thy Neighbor: A Story of War

by Peter Maass

"Torture, mass murder of civilians, rape and looting are common occurrences in Washington Post staff writer Maass's intensely personal firsthand report on the war in the former Yugoslavia, based on his tour as a foreign correspondent in 1992-1993 and supplemented by up-to-date political analysis. His disturbing mosaic portrays ordinary individuals caught up in an ongoing tragedy. Rejecting the Serbs' claim that they faced imminent genocide at the hands of a radical Muslim dictatorship in Bosnia, Maass charges that Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic and his fellow nationalist extremists used the specter of Islamic persecution as a smoke screen behind which to pursue their expansionist dreams of a Greater Serbia. Maass interviews Milan Koracevic, the unrepentant Serb warlord who supervised "ethnic cleansing" in Bosnia, and he scathingly limns Charles Redman, U.S. special envoy to the Geneva peace talks. To Maass, President Clinton and his western European allies are weak-willed appeasers whose agenda was to give the Serbs virtually everything they wanted and to award half of Bosnia to Serbia."

 

A Witness to Genocide: The 1993 Pulitzer Prize-Winning Dispatches on the "Ethnic Cleansing" of Bosnia

by Roy Gutman

"This is an important and powerful book for establishing the historical record of the recent savage events in Bosnia. Gutman was among the first Western journalists to visit the "death camps" where Serbs tortured, raped, and slaughtered their prisoners--an act of deliberate policy, as the reports make clear. Gutman's reporting has won numerous awards, including the Pulitizer Prize and the George Polk Award, and this volume of his original dispatches from Newsday shows why. To some extent, there is nothing "new" here, but there is immense value in having these reports gathered together. What is the effect? Guilt. Shame. A sense that these events are truly reminiscent of the Nazi era--and the cowardice of the Neville Chamberlain period. As we contemplate both America's place in the post-Cold War world and Western moral strength, Gutman's book should head our list of essential reading."

 

The Tenth Circle of Hell: A Memoir of Life in the Death Camps of Bosnia

by Rezak Hukanovic

"In The Tenth Circle of Hell, Rezak Hukanovic takes us inside the Bosnian prison camps to document the hell of war in the former Yugoslavia. Although he writes in the third person, Hukanovic's knowledge of the camps is firsthand; a radio announcer and journalist, he was taken from his home at gunpoint and placed in the Omarska and Manjaca camps, places where people were beaten solely because of their ethnic background. What's so chilling about this book is not only the brutality of the camps, but also that such a situation occurred so very recently."

 

The Killing Days

by Kemal Pervanic

"‘The Killing Days’ is a true story, recounting my experiences as a Bosnian Muslim inmate of the infamous Serb-run concentration camps at Omarska and Manjaca during the first seven months of the conflict in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The book is written in a simple, understated style, avoiding hyperbole and overt politicisation of the story - despite the shocking brutality which the book describes."

 

Raw Memory: Prijedor, Laboratory of Ethnic Cleansing

by Isabelle Wesselingh and Arnaud Vaulerin

"In August 1992, an American journalist uncovered the existence of Serb nationalist-run internment camps in and around the Bosnian town of Prijedor. Images of terrorized, emaciated Croat and Muslim detainees, alongside accounts of starvation, rape and murder, shocked the world and forced the prompt closure of these camps. But they were just one aspect of a campaign of 'ethnic cleansing' that helped to drive more than 40,000 people - nearly half the pre-war population of Prijedor - into exile. Although far from unique as a theatre of ethnic cleansing, the town became the focus of an international effort after the war to help refugees return home, and to bring at least some of their oppressors to justice. Even so, years later only a quarter of the exiled population has returned to the region, while Serb nationalist forces remain dominant. The distorted versions of history used to ensure collusion by local Serbs in the persecution of their lifelong neighbours are being reinforced to this day by falsified accounts of the war. True reconciliation still seems remote. Beginning with an unadorned account of the hideous events of 1992, "Raw Memory" offers first-hand testimonies from refugees, camp survivors, war criminals and international agents, and reflects upon the powers and limitations of the 'international community' in its attempts to administer justice or secure reconciliation. This is a tour de force, posing questions essential not only to the future of the former Yugoslavia but to all of Europe

 

 

MORE ABOUT PRIJEDOR GENOCIDE

 

Annex V The Prijedor report

 

Prepared by:

Hanne Sophie Greve

Member and Rapporteur on the Prijedor Project,

Commission of Experts

Established Pursuant to Security Council Resolution 780 (1992)

Contributor, Part One:

Mr. Morten Bergsmo, Assistant to the Commission

 

http://www.ess.uwe.ac.uk/comexpert/anx/V.htm

 

 

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