The UNGA debate on the role of international criminal justice on reconciliation organised and planned by Vuk Jeremic (Serbian politician), president of UNGA, held 10 April, did as I feared: pushed forth in representing the worst possible face of twisted justice and undermined human rights.
And this is the United Nations!
The United Nations that prides itself on the protection of human rights – on upholding the rights of and compassion with victims of war crimes above all! Yet, passionate genocide deniers, marshals of misinformation and justifiers of unbearable crimes, who tried very hard to rewrite the history of Serb aggression in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina during 1990’s through attacking the international courts of justice, hogged the lectern and Serbia had its unsavoury moment – yet again.
Munira Subasic, president of Mothers of Srebenica, called Jeremic’s speech and his exclusion of the victims from the debate “offensive.” She was ushered out of the UNGA hall by security, but UN Secretary-General Ban Ki moon “took pity” on her and met with her later!
Given that he was present at the debate he would have served justice and human rights much better had he broken Jeremic’s protocol for the debate and allowed her to speak.
Jeremic, though, used his position to allow Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic, a genocide denier, to make a speech in which he attempted to paint Serbs as the victims of the Bosnian conflict rather than its aggressors.
But wait a minute! Jeremic also brought the Russian Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin to the lectern.
“…The ease with which the originally unanimous verdict against Gotovina and Mladen Markac was overturned with a vote of 3-2 is stunning, as the case that involved mass killings and deportation of Serbs had been investigated for years prior to the trial, said the Russian official.
Russia doubts the decision was made on legal basis, he stated, stressing that cases like that do not satisfy justice because it was not determined who was to blame for the crimes”. Russian Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin, according to Serbia’s Tanjug news agency.
Well, if one believed that Serbia’s propaganda churns out the truth of what happened on the ground during Operation Storm for which Croatian Generals Gotovina and Markac were indicted by the ICTY, then one might think that there’s nothing wrong with what Churkin says.
But Churkin, like Serbia’s politicians know that the truth is far from what they’re peddling, hoping the “world” would believe them. The actual original ICTY indictments regarding the “mass killings” go like this:
“Between 4 August 1995 and 15 November 1995, Croatian forces unlawfully killed at least 150 Krajina Serbs by shooting, burning and stabbing them”. That Gotovina etc “knew or had a reason to know … that Croatian forces were committing these crimes”.
And if a court, appeal court, decided that the individual persons, i.e. Gotovina and Markac, were not responsible for the killings, which, except evil persons would continue suggesting they were, I ask!
It’s so much clearer to me now why Cold War existed between the “West” and the “East” for so many years.
I am quite convinced that Jeremic (and Serbia’s leadership) had planned to attack the international criminal tribunals and hold them responsible for the lack of progress in reconciliation because of the acquittals by the ICTY. According to the Serbian train of thought someone committed the crimes against Serbs and, therefore, it’s not fair to set free anyone from the Croatian side, even if they are found innocent of the charges by the court!
I am so proud to belong to the side of the world which holds that the international criminal justice system could never replace national mechanisms and people in building true bridges between former enemies. Indeed, to the likely Jeremic’s and Nikolic’s bitter disappointment, the majority of the delegates at the UN debate made conclusions to similar effects.
There is no real chance of those bridges being built while genocide deniers orchestrate such debates at UN and fail to recognise the war crimes their countrymen had committed.
“To heal as a nation, as a region, as a world, we need to acknowledge what happened. We need to wipe away any attempts at impunity. Criminals have to be brought to justice. Victims have to be given an opportunity to tell their story to the world. If we pretend genocide never happened, then history will repeat itself. And none of us—whether we lived it, survived it, or just heard about on the news—should just stand by while politicians try to rewrite history.
That’s why we need international tribunals: international criminal tribunals for the former Yugoslavia, for Rwanda, for Sierra Leone and Lebanon, for Cambodia — and now the International Criminal Court (ICC) for the world. These judicial institutions not only administer justice, they create a record of truth. This is what happened: the good, the bad, and the ugly. They preserve evidence that can’t be rewritten, or changed, or forgotten. They are the true vehicles of peace, for there can’t be peace without justice”, writes Diana Jenkins in Huffington Post.
Let’s not hold our breath saying: OK, this is over, now let’s get on with real life and reconciliation. Serbia with the aid of UNGA President Jeremic is likely to serve the world with yet another pathetic chapter of shoving politics into criminal justice in order to justify genocide, before Jeremic’s UN mandate ends. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)