|Tuesday, 12 December 2017|
bosnet-digest V5 #67 / Wednesday, 14 February 1996
From: Davor <dwagner@MAILBOX.SYR.EDU>
Bosnia-Herzegovina News Directory
 BAC: Bosnians As SLAVE Labour; Another MASS Grave; New "Law"
 BAC: Bosnians As SLAVE Labour; Another MASS Grave; New "Law"
"A lot of evil has happened here. Sooner or later, everything that has been done will come to light."
--Bosnian Catholic Bishop Franjo Komarica
February 14, 1995
THIS WEEK IN BOSNIA-HERCEGOVINA
TWO SERB OFFICERS IN CUSTODY OF WAR-CRIMES TRIBUNAL. Two high- ranking Bosnian Serb army officers were turned over to the international war-crimes tribunal in the Hague Monday night, following their arrest last week by Bosnian soldiers. Gen. Djordje Djukic and Col. Aleksa Krsmanovic are being held for questioning at a prison in the Dutch town of Scheveningen, while the tribunal decides if there is enough evidence for indictments. Four other Serbs were released.
The Bosnian government says it has proof the two officers were involved in massacring civilians around Sarajevo. Djukic, a close associate of Bosnian Serb commanding Gen. Ratko Mladic, was in charge of logistics for the Serb army throughout the siege of Sarajevo and Serb attacks on "UN safe areas."
Mladic -- himself indicted for genocide and crimes against humanity - - - responded by cutting off all contacts with NATO. But NATO said it would not acknowledge Mladic's statement. "Our position is straightforward: We do not deal with indicted war criminals," said NATO spokesman Lt. Col. Mark Rayner.
Serb nationalist officials also cut off any contact with the Bosnian government, and boycotted a meeting in Vienna Tuesday set to discuss regional arms control.
In apparent retaliation, Serb authorities also seized two news photographers in the Serb-occupied Sarajevo suburb of Grbavica. One, Belgrade-based Srdjan Ilic, was soon released. But Hidajet Delic, who has works for a Bosnian press agency and AP, is still in jail, and Serb officials claim he is being investigated for "crimes committed against the Serb civilian population in Sarajevo." Hospital officials earlier told AP that four people required treatment after they were beaten by armed Serbs, while waiting to cross into Sarajevo.
Bosnian Serb nationalists claim the arrest of their officers was illegal, violating "freedom of movement" guaranteed in the Dayton accords. "All this gravely jeopardizes further implementation of the peace agreement," one Bosnian Serb official, Velibor Ostojic, told AP. Zoran Lilic, president of what remains of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montengro), told the country's Tanjug news agency: "We are only one step from some more dangerous reaction or incident." NATO responded by closing its liaison office in the Bosnian Serb military headquarters of Pale, AP reported Tuesday night. A NATO spokesman told BBC, however, that "low- level, patchy" military contacts continue between NATO and the Serb nationalists.
NATO officials, privately upset that the Bosnian government inflamed Serb anger at a delicate stage in the peace process, admit that Bosnian officials had the right to arrest war-crimes suspects. And once the war- crimes tribunal asked the Bosnian government to keep the two in custody, NATO assisted in transporting the men from Sarajevo to the Netherlands, according to Western media reports. Richard Goldstone, the war-crimes tribunal chief prosecutor, said claims that the arrests infringed on freedom of movement were "completely without foundation." He added that only by punishing those who committed atrocities can there ever be a lasting peace in the region.
NEW RULES ON ARRESTS. Attempting to stave off a breakdown of the Dayton peace process, top U.S. negotiator Richard Holbrooke returned to the Balkans and hammered out new rules on arrests. In the future, the Bosnian government pledged to seek approval of the war-crimes tribunal before arresting Serb suspects. The move is aimed at preventing Bosnian officials from making wide-scale arrests of all men who served in the Bosnian Serb army.
"Serbian men who stray into Bosnian government checkpoints have been seized, in violation of the Dayton agreement, which calls for free passage for everyone in Bosnia," notes the N.Y. Times. "But the Bosnian government contends that all Serbian men must be checked for war crimes." Those not on a list of suspected war criminals have been freed, the government says.
AMNESTY APPROVED. The Bosnian Parliament Monday adopted a law granting amnesty to anyone who served in enemy armies, except those suspected of specific war crimes.
SERBS STILL HOLD BOSNIANS FOR SLAVE LABOR. "Hundreds of people are being forced into what amounts to slave labor in dozens of towns and villages in Serbian-held areas of Bosnia, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross," the N.Y. Times reports.
"A 15-year-old boy from an isolated village lowered his head in embarrassment Friday as he unfolded the document that binds him as a forced laborer to the local military unit," according to the Times.
"They just came to my house and told me I would have to get firewood for the soldiers," the youth told the Times. "They have guns, and can do what they want. If you don't work, they will beat you -- we all know that."
KARADZIC, STILL IN POWER, SAILS THROUGH IFOR CHECKPOINTS. Bosnian Serb nationalist leader Radovan Karadzic, indicted for genocide and crimes against humanity, retains power despite a Dayton provision banning indicted criminals from political office.
A major political appearance in Banja Luka was a "clear sign" that Karadzic plans to fight attempts to remove him from power, the Washington Post reports.
"Karadzic's foray into northern Bosnia was seen as a bold move by the Serb leader. He has had little backing in this area," according to the Post. "But in both Prijedor and later in Banja Luka, Karadzic apparently succeeded in bending politicians to his will, thereby underscoring his enduring influence." U.S. officials have maintained that Karadzic's power and influence would wane following the Dayton agreements.
U.S. State Dept. spokesman Nicholas Burns said last November it would be "inconceivable" for Karadzic and Mladic to maintain power once the peace agreement is reached. "It's still inconceivable," he repeated Monday, according to Reuters.
"Karadzic's visit (to Banja Luka) was carried out under the noses of NATO troops," the Post notes. "On Thursday, Karadzic's motorcade sped through at least four checkpoints manned by Italian, American, Russian and then American soldiers. In Banja Luka, during his appearance today, a British NATO vehicle was parked nearby. No attempts were made to detain him." Burns said the U.S. government was "disturbed" by the Post report.
"The war criminals are still in charge," a (U.S.) National Public Radio analyst concluded Monday.
"We don't stop every single vehicle that passes through an IFOR checkpoint," Maj. Thomas Moyer told AP. Added IFOR spokesman Lt. Col. Mark Rayner: "IFOR troops have the authority, but not the obligation, to detain indicted war criminals."
"Rayner acknowledged that NATO troops, at checkpoints for instance, had not been ordered to be vigilant in their watch for war criminals," Reuters notes -- nor were names and photos of the indicted criminals even passed out among the troop.
LEGALIZING THEFT. Karadzic this week announced a new "law" that will allow Serbs to keep the homes of Muslims and Croats who were murdered and expelled across Serb-occupied Bosnia, the Washington Post reports. Bosnian refugees supposedly have the right to return to their homes, or receive just compensation.
RED CROSS SAYS 3,000 BOSNIANS ARRESTED BY SERBS IN SREBRENICA WERE KILLED. A top official from the International Committee of the Red Cross said Wednesday he's convinced at least 3,000 Bosnian Muslims were massacred in Srebrenica after the enclave was overrun by Serb forces.
"I would like to say that the Bosnian Serb authorities have a serious responsibility for what happened in Srebrenica and my conviction is that unfortunately these people are no longer alive," Jean de Courten, head of ICRC operations, told Reuters. The 3,000 were arrested by Serb militia near the town.
Analysts say it is unusual for the generally cautious Red Cross -- which believes in strict neutrality -- to make such an accusation. De Courten said that Serb nationalist leaders never responded to a list of Srebrenica missing persons presented to them in October.
The fate of another 5,000 men, missing since they tried to flee Srebrenica, is an urgent question, according to de Courten. Survivors say that many of those men were also slaughtered by Serb militia.
ANOTHER MASSACRE OF THOUSANDS REVEALED. Serb nationalist troops slaughtered more than 3,000 Bosnian on Mt. Vlasic, near Banja Luka, during the summer of 1992, according to the influential German newsweekly Der Spiegel.
Survivors of one day's killing spree told a news conference that Serb soldiers ordered prisoners to kneel at the edge of a 1,150-foot cliff and then opened fire. "I could hear the screams of other people around me calling for help," said Midhet Mujkamovec, who survived by hiding under a dead body, AP reports. Mujkamovec had been imprisoned for four months at Trnopolje before being bused to the execution site.
The Bonn news conference was organized by the human-rights group Society for Threatened Peoples.
"The final truth has yet to emerge," writes AP about the scale of atrocities in Bosnia. "It is like a ghastly jigsaw puzzle, coming together piece by piece." For example, Bosnian investigators recently found a grave containing corpses of 27 men believed to have suffocated in a truck in 1992 while being driven to a notorious Serb-run detention camp at Manjaca, Kasim Ibrahimbegovic, editor of a newspaper in Sanski Most, told AP.
John Shattuck, U.S. assistant secretary of state for human rights, recently toured Omarska, site of one of the most brutal Serb-run concentration camps.
"This is not only a concentration camp but a death camp as well," Shattuck told reporters, according to AP. "Many of the people who died, died not from bullet wounds but from severe and horrible torture that occurred in these places."
Bishop Franjo Komarica in Banja Luka, a human-rights advocate throughout the region's brutal ethnic cleansing by Serb extremists, said Serb officials admitted to him that civilians were massacred. Komarica also blames foreign governments for failing to halt massive atrocities when they began.
"They knew what was going on and they could have prevented it from the very beginning," he told AP. Two U.S. journalists shared a Pulitzer Prize for uncovering the existence of Serb-run concentration camps-- information the Bush Administration possessed in 1992.
CROATS, DEMANDING ETHNIC PURITY, RIOT IN MOSTAR. Up to 2,000 hardline Croats rioted in Mostar Wednesday after the European Union's administrator there determined the city should be divided into seven zones: three Croat majority, three Muslim majority, and one mixed.
The Croats surrounded EU offices in the city, smashed windows, and trapped EU administrator Hans Koschnick in his car for an hour, kicking the vehicle and jumping on its roof. "They tried to tear him out of his car," said German Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Erdmann.
"Some shouted `Za dom spremni' -- `We are ready for the homeland' -- the salute of the fascists who ran Croatia's Nazi-backed World War II government," according to AP. An EU spokesman said rioters also called for Koschnick to be killed, while local police stood by and watched. Croat officials in Mostar now refuse any further dealings with the EU.
Italian Foreign Minister Susanna Agnelli, representing the EU, said in Zagreb that she would study the situation with Croatian President Franjo Tudjman. "We would like to come to an agreement which will be acceptable to both sides," she told Reuters. Tudjman said he opposes the plan.
Koschnick said he will resign unless the city is reunified. "A German cannot concede a city division," he told a German radio interview.
Livid Croats claim the mixed central area, to include the airport, railway station, and three power stations, actually favors Muslims because there would be a Muslim majority within it.
The EU postponed plans to send 100 police officers from Croatia to work on both sides of the divided city following Bosnian Croat objections.
NATO Secretary General Javier Solana and Chief Commanding Gen. George Joulwan held meetings in the city on Monday. No results were reported. On Tuesday, German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel failed in an effort to get Tudjman to pledge support for the reunification plan.
HARD-LINE CROATIAN NATIONALISM THREATENS FEDERATION. The problems in Mostar are just one sign that the Bosnian-Croat federation "has run against a wall of difficulties so great that foreign diplomats closest to the plan are increasingly doubtful that it will work, even though they continue to be optimistic in public statements," the N.Y. Times reported Tuesday.
While local Bosnian Muslim officials and ordinary citizens don't oppose the federation, writes correspondent Mike O'Connor, many Bosnian Croats say they'll settle only for their own ethnically pure state.
"We cannot accept the Dayton agreement," The Rev. Ante Maric told O'Connor, boasting that Croats are the oldest ethnically pure people in Europe.
"The photograph of Ante Pavelic, leader of the wartime, pro-Nazi Croatian state, is proudly displayed in the home of two Catholic priests," O'Connor reports. "They explained that people who think the Ustashe regime was guilty of genocide have been duped by anti-Croatian propaganda." The Ustashe, brutal even by Nazi standards, murdered hundreds of thousands of Serbs, Jews, and Muslims, as well as moderate Croatian opponents.
A farmer, Jure Ilicic, told O'Connor: "I have six sons, and if we are told to share our government with Muslims, all of them will join me in the war that will come."
Croats initially supported Bosnian independence, and fought against Serb nationalists seeking to overrun the republic. However, shortly after the first international "peace plan" proposed carving up Bosnia into ethnic zones - with diplomats explaining this was necessary to reflect "reality on the ground" -- Croatian nationalists launched their own war to grab parts of Bosnia for a state of their own. That war officially ended in 1994 when the U.S. pressured both sides to form a Croat-Bosnian federation and military alliance.
Unlike Serbia, Croatia never suffered international sanctions for arming and funding nationalist extremists seeking to carve up Bosnia into ethnically pure parastates.
"We have to make the federation work or it will be a disaster in Bosnia," Holbrooke said Tuesday.
NEW POLITICAL PARTY TO FORM. Former Bosnian Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic, as expected, announced he will form a new political party. He declined to offer details about the party's name or position, but stressed "reintegration and democratization of Bosnia" at a news conference, Reuters reports.
"It is believed that Silajdzic will organize a coalition of opposition parties in Bosnia to fight against the Muslim, Serb and Croat nationalist parties in elections scheduled for later this year," according to Reuters. Silajdzic, who recently resigned as prime minister and was expelled from the country's ruling party, often battled what he saw as nationalist tendencies within the government.
Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic acknowledged his Muslim Party of Democratic Action could lose scheduled elections. "The ruling party could lose the forthcoming elections, not because we didn't work hard but because such terrible problems lie ahead," he told Bosnian television, Reuters reports.
While Western media say some nationalist Muslim figures are becoming more prominent in the party, it still supports the ideal of a multi- ethnic state. In fact, throughout the war in government-controlled territories such as Sarajevo, Serbs, Croats, Jews and others remained; their religious institutions remained intact even as Serbs deliberately destroyed mosques and Catholic churches throughout territory they occupied.
SERB NATIONALIST MILITARY-CIVILIAN SPLIT. After Gen. Mladic announced a cut-off of all contacts with NATO, Serb nationalist civilian authorities called the edict invalid. "Gen. Mladic does not speak for the government," self-declared "Prime Minister" Rajko Kasagic told the N.Y. Times. "Our government decides policy and our army implements government policy."
And, while Mladic ordered Serbs to stay out of government-controlled territory, Reuters reports that people continued to cross between Sarajevo center and Serb-occupied suburbs. "The border will not be closed," Maksim Stanisic, the "mayor" of those Serb-held suburbs, told Reuters, explaining that the order applied only to soldiers. Five Serb- occupied districts are to be completely handed back to Bosnian government control by March 20.
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Opinions expressed/published on BosNews/BosNet-B do NOT necessarily always reflect the views of (all of the members of) Editorial Board, and/or moderators, nor any of their host institutions.
Murat Erkocevic <ErkocevicM@aol.com>
Dzevat Omeragic <Dzevat@ee.mcgill.ca>
Davor Wagner <DWagner@mailbox.syr.edu>
Nermin Zukic <N6Zukic@sms.business.uwo.ca>
Date: Wed, 14 Feb 1996 11:31:24 -0500 (EST)