Srebrenica Muslims remembered – the rest silenced

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo 222 – July 11, 2005

Originally published here.

 

There is every reason to commemorate the massacre by Serb soldiers on innocent Muslim civilians in Srebrenica ten years ago today. But unless it is considered acceptable to quantify crimes and politically misuse human suffering, there is no plausible reason to forget or silence other cases of massacres, ethnic cleansing and terror bombings in which other innocent people lost their lives.

 

Other crimes silenced

In September 2003, mainstream media around the world forgot to commemorate the 10th Anniversary of the Croatian Army’s killing of civilian Serbs in the Medak Pocket in Croatia.

In May 2005, they forgot to commemorate the 10th Anniversary of Operation Flash in Croatia and in August this year they are likely to remain silent about Operation Storm in Croatia. Here is what Amnesty International has to say about the fate of civilian Serbs in Croatia in the years 1991-95 during which 300.000 Croatian Serbs were forced to leave and/or actively driven out with violence from their country. Today’s Croatian leaders are proud of this – and of course present at the Srebrenica ceremony together with diplomats from the United States that, at the time, assisted the Croatian Army in its crimes.

On March 24 this year the international community passed over the 6th Anniversary of NATO’s bombings of Serbia and Kosovo in silence. These bombs killed more people propotionately than the terror attacks on the U.S. on September 11, 2001. There has been no coverage of the innocents who suffered there, no silent minutes and no speeches of solidarity – neither has there for the suffering in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The bombings ended 78 days later on June 10 after which the same international community turned a blind eye to the fact that about 200.000 innocent, civilian Kosovo-Serbs and Romas were ethnically cleansed out of Kosovo by the province’s Western-supported Kosovo-Albanian nationalist leadership.

Some of them have been the close partners of the UN, OSCE, NATO and the EU missions ever since. Virtually no Serbs or Romas have returned or been helped to return to Kosovo. Instead, pressure is put on Serbia to let them become citizens of Serbia – and then they will have no right to return to Kosovo in the future.

While blaming systematically the Serb side for what happened in ex-Yugoslavia, the international community – governments, diplomats and media – has conveniently decided to pass over in silence the violence against Serb civilians and ignored every opportunity to express sympathy with their sufferings.

 

The media coverage of Srebrenica – nothing learned since 1990

And what can be said about the coverage these days of Srebrenica? That it is an exhibition of lessons still not learned by the media since the Balkan crisis began more than 15 years ago.

The complex background to the Srebrenica massacre is ignored. The fact that everything is related to everything else in Bosnia as well as in all of former Yugoslavia is ignored. The fact that Muslim atrocities against Serbs preceded those of the Serbs against the Muslims is ignored. The fact that Srebrenica was one of the “safe areas” for refugees/displaced people but also militarised with the consent of the U.S. and others is never mentioned. That the Bosniaks gave it up because there was a plan to let the Serbs have Srebrenica in exchange for the Muslims taking control over Serb-held parts of Sarajevo – well, also omitted.

The fact that there are different sources and figures for the missing, killed and displaced persons is ignored. So is the fact that there are more reports and different views about what really happened and why. The fact that the Bosnian Army’s military leader in Srebrenica, Naser Oric, is indicted at the Hague Tribunal is ignored. Soldiers from the Dutch UN battalion portray him as “a crook, a robber, a pimp and a murderer”. He is the only Srebrenica Muslim to be tried at the ICTY. His trial, which began on 6 October 2004, has shed light on little-known aspects of Srebrenica’s history. For more, see also Carl Bildt’s account of what happened in and around Srebrenica.

And ignored is the relation between the then Bosniak political and military leadership on the one hand and Al Queda and Islamist networks on the other. Are we really to believe that the West has killed hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi Muslims the last 14 years, but have such passion for and solidarity with Bosnian Muslims? Hardly, it’s more likely that they have to still demonize Serbs because any other attitude and an open recognition of Balkan complexities would place in doubt the simplified black-and-white image of the conflict on which that international community has operated in ex- Yugoslavia since 1991.

Thus, the complicity of the United States and European countries in making the massacre possible politically and militarily is ignored – because it has to be ignored. The rampant violations of the UN arms embargo and the secret arming of the Muslims by the U.S. is another aspect conveniently left unmentioned when covering Srebrenica. See the Dutch government report in the link collection below.

The only guilty ones mentioned – and condemnned – by the media is Karadzic, Mladic and Milosevic – none of whom have been convicted yet. There is no reason to assume that they are innocent, but isn’t it the norm that anyone shall be considered innocent until proven guilty?

Richard Holbrooke, Pierre-Richard Prosper and CNN’s Christiane Amanpour as well as everybody talking about it in Swedish radio and television know that Karadzic and Mladic is in Serbia-Montenegro and should be handed out by Belgrade. But how come they know that while NATO – the world’s strongest military alliance with most highly developed intelligence-gathering network – has not been able to find these two men over the last 3650 days? And are they unaware that Serbia has accepted that FBI and CIA people have searched them for several months in Serbia without, so far, being able to find them there?

 

Not the failure of “the UN” but of its member states and the Clinton administration

As usual we are told that it was the failure of the “United Nations”. No, it wasn’t that simple. It was the failure of each and all of the member states of the UN. Why? Because instead of making available the 30.000+ troops required to make the designated Safe Areas safe, only Turkey delivered – and only 1.300. And some – the Clinton administration in particular – let these safe areas be filled with soldiers, weapons and ammunition of the Bosnian army. Thus, while protected by refugess all around them inside the ‘safe’ areas, the Muslims could shoot out on Serb villages and soldiers while they were supposed to not respond in kind.

This is not to say that the media coverage about Srebrenica up to July 11 is false or only propaganda. A horrendous crime was done by Serb forces and they must be brought to justice. But we do need some other views both to understand history and promote reconciliation.

 

There is a broader picture and it is available to those who care

There is a broader picture. One less black-and-white and not simplified beyond recognition. One that does not cover up Western peace prevention in the Balkans. One that is broad enough to help us understand how future Srebrenicas can be avoided.

I believe that every human life – not just the life of some – is sacred. To remember Srebrenica is morally right; to forget and to silence other suffering individuals and nations is wrong. To lay the blame collectively on only one party in an extremely complex multi-dimensional civil war that was massively related to international interests is indecent and unfair.

And let’s remember too, today, that politicised and fragmented media-manufactured “truths” easily turn into half lies that serve whatever purposes but human compassion, solidarity and solidarity.

If you are interested in knowing more about Srebrenica than the mainstream media and the international so-called “community” let you know, I suggest you visit some of the links below. They are only a small selection of what is available – by the way also to journalists who care to investigate and seek objective, complex knowledge. Some offer a Serb viewpoint, most don’t. Some are government reports, some are the UN and some are invididual eyewitness reports. The only truth there is is the one we put together ourselves by using as many and as different sources we can. And apply sound judgement in the face of the – ongoing – media war.

 

Answers.com & Wikipedia
History of the Balkans

Wikipedia
The Srebrenica Massacre

Answers.com
Srebrenica Massacre

TFF Feature – Lewis MacKenzie, The Globe & Mail, Thursday July 14, 2005
The Real Story Behind Srebrenica
“Two wrongs never made a right, but those moments in history that shame us all because of our indifference should not be viewed in isolation without the context that created them.” A devastating blow to the mainstream media’s biased coverage of the anniversary of the massacre – by a man who was there and knew the wider picture.

Edward S. Herman
The Politics of the Srebrenica Massacre

Richard Aldrich, The Guardian
America Used Islamists to Arms the Bosnian Muslims:
The Srebrenica Report Reveals the Pentagon’s Role in a Dirty War

The Dutch Government’s Srebrenica Report
Srebrenica. A ‘Safe’ Area

IWPR
Srebrenica Report “Lets West Off the Hook”

Mark Danner, The New York Review of Books
Bosnia – The Great Betrayal

The United Nations
The Fall of Srebrenica: Report of the Secretary-General pursuant to General Assembly resolution 53/55 (1999)

Republika Srpska’s Secretariat for Relations with the International Criminal Tribunal in the Hague
Various documents – including “Islamic Fundamentalist’s Global Network-modus operandi-Model Bosnia.”

The Srebrenica Research Group
Report “Srebrenica and the Politics of War Crimes”

http://www.slobodan-milosevic.org
The Forbidden Srebrenica Report +
U.S. Official Implicated with Bosnian High Representaitve Ashdown in Attempting to Force Fabricated Report on Srebrenica

ICTY, the Hague
The indictment of Karadzic and Mladic

ICTY, the Hague
The indictment of Naser Oric

Answers.com
Alija Izetbegovic (1925-2003) – former president of Bosnia

ICTY, the Hague 2003
UN Official Says No Evidence Connecting Milosevic to Srebrenica Massacre

Carlos Martins Branco, UN political officer
Analysis of the fall of Srebrenica

Carl Bildt on July 6, 2005
The Story of the Fall of Srebrenica

IWPR
Srebrenica: Anatomy of a massacre

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