srebrenica_man - 72759 - 14.08.2012 : Ratko Obrenovic Detroit, USA - (0)
Ethnic Conflicts in Civil War in Bosnia -Political manipulation with term of Genocide (2)25. Normal War Engagement The conditions that were set by UN SC allowed Muslim forces in Srebrenica enclave to do virtually anything. Under the Muslim Command Unit of 8th Operative Group, 28th Division, consisting of 280, 281, 282, 283, 284, etc., launched the attacks on Serbs villages that had been already attacked during 1992 and 1993. Most of the attacks were terroristic action by a small group of soldiers. More than 500 Serbs were killed by the attack form "Safe Area", and the cruelty of killings were the same as before . Dutch battalion later described this attack as follows. "Operations were relatively unpredictable because the units were almost without training and rather non-disciplined. Muslim forces made systematic assaults from the enclave, and afterwards they used to withdrew to the territory under the protection of UN." It is needless to say UNPROFOR as well as civilians were used as human shields. Military supplies were sufficient in "Safe Area," so that there were almost no problem to continue the offensive. The huge documents which Muslim forces left in Srebrenica delineate each delivery of ammunition, military uniforms, boots, computer equipment, office equipment, cigarettes, etc. Furthermore, even money amounting to 308,850 DEM were transferred to Naser Oric, according to the document from Commander Colonel Avdo Palic (dated Feb 14, 1995). More surprisingly, Muslim forces used even helicopters between Headquarters and Srebrenica or Zepa . A series of documents which were exchanged with Headquarters recorded the helicopter accident of 7 May 1995 at Igrisnik between Zepa and Srebrenica, informing 11 deaths and 9 injuries. Taking an advantage of virtually free traffic, US secretly had communication equipment flown to Tuzla, which would enable Muslim forces to coordinate offensive operations between larger units . Thanks to those conditions of "Safe Area", Muslim forces regained the power enough to attack Bosnian Serbs' vital supply route, being well coordinated with other units. Even one month before the fall of Srebrenica, Muslim forces in "Safe Area" were planning to break the road communication around Vlasenica in cooperation with the units of 2nd corps in Sarajevo. Meanwhile, operation of Republika Srpska forces of Bosnian Serbs were generally directed to keep the status quo and to protect Bosnian Serbs population in Srebrenica area from the attacks of Muslim forces in the enclave, or "Safe Area" . As all Muslim enclaves or "Safe Area" including Srebrenica were less important for Serbs, territory wise, Republika Srpska forces did not care very much about the enclaves as long as Muslim forces refrained from attacking Serbs' village and the Serbs' vital supply route. Moreover, Bosnian Serb forces did not have enough soldiers to take over Srebrenica although they had more heavy weapons, which would become ineffective in the mountainous landscape of Srebrenica. Therefore, even when Muslim forces of Srebrenica faced food crisis in spring 1993, the two Bosnian Serb political leaders, Karadzic and Milosevic, were adamant that there was no intention to take Srebrenica. Although Mladic had not been in good terms with Karadzic in those day by his quasi- coup d'etat against Karadzic, he also answered to Kareeman's question on July 21, 1995, after the fall of Srebrenica, that he would not have thought about attacking the enclaves if Muslim soldiers in "Safe Area," such as Srebrenica, Gorazde, and Zepa had been completely disarmed . In addition, on the fall of Srebrenica, Mladic showed his indifference to the territory itself by asking representatives of Muslim refugees and civilians in Srebrenica whether they would like to stay in Srebrenica or go to Muslim territories or foreign countries. What Bosnian Serb forces wanted from Muslim forces was to stop the assaults against Serbian civilians and their vital supply route. 26. Fall of Srebrenica - Chaotic Muslim Soldiers When Srebrenica began to fall into the hands of Serbs from July 6, 1995, Muslim forces in Srebrenica were hysterical, being in confusion and chaos. Having seen Dutch Battalion of UNPROFOR withdrawing, Muslim forces together with three citizens shot a blue helmet, Sergeant Van Renseen, to death on July 8. On the same day, some Muslim soldiers threw grenade at Dutch Battalion, demanding the Dutch to go towards Bosnian Serb forces and fight. On July 9, Muslim soldiers who did not allow Dutch to withdraw held another Dutch battalion for overnight . On July 10, Muslim troops threatened a Dutch captain with anti-tank weapons not to move although the Dutch captain wanted to move in order to target Bosnian Serb forces more directly . On July 11, Dutch solders saw mutual fighting in various places between Muslim soldiers who wanted to surrender and Muslim soldiers who wanted to continue to fight . On July 12, several Dutch soldiers saw a man hang himself in factory complex opposite of the Dutch base in Potocari. Negotiation With Muslim Civilians & Refugees in Srebrenica Enclave At the fall of Srebrenica, Mladic negotiated with Karremans, Dutch commander, and three representatives of Muslim civilians and refugees three times. Based on the decision of the three representatives including a woman, Mladic organized the evacuation of people, and asked for the help of the three representatives to carry out the evacuation smoothly. What he repeatedly told them was to ask soldiers to give up weapons within 24 hours. He said that Muslim soldiers, including soldiers not in uniform and even war criminals, would be treated according to the Geneva Convention if they hand over their weapons. Muslim Soldiers Who Did Not Surrender The conclusion of this negotiation must have been a nightmare for Muslim forces that were in confusion. Most of the soldiers were occupied with the worst scenario in which Bosnian Serb forces would execute all men. Later, some of the Muslim soldiers who had fled admitted, in various magazines, that the reason they had decided to flee was due to this worst scenario. Besides, Muslim hard liners' pressure was mounting so high that soldiers that had decided to surrender had to expect some assaults from their own fellows . At the night of July 10, the Muslim soldiers who had decided not to surrender started fleeing. According to Dutch Battalion, a group of some 300 soldiers of Muslim forces disappeared in moving toward the west. On the night of July 11-12, between 10,000 and 15,000 men, who had converged on the area of Jaglici and Susnjari, went in the forests to reach Tuzla or Kladanj. Mehrudin Mesanovic said in the local magazine of Sarajevo that brigades gathered in Buljim on July 11 started into woods by platoon and platoon. Although no confirmed figures are available, it is estimated that 10,000-15,000 Muslim soldiers had left Srebrenica through woods according to the Report of the Secretary-General and other accounts . Muslim Who Surrendered Approximately 25,000 out of 40,000 Muslims decided to surrender and gathered in Potocari. According to Dutch battalion, the majority of people were women, children, and the elderly, and the military capable men accounted for only 2% to 3%. Bosnian Serb forces separated them into a group of women, children, and the elderly and a group of military capable men. The purpose of this separation was two-fold: to catch Muslim soldiers as many as possible as war prisoners in order to exchange them for Serbs imprisoned by Muslim Army particularly in Sarajevo, and to screen out Muslims who had committed hideous crimes against Serbian citizens particularly in 1992 and 1993. Being free from allegation of military engagement, a group of women, children, and the elderly were directly transferred to Kladanj, a Muslim territory. On the other hand, a group of men, amounting to about 500 to 750 (or 2%-3% of 25,000), were transferred to Bratunac, where they were screened for the check of war crimes, and were grouped into three; (1) a group of men who did not have any criminal records, (2) a group of men who were required to go through farther check for war crimes, (3) a group of men who were determined to be war criminals. As for (1), Bosnian Serb forces considered the men of this group as civilians but not as prisoners of war. Thus, they were transferred from Bratunac to Kladanj, a Muslim territory, on July 14, immediately after the criminal screening. The fact that the men in this group did not become the targets for the exchange of prisoners was noteworthy because the men in this group might have fought as soldiers. In fact, a Muslim man that had been released as a civilian on this time in Bratunac disappointed Bosnian Serb forces later when he was caught as a prisoner of war on the front line near Sarajevo . The number of Muslim men in this group is estimated to be around 500 because six buses and four trucks are said to be used to transport them . The Muslim men in the remaining two groups became prisoners of war, according to their war activities. As for (2), the group was transferred from the prison of Bratunac to the prison of Batkovic. As for (3), the group was sent from the prison of Bratunac to the prison of Zvornik. The number of Muslim men in these two groups is estimated to be less than 250 in total because the number of men in all three groups totaled 500 to 750, and the group (1) consisted of approximately 500 men. When ICRC visited all three prisons in Bratunac, Batkovic and Zvornik afterwards , it registered 164 persons from Srebrenica at the prison of Batkovic on July 26, 1995 , and noted 193 persons from Srebrenica in total by November 1995 . Later, the majority of the Muslim war prisoners in these groups seems to have been exchanged for the Serbian war prisoners via ICRC. One of the example is Ibran Mustafic, a founder of the ruling Muslim party (SDA) in Srebrenica and Srebrenica representative to Muslim Parliament . He was exchanged for a Serb imprisoned by Muslim Army after having spent nine months in the prison in Batkovic although Mustafic was on the list of war criminals of Bosnian Serbs side . Unfortunately, the number of the persons who were exchanged from the group (2) and (3) is unknown due to the confidentiality of ICRC documents. Yet, taking into consideration the fact that about 500 out of 750 men gathering in Potocari were transferred to Kladanj unconditionally, the remaining 250 must have been very precious war prisoners for Bosnian Serb forces. Other than the above three groups, there was a group of 88 wounded persons . As for the evacuation of this group, ICRC said that 65 of them were transferred to Muslim territories on July 17 and 18 . Although 23 remained, ICRC noted their identities to trace them as war prisoners afterwards . As ICRC's check of identities would secure the lives of the noted persons, almost all wounded persons are considered to be exchanged for Serbian war prisoners later. Other than ICRC report, there were two accounts that contradict each other: the statement of Medicina Sans Frontiers and the statement of Dutch battalions . Taking into consideration that the statement of Medicina Sans Frontiers was also inconsistent with ICRC report and that the statement was given by the locals that Medicina Sans Frontiers employed from the enclave, their statement should not be taken seriously. 27. Alleged Massacre - Fleeing Muslim Soldiers It is said that the dreadful massacre of Muslims occurred at the fall of Srebrenica. Particularly, Muslim soldiers who decided to flee through woods instead of surrendering are said to be executed by Bosnian Serb forces as if they had been hunting rabbits. However, two important facts were ignored in this understanding: those soldiers were carrying weapons in spite of Mladic's repeated warning, and there were ferocious fighting between those Muslim soldiers and Bosnian Serb soldiers. As all Muslim soldiers headed for Muslim territories, Tuzla or Kladanj, through woods, they had to cross roads that cut off the woods vertically from north to south in some points, such as Buljim, Kamenica, Kravica, Pobudje, Nova Kasava, Bajkovica, Crni Vrh, and the line from Konjevic Polje to Milici . The combats were very intense in these places. According to a Muslim survivor, Bosnian Serb forces were waiting along the path which Muslim soldiers had to cross, and did not dare to walk into the woods . As Bosnian Serb forces were carrying anti-aircraft weapons, what they had to do was just to wait and shoot at massive Muslim soldiers coming out of the woods if they do not obey the warning of surrender . Yet, Bosnian Serb forces lost the fight at several places, such as Baljkovica, Krizevac, etc. and suffered the loss of 300 - 500 soldiers because Bosnian Serb soldiers, being inferior in number , could not fight with hundreds or thousands of Muslim soldiers that crossed roads at a time even by heavy artillery. Among the loss of Bosnian Serb forces, there were quite a few elite soldiers, and local newspapers of Serbia often carried sad stories of those soldiers together with their photos in those days . Taking into consideration the huge loss of Bosnian Serb forces under the favorable conditions for them , it can be estimated that Muslim forces must have suffered the loss of nearly 2,000 soldiers from military perspectives. However, it must be noted that this combat might look mass killings to the eye of frightened Muslim soldiers although they carried weapons and shot at Bosnian Serb soldiers randamly . There are some accounts that said that no combats occurred virtually . The reason for these accounts was that the women in the buses heading for Kladanj did not see fighting . However, Mladic told General Smith, on July 19, that he had opened the corridor towards Tuzla for Muslim soldiers who had left the enclave around July 10 and 11. Thus, Bosnian Serb forces did not put up serious opposition . Under these conditions, about 6,000 soldiers were able to reach Zenica through woods, according to UNHCR's announce . As Halilovic confirmed proudly in his book, hence, the 28th Division of Muslim Army in Srebrenica had been reorganized, consisting of 6,000 soldiers that had broke the line of Bosnian Serb forces . Therefore, during the daytime of July 12 and 13, when all buses passed by, there had not been serious combats yet. Otherwise, the buses could not have passed. However, during nights, when Muslim soldiers were moving, there were combats. Most of the local pathways became war sites as well as some places on the main roads that the buses took. Therefore, there must have been shooting sounds, which Dutch soldiers heard particularly during nights, and there must have been dead bodies scattered around the roads as the women in the buses saw during daytime. Accordingly, what the women in the buses said was rational, and it was the evidence of the combats during nights rather than the evidence of the absence of the combats. In addition to the death tolls in the combat, there were a number of Muslim soldiers who lost physical power to continue to flee. Dr. Ilijas Pilav, who succeeded this journey, said that he noticed many drowned men when he crossed the Jadar River . He added that there were mutual shootings because of illusions resulted from exhaustion . Another person said that there must have been lots of people who lost lives after losing sense of directions and going into a circle walk . After the combats, a huge number of dead bodies were scattered around. To walk for almost 20 days in the area which might be full of mines without any food and water under the fear of being shot from any directions was such a trauma that Muslim soldiers sometimes mixed reality with illusions . Having looked at dead bodies under the psychological disturbance, some Muslim soldiers could believe what they imagined. Therefore, it is necessary to confirm witness's accounts by site-inspection. Otherwise, enormously hideous stories, such as 'liver-eating story shown in the review of the indictment against Karadzic and Mladzic, would drive the general psychology to a 'witch-hunting' frenzy. Muslims that were transferred by bus As for the group of women, children, and the elderly, they were transferred to Kladanj, a Muslim territory, by buses on July 12 and 13. According to Muslim women that were transferred from Srebrenica by bus, the Serb bus drivers assured that they would protect the passengers and that nobody would touch them. In fact, there are almost no names of women from Srebrenica in the missing list of ICRC. As for the group of men who were transferred to Kladanj, several persons said that they were transferred to Karakaj in Bosnian Serbs' territory instead of Kladanj in Muslims' territory although others appeared to be transferred directly to Kladanj without troubles. According the Karakaj-massacre witnesses, men were crammed into a school complex and its adjacent sports hall in Karakaj and thousands of men were executed there. However, according to the author's site inspection, there was only one school in Karakaj, which was supposed to accommodate Muslim men. However, it was too small to accommodate them and it did not have any sports halls. Moreover, there were school records showing the presence of students day by day in July and in August. In addition, when the author met two Muslim women that had been living in Mali Zvornik (in Serbia), only about 1 km away from the school across the Drina River, they said that they didn't hear any shooting sounds from 13 July afterwards although they lived within the range that the sounds could reach. They just added that they saw a long column of the buses, carrying many Muslims. Judging from this site-inspection, and considering that Mevludin Oric, one of the witnesses who allegedly saw massacre there, was a nephew of Naser Oric, Commander of Muslim forces in Srebrenica, the story of massacre in Karakaj is very skeptical. Another dubious story is regarding the whereabouts of one of the most important Muslim citizens for Bosnian Serb forces. Nesib Mandzic, a citizen that negotiated with Mladzic as a representative of refugees together with two other civilians, is said to be executed by Bosnian Serb forces and listed as a person who disappeared on July 13. However, he signed the paper with the other representatives to confirm the safe completion of the evacuation on July 16, three days after the alleged disappearance. It can be considered that he might be killed later by Muslim soldiers partly because he was one of the persons that Muslim Army must have hated due to the negotiation with Mladzic and partly because he was a refugee but not a citizen of Srebrenica town. Summary Execution for Personal Revenge Considering that a number of Serbs were killed by Muslim neighbors in a very cruel way in 1992 and 1993, there must have been summary executions for the purpose of personal revenge. According to De Groene Amsterdammer dated March 13, 1996, Serbs were so tense to select war criminals with the lists and photos in their hands when they separated military capable men from women and others. Therefore, very selective executions could happen. Regarding the spots where executions took place, most cases must have been limited to Potocari because a particular individual would rarely see the right person among 15,000 fleeing Muslim soldiers in places other than Potocari. Moreover, any person that became insane with revenge would usually kill his target on the spot, i.e. Potocari, rather than waiting for the appropriate time and place. Direct information, such as Dutch soldiers, was one of the examples of summary executions for personal revenge. For instance, according to a Dutch soldier, a Muslim was pulled out of a crowd of refugees and shot in Potocari on July 13. Another Dutch soldier saw 10 Muslim soldiers led by Bosnian Serb soldiers on July 12, and 9 dead bodies were found around the area where they were seen last in Potocari. Yet, it must be noted that just shooting sounds or collecting people in one spot does not necessarily mean killings as shooting sound could be considered to be a threat or a warning and people could be collected in a place for screening for war crimes. The existence of Mladzic in Potocari can be considered to discourage Serbs to take their wild revenge, taking into consideration the vengeful mind of the relatives of Serbian victims that were massacred in 1992 and 1993. Several old Serbs whom the author met in January of 1998 said that they personally saw how merciless Mladzic whacked Serbs who tried to rob empty houses. It was said that Mladzic was too harsh and strict in discipline to overlook any unlawful behaviors of his soldiers. Although these were the statements of Serbs, it must be remembered that the existence of Mladzic does not necessarily mean the systematic killings and could be the deterrence to revengeful killings. Of course, however, Mladzic, who failed to stop killings perfectly, would be responsible as a superior, and those Serbs who directly committed the crimes should be punished accordingly. Summary Execution of Muslim Soldiers Who Were Captured in Fleeing through Woods It is not difficult to distinguish Muslim soldiers that were executed after being captured from Muslim soldiers that were killed in combat. The location of mass graves holds the key. The two of the three exhumation sites that author visited on May 16 in 1996 showed good examples: Cancari and Glodjansko brdo. Both of them are located in the front line area in Kamenica. Cancari is the small village on the way from Srebrenica toward the north-east, the direction of Muslim territories. The mass grave in Cancari was situated along the two local roads. Behind the mass grave, six families were living at the time of exhumation. Bones were mixed up, and the locations of the bones were not natural. Therefore, ICTY, who was working on this mass grave, presumed that they were moved from somewhere to here in order to hide. However, the circumstances were not so convincing. Firstly, the site was so close to local roads that it was not an appropriate place to hide something. Secondly, if a truck picks up dead bodies who were killed in combats for clean-up, the locations of bones were disarranged anyway. Lastly, according to a ICTY officer, this site was shown by one of the US satellite photos, which could be any graves not necessarily for summarily executed persons. Mass graves does not always mean mass execution. A village man in Cancari area began to grumble to the author about his corns, saying that his corn field was stamped so hard by massive Muslims during nights that he could not harvest corn. According to him, the combats had been so ferocious that bodies of soldiers killed in the combats had scattered around the area, and the whole area had smelled terribly as it had been more than 30 degrees. As domestic animals had eaten some of internal organs of dead human bodies, villagers had to kill all of their domestic animals. Under these circumstances, someone had to pick up the bodies to put into the ground for the sake of hygiene. On the other hand, the mass grave in Glodjansko brdo was located deep in forests. It was the site where someone wanted to hide bodies. This mass grave had been once dug in 1993 by Bosnian Serbs because it had contained victims of Serbian civilians killed in 1993. However, the exhumation work had been suspended due to the fierce combats. Most of local newspapers had carried the exhumation as top stories in those days. Comparing the two sites, it can be concluded that the mass grave in a open space along a road in combat areas were created for hygiene reasons for numerous soldiers killed in the combats. On the other hand, mass graves deep in forests are considered to be the ones which criminals wanted to hide. The exhumation site of ICTY is considered to be one of the examples of mass graves created for hygiene reasons.
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