Tuesday, August 05, 2008

First Regional Truth Commission Runs Into Doubts

From Balkan Insight via justwatch-l.

NGOs mount bold initiative to form first regional truth commission
on war crimes, in spite of governments' indifference and scepticism
of experts

8 comments:

Daniel (Srebrenica Genocide Blog) said...

Serbian government and their main researcher, Srebrenica genocide denier Milivoje Ivanisevic, are not interested in truth. They are interested in inflating the number of Serb casualties to justify and deny Srebrenica genocide. Not to mention Sarajevo where over 10,000 civilians died, including 1,500 children of all nationalities thanks to the barbaric Serb military siege of the city.

Shaina said...

Dan, I agree with you that Ivanisevic seems much more interested in politicizing death tolls and reports for his own political reasons rather than presenting objective research.
Fortunately, this truth commission, (as far as I can tell from this article) does not involve Ivanisevic in any capacity.
The three organizations involved are: Documenta in Zagreb,
the Research and Documentation Center [RDC] in Sarajevo, and the
Humanitarian Law Center [HLC] in Belgrade. All three are respected independent institutions and have a history of working with each other in the past.
Although, as the article shows, they certainly face an uphill battle trying to organize, research and present the findings of a truth commission.

Isarajka said...

I read the article on truth commissions in BalkanInsight two weeks ago and was delighted to hear about the initiative.
However, truth commissions haven't seemed to get the attention they'd deserve in the Balkans, and not many people, even academics, seem to really believe in them.
Significantly, only one other person posted a comment on the article. Strange, when it's at the level of grass-root truth telling, and the establishment of one version of the truth for Croatia, Bosnia and Serbia that needs to be worked on, in order to establish the foundations of true reconciliation and a peaceful future.

Or is it just me who thinks that the establishment of one version of the truth to be used in history and text books, media and general public discourse is the precondition for present and future generations to being able to communicate with each other safely and on common ground without always falling back into the abyss of unresolved, painful and heartbreakingly opposite claims to what really happened in the villages of A,B,C,D in 1991,2,3,4,5 and 6?

This is not an invitation for the cynics to call me naive. I am fully aware of the grandiosity of the aims of the project and the almost impossibility of finding and recording all the information in the detail required. But even a serious attempt at it, even if it should take 10 or 15 years, would do the Balkans a world of good if the results of the project were to be recognised by a wide array of political parties and governments as an acceptable version of the truth for all three countries in question.

Owen said...

Isarajka, I agree with you that the attempt to establish a regional truth commission is worthwhile as long as it is rigorous enough in the way it operates to command respect (and the three participating institutions in this case should be able to ensure that, as far as it's possible).

All the same, it's important to value it for what it might realistically achieve, not for what it might be in the best of worlds. Just look at the steep slope HLC is still climbing in Serbia after so many years.

Dan, Shaina and I and other frequenters of Shaina's blog have plenty of experience of the unwillingness of some of the people we've engaged with to pay the slightest attention to objectively established truth. The day Dan's friend Mrs Sacred Byzantine Art acknowledges the truth of anything that doesn't confirm the eternal righteousness and victimhood of (her perception of) the Serb nation I shall believe the heavens have fallen in.

Where the real merit of the proposal lies as I see it is in the increased confidence that a wider public acknowledgment of a common truth can bring to the work of the people involved.

All respect to Documenta, RDC and HLC.

Owen said...

At the UK Foreign Office's YouTube channel there's an interview (Jan 2008) with the Ambassador to Bosnia, Matthew Rycroft (just recently returned to London). One of the subjects he touches on - rather more sensitively than Jack Straw a couple of years ago - is reconciliation, the contribution of the Commission on Missing Persons to reconciliation and the importance of delivering Karadzic, Mladic etc. to The Hague.

http://ca.youtube.com/watch?v=5vDUeaF-5Uo

Owen said...

Paul Rusesabagina talks about truth and reconciliation in Rwanda:
http://ca.youtube.com/watch?v=_OfbYxKeefM

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