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

Srebrenica
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.

Is Defending Serbia’s Aleksandar Vucic At Srebrenica The Same As Defending Adolf Hitler At Auschwitz?

Serbia's Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic (Centre) Whisked Away From Srebrenica, Bosnia, Mourning Graveyard Amidst Pelting Of Stones And Bottles Against Him Saturday 11 July 2015 Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Serbia’s Prime Minister
Aleksandar Vucic (Centre)
Whisked Away From
Srebrenica, Bosnia, Mourning
Graveyard Amidst Pelting Of Stones And Bottles Against Him
Saturday 11 July 2015
Photo: AFP/Getty Images

You create the slogan that fuels genocide, you must move away in shame – disappear! You cannot be an agent of reconciliation or forgiveness until and if the victims say you can.
Serbia’s Prime Minister Aleksanadar Vucic said that he had the best intentions of seeking reconciliation and peace when he went on Saturday 11 July to Srebrenica to attend the 20th anniversary of the horrible crime of genocide perpetrated by Serbs against Bosnian Muslims, but I find it difficult to accept these words of his as honest and as having the interests of the victims in mind. On the contrary, what Vucic says was done for the sake of peace seems more like an act actually done in order to provoke violence among the grieving crowd at Srebrenica on Saturday when beside the 20th anniversary of the genocide recently released remains of some 130 butchered Muslims in 1995 were being buried at the site on that very same day.

We should live in peace … if you want me and my offered hand I’m ready to come to Srebrenica on July 11” for a commemoration ceremony marking the massacre’s 20th anniversary, Vucic said a couple of weeks before the 20th anniversary. Since that date he was among Serbia’s leaders who worked hard in order to achieve Russia’s veto at the United Nations Security Council against UN proclamation of 1995 Srebrenica massacres as genocide (about which I wrote in my two last posts). Vucic’s move to attend Srebrenica on Saturday did not seem lined with true remorse on behalf of the Serbs who committed the atrocities as he said in an associated statement: “We Serbs show our greatness also by being able to bow before the victims of others as we do before our own, before the hundreds of thousands of who died in all the fatherland wars. But don’t make us feel humiliated because we are Serbs and because we fought valiantly for our freedom.”

There was absolutely no freedom to be fought for in 1990’s Bosnia and Herzegovina for Serbs, it was the Serbs who started ethnic cleansing of non-Serbs and genocide against non-Serbs in order to grab land for Serbs and Greater Serbia. Much of this heinous criminal activity was, to my belief, fanned by the slogans such as the one the very same Vucic pronounced against Bosnia and Herzegovina from Serbia’s parliament in the early 1990’s: “For one Serb, we will kill 100 Muslims.”

Srebrenica Memorial Cemetery Saturday 11 July 2015 Several banners were held up with slogan or quote of what Serbia's Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said in 1990's: "For Every Killed Serb, We Will Kill 100 Muslims!"

Srebrenica Memorial Cemetery
Saturday 11 July 2015
Several banners were held up
with slogan or quote of what Serbia’s Prime Minister
Aleksandar Vucic said in 1990’s:
“For Every Killed Serb, We Will Kill 100 Muslims!”

Aleksanadr Vucic went to Srebrenica on Saturday 11 July despite warnings by even his own security that risks were too great; that it would be dangerous for him to turn up at the event at that particular time – only three days after he and his government and the whole of Serbia’s leadership fought hard to make sure Srebrenica genocide was not named “genocide” at the UN SC. But since he decide not to heed the warnings one would think that he would have turned back at the site of large banners with his 1990’s slogan: “For one Serb, we will kill 100 Muslims.” Surely, he knew then that his presence was not welcome at that time!
So until the rocks, shoes and bottles started flying at Aleksander Vucic from the enraged crowds whose grief at that mass funeral and 20th anniversary was further deepened by the very Vucic among them, who only three days before worked the international scene for the event they were commemorating and grieving not to be called genocide, even if all know it was, the proceedings were peaceful, solemn and respectful.
A mass of angry folk began to surge forward, a chant of “Allahu Akhbar”—God is Great—went up and the security services finally began to do their job. The Serbian prime minister, who had been hit and whose glasses were broken was hurriedly evacuated.

Most unhappy crowds at Srebrenica Saturday 11 July 2015 at seeing Serbia's Prime Minister Aleksanadar Vucic there

Most unhappy crowds at Srebrenica
Saturday 11 July 2015 at seeing
Serbia’s Prime Minister Aleksanadar Vucic there

And, now, while the Serbian government representatives are saying this was an attempted assassination of Serbia’s Prime Minister Vucic, are calling for Bosnia and Herzegovina authorities to locate, arrest and charge the culprits with attempted murder, Aleksandar Vucic keeps playing his obviously falsely compassionate card for the victims of Srebrenica. “There are fools in every nation, there is no deficit here either,” he said, stressing that he “knows that a majority of Bosniaks do not agree with what happened today.”
Serbia’s Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic has shown by his presence the readiness to bow his head to Srebrenica victims and stepped forward to improve relations both with the region and the whole country. We expect public condemnation from officials of Bosnia and Herzegovina of Serbia’s prime minister’s attempted assassination,” said a diplomatic note from Serbia.

What utter rubbish! Serbia must know that reconciliation and bowing heads to victims is only possible without the people whose slogans fueled genocide in the first place.

Given what had occurred against calling Srebrenica 1995 a genocide in the days leading up to the 20th anniversary of the genocide Aleksanadar Vucic knew he was walking into a fire at Srebrenica and that his presence would only fuel that fire.

 

He had made his mind up to provoke victims of genocide into rage and anger. What a low act!

 

In my eyes he does not deserve the political points he seems to be gaining from those who think that reconciliation is a matter of heartless logistical steps rather than involving consideration of the emotions of those who had suffered.

Just imagine this: would you defend Adolf Hitler if he had survived and attended an anniversary of Auschwitz death camp and was pelted with stones by the grieving, angry members of victims’ families? The hard truth here in Srebrenica is that Aleksandar Vucic did utter the slogan in Serbia’s parliament in early 1990’s “For Every Killed Serb, We Will Kill 100 Bosniaks” and it must be obvious to all decent human beings that he cannot be a part of true reconciliation unless he resigns from political life in profound remorse of what he stood for in 1990’s and perhaps still does. To me he seems incapable of such remorse because his national pride and the reason for his existence seem to lie in achieving a Greater Serbia at any and all costs. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Using Russia Serbia Pumps Up Its Denial Of Genocide

Worker tending to Srebrenica memorial graveyard  Photo: Dado Ruvic/Reuters

Worker tending to
Srebrenica memorial
graveyard
Photo: Dado Ruvic/Reuters

 

A United Nations Security Council vote on a resolution (drafted by Britain) to condemn the 1995 Srebrenica (Bosnia and Herzegovina) massacre as genocide, marking the 20th anniversary of the mass killing, has been delayed until today, Wednesday 8 July 2015, after Russia threatened to veto the measure.
Not without Serbia’s pressure, I dare say, Russia has deemed the resolution unbalanced and does not want the 1995 massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys described as genocide. Instead it proposed condemning “the most serious crimes of concern to the international community.”

Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic sent a letter (made public on Monday 6 July) to Queen Elizabeth II concerning London’s initiative for the UN SC to adopt a resolution on Srebrenica, the Belgrade-based Danas daily writes.
The draft resolution submitted by Great Britain to the UN SC might jeopardize efforts invested in the stability of the region,” Nikolic said in his letter and one cannot but feel the threatening tone coming from this ultra-nationalist Greater Serbia thug who heads Serbia these days. His letter to the Queen goes on to say:
I ask you most kindly to dedicate your attention to a serious question that could ruin the efforts made by Serbia over many years in giving our humble contribution to the overall stability of South-East Europe.
That is, I am referring to the Resolution on Srebrenica, filed by Your country in the UN Security Council.
We are a nation that is fairly different to other countries of similar size and power. Whenever we were attacked throughout the history, we chose resistance and fight for freedom. In a large number of circumstances our conduct coincided with the formed international position, battle and goals of Your nation. We never wanted to give up, to withdraw or for others to decide what we will choose for ourselves. Such an attitude was very demanding, often dangerous, but in the end it carried relief and was healthy for our spirit…I believe you are aware that Serbs fought against Turks, against Austro-Hungarian Empire, against Germans and then against the Third Reich. We opposed many others, even NATO in 1999, in the belief that we must defend Kosovo and Metohija territory, which historically belongs to us… We have done all this convinced that the freedom and dignity of man are the supreme values, and there has never been cold calculation behind our role and intentions, but rather our feelings.”
Serbia’s pro-Russian President Tomislav Nikolic had also sent a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday 4 July, “pleading” for a Russian “no” in the UN Security Council when the resolution is tabled.

Nikolic’s move with Russia clearly reflects political divisions in Serbia among those who seek closer ties with the European Union and his pro-Russian faction that wants Serbia in the Kremlin orbit.

Srebrenica Bosnia and Herzegovina Graveyard of victims of genocide

Srebrenica
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Graveyard of victims of genocide

Serbia’s Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, a former extreme nationalist who now declares himself as pro-EU, has said he is ready to attend memorial ceremonies marking the Srebrenica anniversary in Srebrenica — but also has refused to call it genocide and is becoming increasingly hostile against anyone branding the crimes in Srebrenica and Croatia as genocide, even though those crimes were, in the face of irrefutable evidence, found as genocide by the International Criminal Tribunal in the Hague. According to Vucic, “lately, some have decided to use various resolutions to once again place the brand of those who should be ashamed of the past…We Serbs show our greatness also by being able to bow before the victims of others as we do before our own, before the hundreds of thousands of who died in all the fatherland wars. But don’t make us feel humiliated because we are Serbs and because we fought valiantly for our freedom,” Vucic told those gathered in Blaznava, central Serbia, on Tuesday 7 July, and added that Serbia will be defending itself “with knowledge and smarts, with diligence.”
And those who think it’s enough to threaten us and say that we Serbs are, I guess, the only ones to blame for what was happening in the former Yugoslavia, and that we should forget Jasenovac, and Jadovno, and all other places of Serb suffering – essentially they are only saying and showing who caused many things (that happened) in that region,” Vucic said.

What utter sadness: the Serb leaders keep hiding and justifying their brutal and genocidal crimes of 1990’s behind those others committed in the 1940’s, of course completely omitting the fact that the Holocaust happened also in Serbia, with the help of Serb Nazi-collaborating government.

Well then – even at this approaching 20th anniversary of Serb-led genocide at Srebrenica, even at this approaching 20th anniversary of Croatia’s victory over Serb aggression and occupation, mass-murder, ethnic cleansing and destruction, Serbia does not want to own up to its heinous acts against other sovereign nations. It keeps painting history with lies and it keeps threatening – still.

To crown these pathetic attempts of covering up and minimising the severity of the brutality in crimes Serbs had committed during 1990’s in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia’s Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic has just released a statement that he “would be watching who will attend the Victory Parade in Zagreb, Croatia” – to be held on 5 August marking 20th anniversary of Operation Storm that liberated Croatia from Serb murderous occupation – because their attendance will signify their “anti-Serbia stand!”
Serbia will interpret the participation in the event that will mark the 20th anniversary of the operation Storm as an anti-Serb stand, Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said on Tuesday, 7 July.
He said that Serbia was criticized for sending soldiers to Moscow on May 9, when 70 years of the victory over fascism was celebrated – while Croatia is now organising a parade to mark the anniversary of Operation Storm that claimed the lives of several thousand Serbs, while several hundred thousand others were expelled. Oh dear, once again, another Serbia leader, refuses to accept decision from the International Criminal Tribunal in the Hague, which found that there was no forceful deportation of Serbs from Croatia – Serbs left of their own accord more likely than not, in fear of their own horrible deeds prior and with evil intent to keep saying that Croatia deported them forcefully!

Croatia has invited armed forces of other countries to take part in the parade of 5 August.

The participation of their troops in the parade will sent a very negative message to Serbia. We will take that as an anti-Serb stand,” the Serbian foreign minister said.

So, according to Serbia: Serbia can attack, can occupy, can murder, can defend itself…and hold this as glorious for its nation, but no other country can! And to boot, the country that defended itself from Serbia’s brutal aggression (Croatia) is not supposed to celebrate its victory because there were casualties on the aggressor’s side! Serbia’s foreign minister and the Serbia that subscribes such a view need to crawl under a rock, where they belong, and stay there for at least a hundred years, until all who committed crimes own and bear responsibility for them.

Vukovar, Croatia Cemetery for victims of Serb aggression and genocide

Vukovar, Croatia
Cemetery for victims of Serb aggression and genocide

So, taking aim at what it terms genocide denial, the British draft UN resolution on Srebrenica genocide stresses that “acceptance of the tragic events at Srebrenica as genocide is a prerequisite for reconciliation.”

Hallelujah!

Many Croats have been saying that for decades! I have been saying that over and over again, in my articles responding to some unwise moves made by various Croatian politicians on the path to reconciliation with Serbia or Serb aggressor. I wish Croatia had more politicians of the calibre of those standing behind this draft of UN resolution on Srebrenica genocide and who defend the content of this resolution.
Genocide is a crime and those who committed it are criminals who should be punished as such …To say so is not ‘anti-Serbian,’ as some have alleged,” British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft wrote in a letter to Mladen Ivanic, the Serb chairman of the Bosnia And Herzegovina presidency, after Milorad Dodik, president of Serbian Republic, called the Srebrenica genocide “a lie” and accused Britain of “trying to register at the UN, on the basis of false declarations and reports, that a genocide was committed against Muslims.”

Another showdown between Russia and Britain (between East and West as the new Cold War surrounds would have it) at the UN Security Council on the matter of calling Srebrenica genocide by its real name – genocide – will occur on Wednesday 8 May (today). Of course, most of us would agree: there should be no showdown because to call Srebrenica genocide a genocide would be the overdue justice the victims deserve, which should not be poisoned with the cold concept of ‘showdown’. Wouldn’t that be a most fitting gift the UN could bring to the Srebrenica 20th Anniversary commemoration on Saturday 11 July 2015 that will see dignitaries attend from all over the world. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Heartbreaking update – 9 July 2015:
Russia has vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution that would have described the Srebrenica massacre as “genocide”. Four other members of the council abstained while the remainder voted in favour. The US ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, said: “Russia’s veto is heart-breaking for those families and it is a further stain on this council’s record.” A UN tribunal at The Hague has already convicted numerous people of genocide in relation to the Srebrenica killings, but a formal recognition by the UN could compel individual states to pursue prosecutions. Russia says the resolution would have caused greater instability in the region while the British-drafted resolution says it was essential to achieve reconciliation. What a terrible shame veto in the UN SC has such enormous power – even to reject or veto the finding of its own court! What a waste of taxpayers money! .

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