US Congresswoman Calls For Equality For Croats In Bosnia And Herzegovina



US. Representative Janice Hahn

US. Representative Janice Hahn

US Congresswoman Janice Hahn submitted July 31 to the House of Representatives a resolution demanding that President Barack Obama appoint a special representative for the Balkans and Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) because of the country’s delays in its Euro-Atlantic path and drew attention to the consistent reduction and erosion of rights of Croats in BiH because of which there’s blockades and a political deadlock.

Janice Hahn’s Resolution 705 Recommends “the designation of a Presidential Special Envoy to the Balkans to evaluate the successes and shortcomings of the implementation of the Dayton Peace Accords in Bosnia and Herzegovina, to provide policy recommendations, and to report back to Congress within one year”. (Resolution 705 PDF)

Whereas only the full protection of equal political, economic, legal and religious rights of all the constituent peoples (Bosniak, Croat, Serb) and others throughout the territory of BiH, including the inalienable right to return, will guarantee the future stability, functionality, and effectiveness of the country…”

In the Resolution Congresswoman Hahn has noted that the number of Croats in Bosnia has halved from 820,000 to about 460,000. “It is unacceptable that this negative demographic trend is reflected in the reduction of constitutional rights of Croats in BiH, as that reduction directly causes political and administrative dysfunctionality of the country,” Hahn stated in the resolution.

Hahn recognises the poor functionality of the Federation of BiH entity in which Bosniaks (Muslims) are seen as oppressors of Croats and their constitutional rights and that this dis-functionality only fuels the separatist tendency of Serbs within the Srbian Republic entity, which of course threatens, as she says, the very integrity of the country (BiH) as a whole.

“Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the House of Representatives –
1. reiterates its support for the sovereignty,territorial integrity, and legal continuity of BiH within its internationally recognized borders, as well as the equality of its three constituent peoples and others within an integrated multiethnic country;

10. reiterates that a fully functional Federation of BiH entity is essential for the future of BiH as a functional and stable state and therefore any envisaged reform should take into account protection of the constitutional rights of all, including Bosnian Croats—demographically smallest of the three Dayton Peace Accords recognized constituent peoples in BiH—and prevent further weakening of their position.”

Press Release dated 12 August and released through The National Federation of Croatian Americans (NFCA) Public Affairs Director Joe Foley in Washington states that NFCA highly commends US Representative Janice Hahn of California for her introduction in the US House of Representatives of legislation to appoint a Special Envoy for the Balkans, in particular Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Indeed, I would think that there is no Croat nor a fair-minded person of any ethnicity anywhere in the world that would not support and agree with what Congresswoman Hahn has set her mind on achieving in BiH: equality for all ethnic groups in a country where constituency is constitutionally defined by specific ethnic groups, taking an initiative to bring to a stop the deplorable treatment of Croats in BiH while Bosniaks (Muslims) and Serbs compete vigorously for separatist superiority based on their own ethnicity.

Keeping BiH as a sovereign country but organised into three ethnic entities (Bosniak, Croat, Serb) each of which would have certain powers that ensure equality is not only a necessary “re-shuffle” of administration and political clouts that would catalyse greater stability and economic progress in BiH but such power-bases would, I believe, be conducive to ensuring that victims of all war crimes finally receive their deserved justice. One cannot avoid the unsettling reality in which war crimes committed by Bosnian Muslims (Bosniaks) during the 1990’s war, in comparison to those committed by Serbs and Croats, seem to have mysteriously fallen by the wayside of justice. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Report of interest:
“During the 1992-1995 war, a large number of Islamic fighters traveled to BIH to aid the Bosnian Muslim war effort. Several hundred of those fighters remained, a significant number of whom are active in Islamic fundamentalist congregations and organizations. These foreign elements have contributed to the gradual radicalization of certain segments of the Bosnian Muslim community. In October 2005, a small group of individuals with extremist affiliations was arrested on suspicion of planning terrorist acts. In April 2010, members of a radical Wahhabist movement detonated a bomb, killing one police officer and injuring six, at a police station in Bugojno, located 70 kilometers southwest of Sarajevo. The most recent terrorist attack took place in October 2011, when a gunman affiliated with a local Wahhabist movement shot over 100 high-velocity rounds at the U.S. Embassy, damaging the building and injuring one police officer, says in the US Department of State, Bureau of Diplomatic Security, 2013 Report on Crime and Safety in BiH.

Related Post:

A Bridge On Drina

Google Doodle 9 October 2012 – honouring Ivo Andric

Google doodles honoured Ivo Andric today. Nobel prize winner for literature in 1961, born 9 October 1892 in Bosnia – widely known in the world for his novel “A Bridge on Drina”.  Although fictional, the novel is really a portrait of four centuries, through the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires, that focuses around the town of Visegrad and the bridge over Drina River. It describes the lives and relations of local inhabitants, in particular those of Muslims and Orthodox Serbs. Andric in his novel sees the bridge as something that is not just a bridge over the river but as something that has the power to heal divisions. But Andric soon sees that the bridge is a flawed unifier; for all the big events and changes, through all the upheavals brought down by the rise and fall of empires, nothing of significance changes.

A sequel to Andric’s Bridge on Drina, if written, could easily include the Dayton Peace Agreement (November 1995), which ended the bloody war in Bosnia but also imposed a fertile ground for ethnic chauvinism that would put the country’s economic development and true peace in neutral gear, if not in reverse. Dayton Peace Agreement is a prime example of how the international community (primarily USA and European Union) forced their will upon human beings, certain that, by creating the right conditions the war-ravaged country, filled with victims, they could rebuild a country into a workable state of unity.

As the first but strong results of local elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina held on Sunday 7 October show – ethnic votes are in and common good is out. The most worrying result is that the Serb Democratic Party (SDS) – co-founded by Radovan Karadžić, who is currently on trial at The Hague on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity committed during the Balkan wars of the 1990s (including Srebrenica massacre)– scored a surprise success, taking 27 mayoral posts, up from 13 in 2008, and some 21.6% of the overall vote.

The 1995 Dayton peace agreement divided Bosnia into two semi-independent entities: the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, inhabited mainly by Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats, and the Serb-dominated Republika Srpska (Serb Republic, or RS), each with its own government, controlling taxation, educational policy, and even foreign policy.

The Party of Democratic Action (SDA), founded by late Bosnian leader Alija Izetbegovic, won the local elections in Bosnia-Herzegovina with 34 municipalities out of 136, according to the unofficial results. The SDA won cities such as Novi Grad, Ilica, Zenica, Bihac and Travnik. SDA leader Sulejman Tihic celebrated the victory with Bakir Izetbegovic, head of the Presidential Council, and his supporters in the capital, Sarajevo.

The Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) took 14 posts, whilst the Social Democratic Party (SDP) won 11 posts.

The concerning outlook is the shift towards SDS in the Serb Republic and this is likely to cause a fierce locking of ethnic horns at the 2014 general elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is also a strong sign that Bosnian Serbs, creating Serb Republic political entity in that country have been allowed to spread their wings, ignore the horrible crimes they’ve committed to achieve that political entity. They’ve learned nothing about unity and collaboration in the past two decades moderated by the international powers present on task there. This has been allowed them by the presence of the international bodies there that have failed miserably at the task given them by Dayton Agreement.

Voting in Bosnia and Herzegovina this week was voting on ethnic allegiances, and signifies that Dayton Agreement does not work; it does not bring true peace but fosters divisions. The biggest losers are the Croatians in Bosnia and Herzegovina and they’re at risk of being stampeded upon today just as they were in early 1990’s. Only, in early 1990’s they formed Herceg-Bosna – an entity that helped them retain their identity. What do they have under the Dayton agreement? A lip service from the international power brokers that’s hardly audible when it comes to generating conditions of equal rights for all ethnic groups; a lip service from those who don’t seem to know the first thing about building true nations, homes for all. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

BBC: stealthy, mean-spirited bias that runs deep

Just for the record: complaints, analyses, protests,court cases, write-ups about BBC bias is not a new phenomenon, it’s been going on for years. Indeed if one searches for BBC’s bias on the internet one finds seemingly endless legitimate and justifiable information on this issue. I, myself, have addressed the issue of BBC bias on a couple of occasions in the past few months. One of the latest articles in the media regarding BBC bias was written by Sonia Poulton, Daily Mail, who asks whether the BBC is representing the British nation as it should.

Siege of Sarajevo Map adapted from artwork FAMA International

When on Friday 6 April 2012 Sarajevo commemorated the 20th anniversary of its long brutal siege by the Serbian forces the 11,541 empty red chairs symbolising those killed during this siege sent shivers down the world’s spine, once again.

But it seems the BBC was never going to let Sarajevo’s remembrance hold its deserved public attention. BBC made sure that on the day prior to the worldwide televised coverage of Sarajevo’s commemoration and mourning, it served the world an entrée of Serbian suffering during the Bosnian war; planting in public’s minds the thought that Serbs suffered also.

While there is no doubt that there were Serbs who suffered during that war, the move by the BBC to show during the couple of days of Sarajevo siege remembrance that Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats also killed was not done for bad taste (which one can take or leave), but out of pure bias designed to contaminate the dignity of Sarajevo’s mourning.

On Thursday 5 April BBC released a distorted report by Caroline Anning: “Ethnic Divisions Still Strong 20 Years After Bosnian War”.

In this short report Anning commenced with the following sentence: “This village in Bosnia bore witness to one of the worst massacres committed during the three year conflict which began in 1992”.

It is beyond my knowledge as to what criteria Anning used in describing the massacres in her report as “one of the worst”, but it is clear that she used such a description to attract attention; the world hears such a phrase and the phrase becomes etched in the mind.  In truth, and not taking away the importance and gravity out of the places Anning reports about, there were many other massacres in Bosnia, committed by Serbs, that actually fit among the “worst”. So why wouldn’t she point to at least one of those?

Anning’s report tells the public that about 116 residents (Bosniaks/Muslims) in Ahmici were killed by Bosnian Croats, some of them neighbours of the people they killed. “These days the two communities live side by side, but things aren’t the same … a ten minute drive leads to another village where more than 70 Croats were killed in one day in December 1993 by Bosnian (Muslim) troops … how great we all lived together before the war but during the war it was as if we never knew each other … that same year a UN special envoy reported that 400-600 Serbs were being held and abused in a prison camp by the Bosnian army … both men claim they were arrested by their Bosnian neighbours…”, a Lazar Kostic (Serb) says “I never thought that my own neighbours could come to my house and take me away, rob me, and provoke me … today, nearly 20 years after the war many Serbs have yet to return to their villages

There was no mention in Anning’s report of killings committed by Serbs in Bosnia.

Anning should know well that neighbour-against-neighbour terror tactics started in 1991 when, on a wide-scale, Serbs began employing them from 1991 in Croatia and continued to do the same from 1992 in Bosnia.

The limit of terror a person can tolerate before he himself turns to committing terror in self-defence is an individual characteristic. The civilised world authorities had long ago condemned the “Eye for an Eye” approach to self-defence or justice, but the peoples’ jury is still out on that one. In the terror campaign Serbs employed in the so-called Balkan war it was only a matter of time when blood of the victims of the Serb terror campaign was going to boil. Anning conveniently omitted such truth from her report, out of BBC bias, surely.

In a demonstration of circumstances that can cause the blood to boil one can refer to Daniel Toljaga’s article: “Prelude to the Srebrenica Genocide: Mass murder and ethnic cleansing of Bosniaks in the Srebrenica region during the first three months of the Bosnian War (April-June 1992)

More than three years before the 1995 Srebrenica genocide, Bosnian Serb nationalists – with the logistical, moral and financial support of Serbia and the Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) – destroyed 296 predominantly Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) villages in the region around Srebrenica, forcibly uprooting some 70,000 Bosniaks from their homes and systematically massacring at least 3,166 Bosniaks (documented deaths) including many women, children and the elderly.

It was these massacres that should have alerted the international community to the prospect of genocide when the United Nations-protected enclave eventually fell to Bosnian Serb forces commanded by General Ratko Mladić three years later, in July 1995…

And, this only covers the Bosnian Muslim victims. Bosnian Croatian victims are another story, of equally terrifying weight.

Caroline Anning’s BBC report would want the world to think that the ethnic divisions still existing in Bosnia are somehow the fault of Bosnian Muslims and Croats. To this end perhaps there are those who think that Bosnian Muslims and Croats should have just crouched frozen  and waited to be completely obliterated from the face of earth by the Serb onslaught.

Traces of the terrible war are still deeply embedded in the relations between the three communities (Muslim, Croat and Serb) in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Twenty years on, these still exist, fired no doubt by the 1995 Dayton Agreement that laid down unnatural rules to co-habitation within geographic boundaries of the former state of former Yugoslavia.  No wonder ethnic divisions still exist.

The 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement had created a political enclave (more like a prison) where not all of the three groups of ethnically diverse inhabitants have the same rights or representation on important matters. The Croatian ones are feeling most threatened and unfairly treated by this arrangement.

Another reminder: Bosnia’s Muslims and Croats voted to break free from the former federation in a referendum, which was boycotted by the Serbs who wanted to remain in Belgrade-dominated rump Yugoslavia. After weeks of rising ethnic tensions and incidents on April 5 and 6, 1992 more than 50,000 people gathered
 in front of the country’s parliament to demand peace. 
Bosnian Serb snipers opened fire on protesters killing two women, the first civilian victims in the Bosnian conflict.

In the following three and a half years the country was torn apart, divided along ethnic lines despite international sanctions imposed on the Bosnian Serbs and neighbouring Serbia which supported them.

Over 100,000 people were killed and half the population of 4.4mn fled their homes.

So, to add balance and truth to BBC’s Caroline Anning report: Not only have many Serbs to yet return to their villages but many more Bosniaks and Croatians have also yet to return to their villages. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps.(Syd)

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