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BOSNEWS digest 455 - 03/11/95

From: Nermin Zukic <n6zukic@sms.business.uwo.ca>

Bosnia-Herzegovina News Directory

From: Nermin Zukic <n6zukic@sms.business.uwo.ca>


BOSNEWS Digest 455


CONTENTS

  • [01] `PEACE TALKS' BEGIN IN OHIO.

  • [02] SERB CIVILIANS CONFIRM SREBRENICA MUSLIMS WERE MASSACRED.

  • [03] UN TURNED OVER TRANSLATORS TO BE BUTCHERED, SURVIVOR CHARGES.

  • [04] FEAR FOR MEN OF BANJA LUKA.

  • [05] GRIM PARALLEL TO AN EARLIER `CLEANSING.'

  • [06] EVERYONE DENIES BLAME.

  • [07] JOURNALIST CAPTURED BY SERBS.

  • [08] SOME BOSNIAN SOLDIERS TO BE DECOMMISSIONED.

  • [09] LIMITED `FREEDOMS' FOR SARAJEVANS.

  • [10] BRIDGE OPENS FOR A FEW.

  • [11] PRISONER EXCHANGE.

  • [12] LATEST DEVELOPMENTS ON THE DIPLOMATIC FRONT AND ON THE GROUND IN THE BALKANS


  • [01] `PEACE TALKS' BEGIN IN OHIO.

    The presidents of Bosnia-Hercegovina, Serbia, and Croatia began meetings at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio yesterday, in talks not scheduled to end until some agreement is reached. Mediators from Russia and the European Union are joining American negotiator Richard Holbrooke at the sessions.

    U.S. officials say any deal must maintain Bosnia's integrity, although as a nation composed of two parts, and should keep Sarajevo united. However, Serb nationalists are demanding the right to secede from Bosnia and to keep a portion of Sarajevo as an ethnically pure Serb city. Holbrooke said before the talks that there will be no peace if Bosnian Serbs insist on the right to secede.

    The first announcement from the Dayton negotiations came last night: The Serbian and Croatian presidents claimed they will use "peaceful means" to settle the status of disputed Eastern Slavonia.

    [02] SERB CIVILIANS CONFIRM SREBRENICA MUSLIMS WERE MASSACRED.

    "Serbian civilians interviewed last week in the villages around Srebrenica confirmed for the first time the mass killings carried out in their midst," the New York Times reports.

    "They pointed out the schools that were used as holding pens for the doomed Muslims. They reported seeing bodies all along the roads and fields outside Srebrenica. One man said he had been stopped by soldiers who asked for help loading the bodies onto trucks for burial."

    The supposed "UN-protected safe area" was overrun by Serb nationalists this summer.

    In a front-page report on Oct. 29, the N.Y. Times relates that a UN soldier in Srebrenica sent an urgent message to superiors in Geneva as Serb forces entered the town: "Will someone stop this immediately and save these people. Thousands of them are gathering around the hospital. Please help." However, neither UN nor NATO did anything to prevent what Western officials now call Europe's worst war crimes since World War II.

    "As recounted by the few Muslims who survived, the killing was chillingly methodical, part mass slaughter, part blood sport," the Times reports. An estimated 6,000 people under "UN protection" were murdered.

    [03] UN TURNED OVER TRANSLATORS TO BE BUTCHERED, SURVIVOR CHARGES.

    Bosnians who had worked as UN translators in Srebrenica were handed over to Serb forces and later slaughtered, a survivor told the Sarajevo newspaper Oslobodenje.

    Serbs nationalists who overran the "safe zone" executed all doctors working at the Srebrenica hospital, said medical student Sevleta Begovic, 22. But, UN officials refused to turn over nurses and other medical staff there.

    "Mladic was having negotiations with UNPROFOR. I was personally present," Begovic told Oslobodenje. "The translator, Emir Suljagic, 21, was crying. I found out that Mladic was demanding that the translators for UNPROFOR and UNHCR be handed over. Probably this was the reason that Emir was crying.

    "The other translators were: Hasan Nuhanovic, 27, who was finishing his degree in mechanical engineering in Sarajevo; his brother Muhamed, 20; and Mujo Nukic, 24, from Potocari; Almir, 22, a student from Sarajevo and translator for UNHCR; Emir, 24, from Nova Kasaba; Atko, 22, from Zepa; Vahid, 27, from Suceska, a university student; and Omer, 26, a student from Konjevic Polje. I don't remember their last names. All of them were taken away, as well as other wounded.

    "I heard, but I didn't see it myself, that the translators and the 20 wounded were killed by the Chetniks (Serb nationalists) and buried with a bulldozer." Evidence of several mass graves has been found in the area.

    [04] FEAR FOR MEN OF BANJA LUKA.

    "The mass killings may not have ended with Srebrenica," the New York Times notes. "This month (October 1995), thousands more men and boys captured by the Serbs in and around the town of Banja Luka have disappeared. There is no word yet on their fate."

    John Shattuck, assistant U.S. secretary of state for human rights, said the fate of those men was an urgent priority, and he planned to travel to Banja Luka. However, after fog prevented his helicopter trip there on Thursday, there were no reported additional attempts to reach the Serb-occupied city.

    Some of the missing men have been imprisoned at recently-reopened Keraterm, "the notorious camp which (in 1992) was the scene of human-rights horrors," Shattuck said.

    AP quotes Banja Luka survivors saying thousands of men were mowed down by Serb firing squads.

    Bosnia activists have pleaded for NATO airstrikes to force Serbs to stop their liquidation of Muslim men in the region. However, no action has been taken despite knowledge of the ongoing killing.

    [05] GRIM PARALLEL TO AN EARLIER `CLEANSING.'

    For several months before a final roundup of non-Serbs in Banja Luka, the Times reports, Muslims were forced to wear white armbands. Nazis used similar tactics in identifying Jews before and during World War II.

    SOME SERB GUARDS REFUSE ORDERS TO KILL. One man who survived the current slaughter in Banja Luka said that some Serbian guards disobeyed orders from superior officers to kill all their prisoners. "That is why some people made it across the confrontation line, but the fate of many of them is unknown," said UNHCR spokesman Kris Janowski.

    [06] EVERYONE DENIES BLAME.

    The Dutch defense minister says that Dutch troops "protecting" the Srebrenica "safe area" were not to blame for allowing Serbs to overrun the enclave and massacre thousands of civilians. The Dutch troops were heavily outgunned by the Serb attackers, he said, and the UN was too reluctant to commit more troops to the area and use more force against the Serbs.

    But "classified American diplomatic cables show that Dutch Defense Minister Joris Voorhoeve repeatedly depicted the situation in the enclave as `hopeless' and opposed the use of NATO air power, despite requests by the local Dutch commander for deterrent strikes," the Washington Post reports.

    And, six weeks before the enclave fell, the UN's commander for former Yugoslavia, Lt. Gen. Bernard Janvier, told UN diplomats to abandon the enclaves and leave them to their fate, according to a British newspaper.

    "Looking back on it now, there is no doubt that the general was signaling his intention, and the intention of those whose views he represented, to wash his hands of the safe areas," one diplomat told The Independent. That diplomat was present during a closed-door briefing in May.

    As a Dutch officer in Srebrenica pleaded for immediate air attacks two months later, Janvier said he would sleep on the request. Aides were "aghast," one UN official told the Times.

    American officials knew the consequences of allowing Serbs to take over the enclave, according to the Washington Post. "After Srebrenica fell, everybody said atrocities were going to happen," a senior U.S. intelligence official told the Post.

    The U.S. pressed for air strikes when the enclave was under attack but couldn't get UN approval, according to Holbrooke.

    "Holbrooke heard heart-rending accounts of the atrocities from his own son, Anthony, a relief worker based in Thailand who was called in to help some of the refugees streaming out of Srebrenica," AP reports.

    [07] JOURNALIST CAPTURED BY SERBS.

    Christian Science Monitor reporter David Rohde is being held by Bosnian Serb forces after traveling into Serb-occupied territory, Monitor officials say.

    Rohde was the first Western reporter to see evidence of mass graves following the fall of Srebrenica. He traveled to the region in August without permission of the Serb authorities accused of genocide in Bosnia. Rohde told his editors he planned a one-day trip Sunday to Serb-held territory and has not returned.

    [08] SOME BOSNIAN SOLDIERS TO BE DECOMMISSIONED.

    Soldiers over 45 years old will be freed from military service by the end of the year, the Bosnian government announced Tuesday. The announcement is seen as a sign of confidence that the cease-fire will hold.

    [09] LIMITED `FREEDOMS' FOR SARAJEVANS.

    The current Bosnian cease-fire which has quieted most guns around the city also includes a provision allowing civilians the freedom to cross front lines. But, "the people of Sarajevo have seen little of it," Reuters reports.

    "The UN speaks with pride at forcing a handful of trucks or a bus or two past Serb positions, with heavily armed UN escorts," Reuters reports. "In one case Serb soldiers boarded and searched one of the buses. That, it seems, constitutes freedom of movement."

    On Friday, four trucks manned by Bosnian civilians drove past Serb checkpoints safely into Sarajevo. The trucks were escorted by a dozen UN armored vehicles.

    [10] BRIDGE OPENS FOR A FEW.

    After lengthy delays, the "Bridge of Brotherhood and Unity" opened Wednesday for several civilians to cross between government- controlled sections of Sarajevo and Serb-occupied suburbs.

    Many people in the government-held heart of the city were driven from their homes by Serbian ethnic cleansing and ache to go back. "I am looking at my house here," said one woman waiting at the bridge. "It's just across the street. I have been looking at my house for four years. But I can't go there." Others yearn to see family members on the other side of the front lines. Thousands of Sarajevo Serbs who support a multi-cultural Bosnian nation are among those who have suffered under the Serb nationalist siege of their city.

    [11] PRISONER EXCHANGE.

    More than 500 people, mostly soldiers, crossed front lines in a prisoner exchange Monday in Koprivna, near Sanski Most, according to Bosnian radio. Serbs reportedly handed over 303 soldiers and 21 civilians in exchange for 195 Serb soldiers and two civilians.

    [12] LATEST DEVELOPMENTS ON THE DIPLOMATIC FRONT AND ON THE GROUND IN THE BALKANS

    In a sign of the fragility of the Bosnian-Croat Federation, Bosnian Croat militia soldiers prevented hundreds of Bosnian Muslim refugees from re-entering their home town of Jajce in Central Bosnia. Bosnian Croat forces liberated Jajce from Serbian forces last month.

    The US-mediated peace talks at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio, continue. Contact Group mediators, headed by Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke, yesterday presented the presidents of Bosnia, Croatia, and Serbia four draft documents covering an overall framework arrangement for the negotiations, as well as elections, constitutional issues, and separation of forces provisions for a post-settlement Bosnia.

    The U.N. War Crimes Tribunal yesterday formally requested that the U.S. make a peace settlement contingent on the surrender of indicted war criminals to the Tribunal. Thus far, the U.S. has only demanded that Bosnian Serb leaders Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, both indicted by the Tribunal, be removed from political power. On November 2, however, it was revealed that Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic is under investigation by the Tribunal. Chief Prosecutor Richard Goldstone wrote to U.S. Permanent Representative to the U.N. Madeleine Albright questioning whether the U.S. has turned over to the Tribunal all available evidence regarding war crimes committed after the capture of Srebrenica by the Serbs.

    The US-mediated peace talks in at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio, entered their second day today. Contact Group mediators, headed by Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke, presented the presidents of Bosnia, Croatia, and Serbia four draft documents covering an overall framework arrangement for the negotiations, as well as elections, constitutional issues, and separation of forces provisions for a post-settlement Bosnia. Croatian President Tudjman was scheduled to return to Croatia tonight, possibly to return to the talks at a later date.

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