|Wednesday, 10 August 2022|
BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1993
AUTHOR: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DATE: JANUARY 31, 1994
BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA
Bosnia and Herzegovina, one of six constituent republics of the former Yugoslavia, became a sovereign state in April 1992 when 63 percent of its voters endorsed independence in a free and fair referendum. Pan-Serbian nationalists loyal to Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) leader Radovan Karadzic boycotted the referendum, and former Yugoslav National Army units which had organized themselves into a Bosnian Serb armed militia (BSA) declared their support for Karadzic. Supported by the Serbian authorities in Belgrade, the BSA began a brutal campaign of terror--in which acts of genocide took place--to establish an ethnically pure state linking Serb-occupied territory in Croatia with Serbia/Montenegro to form "greater Serbia." Human rights abuses in Bosnia occurred in an environment of war, occupation, a struggle for territory and power, the breakdown of a multiethnic system, and efforts to force the duly elected Bosnian Government to accept an ethnic division of the State. The Bosnian Government is Muslim-dominated but continues to support a multiethnic society, and elected officials are drawn proportionally from all national groups.
Bosnia's population consisted of 4.4 million people before the war, 44 percent of whom were Muslim, 31 percent Serb, 17 percent Croat, and 8 percent other nationalities. By October 1993, some 200,000 Bosnians were said to have died as a result of the conflict; over 800,000 became refugees outside Bosnia; and another 1.2 million were displaced within the nation.
As BSA units swept through northern and eastern Bosnia in 1992, Karadzic declared the establishment of the "Republika Srpska" or "Serb Republic." Techniques employed by the BSA, which Serbs themselves referred to as "ethnic cleansing," included: laying siege to cities and indiscriminately shelling civilian inhabitants; "strangling" cities (i.e., withholding food deliveries and utilities so as to starve and freeze residents); executing noncombatants; establishing concentration camps where thousands of prisoners were summarily executed and tens of thousands subjected to torture and inhumane treatment; using prisoners as human shields; employing rape as a tool of war to terrorize and uproot populations; forcing large numbers of civilians to flee to other regions; razing villages to prevent the return of displaced persons; and interfering with international relief efforts, including attacks on relief personnel.
In early 1993, the BSA, supported by paramilitary forces from Serbia and Montenegro, moved to complete ethnic cleansing campaigns in eastern Bosnia. The BSA virtually destroyed the hamlet of Cerska, chasing its residents into forests and minefields, and subjected Srebrenica, Gorazde, and Zepa to strangulation and intense shelling. International protective forces which reached the enclaves in March described conditions as the worst they had ever seen and noted that there were virtually no residents left to help.
By late spring, the BSA had consolidated most of its military and territorial gains in the east. Facing international pressure and tightened economic sanctions against Serbia/ Montenegro, it scaled back assaults on the enclaves. But at midyear, the BSA renewed attacks on Sarajevo and tightened its grip on vital humanitarian supply lines, prompting a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) threat of air strikes. This led to a reduction in shelling until December, when attacks again approached July levels. Ethnic cleansing campaigns in 1993 also took place in Banja Luka and Bijeljina, and the BSA waged sporadic attacks on Tuzla, Doboj, Brcko, Olovo, Teocak, and Maglaj (this last town in conjunction with the Bosnian Croats) through December.
In April periodic skirmishing between the Bosnian government army and the militia of Mate Boban's Croatian Defense Council (HVO), the main representative of the Bosnian Croat minority, escalated into outright war. Regular Croatian army units, originally in Bosnia under a bilateral military cooperation pact, fought on the side of Boban's forces; Croatian authorities also offered materiel to the HVO but significantly less than that which Serbian authorities provided to the BSA.
The trigger for the surge in government-HVO fighting was Boban's insistence on the creation of a separate Bosnian Croat "Republic of Herceg-Bosna" within Bosnia and Herzegovina. Mostar was to be its capital, and government troops in the region were told to submit to HVO command. When the Government refused, the HVO blockaded Mostar, attacked it, and brutalized, confined, and raped its Muslim residents in an assault containing some of the most extreme human rights abuses in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1993.
The HVO also engaged in vicious acts in central Bosnia. In April the HVO killed up to 100 noncombatants in the central Bosnian hamlet of Ahmici and then razed the village. In October it massacred at least a score of Muslim civilians at Stupni Dol. The HVO and BSA engaged in localized collaboration on the battlefield in the central Bosnian enclave of Maglaj, creating conditions of extreme deprivation there.
Bosnian government forces perpetrated a number of abuses and atrocities in 1993, for the most part against the Bosnian Croats. In September government troops killed dozens of Croat civilians at Uzdol; the HVO charged that many more government massacres not yet investigated occurred in central Bosnia. As the tide in the fighting turned in favor of the Government in the fall, tens of thousands of Bosnian Croats fled or were driven from their homes, most going either to Croatia or to parts of Bosnia under HVO control. In November government forces killed two Franciscan friars in Fojnica and openly looted Bosnian Croat-owned shops in Vares.
In 1993 as in 1992, all national groups were victimized by the conflict, and all sides violated the Geneva conventions. But the BSA, with Belgrade's complicity, launched the Bosnian conflict through its aggressive ethnic cleansing campaign. Its pursuit of a policy of dispersing and destroying populations based on religious and national affiliation created a climate of prejudice and fear that ultranationalists on all sides subsequently exploited.
International efforts to stop the conflict were not successful by year's end. At best, international attention diminished the level of fighting for short periods of time. The participants to the conflict negotiated and signed numerous cease-fires but did not adhere to them. Bosnian Serb ethnic cleansing campaigns in eastern enclaves in the spring occurred even as Karadzic and Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic negotiated aspects of a settlement plan. Bosnian Croat atrocities in the spring, summer, and fall took place in spite of Boban's formal acceptance of several internationally sponsored peace initiatives. Bosnian government offensives against Bosnian Croat enclaves in central Bosnia late in the year occurred during sessions of the Geneva negotiations. Resolutions adopted by the United Nations Security Council failed to have a significant impact on the human rights situation or the war itself. U.N.-deployed peacekeepers (UNPROFOR)--some units of which were being investigated for abuses, corruption and partiality--were not equipped for peacemaking and found that there was no peace to keep.
The U.N.'s Commission of Experts, established by a Security Council resolution in October 1992 to investigate possible war crimes, continued to study abuses of human rights in Bosnia, Serbia, and Croatia. The War Crimes Tribunal was created by a subsequent resolution in February to assess the culpability of alleged perpetrators of atrocities and issue a comprehensive report on violations of human rights and humanitarian law. At year's end, all judges had been sworn in and a chief prosecutor named. Between September 1992 and June 1993, the United States Government submitted eight separate reports to the War Crimes Commission summarizing thousands of instances of killings, torture, rape, interference with humanitarian deliveries, mass deportations, and other violations of humanitarian law. In addition, the United States provided the United Nations with 400 refugee reports totaling over 1,000 pages. Illustrative examples from these submissions appear in sections of the report below.
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:
a. Political and Other Extrajudicial KillingIn the circumstances of the Bosnian war, targeted killings were difficult to distinguish from killings resulting from indiscriminate attacks and unpremeditated actions. (See Section 1.g. for a description of large-scale, war-related atrocities committed against civilians, including killings.) While only the pro-Karadzic Bosnian Serbs pursued ethnic cleansing as a matter of broad policy, local units of HVO soldiers and Bosnian government troops, as well as Serbian and Montenegrin paramilitaries and civilian gangs and mobs, killed many people out of nationalistic or religious hatred. The United Nations confirmed the existence of dozens of mass grave sites, as yet unexhumed. The Bosnian Government, HVO and Bosnian Serbs alleged that there were many more.
During ethnic cleansing campaigns in the early part of 1993, the BSA targeted local civic and religious leaders with the goal of figuratively decapitating Muslim society. Among the prominent individuals assassinated for political reasons was Bosnian Deputy Prime Minister Hakija Turajlic, who was shot at point-blank range by Bosnian Serb soldiers in January while riding in a U.N. vehicle that had been stopped--against U.N. procedures--at a roadblock.
At least 10 international relief workers died in 1993, shot by BSA or HVO soldiers or snipers of unknown affiliation. Sixty-some UNPROFOR soldiers died in outright attacks or as a result of sniper fire, and 34 journalists were killed (10 in 1993) since the beginning of the conflict. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and some international relief agencies suspended operations on several occasions during 1993 because of danger to personnel.
b. DisappearanceThere were no reliable figures for the numbers of missing persons, but with hundreds of thousands dead, thousands incarcerated, and over 2 million having fled their homes, many more were missing. The Bosnian Government claimed that 26,000 Bosnians were missing as of May. Two international journalists were known to be missing.
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or PunishmentIn spite of intense international pressure to close the prison camps discovered under BSA control in mid-1992, there were probably still scores of detention facilities for civilians, including women, children, and the elderly, in operation throughout Bosnia at the end of 1993. As many as 260 camps have been known to exist at one time or another during the conflict. In January 1993, the U.S. Government estimated that there were 135 Serb-run detention centers in Bosnia. Many of these formed part of the penal system established in BSA-held areas in mid-1992; a significant number in this network were closed by the end of 1993. Many HVO and Muslim camps, numerous in the summer and fall of 1993, were also closed by the end of the year.
Because camps closed down and reopened depending in part on the status of negotiations and the presence of international observers, it was difficult to estimate the numbers of persons detained. The three sides defined all males between 16 and 65 as combatants, so some civilian detainees were listed as prisoners of war. In October the UNHCR reported that the HVO was holding 4,200 Muslims and Roma in registered centers, down from the summer's high of 15,000 (many of whom were Muslim soldiers formerly in the HVO.) According to the UNHCR, the government held 1,100 detainees in registered centers as of October. The BSA was believed to be holding 550 Muslims and Croats in registered camps as of October, significantly less than the number of those incarcerated in 1992. Far more were held in unregistered centers. Observers stated throughout the year that the three sides hid prisoners and criticized the HVO's refusal in mid-1993 to allow international officials to visit camps around Mostar, where numerous refugees reported conditions to be dreadful.
Camps with poor living conditions in 1993 included those in Batkovici, Kamenica, Trnopolje, and Doboj (operated by the BSA); Rodoc, Otok, and Dretelj (operated by the HVO); and Zenica and Konjic (operated by the Government). At Dretelj, perhaps the most notorious camp of 1993, the UNHCR found prisoners in conditions of "appalling brutality and degradation," with broken ribs and fingers, bruises, and heart irregularities. Amnesty International said prisoners at Dretelj were so cramped that they could not lie down. Beatings and torture were reported at BSA camps in Manjaca, Batkovici, and Prijedor in the spring, at HVO camps in Rodoc and Jablanica in the summer, and at government camps in Visoko and Konjic, also in summer. Summary executions and deaths due to torture or neglect were attested to in 1993 and almost certainly continued through December.
Individuals detained in 1993 told of meager and sometimes poisoned or spoiled rations, malnutrition, poor or nonexistent sanitation, withholding of medical care, forced labor (performed by women as well as men) including trench-digging on the front lines and removal of corpses and the wounded, forced blood donations, overcrowding, and lack of amenities such as bedding. There were scattered reports of groups of prisoners being conscripted into enemy armies and of prisoners of one nationality being sold as conscripts from the second to the third nationality. The three sides were accused of using prisoners as human shields. In June the BSA arrested non-Serbs in Doboj and forced them to stand as a living front line in combat areas nearby.
Bosnian Muslim women in the spring and summer accused HVO and BSA soldiers of perpetrating mass rape. The UNHCR noted that HVO soldiers may have raped 100 or more women, some in gang-rape situations; many of the rapes occurred in connection with evictions from Mostar in mid-1993 and fighting near Vitez earlier in the year. Reports of rapes by Bosnian Serb civil and military police and soldiers continued, but the number of such charges was lower for 1993 than for 1992, when the BSA first practiced mass rape as a tool of war. Reports from Brcko, Nerici, Stolina, Skijana, and Grcica described the continuing confinement and sexual abuse of a total of at least 130 young Muslim women by the BSA. UNPROFOR troops were accused of frequenting some locations where Muslim women were held. Bosnian Croat women charged government troops with raping them in Mostar and Bugojno; the Bosnian Serbs also said government soldiers had raped Bosnian Serb women. International observers were not able to corroborate most accusations because access to victims was very limited.
d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or ExileThe BSA continued to round up members of the intelligentsia and target regional and local political, economic, and religious figures in an effort to destroy the social structure of other nationality groups. Sarajevo's Roman Catholic Archbishop, Monsignor Vinko Puljic, was abducted by the BSA and held temporarily along with his UNPROFOR guards in November. Ransom was sometimes an additional motive for arbitrary arrest and detention. BSA and HVO troops abducted government bodyguards of international officials from UNPROFOR vehicles on several occasions and held UNPROFOR soldiers hostage for brief periods.
In addition to the large number of civilians detained in prison camps (see Section 1.c.), some civilians were detained for prisoner exchanges. Families of military officers were abducted with regularity because they had a high exchange value. In Vitez in April, both the HVO and the government forces arrested large numbers of civilians for use in future exchanges. The residents of some entire villages were prevented from leaving municipal confines (see Section 2. d.) so they could be used in prisoner exchanges. The Serbs detained Muslims, Croats, and Roma for use as unpaid labor in combat zones (see Section 6.c.).
While the Bosnian Government did not practice exile per se, detainees released by the Government, as well as those released by the BSA and HVO, were sometimes forced over the border (see Section 1.g.). Ethnic cleansing and mass population movements before advancing troops resulted in forced dislocation that was equivalent to exile for the half of Bosnia's prewar population that at the end of the year was seeking refuge abroad or protection elsewhere within Bosnia.
e. Denial of Fair Public TrialIn areas under its control, the Bosnian government attempted to maintain a functioning judicial system. International legal experts have said the March trial for war crimes of two Bosnian Serb soldiers who had confessed to mass killings and mass rape at the behest of commanding officers was fair.
Summary trials and executions of local warlords who served as irregular government army commanders took place in Sarajevo in October, during a government crackdown on rogue elements in the military. The individuals who were tried and executed had been identified as responsible for seizing UNPROFOR vehicles and controlling extensive black market activities.
Near the front lines and in BSA and HVO-controlled areas, military authorities who held power did not guarantee the legal rights of non-Serbs and non-Croats, respectively.
f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or CorrespondenceVirtually all officials of the three sides (and international observers as well) assumed they were subjected to systematic surveillance. Most were unwilling to use telephones or the mail system, to the extent that they functioned, for any but the most routine business. Citizens who were interrogated reported that their questioners did not conceal the practice of surveillance.
g. Use of Excessive Force and Violations of Humanitarian Law in Internal ConflictsViolations of humanitarian law and international conventions on the treatment of civilians in time of war were widespread and egregious. Many human rights violations committed by the BSA occurred as part of specific policies to expel Muslims and Croats from areas the Serbs desired for themselves. The HVO engaged in localized efforts to drive Muslims away from territories they sought to occupy. Other abuses took place on a more haphazard basis. Paramilitaries, vigilantes, "weekend warriors," criminal gangs reporting to local warlords, and civilian mobs were responsible for numerous instances of crimes against civilians. Atrocities detailed in this section include indiscriminate attacks against civilians; forced population movements; interference with the delivery of humanitarian relief, including attacks on international relief workers; interference with utilities and infrastructure; and forced conscriptions. Mistreatment of prisoners of war resembled mistreatment of civilian detainees and is handled in Section 1.c. Use of prisoners as human shields is also treated in Section 1.c. (See the Country Report on Serbia/Montenegro for information on Bosnian Serb paramilitaries who crossed the border into Serbia to attack Sandzak Muslims.)
The BSA's relentless military assault on the eastern enclaves in early 1993, its periodic attacks on Sarajevo, and ethnic cleansing campaigns in Banja Luka, Bijeljina, and towns in north-central Bosnia throughout the year resulted in tens of thousands of civilian deaths. U.N. observers reported that mass killings of civilians and attacks on refugees trying to flee Srebrenica, Gorazde, and Zepa were commonplace. UNPROFOR claimed the BSA was attacking and seizing one or two Muslim villages a day in the eastern region throughout March. In April and May, concern over conditions in besieged enclaves prompted the passage of U.N. resolutions that declared Srebrenica and subsequently Gorazde, Zepa, Sarajevo, Tuzla, and Bihac "safe areas" where security and relief deliveries were to have been guaranteed. Heavy BSA attacks on the safe areas continued through June, and more sporadic attacks occurred during the rest of the year. By the summer, most of Gorazde and surrounding hamlets had been leveled. Many villages outside Srebrenica were completely destroyed, as were some villages in the vicinity of Zepa.
In Banja Luka, the BSA killed and mutilated Muslim and Croat civilians as part of ethnic cleansing campaigns throughout the year. When a group of Muslims under attack sought protection in a local mosque in February, the BSA attacked the mosque. BSA advances also destroyed much of Maglaj and Doboj and many smaller communities near Brcko. Several civilians in Maglaj were killed while attempting to retrieve airdropped parcels, their only source of food in the latter half of the year. BSA killings of individuals in central Bosnia, as in the eastern enclaves and Banja Luka, sometimes involved mutilations.
Sarajevo was under heavy BSA pressure throughout the year. Thirty civilians, including a leading physician delivering baby food, were killed in the first 10 days of December. In November, 9 children were killed and 20 injured by an BSA shell that fell on a school. As in the eastern enclaves, the BSA deliberately aimed shells at hospitals, mosques, markets, cemeteries, and residential areas.
HVO attacks, particularly on Muslims, increased dramatically in 1993. The HVO slaughtered approximately 100 Muslims in the central Bosnian village of Ahmici in April. Masked Croats killed Muslim civilians in Vitez in house-to-house fighting later that month. In September, the United Nations said HVO shelling killed 10 to 15 Muslims a day in Mostar. The HVO in the spring also reportedly shot two Serb women who were part of a small contingent of Serb inhabitants of Mostar forced out of the city and told to walk to BSA-held positions. In October between 25 and 50 Muslim villagers, including women and children, were killed by the HVO at Stupni Dol, near Vares; the remainder of the town's population was taken captive and the village entirely destroyed. The HVO shelled UNHCR officials attempting to gain access to Stupni Dol for 3 days before finally letting medical examiners through. Later in the month, the Bosnian Government claimed the discovery of a mass grave in Tasovcici containing the bodies of alleged victims of HVO attacks in Stolac and Capljina.
Government troops also targeted civilians in 1993, particularly Bosnian Croats. Thirty Bosnian Croat civilians were massacred at Uzdol in September. Survivors of the attack said they were used as human shields. Government soldiers murdered two Franciscan friars in Fojnica in November. The HVO charged the Government with killing more than 100 other Bosnian Croat civilians between April and October in a variety of central Bosnian locations including Trusina, Doljani, Bugojno, Jakovice, Kiseljak, and Kopijari. Witnesses described torture preceding the killings and mutilation afterward. The United Nations is investigating the charges. Government soldiers killed a score of Bosnian Serb civilians in the village of Skelani, in the Srebrenica pocket, in January, and shot several Bosnian Serbs in Sarajevo, including two elderly people being evacuated.
The Bosnian conflict has brutally uprooted millions of civilians. The residents of Cerska and the populations of several villages in its vicinity were driven out of their homes as part of the BSA's ethnic cleansing campaigns in eastern Bosnia in early 1993. The BSA then plundered and burned or shelled virtually all houses. Large segments of the populations of other eastern enclaves also fled the BSA in the spring, some across mined territory. Many refugees from the BSA went to Tuzla (behind the front lines,) the population of which increased four-fold in the spring. World Health Organization (WHO) officials in the city termed conditions "desperate" because the limited infrastructure could not handle the huge refugee population.
Bosnian Serbs pursuing cleansing operations in southern Herzegovina ordered residents of Trebinje and Bileca to leave the district in January, killed several who did not comply, and bombed mosques. Over 1,000 Muslims fled to Montenegro. In an effort to frighten non-Serbs into leaving Banja Luka, BSA soldiers cut phone lines, beat residents, sealed off and bombed non-Serb shops, seized non-Serb apartments, fire-bombed mosques, threatened citizens with rape, and warned non-Serbs via the local television station they would have to pay heavy fines for remaining. (As noted above, they also killed and mutilated non-Serb residents of Banja Luka.) Some non-Serbs in Bijeljina were reportedly forced to give up house keys and property deeds before being driven to front lines and ordered to walk across them. In August a group of Muslims from Bijeljina was driven through Serbia proper to the Hungarian border, where they were dumped. Cleansing operations in central Bosnia continued. Of 43,000 Muslims recorded as living in Doboj in the 1991 census, only 1,000 remained in November 1993, according to the United Nations.
HVO troops worked most actively around Mostar to force non-Croats to move out. In May the HVO rounded up thousands of Muslims and imprisoned them temporarily in the heliodrome stadium while simultaneously running thousands more out of town. When several made their way back, they found former Muslim areas empty and buildings shot full of holes. In June the HVO burned the personal papers, including apartment leases, of Muslims who had not so far been detained or chased out and forced them across a bridge under a hail of gunfire to a section of east Mostar where they were ghettoized. By the end of June, international relief agencies said the HVO had destroyed virtually all Muslim property in Mostar. In July a number of the ghettoized Muslims in Mostar were boarded onto buses and dumped in Croatia against their will. In September the UNHCR described signs of malnutrition and physical abuse among the 14,000 Muslims who had escaped Mostar and surrounding towns and made it to Jablanica, behind the front lines in central Bosnia.
The HVO chased Muslims out of several central Bosnian locations in early 1993, including an Italian-run refugee camp whose staff and inhabitants were forced to flee; local HVO commanders said they planned to expel more Muslims from the region to make room for Bosnian Croats who were homeless as a result of government-HVO fighting. At midyear, the HVO began evicting Muslims from Stolac, Capljina, and Livno, forcing as many as 20,000 across the front lines. Before the evictions began, local HVO officials disconnected Muslims' telephones, requisitioned their cars, and made radio broadcasts saying their security could not be guaranteed.
Tens of thousands of Bosnian Croat refugees fled Konjic, Travnik, Novi Travnik, and Vitez in fear of advancing government troops in the spring. In September government forces used death threats and extortion to pressure Bosnian Croats to leave Zenica; a month later government soldiers rounded up 1,000 Bosnian Croat refugees trying to flee Konjic, robbed them, beat them, and fired shots at them. In November the UNHCR described the situation around Vares as "chaotic," with gunmen terrorizing 15,000 mostly Bosnian Croat civilians who had fled their homes in fear of attack. Boban claimed 150,000 to 190,000 Bosnian Croats had been displaced by fighting in central Bosnia or driven out by the Government as of late fall.
All parties to the conflict interfered with humanitarian assistance, but abuses by the BSA were most widespread in 1993. In February BSA troops issued orders formally sealing off Bihac, Zepa, Gorazde, and Srebrenica from relief deliveries, which in any case had not occurred for many months. In Zepa, Cerska, Srebrenica, Konjevic Polje, Kamenica, and Gorazde, deaths due to a combination of severe malnutrition, exposure, and wounds that could not be treated for lack of medicine occurred in the winter and spring. WHO doctors said 20 to 30 people died of untreated wounds, lack of food, and exposure every day in Srebrenica during the month of March. When observers reached Zepa at the end of January, they found the population eating bread made of straw. After seizing 14 villages near Cerska in March, the BSA blocked international evacuation of the wounded, resulting in more deaths. The BSA then shelled UNPROFOR troops attempting to carry a field hospital into Srebrenica and threatened to fire on German relief planes if Germany participated in the relief effort. The WHO reported that tuberculosis and hepatitis were increasing sharply among the refugee population of Tuzla as the "pharmaceutical situation collapsed." In April the BSA blocked convoys bound for Gorazde, where starvation was reportedly imminent, as the ICRC announced from Zagreb it was considering withdrawing from Bosnia because of BSA harassment. In June BSA positions shelled a UNHCR convoy near Maglaj, killing three relief workers.
Throughout the remainder of the year, more relief workers were killed, more citizens died of deprivation, and more vitally import medical evacuations failed to take place both inside and outside the United Nations' safe zones due to BSA threats and harassment. U.N. Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, on a trip to the safe areas shortly after they were declared, described conditions brought about by long-term BSA denial of relief as "appalling."
The HVO began closing roads leading to Muslim areas of central Bosnia to all commercial traffic in February. In April the HVO seized and briefly held several international relief workers near Kiseljak, claiming they had sided with the Government. In May the HVO began blocking all relief convoys bound for Mostar; as a result, almost none reached the city until late August. Participants in an HVO attack on a U.N. convoy in central Bosnia in mid-1993 said they were acting under orders to threaten European Community (EC) and U.N. officials. In July the HVO began charging tolls termed "extortionate" by relief workers. In August the UNHCR temporarily suspended relief deliveries to central Bosnia because its convoys were being harassed by the HVO. International relief agencies reported that the HVO had targeted its workers for harassment and abuse, bound and gagged UNHCR employees in Mostar, and fired a grenade (which did not explode) at an ICRC truck. In November an HVO commander accused of leading the attack on Stupni Dol ordered all U.N. relief workers to depart Kiseljak. Later in the month, a combination of malnutrition and exposure brought about by HVO interference with relief resulted in several deaths in Mostar.
In February the Bosnian Government responded to the BSA's order to seal off the eastern enclaves and Bihac from relief by refusing relief deliveries to Sarajevo. Frustrated at the politicization of humanitarian assistance, the UNHCR temporarily suspended aid to many parts of Bosnia. In March local officials in Srebrenica detained UNPROFOR General Phillipe Morillon as a shield against further BSA shelling. (Morillon subsequently elected to remain as a gesture of solidarity with the people of the enclave.) In Sarajevo the Government refused the delivery of fuel bound for Bosnian Serb hospitals. In Mostar local government officials detained the first convoy to arrive in the city in 3 months and a UNPROFOR contingent as well, apparently in the hope that keeping them in Mostar would prevent the HVO from renewing its attacks on the city. In the fall, government soldiers attacked a UNHCR convoy near Novi Travnik and killed the driver; they subsequently shot and wounded a U.N. driver in Kakanj after his convoy refused to hand over fuel. In December government soldiers attacked a Croatian convoy attempting to deliver relief to Bosnian Croats in Nova Bila.
At the end of 1993, UNPROFOR forces were under investigation for showing favoritism in the provision of humanitarian assistance. At year's end, the United Nations was investigating reports that some UNPROFOR units attempted to influence the outcome of the conflict through preferential deliveries of aid.
The BSA interfered with utilities and infrastructure to a much greater extent than the HVO or Government. The WHO, terming the situation in Sarajevo "desperate" in January, said several elderly residents of nursing homes had frozen to death due to Bosnian Serb diversions of natural gas to the capital. The BSA cut the water supply to Srebrenica in April and prevented U.N. workers from repairing it. In July a U.S. Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance relief team visiting Sarajevo reported that most houses lacked electricity and gas; water was generally unpotable, and dysentery was spreading. The UNHCR noted in July that Gorazde's water supply was contaminated with human waste as a result of BSA interference. In October, 10 days after the announcement that the BSA had achieved its aims and ended the siege of Sarajevo, heavy shelling resumed, and gas supplies were reduced. The WHO reported an increase in burns as residents used more "do-it-yourself" heating contraptions in an effort to keep warm. In November the UNHCR said some patients had died in hospitals that remained unheated due to the BSA cut-off of gas, and cold had made some patients too weak to withstand operations. As of the end of the year, Sarajevo was under the heaviest mortar fire since before NATO's August warning, and water, electricity, and gas flows remained sporadic and at barely usable levels.
The HVO prevented international relief workers from supplying water pumps and water-purifying equipment to Mostar in the summer. In November the HVO destroyed Mostar's 400-year-old UNESCO-protected Ottoman Foot Bridge, which supplied the Muslim ghetto in the eastern sector with water. A Belgrade architect noted that the bridge had "linked cultures and people" and remarked that, "with a loss like this, people lose their place in time." No instances of government interference with utilities and infrastructure have come to light, but government forces near Mostar in August did threaten to release the floodgates on the Neretva River to drive the HVO out of the area.
The three sides practiced forced conscriptions to a limited degree in 1993. In some BSA-held areas, those who refused the draft were dismissed from work and detained. Some families of men who refused conscription were also dismissed. In April the BSA forced evacuation flights from Srebrenica to divert to BSA-held Zvornik, where evacuees were taken prisoner and threatened with conscription. The HVO segregated Bosnian Croat males from among displaced persons on the run near Stolac and Capljina and forced them to enlist in the HVO in October. There was no right to conscientious objection under Bosnian law; Serbs and Croats who refused the draft in Banovici were arrested by local officials, conscripted into the government army, and taken to the front lines in the spring. Also in the spring, the Government prevented draft-age men from leaving Zepa and Sarajevo.
Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
a. Freedom of Speech and PressBosnian Serb refugees complained of living in a virtual police state under Karadzic's SDS. They suffered harassment, dismissal, and incarceration at the hands of BSA soldiers and pro-Karadzic local officials for taking a public stance in support of the Bosnian government or for opposing the ideology of the SDS. A BSA military court sentenced a Bosnian Serb worker to a prison term this summer for trying to broker cease-fire talks between the Government and BSA. A Bosnian Croat family living near the BSA detention facility in Trnopolje was shot because they "looked at the camp" too frequently, and officials feared they might talk about it. In 1993 as well as 1992, numerous Bosnian Serbs were killed by BSA soldiers for speaking up in defense of Bosnian Muslim neighbors.
Freedom of speech and debate was protected as a matter of principle in Bosnian schools, but due to security concerns educational institutions were open only sporadically, sometimes in unusual settings such as underground bunkers. In a move that denied freedom of thought and expression to all Bosnians, the BSA fire-bombed the national library in Sarajevo, destroying major collections of cultural importance to all nationalities.
Before the war, the principal Bosnian media--Sarajevo radio and television, the Sarajevo daily Oslobodjenje, the independent television station Yutel--were widely regarded as accurate and balanced. Olsobodjenje, with a multiethnic staff, has maintained standards of objectivity and accuracy that won international prizes and acclaim even under the difficult circumstances of the war. The newspaper endorsed the notion of a pluralistic Bosnia and supported democratic and progressive elements in the Government. Editorials freely criticized government policies and officials. Sarajevo also had a tabloid press that the Government tolerated, but authorities detained several reporters from Tanjug, the Belgrade-based news service, and denied visas to Radio Zagreb personnel.
The single television station operating in Sarajevo in 1993, funded by the Government, took a pro-government line. The Government also ran a radio station and allowed an independent station to broadcast. The government news agency, BH Press, emphasized reports of attacks against Muslims and downplayed reports of atrocities committed by government forces.
The SDS news agency SRNA, headquartered in Pale, provided biased and distorted reporting. Both SRNA and Tanjug, the Serbian news service, carried unsubstantiated reports of crimes against Serbs in order to reinforce ethnic Serb solidarity, promote ethnic hatred, and instigate violence. A pro-Karadzic television station that broadcast from Banja Luka transmitted reports directly from Serbia and received financial support from Belgrade Television. As noted in Section 1.g., in February it advised Muslims and Croats to leave Banja Luka or pay fines for remaining.
The HVO's newly established news agency, HABENA, reported Bosnian Croat casualty figures far in excess of those attested to by international relief organizations. Radio Zagreb regularly issued distorted reports. For example, in November it reported that Swedish peacekeepers detained by the HVO had been helping Muslims when in fact they were attempting to escort Bosnian Croat civilian refugees near Vares to safety.
b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and AssociationThe right of peaceful assembly and association could not be observed in the conditions of war and violence. In areas not under the control of the Government, assemblies of persons whose nationality and religion were not the same as those in power were regarded with suspicion and in some cases participants were subjected to harassment and attack. Even in government-controlled areas, large gatherings such as queues often attracted snipers.
c. Freedom of ReligionReligious tolerance has been a tradition of the diverse Bosnian population for 500 years. Serbian Orthodox Bosnian Serbs, Roman Catholic Bosnian Croats, and Muslim Bosnians are largely indistinguishable in terms of language and physical appearance. But the war and ongoing atrocities radicalized many, and religion became one of the justifications for fighting. Citizens living in government-controlled areas enjoyed the greatest freedom of religion in 1993, as the Government remained committed to pluralism and included representatives of all religious groups.
In connection with ethnic cleansing campaigns, BSA troops systematically destroyed religious institutions and made cultural monuments specific targets. In areas under BSA control, virtually all mosques and Roman Catholic churches have been bombed, shelled, burned, or bulldozed, and statuary has been defaced. The BSA destroyed the last of Trebinje's mosques in April, after expelling the majority of the town's Muslims. Banja Luka's historic 16th century mosques were also demolished, as were all the mosques in Bijeljina.
The HVO destroyed mosques as well, including four in Stolac and one in Pocitelj this summer. The HVO charged the BSA and the Government with the destruction of 66 churches in the course of the conflict. All told, hundreds of mosques and churches have been demolished, including several of unique architectural and cultural significance, since the war began.
Mixed marriages accounted for 20 to 30 percent of unions before the war began; citizens in mixed marriages faced difficult choices as the war expanded. In some cases, they hid their religious backgrounds or sought shelter with those of a different faith to avoid being separated from their families. In government-held areas, where commitment to religious diversity was a matter of law, individuals in mixed marriages had an easier time than those in BSA- or HVO-controlled areas.
d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and RepatriationThe wartime situation, coupled with mass detention and expulsion (discussed in Sections 1.d. and 1.g above), interfered with the free movement of millions of Bosnians. The changing front lines made many others virtual hostages within broad geographic areas. Sarajevo was the most heavily populated island of "hostages" in Bosnia. The lack of safe transportation into or out of the capital put citizens and officials at risk when they attempted to travel to other parts of the country or abroad. The airport was one of the most frequently attacked targets in the city.
In some cases citizens of whole villages were given orders to remain within specified confines, or be shot or fined, in order that a pool of people to perform labor and take part in prisoner exchanges could be maintained. In some areas, the BSA established local "Commissions for Exchange" to ensure that non-Serbs wishing to leave were exchanged for Serbs who wished to return. In March the BSA put in place procedures whereby non-Serbs wishing to go to other regions were not permitted to carry valuables or travel by car; non-Serbs were also required to pay higher prices for bus tickets and exorbitant transit taxes in BSA-controlled towns they crossed.
The Government inhibited movement by citizens in part to avoid a mass exodus. During the BSA sieges against the eastern enclaves in the spring, local officials sometimes prevented UNPROFOR from leaving areas under attack. The Government prevented large numbers of Bosnian Croats from leaving Bugojno and Banovici during the summer, using the civilians in prisoner exchanges and as forced labor. Local authorities announced in September that Zenica's 23,000 Bosnian Croats could not leave the city. (Earlier in the month, government soldiers had pressured them to depart against their will.) In Sarajevo the city's Secretariat of Evacuations often refused Bosnian Serbs permission to leave or delayed their departure for many months.
Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their GovernmentThe duly elected Bosnian Government did not have the means to protect its territory, to defend its sovereignty, or to guarantee its citizens' rights. Nearly 80 percent of the country was under the military control of various separatists supported by Serbia or Croatia. In this environment, the Bosnian Government's goal of establishing a secular, pluralistic, democratic society in an undivided land had little chance of success. Bosnia's only election, which occurred in April 1992, created a bicameral National Assembly with 240 seats, of which 99 were filled by Muslims, 84 by Bosnian Serbs, 50 by Bosnian Croats, and 7 by others, in proportion to the composition of the population of the country at the time. There were no elections scheduled for 1993.
Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human RightsThe Bosnian Government, the BSA, and the HVO all agreed in principle to allow international observers access to territory under their control so alleged human rights abuses could be investigated. In practice, political and military authorities imposed obstacles and made it difficult for international officials to carry out investigations.
All sides in the war viewed the work of international organizations through the prism of their political interests. All sides downplayed their own culpability for atrocities. Both the BSA and HVO denied responsibility for human rights abuses that international investigators assigned to them, claiming for example that the Government was killing its own civilians in the hope of blaming the other side for atrocities. No side has cooperated fully on the issue of examination of prisoners.
Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, Language, or Social Status
WomenIn addition to being subjected to rape (Section 1.c.), women suffered other sorts of physical abuse in 1993. Muslim women in Mostar reported they were strip-searched (and in some cases raped) by male HVO soldiers before being evicted from the city. Before the war, discrimination against women was not officially practiced, although there were few women in prominent positions.
ChildrenThe United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) reported in June that 1,400 children had been killed and 12,800 wounded since the beginning of the conflict; 91 percent had witnessed shooting in the course of the conflict, 72 percent had had their homes shelled, 41 percent had witnessed a person being injured or killed, and 81 percent thought they could have been killed during 1993. Many lived on a diet of bread, rice, and pasta, when those goods were available, and had not eaten fresh fruit or vegetables since early 1992. The result was widespread anemia and other wasting conditions in children who did not suffer more serious injuries or illnesses. Children witnessed atrocities, including murder and rape committed against their parents and neighbors. Tens of thousands were orphaned, and tens of thousands more lived in refugee centers. Assessing the psychological effects of war trauma on children in Sarajevo, Bihac and Banja Luka, UNICEF found that virtually all suffered from nightmares and inappropriately apathetic or aggressive behavior as a result of exposure to the conflict.
National/Racial/Ethnic MinoritiesExtreme nationalism precipitated the war to cleanse non-Serbs from parts of Bosnia. Other micronationalist ideologies developed in the context of violent separatism, and at the end of 1993 national identity was a critical factor in whether one would keep a job or lose it, remain at home or be driven out, or all too often live or die. Throughout Bosnia, violence, fear, and the collapsing social structure eroded support for pluralism. No group was more victimized than Bosnia's Muslims.
People with DisabilitiesThe pervasiveness of the war, the destruction of the economy, and the Government's reduced means limited assistance to the disabled, including those disabled by the war. An example of disregard for the needs of the disabled occurred as the HVO withdrew from Fojnica: troops evacuated the doctors from a hospital for mentally impaired children, but left the patients behind.
Section 6 Worker Rights
a. The Right of AssociationLegally, all workers were free to form or join unions of their own choosing without prior authorization. Before the outbreak of the war, this right was generally respected. Bosnian workers had independent trade unions, while journalists, teachers, and others organized independent professional associations to address labor issues. The bulk of Bosnian workers were probably members of the semi-official Council of Independent Trade Unions of Bosnia and Herzegovina (CITUBH), although new trade unions were also organized. The right to strike was recognized but not exercised in connection with work-related grievances in 1993.
b. The Right to Organize and Bargain CollectivelyBosnian law formally guaranteed this right, but the fighting among the three sides interrupted Bosnia's economic transition from state domination to a market-oriented system. As a consequence, the management of state-owned enterprises had not adopted collective bargaining as a practice prior to the war.
c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory LaborForced labor was legally prohibited and did not occur before the outbreak of the war. In some villages, however, citizens found themselves under virtual "house arrest" so surrounding forces would have a convenient labor pool. As with civilians placed in detention centers, villagers under house arrest were sometimes forced to erect shelters or fill sandbags in dangerous conditions near the front lines. Although the BSA was the main user of forced labor, government troops also occasionally surrounded villagers and forced them to work. Bugojno was surrounded for most of the summer, and in May government troops surrounded the residents of Banovici and sent some of them to the front lines to dig trenches. As the trenches were completed, the troops advanced.
d. Minimum Age for Employment of ChildrenThe minimum age for employment was 16, although children in agricultural communities sometimes assisted their families with farm work before they reached that age. As in 1992, there were occasional reports in 1993 that children were employed for military functions such as reconnaissance and running messages.
e. Acceptable Conditions of WorkIn principle, minimum wages were guaranteed; with the economy in total disarray, however, workers had no assurance they would be paid for work performed. Dismissals because of ethnicity or political affiliation occurred throughout Bosnia. The prewar 42-hour workweek, with a 24-hour rest period, was formally still in effect, and sick leave and other benefits were generous. But in the context of the war, benefits counted for little. Regulations on occupational health and safety were adequate but not enforced.