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BOSNEWS digest 498 - 13/12/95

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

Bosnia-Herzegovina News Directory


CONTENTS

  • [01] UN `LOOKS AWAY' AS SERBS AGAIN CHOKE GORAZDE.

  • [02] GORAZDE SIEGE.

  • [03] SERBS TORCHING, FLEEING GORAZDE CORRIDOR.

  • [04] `ETHNIC CLEANSING' CONTINUES DESPITE DAYTON.

  • [05] SERBS BEGIN LEAVING OCCUPIED SARAJEVO.

  • [06] PROTESTS CONTINUE.

  • [07] SABOTAGE FEARED.

  • [08] SARAJEVANS RALLY FOR PEACE.

  • [09] NEED TO DO MORE?

  • [10] SCANT PROGRESS ON BOSNIAN-CROAT REFUGEE ACCORD.

  • [11] CROATS FREE SUSPECTED WAR CRIMINAL.

  • [12] BOSNIAN CROATS SEEK CHANGES TO PEACE PLAN.

  • [13] MENTAL-HEALTH CENTERS UNABLE TO COPE.

  • [14] MEMOIR FINGERS MILOSEVIC.

  • [15] ARMS ARGUMENT.

  • [16] FRENCH THREATS ON PILOTS.

  • [17] BILDT PICKED.

  • [18] HOLBROOKE TRAVELS TO SARAJEVO.


  • [01] UN `LOOKS AWAY' AS SERBS AGAIN CHOKE GORAZDE.

    "Bosnian Serb forces are blocking U.N.-escorted convoys to the eastern enclave of Gorazde in direct violation of commitments they made to secure a NATO bombing halt in October," Reuters reported Thursday.

    "Despite having threatened to use force as recently as Nov. 29, the UN is now looking the other way so as not to create an incident which could be used by the Serbs to scuttle the Bosnian peace deal," the news service says.

    "In a number of national capitals, a view was taken that the peace deal was more important than whatever's happening on the road to Gorazde," a Western diplomat in Sarajevo told Reuters.

    Serb forces late last week again said they would allow access to the enclave, but "Bosnian Serbs have failed to honor scores of previous commitments to provide freedom of access to Gorazde," Reuters notes.

    [02] GORAZDE SIEGE.

    Throughout a 3.5-year siege, 60,000 residents of Gorazde have struggled to survive under bombardment without heat, running water, and electricity. Several thousand died. "Hungry people trekked 45 miles over Serb-held mountains for food," Associated Press reports. "The trip normally took 12 to 16 hours of night walking, and some men carried as much as 175 pounds on their backs. Some people didn't survive. But the flour came through."

    The arrival of some UN convoys has eased the food shortage, AP reports. And, local officials are trying to negotiate with Serb nationalists to allow transmission of electricity through the Gorazde corridor to Serb-held territory -- if Gorazde can have a share.

    Some of those who suffered in the hell of the Serb siege still hope their one-time Serb neighbors will return. "I really hope they live with us in the future," Zajko Sovsic, 40, told AP. "I had a lot of close friends on the other side." But others say such a return will be difficult, since it will be impossible to know who was up in the hills, bombarding and starving the enclave.

    [03] SERBS TORCHING, FLEEING GORAZDE CORRIDOR.

    UN officials say Serb forces are burning homes in an area slated to become a land route between besieged Gorazde and Sarajevo.

    Hundreds of Serbs have already fled the area. Many are now living in and around Foca, in burned-out and looted homes of Muslims who were killed, imprisoned, or expelled when Serbs began "ethnic cleansing" in 1992. The Serb refugees, AP notes, are now "forced to live amid their own destruction."

    [04] `ETHNIC CLEANSING' CONTINUES DESPITE DAYTON.

    Serb nationalists expelled more than 200 Muslims from the village of Dubrave near Banja Luka last week, in blatant defiance of the peace agreement that guarantees human rights for all minorities in Bosnia. "It is clearly a mockery of all that the Serbs signed in Dayton," UN spokesman Kris Janowski told the NY Times.

    On every house where Muslims were evicted, Janowski said, "there is now a Serb flag to let other potential attackers know that this is now a Serb home and should not be touched."

    "It looks like the brave words of Dayton are being undone on the ground and nobody's raising much of a fuss," an aid worker in Sarajevo told Reuters. "That suggests to me that the ethnic partition of Bosnia is about to be ratified in Paris, no matter what the politicians say."

    [05] SERBS BEGIN LEAVING OCCUPIED SARAJEVO.

    "Bosnian Serbs are starting to flee Serb-held districts of Sarajevo in large numbers and heading for neighbouring Serbia to find refuge, Serb civilians living in the districts said on Monday," according to Reuters. Those districts are supposed to return to Bosnian government control under the Dayton peace agreement.

    Serb militia are allowing people to leave, local residents told Reuters, but are preventing them from taking large appliances or television sets. "Bus tickets to Belgrade were sold out and Serbs were desperate to obtain enough fuel to drive out their belongings," according to Reuters.

    The news service also says that Serb officials "have been ferrying out valuable industrial equipment from the northwestern suburbs of Vogosca and Ilidza. ... Hundreds of trucks from Sarajevo were seen driving towards neighbouring Serbia over the weekend, carrying machinery from an aluminum works and aircraft engine and car factories."

    [06] PROTESTS CONTINUE.

    Many Serbs in Sarajevo districts slated to revert to government control have vowed to either fight or -- if they leave -- wreak destruction before fleeing.

    "Muslims can come here only over our dead bodies," Dejan Korleta, a Serb student leader, told the Bosnian Serb news agency SRNA. Serbs have been protesting daily, demanding Serb-only rule. U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher says the peace accord must be implemented "with sensitivity to the needs of the parties."

    Serb officials scheduled a referendum today (Tuesday) on the Dayton agreement in Serb-occupied districts of Sarajevo. Bosnian officials say such a referendum is invalid, since Serbs first murdered or expelled the non-Serb majorities in those regions. A UN spokesman said the referendum will not affect plans to sign the Dayton agreement in Paris Thursday.

    "If we need special protection for Serbs in Sarajevo, then first we need rights for everyone who has been expelled from the suburbs of Sarajevo," said Bosnian Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic.

    [07] SABOTAGE FEARED.

    Some Serb nationalists have reportedly threatened to sabotage the city's utilities if Serb-occupied suburbs are turned over to the Bosnian government. A UN spokesman told Reuters that plans are being made to protect key utility centers. It will be up to NATO to thwart attempted sabotage, the spokesman said.

    [08] SARAJEVANS RALLY FOR PEACE.

    In government-held parts of the city, meanwhile, 3,000 Sarajevans of all ethnic groups rallied in support of peace and ethnic co-existence.

    "This is not a meeting against our neighbors, like their meetings of protest,'' Radoslav Bukan, 55, a Serb, told AP. "This is a meeting for truth, for coexistence in the future."

    Another Serb in government-held Sarajevo, Mile Plakalovic, told the crowd: "I beg our friends and neighbors from the other side to stay in their homes so that we can live together." However, he added that he did not welcome "those who have blood on their hands." An estimated 10,500 Sarajevans - including many Serbs -- were murdered during the Serb nationalist siege of the city, many by shelling and sniper fire directed largely at civilian targets.

    "Nadzija Culovic, a 70-year-old Muslim whose home is in the Serb-held frontline district of Grbavica, wept as she told how a Serb kept her clothed and fed while she was a refugee during the war," AP reports. "`I want to return to my home,' she said."

    Ruza Maksimovic, a Serb who fled Serb extremists in Grbavica in 1992, argues many of those protesting on the other side of the divided city are outsiders.

    "Most of the people in Grbavica are not from Sarajevo in the first place," she told Retuers. "They are country people who lost their homes in Karadzic's war and now pretend Grbavica is theirs....

    "All this nonsense about Serbs not being able to live with Muslims and Croats was invented by Karadzic who persuaded ignorant people it was true." Maksimovic is married to a Muslim.

    But Yugoslav Foreign Minister Milan Milutinovic called for international aid to pay for a new city for Serbs outside of Sarajevo, AP reported from London.

    [09] NEED TO DO MORE?

    Some Sarajevans say their government should do more to pave the way for reunification. "(President) Izetbegovic made a mistake saying all Serb soldiers must leave," Mustafa Maksimovic told Reuters. "Not all of them joined the army voluntarily. Many were blackmailed with the lives of their family and forced to join."

    The Muslim Party of Democratic Action called for amnesty to Serbs in the capital, including soldiers. But government officials have balked at a blanket pardon that would include those who committed war crimes.

    [10] SCANT PROGRESS ON BOSNIAN-CROAT REFUGEE ACCORD.

    A modest refugee repatriation agreement within the Bosnian-Croat federation has so far shown little progress, the Washington Post reports. In Muslim-controlled Bugojno and Travnik, 14 Croat families have returned to their homes, according to the UN. In Croat-held Jajce and Stolac, none of the Muslim families have moved back to their homes, although 15 families "visited."

    The Nov. 2 plan signed in Dayton called for a return of 300 Muslim and 300 Croat families to the four Bosnian towns, to pave the way for a more widescale refugee return.

    [11] CROATS FREE SUSPECTED WAR CRIMINAL.

    Ivica Rajic, "a Croatian officer whose troops are accused of committing one of the more grisly massacres of the war," was allowed to leave prison this week after he was acquitted on unrelated murder charges, the New York Times reports. Bosnian Croats thus reneged on their pledge to extradite Rajic to face war-crime charges in the Hague, U.S. officials said.

    Rajic was indicted for crimes relating to the destruction of Stupni Do in 1993. Shortly after the village was razed, "United Nations troops and Western reporters arrived to witness a gruesome scene of mutilation, death, and destruction," the Times reports.

    [12] BOSNIAN CROATS SEEK CHANGES TO PEACE PLAN.

    The Bosnian Croats' self- declared "parliament" voted to endorse the Dayton peace plan but demanded several changes: that the Posavina region be returned to the Bosnian-Croat federation, and "Croatian nationhood" be recognized within Bosnia. Analysts believe this is a reference to their self-proclaimed "Herceg-Bosna" republic, which is supposed to be dissolved.

    Herzegovinian nationalists oppose giving up their parastate within B-H, and still hope to unite with Croatia in the future -- a dream, BBC notes, that has not been discouraged by the Croatian government.

    On Monday, Croat nationalists in Bosnia blocked British UN armored vehicles from moving through Mrkonjic Grad in preparation for NATO's arrival. UN officials have accused Croats of systematically looting and burning the town, scheduled to revert to Serb control.

    [13] MENTAL-HEALTH CENTERS UNABLE TO COPE.

    Psychiatric centers in Bosnia, now mostly in shambles from the war, face a huge influx of patients but no resources to help. "We have five times as many cases as before the war and we're forced to turn away people who really should be in care," Kasim Brigic, chief psychiatrist at Tuzla's lone psychiatric hospital, told Reuters.

    Chronic psychotics are already crammed 10 to a room at the center; meanwhile, it's believed that half the traumatized refugees in nearby camps need mental-health services.

    "There are many war trauma cases and many more arriving," he said. "They suffer from Vietnam syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorders. They suffer depression and flashbacks of the horrors they have witnessed.

    "I have one man now who every day has vivid flashbacks of the shell which killed his comrades and his son," Brigic said. "It can be during the day or when he is sleeping. For him it is the same suffering, the same fear as the original incident."

    [14] MEMOIR FINGERS MILOSEVIC.

    A new book by a one-time political ally of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic "reveals the minute details of plotting, intrigue and secret plans by Milosevic and the Serb-dominated national army to try to take control over much of the old Yugoslavia at the expense of other republics," Associated Press reports.

    "The Last Days of the SFRY (Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia)," by Borisav Jovic, chronicles plans by the Yugoslav Army to topple democratically elected leaders in Slovenia and Croatia, and organize revolts in Bosnia and Macedonia.

    The book "has shocked the Serbian public and shattered the officially created illusion in state-run media that Milosevic and the Serbs were innocent victims of events, while `separatist' Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia were responsible for triggering the war," AP reports. "Ironically, Milosevic has now emerged as chief guarantor of a U.S.-sponsored Balkan peace plan to be signed Dec. 14 in Paris."

    Jovic, the second-most powerful Serb leader in pre-war Yugoslavia, was kicked out of Milosevic's Socialist political party after the book was published.

    [15] ARMS ARGUMENT.

    Some U.S. senators are concerned that the U.S. has not made a firm enough commitment to arm and train the Bosnian army. American officials offered a verbal pledge, but will not put the obligation in writing.

    Grilled on the issue during Senate hearings, Clinton Administration officials said the matter will be handled through "third countries;" and they plan to support the Bosnian Army much like the U.S. supported Croatia's. There, "retired" U.S. military officials helped train Croatian forces.

    Senators Dole and McCain are drafting a proposal that would compel the U.S. to arm and train Bosnia's army, to ensure it can defend the country when NATO troops leave. [President Clinton said Sunday that he is prepared to pull out U.S. troops in a year's time, regardless of the circumstances -- even if that would lead to a resumption of war.]

    "Since our allies -- Britain, France, Germany and most other NATO countries -- opposed arming the Bosnians, we will likely end up with an unseemly and protracted scavenger hunt," charged Richard Perle, an assistant secretary of defense under Reagan and now a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. "Bosnia will be forced to settle for inferior equipment and inadequate training."

    Writing in the NY Times, Perle says the Pentagon is pushing this hands-off approach, believing U.S. troops will be safer if they are "neutral."

    "The idea that our forces in Bosnia could or should try to wrap themselves in a cloak of neutrality is simply wrong," Perle writes. "Those who would attack our troops will not be deterred or impressed by our resorting to surrogates for training the Bosnians. They are not subtle and they are not fools."

    U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry later said that U.S. forces will not be "neutral" in Bosnia, but "even-handed." But U.S. officials also stress that NATO troops will be charged only with separating combatants -- and not helping refugees return home or assist in "nation building." Critics wonder if NATO forces will end up, like their UN predecessors, standing by as Bosnians are brutalized and expelled, using force solely to protect themselves but not unarmed civilians.

    [16] FRENCH THREATS ON PILOTS.

    The French government has threatened unspecified action with "multiple consequences" if Serb nationalists do not free two French pilots shot down during NATO bombing raids. The magazine VSD claimed the two are being held near Pale. The Boston Globe, meanwhile, quoted U.S. intelligence sources as saying the two pilots were murdered by their Serb captors. A French ultimatum passed Sunday with no news of the men, although Yugoslav officials said a statement would be made soon.

    [17] BILDT PICKED.

    Representatives from 50 nations and international organizations unanimously picked former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt as "High Representative" to oversee civilian reconstruction efforts in Bosnia. Bildt served as European Union mediator in Bosnia, and will report to a new 11- member "peace implementation board" that includes the U.S., Britain, Japan, Germany, the EU, and Organization of Islamic States.

    The World Bank estimates that reconstruction efforts will cost $4.9 billion over three years.

    The U.S. warned that any side which violates the peace or obstructs the war-crimes tribunal would forfeit international money. "Reconstruction funds are not a right," said Madeleine K. Albright, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

    A two-day London conference also approved a 1,500-member international police force for Bosnia, and appointed the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe to monitor elections there -- but did not resolve who will fund the massive reconstruction plans.

    [18] HOLBROOKE TRAVELS TO SARAJEVO.

    U.S. negotiator Richard Holbrooke went to Sarajevo this week, partly to press the Bosnian government to expel foreign Muslim "mujahadeen" fighters. The Bosnian government pledged to remove all foreign fighters from its territory, as stipulated in the Dayton accords. American officials view the several thousand mujahadeen as potential threats to U.S. soldiers.

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