Denying Genocide in the Face of Science

Women of Srebrenica  mourn at grave site where recently identified remains are to be buried - 11 July 2015 Photo: The Atlantic

Women of Srebrenica
mourn at grave site
where recently identified
remains are to be buried – 11 July 2015
Photo: The Atlantic

The largest DNA-identification project ever conducted provides unprecedented proof of the slaughter at Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. But 20 years later, too many people claim it never happened. If for nothing else then for the victims’ dignity and justice those who deny these crimes need to be exposed and shamed at every turn.

David Rohde is a columnist and reporter for Reuters, a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize, and a former reporter for The New York Times. On 17 July 2015 he published an article for Reuters on the above issue. A number of my posts in the past month or so had dealt with genocide and crimes perpetrated by Serbs/Serbia in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina during 1990’s and the obscene extent to which Serbia and its leaders are prepared to go in their denial of genocide they committed.

I share David Rohde’s above article here as a very important contribution to the unwelcome issue genocide denial brings into human existence. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Zgb)


Srebrenica Bosnia and Herzegovina Graveyard of victims of genocide

Bosnia and Herzegovina
Graveyard of victims of genocide

Srebrenica, Bosnia — Scientific advances in DNA identification over the past 15 years have helped war-crimes investigators document to an unprecedented extent the massacre of 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys around this town in 1995.
Yet even as these technological advances uncovered more damning evidence, many Bosnian Serbs have grown increasingly more resolute in their denial.
Last Friday night, two Bosnian Serb men standing beside a memorial to Serb war dead were a telling example. They insisted that Serbs are the victims of an international plot. They fervently argued — despite 93 mass-grave exhumations and 6,827 DNA identifications of the dead — that the mass killings have been grossly exaggerated.
Biased historical narratives, of course, have existed throughout history. The identification of the dead in Srebrenica demonstrates the ability of technological advances to produce a flood of factual information. Yet in many cases, the scientific statistics appear to have only given those willing to manipulate the numbers more arrows in their quiver.
The two Bosnian Serbs contended that roughly the same number of victims died on each side during the 1992-1995 war. When I asked how such a vast subterfuge had been carried out, one said the answer was simple. “As far as the Muslim side,” he told me, “there is a bigger lobby in America.”
The following morning, interviews with a dozen other Bosnian Serbs living near Srebrenica produced similar answers. As tens of thousands of Bosnian Muslims drove past their homes to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the mass killings, Serbs dismissed the gathering and the idea of 8,000 dead as a “farce,” a “circus” and “make believe.”
“It’s definitely not correct,” said Budimir Todorovic, a 60-year-old electrician, as he calmly drank coffee with his family in his front yard as busloads of Bosnian Muslims drove by. “It’s not 8,000.”
Milan Rakic, a 48-year-old store owner, accused Muslims of stealing the bodies of Orthodox Christian Serbs and interring them in the town’s sprawling cemetery complex.
“There are a lot of Serb bodies buried in this memorial,” he said.
One elderly widow said that some Bosnian Muslims listed as dead in the Srebrenica memorial were, in fact, living in Germany. “The number is exaggerated,” she said. “There are many living people whose names are engraved on the gravesites.”
The woman, like the other Serbs interviewed, was genial and polite. The Serbs expressed regret about the war — the woman declared it “horrible, horrible.” But they echoed the arguments of Bosnian Serb nationalists who still dominate politics here. The nationalists contend that foreign powers, primarily the United States and Britain, stage-managed everything from the war itself to the burial of bodies in Srebrenica.
They dismissed the annual commemoration as a “provocation” also organized by meddling outsiders. They said the crowds were so large because “Western NGOs” paid people to attend.
“Everything is well coordinated,” one man standing at the memorial for Serb war dead told me. “No one from here is guilty for what happened.”
Denial is evident outside Bosnia as well. Disparate groups, including left-leaning academics, Russian government-controlled media and some right-wing Americans who talk about a Muslim takeover, scoff at the number of 8,000 dead.

In fact, the annual commemoration and cemetery here have become a global symbol of the international community’s failure to stop the killing in Bosnia. U.N. officials arrived in Srebrenica in 1993 and declared it a United Nations protected “safe area.” When Serb forces attacked it two years later, Dutch peacekeepers and U.N. commanders did little to defend the enclave, and it fell to Serb forces on July 11, 1995. Two weeks of mass expulsions and mass executions followed.
Twenty years later, an estimated 50,000 Bosnians and several thousand foreigners attended the anniversary commemoration last weekend. Dozens of foreign dignitaries did as well, with former President Bill Clinton saying the world must prevent more such killings.
In the largest DNA identification project ever, a nonprofit group called the International Commission on Missing Persons has collected 22,268 blood samples from Srebrenica survivors and matched them to 6,827 bodies.
“Huge advances in DNA identification have made it possible,” said Kathryne Bomberger, director of the project. “The science is moving rapidly.”
Along with 93 mass graves that have been exhumed, investigators have found bodies at 314 “surface sites” in the surrounding mountains. Yet the work is not over. With 8,000 men reported missing from Srebrenica and the nearby town of Zepa, another 1,200 bodies are believed to be scattered in the woods or in mass graves not yet located.
Finding the dead has been vastly complicated by a grisly Bosnian Serb effort to conceal evidence. Several months after the executions, Bosnian Serb forces dug up many of the mass graves and reburied the bodies in dozens of locations. In the process, many corpses were dismembered.
Body parts from single victims have been found at multiple sites. In one case, parts of the body of one victim, 23-year-old Kadrija Music, were discovered in five different mass graves 20 miles apart.
While the DNA identification of the bodies has received widespread praise, the uneven sentencing practices of the U.N.-created International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia has elicited scorn from both Muslims and Serbs.
Bosnian Muslims hailed decisions from the tribunal, as well as the United Nations International Court of Justice, that ruled genocide had occurred in Srebrenica. But they criticized some of the sentences as far too short.
Meanwhile, Serbs insist they have been the victims of the court. They assailed the tribunal for ultimately acquitting Naser Oric, commander of Bosnian Muslim forces in Srebrenica, though they say he is responsible for many deaths.
“How many Serbs need to be killed for people in the world to see that Serbs are people, not animals?” asked Rakic, the store owner, who said his uncle was one of Oric’s victims. “Animals have rights but not the Serb people?”
International war-crimes investigators, however, say there is no proportionality in the deaths in Srebrenica or Bosnia as a whole. The say several hundred Serbs died in the fighting around Srebrenica, but the vast majority of them were Serb military forces.
Across the country, Bosnian Muslims made up 65 percent of the war dead and Serbs 23 percent, according to prosecutors. Yet Bosnian Muslims made up 44 percent of the population, according to a census conducted two years before the war. Serbs made up 31 percent.
Meanwhile, Bosnian Serb news accounts lay out a different narrative. They report that 1,300 Serb civilians died around Srebrenica, and a total of 3,267 Serbs were “murdered” across eastern Bosnia.
Dismissing the Bosnian Serbs’ statements as irrelevant conspiracy theories would be easy. But their assertions had an eerie familiarity. In conversations around the world, extremist Muslims, Jews, Hindus and Buddhists, as well as some on the far right and far left of U.S. politics — have all featured similar arguments.
The stories usually involve a nefarious plot by outsiders to destroy their culture or faith, or future. They say they have had to act in self-defense. As the victims of the plot, they have no choice but to respond.
There is usually some distant, all-powerful covert force — the CIA, the Mossad, oil-rich Arab potentates — deftly stage-managing each event. Local people are helpless victims, with no responsibility for what occurs.
When I asked the Bosnian Serb men about the future of the former Yugoslavia, they said it would be decided in London and Washington. “Basically, how the English and Americans decide,” one told me. “That’s how it will be.”
Though there had been a decade of progress in Bosnia after the 1995 peace accord ended the war, the country has been moving steadily backward over the past 10 years. Bosnian Serb denial of the Srebrenica massacre is growing. Bosnian Muslim resentment of that denial is simmering.
Violence erupted at the 20th anniversary commemoration. Groups of young Bosnian Muslim men hurled stones and slurs at Serbian Prime Minister Alexander Vucic, a wartime ultranationalist now turned pro-Western moderate, forcing him to flee.
The International Commission on Missing Persons, meanwhile, is expanding internationally and applying the DNA identification system it developed to tragedies in other parts of the world. It is identifying the missing in Iraq, Chile and South Africa, as well as victims of typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines and the passengers shot down in a Malaysian airliner over Ukraine.
Yet scientific and technological advances seem to have changed few views. One new conspiracy theory circulated by Serb nationalists is that the remains recently buried in the Srebrenica memorial are Filipinos who died in typhoon Haiyan.


  1. Michelle M says:

    From Facebook: Denying genocide in the face of science provokes the laws of nature into a state of karma.. nothing goes unpunished one way or another. Imagine someone telling you, looking into your eyes that you were never born, a lie in the face of science and the negative energy that just those words provoke… let alone the actions killing.

    • Very awful stuff to see, Michelle M – could never stomach people who lie in “your” face and lying about wrongful death is the lowest of the lowest.

  2. These denials are shocking and insulting to the victims, but also quite laughable in light of the evidence.

  3. Croatianpatriot says:

    In the Muslim city of Visegrad in eastern Bosnia the Serb troops killed 5000 civilians there in the summer of 1992 and threw their bodies into the river most of them children and females. Then they put a lot of women into the local hotel which was turned into a rape camp where girl as young as 12 were gang raped. Now the Serbs are denying the crimes a Serb doctor in the city said the Muslim females were a bunch of whores and girlfriends who had sex for fun with the troops. When a local Serb who has been jailed by the UN for burning Muslim children a live were released recently he got a warm hero welcome in the city. The Serbs are really begging for war in Bosnia and it will return again in the coming years….. a day comes when the people are not able to take the provocations anymore…..

    • Let’s pray and work towards such horrors never repeat anywhere. Croatianpatriot

      • I am truly bewildered – it boggles my mind that your upvote on certain blog and post brought me here, on your own blog and this really powerful and well-done article.
        I am referring to a blog, established and maintained by right wing racist Ann Corc…., who exploited report on some Bosnian imam in Iowa, accused for sexual assault.
        He assaulted Bosnian Muslim woman and her daughter, as a person with obvious mental or sexual problems, while happened to be refugee-Muslim-priest-Bosnian, and not because of being refugee-Muslim-priest-Bosnian.
        And yet, although not unexpected at all, this hideous person, Ann Corc…., proven Islamophobe, racist and xenophobe, revisited this case at her blog as yet another evidence for her Islamophobic and xenophobic bigotry, citing his religious background as primer cause – then you came along and upvoted/liked her post in which she trying to explain that his behavior and actions are inherit to his identity, origin and especially his religion.

      • Thank you Santa, needed to edit name of person you write about because you provided no verifiable corroboration of things you say about that person and it would be against our comment policy not to edit. Thank you on your comment and your visit. My like of that post in @013 (I searched for it) stands – it was a post on news about the arrest, about why Clinton received so many refugees in Iowa area, about reports that the alleged sexual assault was done as part of “religious” ceremony/ritual he said would help the daughter etc. As far as I read it she did not say his behaviour is inherent to his identity, origins ad especially his religion. It was reported that he stated how as part of religious activity he would help…and there’s a difference there but it is obvious she was bitter because of her daughter’s suffering

      • You’re welcome!

        It’s beyond pointless to debate her attitude toward race, religion and ethnicity, and minorities in general, in which her focus is mostly on Islam and Muslims.
        It’s beyond pointless to debate correctness of article in question – just because she failed to express her mind in a same fashion as her more aggressive and more outspoken Islamophobic friends, doesn’t obscure her reasoning and false logic, and attempt to link person’s character with identity, origin and/or affiliation – article intro can’t be more clear on that

        I hold these perceptions about her stances and her blog to be self-evident – you just need to check her sources, her statements and writings more broadly to familiarize yourself with her general opinions and views on minorities and refugees, based on race-religion-ethnicity, and on Islam and Muslims in particular.

        Just look at her circle, her blogroll talks volumes !
        You’ll find some pretty nasty characters there: Pamela Geller, Debbie Schlussel, Robert Spencer, and likes, some of which were ideological parents of Swedish racist and terrorist Brevik, most of them are also admirers of Mladic, Karadzic and Milosevic as knight-crusaders & defenders of Christianity; then you’ll find their poisonous web outlets too, in great numbers: Gates of Vienna, Creeping Sharia, Bare Naked Islam, Atlas Shrugs, among others; basically, you can find every lowlife racist, Islamophobe, anti-Semite, and chauvinist you can think off in US, Australia, Canada and Europe, with who Ann Corcoran proudly associate herself.

        Ironically, she calls Bosnian tragic war “phony” – unsurprisingly though – and, if I am correct, you extensively write about this war and war crimes committed mostly against Muslim population there, eventually reaching genocide proportions.

        One of many critical accounts on her activities, writings and opinions can be read here :


      • Thank you for the sources, Santa – I will take them on board and see where they ;lead me on the matter.

  4. Ina… This needs to be published.. As heart rendering as it is.. People need to wake up to what happened.. And this is why those who were responsible need to be brought to justice. People may deny it as much as they like, but the evidence speaks otherwise.. And may those who wish to blank it out think for a moment just how fragile the world is right now.. I pray for our future that we may learn from our past.
    Love and Blessings Sue x

  5. Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:

  6. As a Canadian, one who witnessed the horror told by our peacekeeping troops, I want you to know Canada hasn’t forgotten even if our government has. 🙂

  7. there are some in this world – not all – who simply can not accept their crimes, repent and be saddened with grief. It is too hard for them to accept that they have wronged because their pride and ego can’t remain standing. No matter – the Truth will prevail!

  8. If they think they can commit such devilish acts and go free, then they must be too stupid to know that courageous people like you won’t let them walk off that easily. May the spirits of all the unfortunate innocent victims of those atrocities be with you and give you the courage you need to pursue your mission to a victorious end!

  9. It is time that justice prevail, justice and reparation for the victims and survivors of crimes against humanity. Human Rights must be above any other belief. Thank you for such an insightful article

  10. Victims of an international plot… P lease! It’s becoming more and more common for the guilty parties involved in any wrongdoing to claim they were the victims… Sickening!

    • and very disturbing, Kev, especially the fact that there are those who tolerate such filth as denial is of open aggression and murder.

      • Yes, extremely disturbing. They should have to face things through and go on trial whether they deny it or not. Let the people of Croatia decide since they were the victims of these incorrigible people.

      • Victims in all cases must end up with the upper hand that’s for sure, Kev


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