Thursday, July 27, 2006

There was a genocide in Srebrenica: Part III War crimes and genocide justification

The claim that the attack on Srebrenica was an act of revenge for Bosniak war crimes; by over exaggerating Bosniak war crimes, while ignoring Bosnian Serb war crimes.


1. War Crimes Did Occur:
It must be understood that all sides in the war committed war crimes, and that people of all ethnicities suffered greatly (and still continue to suffer) as a result of the war. Bosnian Serb civilians were without a doubt, victims of war crimes & murder in the Srebrenica area. To deny that the Srebrenica Commander, individual soldiers or at times individual civilians committed war crimes & atrocities and to deny the very real suffering of Bosnian Serbs in the Srebrenica area is a denial of an historic truth.
Unlike the Srebrenica justifiers, I will never excuse or justify war crimes committed against civilians. For the sake of Bosnia and for the sake of justice, all war crimes must be fully acknowledged and condemned; and all war criminals need to be brought to justice.
The Srebrenica genocide deniers do not do this. While they have ignored the evidence of a calculated ethnic cleansing campaign against the Bosniaks; they have over exaggerated Bosniak war crimes in order to justify what happened in 1995. Furthermore, they continue to ignore Bosnian Serb war crimes occurring at the same time. This exposes their extreme hypocrisy.

2. The Difference Between War Crimes & Genocide:
The first fallacy is their inability to distinguish between war crimes and genocide. All armies committed (often horrendous) war crimes, but only the VRS implemented a calculated plan of ethnic cleansing & of genocide.

War crimes with regards to Bosnia:
“Croats and Muslims in Bosnia have also committed atrocities and forced other ethnic groups to flee--the Croat destruction of Mostar is a noteworthy example--but the ethnic cleansing actions of the Bosnian Serbs are unrivaled in scale and intensity. There is no pattern of events, moreover, indicating that Croats or Muslims have planned or carried out systematic, large-scale ethnic cleansing.”
Bosnia Handout

* personal note: IMO, the Croatian Army's "Operation Storm"; as well as the Croat run concentration camps for Bosniaks can also be seen as a sign of ethnic cleansing. But, they can not even come close to comparing to the massive and calculated ethnic cleansing campaign of the Serbs against the Bosniaks; which was a form of genocide. *

War crimes with regards to the Srebrenica Area:
“Certainly, the Bosnian garrison under Naser Oric had been guilty of atrocities…. But these crimes were reactive; they are in no sense comparable with the calculated campaign of aggression and ethnic displacement waged by the Serbs... Moreover, Bosnian raiding parties violating the ceasefire were a direct result of Serb bad faith in blocking aid convoys, which compelled Oric to forage for food.” Bosnia Institute



3 Over exaggerations, and half truths relating to Bosniak war crimes.
While fully acknowledging that members of the 28th division based in Srebrenica did commit crimes against Serb civilians; it must also be acknowledged that genocide deniers have over exaggerated these crimes to justify the final take over of Srebrenica.

Over exaggerated death toll:
Genocide justifiers constantly cite the inflated number of 3,000 dead to bolster their claim that Mladic’s final assult was based out of righteous revenge, and not a calculated plan to commit genocide. However, there is not one iota of data to support the claim of 3,000 dead see: Human Rights Watch
Furthermore, there is evidence of the RS & Serbian media purposely inflating the number of dead. The most prominent example of this embellishment of Bosnian Serb causalities was the report on the village of Kravica. Bosnian Serb media sources, and even western media sources, originally reported about a wholesale slaughter of Bosnian Serb civilians on Christmas Day. However, the VRS own internal documents, reveal that 45 people were killed in the Kravica attack, 11 of them were civilians. Kravica, however as been constantly used as a reference point of the mass murder of Bosnian Serb civilians and as the cause rationale for the attack on Srebrenica.

Misleading about the status of the victims:
Beyond the over exaggeration of the number killed, there has also been an attempt to mislead with regard to the status of the victims. Data shows that a significant portion of the Bosnian Serb deaths occurred during combat, nevertheless all of these deaths have portrayed as “victims of Muslim terror.”
See: Sarajevo Research & Documentation Center
ICTY Press Conference
Human Rights Watch

Ignoring VRS presence in Bosnian Serb villages:
The genocide justifiers have consistently ignored the strong VRS military presence in some Bosnian Serb villages.
For example, the village of Fakovici was used as a military outpost through which Bosnian Serb forces launched massive attacks on Bosniak civilians. IWPR
Secondly, the Oric judgment found the presence of military presence in several villages that the Bosniak forces launched an offensive on. Including the presence of sophisticated weapons such as tanks, anti aircraft, rocket launchers etc. Therefore, putting the offensive actions against those specific villages where there was a VRS presence in much different light than the one purported by the genocide deniers.

4. UN conclusions on Bosniak war crimes
From paragraph 497 of UN report:
A third accusation levelled at the Bosniac defenders of Srebrenica is that they provoked the Serb offensive by attacking out of that safe area. Even though this accusation is often repeated by international sources, there is no credible evidence to support it. Dutchbat personnel on the ground at the time assessed that the few "raids" the Bosniacs mounted out of Srebrenica were of little or no military significance. These raids were often organized in order to gather food, as the Serbs had refused access for humanitarian convoys into the enclave. Even Serb sources approached in the context of this report acknowledged that the Bosniac forces in Srebrenica posed no significant military threat to them. The biggest attack the Bosniacs launched out of Srebrenica during the more than two years during which it was designated a safe area appears to have been the raid on the village of ViĆĄnjica, on 26 June 1995, in which several houses were burned, up to four Serbs were killed and approximately 100 sheep were stolen. In contrast, the Serbs overran the enclave two weeks later, driving tens of thousands from their homes, and summarily executing thousands of men and boys. The Serbs repeatedly exaggerated the extent of the raids out of Srebrenica as a pretext for the prosecution of a central war aim: to create a geographically contiguous and ethnically pure territory along the Drina, while freeing their troops to fight in other parts of the country. The extent to which this pretext was accepted at face value by international actors and observers reflected the prism of "moral equivalency" through which the conflict in Bosnia was viewed by too many for too long.
UN report


5. Ignoring Bosnian Serb war crimes in 1992-1993
Besides over exaggerating Bosniak war crimes during 1992-1993, genocide justifiers have also ignored Bosnian Serb war crimes against Bosniak civilians during this same period.

1. Srebrenica was under constant siege by VRS forces. (See Oric judgment)
In January 1993 there was a massive attack on the outer region of Srebrenica, thereby forcing even more Bosniaks into Srebrenica. (See Kristic judgment 565)
As the evidence regarding the village of Fakovici, Bosnian Serb troops were also using the villages to launch massive attacks on the peope in the enclave.



2. The VRS cut off food and prevented humanitarian envoys from entering the enclave.
(See: UN security council mission, as cited by the Kristic judgment 565, Oric judgment, trial)
The people of Srebrenica were forced to live off a starvation diet; and there had been not only evidence of severe malnourishment, but also of death as a direct result of Mladic's starvation of the enclave.
If the starvation of 40,000 people is not: “deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;” than I don’t know what is.

Lack of medical supplies, communications, electricity, running water
From Simon Mardel, a WHO doctor based in Srebrenica:
People are completely trapped. The water supply from higher up the valley is now cut off. The present situation can only be described as an impending holocaust.”
IWPR article


The genocide justifiers however do not condemn these war crimes committed by Bosnian Serb soldiers and individual citizens against Bonsiaks in Srebrenica.


Conclusion:
All war crimes must be condemned fully, some of the Srebrenica forces did commit war crimes-and these war crimes must be condemned. War crimes can never and should never be justified.
War crimes committed by Bosniak forces however were not at same scale nor level of calculation as the massive ethnic cleansing campaign engaged by Bosnian Serb forces during the same time. Furthermore, genocide justifiers have over exaggerated Bosniak war crimes, while ignoring Bosnian Serb war crimes. Thereby giving a very biased and inaccurate view of what occurred in 1992-1993, in order to justify what happened in 1995.

4 comments:

Srebrenica Massacre said...

Your argument is flawed, quote:

"It must be understood that all sides in the war committed war crimes, and that people of all ethnicities suffered greatly (and still continue to suffer) as a result of the war. Bosnian Serb civilians were without a doubt, victims of war crimes & murder in the Srebrenica area. To deny that the Srebrenica Commander, individual soldiers or at times individual civilians committed war crimes & atrocities and to deny the very real suffering of Bosnian Serbs in the Srebrenica area is a denial of an historic truth."

First of all, Serb civilians did not suffer greatly in the Srebrenica area; that is simply not true. Around 400 Serbs died in the Srebrenica area, 300 of them soldiers. Another 100 civilians died as a result of counter-defensive operations led by Naser Oric.

How can you say that Serb civilians suffered greatly, when on one side you had 30,000 Bosniaks starving in Srebrenica (under siege) and another 8,100 Bosniaks slaughtered in Srebrenica? How can you compare 100 with 8,100?

Kirk Johnson said...

How is her argument flawed? You might have a point that saying Bosnian Serb civilians "suffered greatly" creates a false equivalence; however, it is clear from the rest of this post that Shaina has correctly identified the core issue--the difference between isolated war crimes versus a campaign of genocide.

Owen said...

"If the starvation of 40,000 people is not: “deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;” than I don’t know what is."

And the deliberateness of it is set clearly in Karadzic's "Directive No. 7" on 8 March 1995 to the VRS, concerning the strategy of the VRS forces in the Srebrenica area. The Directive specified that the VRS was to -

"complete the physical separation of Srebrenica from Zepa as soon as possible, preventing even communication between individuals in the two enclaves. By planned and well- thought out combat operations, create an unbearable situation of total insecurity with no hope of further survival or life for the inhabitants of Srebrenica."

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