Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Markale Massacre

The shell attack on the Markale Market in Sarajevo in 1994 was one of the most indelible images of Sarajevo siege; it was also one of the most controversial; as immidiately after the shell attack UN officials claimed that it was uncertain who fired shell; VRS or ABiH forces.
Over a decade later, the Markale Massacre; and the allegation that the shell was fired upon by the ABiH forces in a ruse to gain public sympathy; has become the lynchpin argument of those in the Balkans and in the West who have unapologetically thrown their support to the likes of Karadzic and his ilk.
Even those who do not go as far as supporting Karadzic; have used the allegation that the ABiH shelled the market place as proof of moral equivalency between the "sides" and as an argument for why intervention into the Bosnian conflict would be foolhardy.
Yet; over a decade later, if there is even a shred of doubt in some people's minds that the ABiH did indeed launch the deadly shell; that doubt should be fully put to rest by the testimony of UN Official David Harland at the trial of Dragomir Milosevic; who is on trial for the latter part of the siege against Sarajevo.
At his trial, Harland said that in 1994 the technical report by the UN intelligence officers had concluded "beyond resonable doubt" that the shell was launched from VRS positions in Lukavica.
Yet, for political reasons and strategic reasons; namely "order not to alarm the Bosnian Serbs who would be alerted to the impending NATO air strikes against their positions had he pointed a finger at them" the UNPROFOR Commander; Rupert Smith was advised to tell the international press that there was no way of knowing where the shell was launched from; thus starting over a decade of conspiracy theories, allegations, rumors and the like that the Bosnian government had purposefully bombed their own side in a dastardly attempt to gain international sympathy. The full article can be read here.
I'm not exactly sure how to sum up my thoughts about this article and the UN's moral and legal hesitancy and pure obstruction of justice with regard to Markale in particular and Bosnia in general; except that to paraphrase what the UN report said regarding the UN role and response in Srebrenica; "[Bosnia] will haunt the history of the UN forever."

14 comments:

Marin said...

Sorry if I sound too harsh, but you seem to me as bit naive person when it comes to dealing with the war here. Stories like this abound, UN involvement was despicable, there are numerous examples and this is only one... Eventually a person loses its sense of wonder

Shaina said...

no, you don't sound too harsh.
The UN's behavior in Bosnia was dispicable, as it was in Rwanda during the same time period.
But, while I suppose the shock should be lessened by now; no matter how many times I hear them, they still have an effect.

Marin said...

You know what was the nickname for the UN forces in Croatia and Bosnia? "The Smurfs". In Sarajevo and other places in Bosnia they had a deal with Mladić so that 50% of humanitarian aid goes to him and his forces, and 50% to those in need. Everybody knew that. Also, have you red about the accusation of mass rapes committed on children by the UN forces in Darfur recently? I remember when UNPROFOR forces were finally allowed to come in Croatia and Bosnia, people believed that they're saviours, and no less then that the war will instantly stop... Bah. But you're right, no matter how many times you hear them, the stories still have an effect. It goes from disbelief to bitterness to shruging your shoulders.

Marin said...

You know what was the nickname for the UN forces in Croatia and Bosnia? "The Smurfs". In Sarajevo and other places in Bosnia they had a deal with Mladić so that 50% of humanitarian aid goes to him and his forces, and 50% to those in need. Everybody knew that. Also, have you red about the accusation of mass rapes committed on children by the UN forces in Darfur recently? I remember when UNPROFOR forces were finally allowed to come in Croatia and Bosnia, people believed that they're saviours, and no less then that the war will instantly stop... Bah. But you're right, no matter how many times you hear them, the stories still have an effect. It goes from disbelief to bitterness to shruging your shoulders.

Marin said...

You know what was the nickname for the UN forces in Croatia and Bosnia? "The Smurfs". In Sarajevo and other places in Bosnia they had a deal with Mladić so that 50% of humanitarian aid goes to him and his forces, and 50% to those in need. Everybody knew that. Also, have you red about the accusation of mass rapes committed on children by the UN forces in Darfur recently? I remember when UNPROFOR forces were finally allowed to come in Croatia and Bosnia, people believed that they're saviours, and no less then that the war will instantly stop... Bah. But you're right, no matter how many times you hear them, the stories still have an effect. It goes from disbelief to bitterness to shruging your shoulders.

M. said...

Sorry for the comment flood, something was wrong with the comouter :(

Shaina said...

Don't worry about the comment flooding thing; computers can be pretty unpredictable at times!
I remember the smurf comment from the film "No Man's Land"

Anonymous said...

There were instances of U.N. forces committing rape in BiH as well. These stories mostly were covered up.

Canadian forces went to the Serb run brothels where Muslim girls and women were kept. There was a scandal about General MacKenzie in this regard too. His victims were presented to him by the VRS and then killed after he had his fun with them so that no one could witness against him later.

I remember reading about the misconduct of Canadian U.N. persons in major American news magazines like Newsweek.

Canadian forces also raped and beat residents of a mental institution in BiH during the war. Since mental institutes were ethnically pretty integrated after the break-up of Yugoslavia, probably not all the victims were Muslims.

There has been way more publicity about U.N. misconduct in Africa than in BiH.

Owen said...

The President of the Congress of North American Bosniaks appears to be challenging MacKenzie to sue him for libel by sending out a letter to various Canadian organisations on behalf of Woman - Victim of War, asking them to support efforts to have MacKenzie make himself available for questioning by the Bosnian authorities concerning the charges. The letter is accompanied by the testimony of a witness who describes her encounter with MacKenzie. A letter has been sent to the UN asking Kofi Annan as then was SG to release the files of the UN investigation that cleared MacKenzie first time round.

Owen said...

The President of the Congress of North American Bosniaks appears to be challenging MacKenzie to sue him for libel by sending out a letter to various Canadian organisations on behalf of Woman - Victim of War, asking them to support efforts to have MacKenzie make himself available for questioning by the Bosnian authorities concerning the charges. The letter is accompanied by the testimony of a witness who describes her encounter with MacKenzie. A letter has been sent to the UN asking Kofi Annan as then was SG to release the files of the UN investigation that cleared MacKenzie first time round.

But I don't think all UN staff should be smeared with same brush (declaration of past interest here)

Owen said...

Sorry, I seem to have been contributing my own current to the flood.

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