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Bosnet Digest V5 #88 / Wednesday, 6 March 1996

From: Dzevat Omeragic <dzevat@EE.MCGILL.CA>

Bosnia-Herzegovina News Directory


  • [01] Amnesty Int'l Letter To IFOR Commanders

  • [02] All Strung Out, No Place To Play

  • [01] Amnesty Int'l Letter To IFOR Commanders

    Via TWatch







    AI Index: EUR 63/08/96

    London, 1 March 1996

    Amnesty International is deeply concerned that the multinational military Implementation Force (IFOR) is continuing to refuse to search for persons suspected of genocide, other crimes against humanity and serious violations of humanitarian law. The failure to carry out this law enforcement duty is a clear breach by states contributing troops to IFOR of their obligations under the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and Security Council Resolution 827. It is also inconsistent with the principles of the General Framework Agreement on Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina reached in Dayton, Ohio in November 1995 (the peace agreement). It sends a clear message to all those responsible for such crimes that to ensure impunity they need only avoid coming into direct contact with IFOR as long as it is in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

    Since the first IFOR troops arrived in Bosnia-Herzegovina last year, spokespersons for IFOR and troop-contributing states have repeatedly stated that they would not search for persons indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (the Tribunal), but would arrest suspects only if they encountered them. IFOR spokesperson, Lt. Col. Mark Rayner, stated on 12 February, IFOR troops have the authority, but not the obligation, to detain indicted war criminals. According to reports, troops have encountered more than one person who has been indicted by the Tribunal, but failed to arrest them. Amnesty International welcomes the recent announcement that IFOR is now informing its personnel of the identities of people who have been indicted by the Tribunal by providing them with photographs of some of the accused and instructing them to arrest any accused they happen to encounter, if feasible. This step, however, fails to fulfil state obligations to search for, arrest and bring to justice those responsible for grave breaches of the four Geneva Conventions of August 12, 1949 for the Protection of War Victims and its Additional Protocol I.

    The refusal to search for people who have been indicted by the Tribunal for grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions is a clear violation of international law. All the states contributing troops to IFOR are state parties or successor state-parties to the Geneva Conventions and each is therefore obliged to search for persons alleged to have committed, or to have ordered to be committed, such grave breaches, and shall bring such persons, regardless of their nationality, before its own courts, the courts of another state or an international criminal court (Geneva Convention No. I, Art. 49; Geneva Convention No. II, Art. 50; Geneva Convention No. III, Art. 129; Geneva Convention No. IV, Art. 146). This obligation applies in all cases, not just when the Tribunal or a national court has indicted an accused or asked for a suspect to be provisionally arrested. Thus, the duty to search for people suspected of having committed or having ordered to be committed such grave breaches is independent of any action taken by the Tribunal or a national court. The Geneva Conventions expressly provide that states parties to the Geneva Conventions may not absolve themselves of any liability which they or other states parties have incurred in respect of grave breaches (Geneva Convention No. I, Art. 51; Geneva Convention No. II, Art. 52; Geneva Convention No. III, Art. 131; Geneva Convention No. IV, Art. 148). The official commentary by the International Committee of the Red Cross makes clear that this common provision removes any doubt that the duty to prosecute and punish the authors of grave breaches is absolute .

    The refusal to search for people who have been indicted by the Tribunal also violates troop-contributing states legal obligations to implement Security Council Resolution 827 of 25 May 1993 establishing the Tribunal. That resolution requires all states to cooperate fully with the International Tribunal and to take any measures necessary to implement the resolution, including compliance with Tribunal orders or requests for assistance. There are no exceptions. The Tribunal has so far issued 13 indictments against 53 individuals. All but two have been indicted for grave breaches. Only one person indicted, who was in custody in the Federal Republic of Germany, has been transferred to the custody of the Tribunal in the Hague, the Netherlands. None of the arrest warrants issued by the Tribunal has been served, apart from provisional arrest warrants for two individuals held in the custody of the authorities of Bosnia-Herzegovina and transferred to the Hague. Most of the individuals indicted are believed to have remained in the former Yugoslavia.

    The failure to search for and arrest persons suspected of having committed or ordered grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions is inconsistent with the principles of the peace agreement. IFOR is obliged under the peace agreement to take such actions as required to ensure compliance with Annex I of the peace agreement. That Annex requires the parties to cooperate fully with any international personnel, including investigators of the Tribunal. The members of the Security Council understood when adopting Resolution 1031 on 15 December 1995 that that resolution and the peace agreement gave IFOR the authority to detain and transfer persons indicted by the Tribunal.

    All the parties to the peace agreement are required to cooperate fully with the Tribunal and IFOR is responsible for implementation of the agreement. The parties cooperation has been limited. Bosnia-Herzegovina has enacted legislation, deferred prosecutions at the request of the Tribunal and provisionally arrested and transferred suspects to the Tribunal. Croatia has permitted Tribunal investigators to operate on its territory, but has not yet enacted necessary legislation. The Bosnian Serb authorities have recently permitted investigators to operate in territory under their control. It is a matter of serious concern, however, that, in clear violation of the peace agreement, the Bosnian Serb authorities, the authorities of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro), the Croatian authorities and the Bosnian Croat authorities have all failed to transfer persons who have been indicted to the Tribunal. Although it has promised to do so, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia has not yet permitted the Tribunal to open an office or its investigators to operate freely in its territory.

    IFOR is obliged under the peace agreement to establish a durable cessation of hostilities, which includes ensuring that the parties cooperate fully with any international personnel including investigators... including facilitating free and unimpeded access and movement and by providing such status as is necessary for the effective conduct of their tasks (Annex I-A, Article II, para. 4). On 24 November 1995, Tribunal President Cassese and Prosecutor Goldstone stated that they trust the Agreement will be fully and rigorously implemented by all the Parties concerned and that NATO forces, as well as the competent authorities, will render appropriate assistance to the Tribunal's officials to enable them to carry out their mission . IFOR is now providing logistical support and security for Tribunal investigators to visit grave sites and other locations, as well as aerial surveillance of grave sites, but it has not agreed to provide round-the-clock security for all grave sites. Whether such surveillance will adequately protect grave sites, particularly when the spring thaw makes it easier to destroy such sites and other evidence remains to be seen. It is essential for IFOR and the international community to ensure that there is adequate security for grave sites, other physical evidence and witnesses.

    Amnesty International is renewing its call made on 22 January 1996 to IFOR and the parties to the agreement to fulfil their responsibilities under the Geneva Conventions, Security Council Resolution 827 and the peace agreement to carry out their law enforcement responsibilities to search for, arrest and transfer to the Tribunal all persons who have been indicted by the Tribunal. IFOR should also immediately respond to requests by Tribunal investigators to protect grave sites, other physical evidence and witnesses in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

    Half a century after the Nuremberg trial began, the international community must not allow those responsible for genocide, other crimes against humanity and serious violations of humanitarian law to escape justice. There cannot be a lasting peace in Bosnia-Herzegovina without justice.

    Pierre San Secretary General Amnesty International

    [02] All Strung Out, No Place To Play

    <source Berserkistan:>

    All Strung Out, No Place to Play

    Musicians In Sarajevo

    AS SO OFTEN HAPPENS IN THE BALKANS when you are sniffing around for one story, more then likely you will run into something you didn't expect and wind up running with that. That's how I met The Moron Brothers, one of Sarajevo's hottest emerging bands.

    It started with a trip over to the massive Bosnian Television building down on "Sniper Alley." I was going there to see an old friend from WTN and scout up some info on the art scene when I came upon some hip-looking kids rolling into the place with guitars. We chatted briefly and I found they were going up to Studio 1, Radio BiH's recording facility. It's not often that foreign journalists take an interest in emerging young rock and rollers, and an invitation to check out what was up was quickly proffered.

    Going up to the studio was a chilling journey. This is the building that had been hit last summer by a medium-range missile, and anything that could be damaged by the massive blast effect was blasted into smithereens. As I found out though, more than the lights and toilets were out of order. The bureaucratic hoops and outright theft of copyrights that young musicians face when they walk through these halls is equally screwy.

    AS THE GUYS WERE GETTING SET UP, I started getting an earful of what goes down when young artists want to get studio time. "Edo", the bass player, started telling me about the situation. In order to get studio time at the only functioning facility in town. you have to have the backing of the government or sign over all rights to Radio BiH. That's right, for six hours of studio time and three tracks you lose all rights to that work now and forever. The licks they wound up laying down were catchy, jammin' little pop tunes and I could see the financiers at RBH licking their chops and counting the royalties in their sleep.

    How do you say, 'Places for Meat?'

    Edo expounded further and it became a lengthy list of problems facing Sarajevo musicians. They didn't have a producer who knows their medium, a pseudo-grunge as he explained it. Finding a venue is very difficult. Just keeping your axe in strings, and your drummer in sticks, is also a major problem for kids with no money and no music shops around if they had cash.

    "They have turned all the old music shops into, how do you say, places for meat," Edo said. "Butcher shops?" I asked. "Yes." We both felt a little sick. It was almost a sort of sacrilege. Then there were the uppity-ups in the Bosnian government who control the facilities and aren't much interested in youth culture or their music, and deny it vital support. They are more interested in producing traditional, peasant mountain music with a "Praise Allah and Beat the Chetnicks" patriotic, propaganda bent.

    Basically, the situation is tow the party line, sell out, or content yourself with a scrounged boom box to record on. The Moron Brothers were caught in the two-way crossfire. Not only were they into rock and roll, but they also sang their songs in (god forbid!) English. A double no-no with a government agency of communist-descent working to hold sway over a constituency composed mostly of "primitive people," a term used by Sarajevo's artist community to describe the agrarian, refugee peoples who flooded Sarajevo and now compose 84% of the city.

    Over and over I was told how only 16% of Sarajevo's pre-war population remain, and the country people who now form the majority had no interest or appreciation for the arts. The remainder felt isolated and threatened.

    An Airlift of Guitar Strings, Drum Heads and Amps

    EQUIPMENT IS LIMITED AT BEST. Guitar strings are an endangered species. Ditto drum heads. There's power in Sarajevo on a regular basis, now, but precious few amplifiers can be had. Space and facilities are almost non-existent, and the powers that be are hostile to the movement unless they see an opportunity to exploit it. It sounds a lot like the plight of garage acts I have come across in the United States, but this situation is critical. The musicians I met were talking about rebuilding a nation, and the best way they could see to do that-ensure a lasting reconciliation-by reaching out to the youth. It was agreed all around that the best way to do this was through the arts, and music in particular.

    For five days I hung around with the leaders of the local musicians young and old, artists, a couple of forward-thinking, hip cafe owners. A loose coalition was emerging and known as TRUST, the Citizens Coalition of Sarajevo. Together we began hammering out a clear picture of the future of the movement.

    Over many coffees, Lozas and Pivos we examined all the problems and worked on a solid framework for the emerging organization. The first of many things agreed upon was the need for professional managers to run it, money to secure a building, and lawyers to protect the rights of all artists. It boiled down to three guiding principles, the three Ps.

    1. Promote. Through resident artists, music distribution, an in house venue, exchange programs, and the Internet.

    2. Produce. Through in-house production studios of every medium, practice space, art space, a place to meet and develop new projects and professionals from the international arts community to guide and refine emerging young artists through residency programs.

    3. Protect. Through lawyers on retainer and a place to work free from any form of government control or influence.

    We also started exploring options for space. A place to set up and operate out of was the first priority and everyone had their eyes on an old building constructed in the late 60's by the Yugoslav Boy Scouts. It had been designed as a youth center with studios, art space and editing facilities built in. It even had an observatory. The building also contains a full theater and a caf=82-restaurant. It is a big, solid stone building that overlooks the city and during the war it was occupied by the military.

    With the peace, and downsizing of the army, the place will be up for grabs, and like with everything else in Sarajevo, money talked. I asked if a cool million would do the trick. More than enough I was told. That would grease the right palms, snag a ten- year lease, pay for renovations and clean the place up, and still have a nice operating budget to get things cooking.

    A Plea to Musicians Around the World WE BEGAN COOKING UP ALL KINDS OF PLOTS. Exchange programs to bring in college acts from the United States and elsewhere. Putting local acts on tour on the U.S. college circuit. Bringing in recognized leaders in the industry for shows and workshops. An in-house label, and on and on. But the overriding theme of all of it was the unification of people not only in Bosnia but around the world through the common languages of art and music.

    We hit on a strategy. First we hit up the art and music community for the cash and get our hands on this center, then we start producing, educating, and reaching out to the world at large.

    We all figured that if the power players in the business had enough cash to build never-lands, kick down on castles in Scotland or uplink live from a city under siege during a concert, they could afford come to the aid of their prot=82g=82es when they needed it most. At the sa= me time, they would help rebuild a nation and heal a people caught in the middle of a madness beyond their control. Forget generating a cyclone of positive publicity or reaching out to an emerging market that has always been an enthusiastic sales outlet.

    Not an easy task, but not an impossible one either, for in the community at large there are people dedicated to the guiding principles, and in Sarajevo there is a sunburst of creative energy waiting to be unleashed.

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