Skip to comments.Srebrenica Casualty Numbers Challenged by Experts as Politicized and Ethnically Divisive
Posted on 09/21/2003 8:34:13 AM PDT by joan
BALKAN & EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN POLICY COUNCIL
PO Box 20407, Alexandria, Virginia 22320, USA
Telephone (703) 548-1070.
Facsimile (703) 684-7476.
Contact: Gregory Copley, 703-548-1070
Srebrenica Casualty Numbers Challenged by Experts as Politicized and Ethnically Divisive
WASHINGTON, DC, September 18, 2003: On the eve of the dedication of a monument to Muslims killed at Srebrenica, in Bosnia-Herzegovina, in 1995, a group which includes a former UN official, intelligence experts, and journalists, released a statement challenging the alleged casualty number of 7,000 victims as "vastly inflated and unsupported by evidence".
They asserted that one-sided interventionist policies permitted al-Qaida forces and radical Islamists backed by the Iranian clerical government to take root during the Bosnian war, clouding the future of the region. As well, they agreed that the "memorialization" of false numbers in the monument actually appeared to be intended to perpetuate regional ethnic hatred and distrust and to deliberately punish one of the victim groups in the Bosnian civil war. Former US President Bill Clinton is expected to attend and legitimize the dedication of the monument at Srebrenica, which was constructed using one million dollars of US Embassy funds at the request of High Representative Paddy Ashdown. But former BBC journalist Jonathan Rooper, who has researched the events in Srebrenica since 1995, says that the region was a graveyard for Serbs as well as Muslims and that a monument to inflated casualties on one side "serves neither truth nor the goal of reconciliation".
Phillip Corwin, former UN Civilian Affairs Coordinator in Bosnia during the 1990s, said: "What happened in Srebrenica was not a single large massacre of Muslims by Serbs, but rather a series of very bloody attacks and counterattacks over a three year period which reached a crescendo in July of 1995." Mr. Corwin is author of Dubious Mandate, an account of his experiences during the conflict. He points out that Srebrenica, which was designated a safe zone, was never demilitarized as it was claimed to be, and that Muslim paramilitary leader Nasir Oric, who controlled Srebrenica, launched repeated attacks on surrounding Serb villages. He noted: "I was the United Nations" chief political officer in Bosnia the day that Srebrenica fell. Coincidentally, it was the same day that the Bosnian Government tried to assassinate me as I drove over Mount Igman on the way to Sarajevo."
Intelligence expert and strategist Gregory Copley, President of the International Strategic Studies Association and the ISSA's Balkan & Eastern Mediterranean Policy Council, accused US Ambassador Donald Hays, who serves as Deputy High Representative of Bosnia-Herzegovina, of using the power of the Office of the High Representative (OHR) governing Bosnia "to force Bosnian Serb elected officials to sign a fraudulent document accepting the official version of events in Srebrenica. The leaders of Republica Srpska [the predominantly Serbian province of Bosnia-Herzegovina] invited the office of the High Representative to join their investigation of the events in Srebrenica. Instead they were told they were told to sign a statement drafted by OHR endorsing casualty figures they publicly disagreed with." Copley added: "It is significant in that the former US Clinton Administration fought this war unquestioningly supporting only the Croat and Muslim factions and disregarding the historic alliance of the Serbian peoples with the US. Then, after the war, the Clinton Administration failed to follow US tradition in helping to heal the wounds of war, but, rather, perpetuated ethnic divisions and hatreds. This differs from the US role in all other wars."
"Unfortunately, all of the policies and officials put in place in the region by the Clinton Administration remain. The current Bush Administration has neglected the Balkans and has, instead, allowed the Clinton policies to continue, which has meant that divisive politics continue. This, then, requires the ongoing commitment of US peacekeeping forces in both Bosnia and in the Kosovo province of Serbia."
Copley added that, according to intelligence obtained from Islamist sources, that the monument was intended to become a shrine for radical Islamists in Europe and site for annual pilgrimages. He added: "Deputy High Representative Donald Hays forced the Republica Srpska Government to issue a statement which accepted the radical Islamists" version of the Srebrenica affair, despite the fact that the Office of High Representative does not have any investigative capability of its own to make a valid assumption on the matter. As well, the International Criminal Tribunal on Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague " no friend of the Serbs " has itself not completed its investigation of Srebrenica, and nor has the office of the Government of Republica Srpska which has been working with the ICTY."
Amb.. Hays and OHR chief Paddy Ashdown forced the Republica Srpska statement merely to ensure that the opening of the "shrine" " to be attended by Clinton " would vindicate Clinton Administration policies of support for the radical Islamists." Yossef Bodansky, who has written several books on the war in Yugoslavia and also serves as Research Director of ISSA, calls the 7,000 figure "disinformation" and notes that "all independent forensic evidence points to Muslim casualties in the hundreds, possibly the low hundreds. Continued emphasis on such allegedly high numbers of Muslim deaths at Srebrenica also obfuscates the Muslim murders in that city, earlier, of Serb civilians." Bodansky also wrote extensively on the link between Osama bin Laden and the Bosnian Islamists in numerous articles and special reports and three books, including Offensive in the Balkans: the Potential for a Wider War as a Result of Foreign Intervention in Bosnia-Herzegovina (1995), Some Call it Peace: Waiting for War in the Balkans (1996), and Bin Laden: The Man Who Declared War on America (1999).
Rooper says that at least 1,000 Serbs, mostly civilians, were killed by forces led by Oric who did not bother to hide his crimes, even showing videotapes of slaughtered Serbs to Western journalists. Meanwhile a group of academic experts and journalists from the United States, Canada, Germany, France, Serbia, and the United Kingdom has been organized by Professor Edward S. Herman of the University of Pennsylvania to examine the evidence regarding events at Srebrenica in July 1995 and earlier, how the media reported these events, and the political role of claims about Srebrenica. It is expected that a report from this group will be available in June 2004. Rooper points out that the 40,000 inhabitants the UN used in July of 1995 before the capture of Srebrenica roughly matches the number of former residents accounted for in the aftermath. A commander of the Muslim-dominated Army of BiH (Bosnia-Herzegovina) later confirmed to parliament in Sarajevo that 5,000 BiH troops escaped largely intact to Tuzla while the UN registered some 35,632 civilian survivors.
While the capture of Srebrenica was reported in July 1995, as it unfolded, an international outcry only took place a month later, after Madeleine Albright, then US representative to the UN, held up a photo which she said provided evidence that thousands of Muslim victims had been buried at field near Nova Kasaba, 19 kilometers from Srebrenica. Excavations which took place following the war, however, yielded 33 bodies at Nova Kasaba. Two years after the event, a total of 400 bodies had been found at 20 sites near Srebrenica, an area which had seen bloody fighting over a three year period. Instead of acknowledging that there was no support for the original figures, Rooper says a various means were used to prop up the official story.
"Spokesmen for the Clinton Administration suggested that Serbs might have moved the bodies to other locations. Rooper points out that excavating, transporting and reburying 7,000 bodies was "not only beyond the capabilities of the thinly stretched, petrol-starved Bosnian Serb Army, but would have been easily detected under intense surveillance from satellites and geostationary drones.
By 1998, thousands of bodies excavated from all across Bosnia were stored at the Tuzla airport. Despite state of the art DNA testing, only 200 bodies have been linked to Srebrenica. Around 3,000 names on a list of Srebrenica victims compiled by the Red Cross matched voters in the Bosnian election in 1996. "I pointed out to the OSCE that there had either been massive election fraud or almost half the people on the ICRC missing list were still alive," says Rooper. "The OSCE finally responded that the voting lists had been locked away in warehouses and it would not be possible for them to investigate."
The inflated Srebrenica statistics are part of a larger picture that intelligence experts such as Bodansky and Copley find troubling. They say US policymakers have been slow to recognize that Bosnia is viewed as a strategic base for operations in Europe by al-Qaida and the HizbAllah. In 1993, when the Clinton Administration was strongly backing the Muslim President of Bosnia, Alija Izetbegovic, Osama Bin Ladin was regular visitor to his office, according to Renate Flottau of the German weekly, Der Spiegel. The Bosnian daily, Dani, reported that the Vienna Embassy of BiH issued a passport to Bin Ladin in 1993.
A special report by Copley, issued Tuesday, September 16. 2003. noted that Bosnia-Herzegovina Ambassador Huso Zivalj, who issued the passport to Bin Ladin, later served as Bosnian Ambassador to the United Nations in September 11. "It is becoming increasingly clear that the movement of Zivalj to the New York post just before (and his departure just after) the September 11,2001 attacks was not coincidental."
"To refer to US Bosnia policy as a success story is to disregard substantial evidence to the contrary. Instead of misplaced symbolism in Srebrenica, US policymakers need to take a hard look at assumptions which have guided US actions in the region," Copley said.
If the Bosnia Government had succeeded in assassinating him, who do you think would get the blame for his death? Likely the Bosnian Muslim Government and the Western press would say it was "Serb snipers", and then add that the motive was because he'd been a witness to Serb atrocities.
But he survived the attempt and unambiguously states it was the Bosnian Government.
I note that your article, written in 2003, uses information from 1998, which means the author neatly avoids having to address recent information which invalidates the basis of the article in toto.
The intellectual lights you choose to illuminate your world are rather dim, Joan.
Thousands of men from Srebrenica went to Tuzla. You were there in Tuzla. I'll bet it was flooded with Bosnian Muslim men, many tough looking brutes - those who raided Serb villages and had their headless bodies in heaps. Naser Oric showed his videos to Western reporters. Did you see Naser, the mass murderer, walking around Tuzla? Did you have drinks with him? Did you go to his clubs and businesses?
Stella Jatras told me:
"I've met a lady who, along with her husband, was in Bosnia from 1997 to 1998. She was with NATO working with General Shinseki and he was a former LAPD working with the UN. He said that he was sent to investigate mass graves containing the bodies of Bosnian Muslims and Croats and upon each and every investigation, it turned out that the mass graves contained the bodies of Serb soldiers who had been shot in the back of the head. When he protested to his superiors about the inacuracies of the reporting, they told him to shut up."
Is not Tuzla the place where bodies from all throughout Bosnia are brought? About a year ago, I read a short report that said bodies in Croatia, just over the border from Bosnia, would be brought to the Tuzla morgue, as it was believed they were "Bosnian." But I'd bet they were Bosnian Serb, for the Croat army crossed right into Bosnia and had brigades stationed in Bosnia during the war.
Compare and contrast
Since July 1995, when the ICRC started to collect the information needed to trace people unaccounted for after the fall of Srebrenica, the organization has received 7,599 enquiries regarding people who went missing in the town. Only 22 people have been found alive; the mortal remains of 1,083 others have been identified. source
Furthermore, with Nikolic and Obrenovic cooperating with the Tribunal, further Srebrenica secondary gravesites, like Crni Vrh are being uncovered, and the true nature of the ethnic cleansing campaign waged by the Serbs in Eastern Bosnia is becoming clearer, and harder to lie about.
Take a hike.
Hi everybody I would like to express my views on the events of Srebrenica. I am sending one article I wrote long time ago, which reflects a very different approach from the one conveyed by the western medias, and CNN in particular. I was UNMO Deputy Chief Operations Officers of UNPF (at theatre level) and my information is based upon debriefings of UNMOs who where posted to Srebrenica during those days and some UN reports not disclosed to public opinion. My sources are not Ruder & Finn Global Public Affairs, which has not my name included in its database. I dont want to discuss numbers and similar matters. Those subjects do not interest me at all. There are not reliable information and figures have been used and manipulated for propaganda purposes which are not oriented to a serious understanding of the Yugoslavian conflict. The article is based upon TRUE information and includes my analysis of the events. The story is longer than the one of the article, however, I tried to concentrate it as small as possible. I hope it contributes to a further clarification of what really happened in Srebrenica and what was behind it, specially in what concerns the bosnian muslim attitude. I do believe that Srebrenica shows a pattern behaviour of the warring factions in the conflict: on one hand bosnian muslim provocating serbs, trying hard to convince the international community to intervene by force against the Serbs in order to solve the military question; on the other hand serb leadership's lack of intelligence providing to muslims the justifications and arguments they were looking for. I know that some of you won't enjoy the contents of the article. For those, sorry.
Was Srebencia a hoax?
It is now two years since the Muslim enclave, Srebenica, fell into the hands of the Serbian army in Bosnia. Much has been written about the matter. Nonetheless the majority of reports have been limited to a broad media exposure of the event, with very little analytic rigour. Discussion of Srebenica cannot be limited to genocide and mass graves, which has been almost a banale occurrence throughout ex-Yugoslavia. A rigorous analysis of the events must take into consideration the background circumstances, in order to understand the real motives which led to the fall of the enclave.
The zone of Srebenica, like almost all of Eastern Bosnia, is characterized by very rugged terrain. Steep valleys with dense forests and deep ravines make it impossible for combat vehicles to pass, and offers a clear advantage to defensive forces. Given the resources available to both parties, and the characteristics of the terrain, it would seem that the Bosnian army (ABiH) had the necessary force to defend itself, if it had used full advantage of the terrain. This, however, did not occur.
Given the military advantage of the defensive forces it is very difficult to explain the absence of military resistance. The Muslim forces did not establish an effective defensive system and did not even try to take advantage of their heavy artillery, under control of the United Nations (UN) forces, at a time in which they had every reason to do so.
The lack of a military response stands in clear contrast to the offensive attitude which characterized the actions of the defensive forces in previous siege situations, which typically launched violent "raids" against the Serbian villages surrounding the enclave, thus provoking heavy casualties amongst the Serbian civilian population. But in this instance, with the attention of the media focused upon the area, military defence of the enclave would have revealed the true situation in security zones, and demonstrate that these had never been genuinely demilitarized zones as was claimed but harboured highly-armed military units. Military resistance would jeapordize the image of "victim", which had been so carefully constructed, and which the Muslims considered it was vital to maintain.
Throughout the entire operation it was clear that there were profound disagreements between the leaders of the enclave. From a military viewpoint, there was total confusion. ORIC, the charismatic commander of Srebenica, was absent. The Sarajevo government did not authorize his return in order to lead the resistance. Military power fell into the hands of his lieutenants, who had a long history of incompatibility. The absence of ORICs clear leadership led to a situation of total ineptitude. The contradictory orders of his successors completely paralysed the forces under siege.
The behaviour of the political leaders is also interesting. The local SDP president, Zlatko Dukic, in an interview with European Union observers, explained that Srebrenica formed part of a business transaction which involved a logistical support route to Sarajevo, via VOGOSCA. He also claimed that the fall of the enclave formed part of an orchestrated campaign to discredit the West and win the support of Islamic countries. This was the reason for ORIC to maintain distance from his troops. This thesis was also defended by the local supporters of the DAS. There were also many rumours of a trade within the local population of the enclave.
Another curious aspect was the absence of a military reaction from the 2nd Corps of the Muslim army, which did nothing to relieve the military pressure on the enclave. It was common knowledge that the Serbian unit in the region, the "Drina Corps", was exhausted and that the attack on Srebenica was only possible with the aid of the units from other regions. Despite this fact, Sarajevo did not lift a finger in order to launch an attack which would have divided the Serbian forces and exposed the vulnerabilities created by the concentration of resources arround Srebenica. Such an attack would have reduced the military pressure on the enclave.
It is also important to register the pathetic appeal of the president of Opstina, Osman Suljic, on July 9, which implored military observers to say to the world that the Serbians were using chemical weapons. The same gentleman later accused the media of transmitting false news items on the resistance of troops in the enclave, requiring a denial from the UN. According to Suljic, the Muslim troops did not respond, and would never respond with heavy artillery fire. Simultaneously, he complained of the lack of food supplies and of the humanitarian situation. Curiously, observers were never allowed to inspect the food reserve deposits. The emphasis given by political leaders on the lack of military response and the absence of food provisions loosely suggests an official policy which began to be discernible.
In mid 1995, the prolongation of the war had dampened public interest. There had been a substantial reduction in the pressure of public opinion in the western democracies. An incident of this importance would nonethless provide hot news material for the media during several weeks, could awaken public opinion and incite new passions. In this manner it would be possible to kill two birds with one stone: pressure could be laid to bear in order to lift the embargo and simultaneously the occupying countries would find it difficult to withdraw their forces, a hypothesis which had been advanced by leading UN figures such as Akashi and Boutros-Boutros Ghali.
The Muslims always harboured a secret hope that the embargo would be lifted. This had become the prime objective of the Sarajevo government, and had been fuelled by the vote in the US Senate and Congress in favour of such a measure. President Clinton, however, vetoed the decision and required a two thirds majority in both houses. The enclaves collapse gave the decisive push that the campaign needed. After its fall, the US Senate voted with over a two thirds majority in favour of lifting the embargo.
It was the clear that sooner or later the enclaves would fall into the hands of the Serbians, it was an inevitability. There was a consensus amongst the negotiators (the US administration, the UN and European governments) that it was impossible to maintain the three Muslim enclaves, and that they should be exchanged for territories in Central Bosnia. Madeleine Albright suggested this exchange on numerous occasions to Izetbegovic, based on the proposals of the contact group. As early as 1993, at the time of the first crisis of the enclave, Karazdic had proposed to Izetbgovic to exchange Srebrenica for the suburb of Vogosca. This exchange included the movement of populations in both directions. This was the purpose of secret negotiations in order to avoid undesirable publicity. This implied that the western countries accepted and encouraged ethnic separation.
The truth is that both the Americans and President Izetgbovic had tacitly agreed that it made no sense to insist in maintaining these isolated enclaves in a divided Bosnia. In 1995 nobody believed any longer in the inevitability of ethnic division of the territory. In the month of June 1995, before the military operation in Srebrenica, Alexander Vershbow, Special Assistant to President Clinton stated that "America should encourage the Bosnians to think in terms of territories with greater territorial coherence and compactness." In other words this meant that the enclaves should be forgotten. The attack on Srebrenica, with no help from Belgrade, was completely unnecessary and proved to be one of the most significant examples of the political failure of the Serbian leadership.
Meanwhile the western media exarcebated the situation by transforming the enclaves into a powerful mass-media icon; a situation which Izetbovic was quick to explore. CNN had daily broadcasts of the images of mass graves for thousands of corpses, obtained from spy satellites. Despite the microscopic precision in the localization of these graves, it is certain that no discover to date has confirmed such suspicions. Since there are no longer restrictions on movement, we inevitably speculate on why they have still not been shown to the world.
If there had been a premeditated plan of genocide, instead of attacking in only one direction, from the south to the north - which left the hypothesis to escape to the north and west, the Serbs would have established a siege in order to ensure that no one escaped. The UN observation posts to the north of the enclave were never disturbed and remained in activity after the end of the military operations. There are obviously mass graves in the outskirts of Srebrenica as in the rest of ex-Yugoslavia where combat has occurred, but there are no grounds for the campaign which was mounted, nor the numbers advanced by CNN.
The mass graves are filled by a limited number of corpses from both sides, the consequence of heated battle and combat and not the result of a premeditated plan of genocide, as occurred against the Serbian populations in Krajina, in the Summer of 1995, when the Croatian army implemented the mass murder of all Serbians found there. In this instance, the media maintained an absolute silence, despite the fact that the genocide occurred over a three month period. The objective of Srebrenica was ethnic cleansing and not genocide, unlike what happened in Krajina, in which although there was no military action, the Croatian army decimated villages.
Despite knowledge of the fact that the enclaves were already a lost cause, Sarajevo insisted in drawing political dividends from the fact. The receptivity which had been created in the eyes of public opinion made it easier to sell the thesis of genocide. But of even greater importance than the genocide thesis and the political isolation of the Serbs, was blackmailing of the UN: either the UN joined forces with the Sarajevo government in the conflict (which subsequently happened) or the UN would be completely discredited in the eyes of the public, leading in turn to support for Bosnia. Srebrenica was the last straw which led western governments to reach agreement on the need to cease their neutrality and commence a military action against one side in the conflict. It was the last straw which united the West in their desire to break "Serbian bestiality". Sarajevo was conscious of the fact that it lacked the military capacity to defeat the Serbs. It was necessary to create conditions via which the international community could do this for them. Srebrenica played a vital role in this process.
Srebrenica represents one of a series of acts by the Serbian leaders intended to provoke the UN, in order to demonstrate their impotence. This was a serious strategic error which would cost them dear. The side which had everything to win by demonstrating the impotence of the UN was the Sarajevo leadership and not that of Pale. In 1995 it was clear that the change in the status quo required a powerful intervention which would overthrow the Serbian military power. Srebrenica was one of the pretexts, resulting from the short-sightedness of the Bosnian Serbian leaders.
The besieged forces could have easily defended the enclave, at least for much longer, if they had been well led. It proved convenient to let the enclave fall in this manner. Since the enclave was doomed to fall, it was preferable to let this happen in the most beneficial manner possible. But this would only have been viable if Sarajevo had political initiative and freedom of movement, which would never occur at the negotiating table. The deliberate fall of the enclave might appear to be an act of terrible machiavellian orchestration, but the truth is that the Sarajevo government had much to gain, as proved to be the case. Srebrenica was not a zero-sum game. The Serbians won a military victory but with highly negative political side-effects, which helped result in their definitive ostracization.
We might add a final curious note. As the UN observation posts were attacked, and proved impossible to maintain, the forces withdrew. The barricades set up by the Muslim army did not let the troops past. These troops were not treated as soldiers fleeing from the front line, but rather with a sordid differentiation. The Muslims not only refused to fight to defend themselves, they forced others to fight on their behalf. In one instance, the commander of a Dutch vehicle decided after conversations with ABiH to pass the barrier. A Muslim soldier threw a hand grenade whose fragments mortally wounded him. The only UN soldier to die in the Srebrenica offensive, was killed by the Muslims.
Carlos Martins Branco
European University Institute
Department of Social and Political Sciences Badia Fiesolana
Via dei Roccettini, 5
I-50016 San Domenico di Fiesole (FI) Italy Home:+39-55-8364147
It wasn't the Serbs who burned down most of the ancient churches in Bosnia.
You will, of course, be able to back this up with numbers of Orthodox churches destroyed vs. Catholic churches destroyed, and who perpetrated the destruction in those cases, right?
Of course not - let's not kid ourselves here.
If you include Croatia proper, the Serbs have destroyed more Churches than any other group in the Balkans since Yugoslavia broke apart.
Why not follow George Pumphrey's lead and self exile yourself to Germany too? He actually went "Audi5000", rather than just promising to.
What are Bosnian Muslim clothes? Turbans? Burkhas? Since when did the European Bosnian Muslims start wearing such apparel? Gotcha in a lie!!!
What are multi-ethnic loving Bosnians doing issuing Muslim identification cards? Since the Bosnian state was sold as a secularist entity, how is it that they started issuing Islamic identity cards? Gotcha in a lie, again!
Sorry, but it's as simple as that.
It's your reasoning, pal - if you see yourself as a simpleton, that's your business.
Check out these Serbs:
And I strongly suggest you and Hoplite take your Islamazi-loving crap and bow to it 3 times daily!
We are in World War III, and Islamazis are the BAD GUYS HERE!
Y'know what...Bosnia was Klinon's war, and ANYTHING that charlatan Wormtongue was involved with was 180 degrees off from the TRUTH!
Until the supposed "Moderate" Islamazis rise up and take back their perverted supposed religion from the Wahhabists (which they will never do, as they are part of the Jihadist culture as much as Al Queda), they are my ENEMY, and well be treated accordingly!
Wait till the war comes home to the Islamazis in Bosnia...I believe Russia will have a small say in how the Islamazis are handled.
Interesting you support those who wear explosive into public area and blow up Jewish children...but cry a river when these left-hand-A$$wipers start a war and get hit back...seems to be a Islamazi trait, just like the scumbag Pali's do it!
Tell your crap somewhere else...we all still bear the scars of your "Religion of Peace" treacherous ba$stards LAST effort in the US...we now share with the jews the following sentiment...
Quite the intellectual, aren't you?
But you just said...
Take note of his shoes too - you won't find either Croats or Muslims wearing traditional Serbian Peasant shoes - they're the basis of a derogatory term for Bosnia's Serbs - something along the lines of 'pointy toes', if memory serves.
I see. And, I understand your ensuing explanation.
However, in Post #7, you had used the phrase somewhat differently, by my reading anyway: "Anything to deny Serb blood guilt." This seems to imply that joan et al are denying not their own "blood guilt", but the (supposed) "blood guilt" which is "Serb", i.e. the "blood guilt" of Serbs as an ethnicity.
So based on the definition of "blood guilt" you've given me, I find myself still confused. Do you mean to say, then, that the "Serb blood guilt" which joan et al are denying is that they (Serbs) knowingly supported war crimes in print? All of them?
I guess I need to ask a follow-up question, then: What is "Serb blood guilt"?