Srebrenica: Deconstruction of a Trauma

The Deconstruction of a Trauma
By René Grémaux and Abe de Vries

Translated from De Groene Amsterdammer, 13/3/96
Original article:
Translated by Nico Varkevisser

Comments by Jared Israel, Emperor’s Clothes


The Facts Presented by René Grémaux and Abe de Vries Contradict the Srebrenica Massacre Story
by Jared Israel [28 April 2000]

“Everybody is parroting everybody, but nobody shows hard evidence. I notice that in the Netherlands people want to prove at all costs that genocide has been committed. (…) If executions have taken place, the Serbs have been hiding it damn well. Thus, I don’t believe any of it. The day after the collapse of Srebrenica, July 13, I arrived in Bratunac and stayed there for eight days. I was able to go wherever I wanted to. I was granted all possible assistance; nowhere was I stopped.”
— Captain Schouten quoted below. Captain Schouten was the only UN military officer in Bratunac at the time a massacre is alleged.)

Srebrenica. The name accuses: massacre. 7000 to 8000 dead.

But did it happen?

General R. Krstic, commander of the Bosnian Serb troops who took Srebrenica in July 1995 has been seized by NATO, put on trail for war crimes.

Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and Commanding General Mladic are indicted, hunted, trashed as criminals in the media. Virtually the entire Bosnian Serb leadership is under threat of arrest for Srebrenica.

But did it happen?

Srebrenica is NATO’s remedy; it compensates all sins. Did the Croatian Army drive more than 200,000 Serbs from the Krajina section of Yugoslavia? Were the Croats trained, led and given air cover by US forces? Yes, but what about Srebrenica?

Didn’t the Serbs deserve it?

By telling and retelling the story of Srebrenica over the past four and a half years the media has been able to portray the Bosnian Islamist fighters as victims and therefore humane.

Naser Oric was the Islamist Commander at Srebrenica. This gentleman met with journalists, showed them videos of the bodies of Serbian civilians decapitated by his troops during raids on nearby villages. Oric’s boasts had a purpose: to instill terror. During World War II, pro-Nazi Islamist and Croatian Ustashe forces slaughtered Serbian peasants. Every Serbian family lost people. Every Serbian family remembers. By carrying out such terror in the ’90s, and boasting of it, the Islamist forces were waging a psychological war. The message to Serbs was: ‘We’re back. Flee or die.’

But what about the Serbs? Did they respond in kind?

The following article, though definitely not ‘pro-Serb’ (as you shall see, the writers assume there must be some truth to the charges) nevertheless presents strong evidence that:

1) Islamist forces in Srebrenica waged a war of terror terror against Serbian civilians in nearby villages;

2) The supposed eyewitness accounts of a Serbian revenge massacre, though much trumpeted by the mass media, are not credible. Not only do witnesses contradict one another, but they tell different stories to different reporters;

3) There is no hard evidence that a massacre took place;

4) The western media routinely report mutually contradictory anti-Serb rumors as if they were unquestionably true;

5) Serbian observers have been falsely quoted as admitting the massacre took place;

6) And perhaps most important, Dutch military officers (the UN officers at the scene when the Serbs took Srebrenica in 1995) reported there was no massacre.

The authors of “Construction of a Trauma” sometimes word things in a way that assumes a massacre really did take place. (This although, as I noted earlier, their evidence suggests the opposite.) These hints have an affect, so I have occasionally taken the liberty of commenting.

[Note added 11 July 2005: There are three places where ellipses (three dots, indicating some words have been deleted) appear, that do not appear in the original Dutch text.  TENC will get this missing text translated as soon as possible.]

Jared Israel
Editor, Emperor’s Clothes


The Deconstruction of a trauma
By René Grémaux and Abe de Vries

De Groene Amsterdammer, 13 March 1996
Translated by Nico Varkevisser


“Horrible slaughter and large numbers of missing people. That is what we think about in the Netherlands when Srebrenica is mentioned…. But were the Muslims really victims of the Serbs on such a large scale? And more important: were they so innocent themselves?”

Lieutenant Colonel Karremans, the man who terribly irritated Dutch politicians, has been promoted to the rank of colonel.

“The Muslims burned 192 villages in Eastern Bosnia,” he declared guilelessly at a poorly prepared press-conference in Zagreb. “Therefore I am saying that in this war there are no ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’.” (Dutch UN officer Karremans)

Pure Serb propaganda, was the verdict of the press as well as The Hague establishment. Karremans’ admiration of the military genius of Ratko Mladic – the Bosnian-Serb commander indicted for war crimes – was also objected to, not to mention their alcoholic encounter, cleverly filmed and broadcast by TV Pale [in Bosnia].

If we are to believe Secretaries of State Pronk and Voorhoeve, genocide took place. Supposedly as the Serbs drove into the city, DUTCHBAT [the Dutch Battalion] couldn’t do much more than watch impotently…

Thus Srebrenica became the symbol of our national shame. “Our boys” had given in to Mladic’s cut-throats and thus became accomplice to the cruelest European bloodbath since the Second World War.

This is the dominant picture. But it is not the only view, nor is it complete. This becomes clear when examining conversations with experts and Serbian refugees, as well as making a detailed comparison of various reports and newspaper articles. All claims considered, how many Muslims really are missing? How reliable are eyewitness reports of mass executions? What is true about the rumors that some Muslim factions fought each other? And did Muslims destroy all those Serb villages and kill the inhabitants [before Serb troops retook the city] or did they not?


Serbian Cameraman Denies Seeing Any Crime


Belgrade, a chilly evening in January…

Serb cameraman and journalist Zoran Petrovic-Pirocanac is angry. He is considering legal measures now that his work is regarded as a piece of evidence concerning mass murder. The German weekly magazine Stern of 16 November 1995, placed the following caption under a picture taken from his videotape:

“Seconds before the murder: Armed Serbs contain a group of Muslims near Konjevic Polje. A Serb cameraman shot the scene until the first rounds were fired.”

But Petrovic says he spent plenty of time at the scene, before as well as after he filmed. And – he did not notice any crime.

Besides, he does not recognize the words Frank Westerman and Harm van den Berg of the Dutch daily ‘NRC Handelsblad’ put in his mouth: “In total, our forces have massacred two thousand Muslims.” According to Petrovic, the Muslims were not massacred, though many did die.

In the area of Konjevic Polje, a long column of Muslims (soldiers, militia, armed and unarmed civilians) tried to break out to [the city of] Tuzla and on July 12 and 13, 1995 attempted to cross the strategically important road that connects Pale to Belgrade, via Zvornik. Despite being ambushed by the Serbs, the operation was a big success, as General Rasim Delic, supreme commander of the Bosnian [Islamist] Army later told the Parliament in Sarajevo. What happened to the unfortunate few that did not make it, however, remains a mystery. Even the number of people involved is not known. Some died, some were taken prisoner and possibly executed on the spot, and others are supposed to have been moved to Bratunac.


Serbian woman: A school becomes a sports complex


A small number of witnesses say that this group was taken by lorry and bus to one or two execution spots on July 14, in the vicinity of the village of Karakaj, close to Zvornik. They talk about mass murders with two thousand or more victims.

How credible is their charge? One of them is 25-year-old soldier Mevludin Oric, born in a town not far from Srebrenica. Though asked by The Hague tribunal to refrain from public appearances, he gave an exclusive interview last October to the Croatian magazine ‘Nedjeljna Dalmacija’…

“Oric, who said ‘My father has disappeared, my four brothers-in-law and many of my cousins have been murdered,’ has turned out to be a relative of Naser Oric, Commander of [Islamist forces in] Srebrenica and accused by Serbs of war crimes (‘the Beast of Bosnia’) and against whom the tribunal is preparing an indictment.

[And according to another report:]

“Mevludin Oric left as a volunteer to Croatia in January 1992, getting military training there. He…ended up as a member of the infamous Croatian volunteer brigade ‘King Tomislav’ in Herzegovina, where he helped with the occupation of the barracks at Capljina (which later became a POW camp for Serbs). After a short holiday in Croatia, Oric crossed the Sava River, together with other volunteers, to fight the ‘Chetniks’ [name used for Serb soldiers by the Muslims and Croats, meant to be derogatory] in the town of Orasje. It is in this area, the Posavina, that the first mass murder took place – and the war hadn’t even started. Its victims were not Croats or Muslims, but Serbs.” (Sijekovac, March 27, 1992).

Volunteers like Oric formed the core of the military police of the HVO [the paramilitary Croatian Council of Defence] and took care of “supplies” for the elaborate system of Muslim-Croat prison camps that was created in this area.

When Oric learned about the fighting around Srebrenica, he decided to return to his native soil. In the interview, he claims to have served as a “commander of a sabotage unit.” He knew the area around the town like no one else and the night before the exodus of the Muslims he already knew that “no more than half of us would make it.”

Oric left in the rearguard of the column that stretched for miles. He was captured near Kravica and claims the Serbs took him via Bratunac to a school gymnasium in the town of Glumina, west of Zvornik. From there, the men were supposedly transported in lorries to the site of execution. And yet Oric can still talk about it, just like 55-year-old Hurem Suljic, 63-year-old Smail Hodzic and a seventeen-year-old boy named Nedzad Avdic.

Oric’s personal history is reason enough for doubt, but the inconsistencies in the accounts of Smail Hodzic and Hurem Suljic are obvious as well.


Smail Hodzic: A basketball stadium becomes a soccer stadium becomes a school


Hodzic Story 1: Hodzic first said he witnessed ambushes by the Serbs on the road to Zvornik. He was captured and then moved to a “basketball stadium near Bratunac” and subsequently taken to the execution spot, “a large field not far from a forest,” he declared to Alexandra Stiglmayer in Die Woche of July 28.

Hodzic Story 2: Soon thereafter, Hodzic told Roy Gutman (in Die Tageszeitung of August 11), that he was held at the “soccer stadium in Nova Kasaba,” from where he and others were moved to be killed, “probably in a town called Grbavce.”

Hodzic Story 3: In the third version, told on October 4 to Aida Cerkez of Associated Press, Hodzic went through the same experience as Oric, Suljic and Avdic. Now he was taken to “a school in Krizevci” and the executions now took place not far from Karakaj.


Hurem Suljic: Murder in a school becomes beatings in a department store


Murders were committed at this school according to Suljic as well. On February 16 of that year, he spoke on BBC Newsnight. Footage of a not specified “school near Karakaj” indeed showed bullet holes, one in the ceiling and one at the toilet. But in the elaborate coverage of Suljic in ‘The Washington Post’ of 6 November 1995, there isn’t a word about executions in a school; there is mention of beatings in a department store near Bratunac, a location where Suljic supposedly was kept prisoner.


Serbian woman: A school becomes a sports complex


Woman’s Story# 1: Bratunac is the location of another school where massacres supposedly took place, according to Robert Block in The Independent, July, 1995 . A woman is quoted. She is supposedly an inhabitant of Serbia who recently visited her brother-in-law, a soldier in the Bosnian Serb Army: “He and his friends are quite open-hearted about what happened over there,” she said. “They are killing Muslim soldiers. They said that only yesterday (note: Monday, July 17) they killed one thousand six hundred, and they estimate to have killed about four thousand in total. They said to be in great hurry, and therefore shot most of them.”

Woman’s Story# 2: A few days later, Block’s colleague Louise Branson of The Sunday Times brought the Serbian woman into the spotlight. Her [supposed – J.I.] husband, also fighting in the Bosnian Serb Army, mentioned mass shootings with more than three thousand dead. But not in a school in Bratunac. In a sports complex.

Up to this moment, human rights groups such as Human Rights Watch have not been able to trace survivors of this crime. “There has to be a more detailed investigation, in order to establish the scale of violation of human rights that have taken place in the area of Bratunac,” says their respective report.

[Comment from Jared Israel: The authors say Human Rights Watch (HRW) has not been “able to trace survivors of this crime.” Thus they assume there was indeed a crime and that HRW. Human Rights Watch, which many accuse of being a humanitarian arm of US covert services, claims it is trying to establish the “scale of violation,” and again, this is quoted uncritically, giving the impression that HRW is sincere and that there have been massive violations.  Since the authors are trying to answer the question, “Is Srebrenica a hoax?” and since so far they have demonstrated only that a) the Dutch UN military officers who were present don’t believe a massacre happened and b) the eye-witnesses are mutually and self-contradictory – given all that, why make the assumption of guilt? Could it be that the authors are affected by the climate of anti-Serb propaganda even as they report evidence that contradicts their preconceptions?]


Dutch military officer: “I don’t believe it.”


It is noticeable, however, that there has been little attention to the account of Captain Schouten, although this Dutchman was the only UN military officer in Bratunac, where he stayed for several days, at the time the alleged bloodbath took place. Schouten, quoted in Het Parool of July 27, 1995:

“Everybody is parroting everybody, but nobody shows hard evidence. I notice that in the Netherlands people want to prove at all costs that genocide has been committed. (…) If executions have taken place, the Serbs have been hiding it damn well. Thus, I don’t believe any of it. The day after the collapse of Srebrenica, July 13, I arrived in Bratunac and stayed there for eight days. I was able to go wherever I wanted to. I was granted all possible assistance; nowhere was I stopped.”

Milivoje Ivanisevic, a Serbian publicist who has described the events in and around Srebrenica since 1992 in minute detail, confirms Schouten’s story. From 6th until 16th of July, he was on the spot.

“No mass executions have taken place between Srebrenica and Bratunac,” he said during a meeting with one of us in January in Belgrade. “During the liberation of Srebrenica, five hundred Muslims were killed in the direct vicinity. I don’t know what happened elsewhere. I wasn’t there and therefore couldn’t see what was going on.” Ivanisevic calls it highly unlikely that large numbers of Muslim soldiers were deliberately killed after surrender or being captured. Maybe excesses took place, due to the large size of the groups that were taken prisoner and the sometimes small number of Serb guards, but according to him the intention was to keep as many men alive as possible, so they could be exchanged for Serbs that were held somewhere else.

In his view the Muslims were even lucky to be treated the way they were. “You should have seen the women, with all those children on their laps, that we have provided transport for. They would have treated us very differently.” He shows pictures of an Orthodox church that was turned into a goat pen, of destroyed Serb tombstones and of “granny Iva” (Ivanka Mirkovic), the only Serb who remained in Srebrenica, who was found on July 12 with her throat cut.

No matter if a few hundred were killed, as is whispered in some places in Serbia, or seven thousand, as is feared elsewhere. If people were executed without a trial, it is a war crime for which the guilty must be punished.

On the other hand, the enormous distinction between the search for mass graves of Muslims by the Western media, human rights organizations and government officials and the lack of interest in the over one thousand deaths of Serbs – mainly civilians – in and around Srebrenica since the war started is appalling. In order to understand how this could happen, we must take a look at the social and geographic factors and the recent regional history.


The background


In 1991 the municipality of Srebrenica had 37,211 inhabitants, of which 27,118 were Muslims (72.8 percent) and 9,381 Serbs (25.2 percent). Bratunac had 33,575 inhabitants: 21,564 Muslims (64.2 percent) and 11,479 Serbs (34.2 percent). As farmers, the Serbs on average owned more land than Muslims. “Ethnic mixing” only existed in the eyes of a superficial observer; most villages and townships had distinct ethnic-religious majorities, being either Serb or Muslim. This became a problem just prior to the war, when tension rose and both groups started to feel vulnerable.

Muslims no longer responded to draft into the JNA, the Yugoslav Federal Army. Serbs were no longer called for service in the local Territorial Defence and police reserves. As Serbs relied on protection by the JNA, Croatian militia trained Muslim groups. SDA, the Muslim party of [Islamist leader] Alija Izetbegovic, provided the weapons.

One of the reasons for the mounting Serb suspicion was the SDA Congress held in December 1991. This party…decided to implement a radical ethnic policy. The ultimate goal was the dzamahirija or Islamist State. Muslims had to settle Eastern Bosnia in large numbers. A cordon sanitaire took shape between Serbia and the Bosnian Serbs in the north, while in the south a demographic and territorial connection with Sandzak [north of Kosovo in Serbia] and Kosovo was desirable. Thousands of Muslims from Sandzak migrated to Bosnia, and descendants of Bosnian Muslims who had settled over a period of time in Turkey received an appeal to return.

In the beginning of 1992, Serbs were shocked again as invitations were distributed throughout the republic for a mass meeting of Muslims at Bratunac, to be held at the first day of the Bajram, the celebratory end of the Ramadan. The initiative for this event at the “geographic centre of Muslims from entire Yugoslavia” came from the National Muslim Council which openly advocated arming people and establishing a Muslim state within the Bosnian boundaries. Armed Muslim gangs, some of them factions of the Patriotic League – which was formed in the neighboring Vlascenica – started to intimidate Serb inhabitants of smaller towns with Muslim majorities on April 12, 1992. But let there be no misunderstanding, the Muslims themselves were scared of militia from outside the region. In this context, Ivanisevic speaks about a “balance of fear.” Mutual deterrence, whereby militia and armed civilians spy on their neighbors or keep them hostage, quickly led to a drama.

On 20 April 1992, the day before Serbs took Vlasenica and drove the Muslims out of the city, five Serbs died in the area of Srebrenica. They were probably members of the Jovic militia, a group of non-local Serbs. On May 6 (the Orthodox holiday of Saint George – Djurdjevdan), Muslims from Potocari and Srebrenica carried out an attack on the villages of Gniona and Bljeceva. Serbian houses were looted and burned, and part of the population did not survive the ordeal. Leading the attack on Gniona was Naser Oric. The following day, seven Serbs died in an ambush at Osmace.

On May 8, judge Goran Zekic, Member of Parliament and leader of the Srebrenica SDS (the Serb nationalist party), was lured into an ambush and killed. Almost all of sixteen hundred Serbs living in the city decided to leave after this incident. In the night of May 8, they left in large numbers towards Bratunac, where they were called “kukavice” (cowards). Cerska, Srebrenica, Zepa and Gorazde became a refuge for thousands of Muslims who were chased away by Serb offensives, but Serbs were also victims of ethnic cleansing.

At first, between May 1992 and April 1993, all towns with a Serbian majority were attacked. Then towns with a Serbian minority were surrounded by Muslim towns, and eventually whole areas with a dense Serb population – Podravanja, Kravica and Skelani – were targeted. The Bosnian Serb weekly Javnost reported on 23 December 1995, that in the entire Podrinje – the area on Bosnia’s side of the Drina River between Zvornik in the north and Visegrad in the south – 192 villages were burned, 2800 Serbs were killed and six thousand injured. According to Ivanisevic, more than a hundred towns, villages and hamlets in the area of Milici-Srebrenica-Bratunac-Skelani alone were affected.

These crimes [against Serbian civilians] are still waiting for independent investigation, although they have been confirmed by returning Dutch-UN military personnel.

“Naser Oric gained control over large parts of Bosnia through scorched-earth tactics. Because of this, Karremans is right about it, large massacres of the Serb population were committed. The Netherlands in return is asking for proof. It is asking for evidence because, of course, there are no ‘funniest home videotapes’ showing raped women and murdered men. But these things did happen!”
— Lieutenant Jasper Verplanke of the Korps Commandotroepen [the Dutch equivalent of the Green Berets -JI] writing in the Dutch daily Nieuwsblad van het Noorden, 17 August 1995.

After the UN declared Srebrenica a ‘safe haven’ in April 1993, the attacks continued. Speaking about funniest home videos: in February 1994, Naser Oric proudly showed a videotape of a burned town and decapitated bodies of Serbs to John Pomfret of The Washington Post. The fact that first the Canadian, and later the Dutch UN contingents could not prevent these kind of actions because they failed to implement the agreed-on disarmament of Muslim forces, testifies in itself to the failure of the “safe area” concept.

“The systematic attacks of Muslim fighters against Bosnian Serb targets around the enclave raised the tension in the area of Srebrenica and were used by the Serbs as a justification for their offensive against the enclave,” Secretary of State Voorhoeve reported to the Dutch parliament. The “safe areas” depended too much on cooperation of the warring factions – something that was widely recognized after the collapse of Srebrenica but ignored before this event.

There are various explanations for the attack on the enclave. Serbian bloodthirstiness and desire for ethnic purity is among one of them, but not the most probable. The Pentagon considered it to be an act of revenge for the failed spring offensive by Muslims around Sarajevo. The Podrinje Brigade of the [Muslim] Second Corps was ordered to break out to the Han Pijesak-Vlasenica road and from there march to Srebrenica; the military over there was attempting to connect itself to Zepa. The Serbs on their part pointed out the fact that since the coming of the UN peace force, more than a hundred of their civilians and soldiers had been killed in raids by Muslim commandos. In May and June 1995 alone, the Muslims had supposedly organized ten of these missions, even penetrating the area close to Bratunac.

“The goal of this action is to eliminate terrorists and is not focussed on civilians, or UN-troops,” Mladic wrote to the British UN commander, General Rupert Smith, during the attack on Srebrenica. Serb soldiers, most of them living in this area, carried lists with hundreds of Muslims suspected to have committed war crimes. The arrests of Muslim men partly were of a selective character. “The Serbs knew the men,” according to a Dutch UN driver. “They had complete lists and photos. They pointed them out amidst a crowd.”

The attack was, according to Mladic, not primarily designed to take the entire enclave. That decision was made after a large number of Muslim fighters decided to give up the Defence and to attempt an extremely risky outbreak in the night of July 10 to Tuzla. “Muslims fled in large numbers the night before the attack,” said the Dutch Army representative in Washington, Colonel G. van Oppen, in the Fries Dagbad of 13 October 1995: “The question of why this happened was never asked in the Netherlands.”

But Michael Evans of The Times already knew this on July 13 when he reported, referring to “Western intelligence sources,” that Muslim commanders had left the city after a provocation from their side, the night before the first Serb tanks entered the scene. “Prior to the Serb advance the Muslims had fired upon Serb units along the main road to the South. (…) The apparent decision made by the Muslims to leave the city gave the Serbs an unexpected opportunity to seize Srebrenica.”

The order of events brings to mind the situation of Gorazde in April 1994. A study made by US Colonel John Sray, former head of UNPROFOR’s intelligence service in Sarajevo, reveals what happened:

“Two British observers were located at an observation post behind Muslim lines. Various attacks by the Serbs were effectively stopped and the position could be defended for a long period. Then the Muslims realized that the British observers were positioned right behind them. During the next Serb attack the Muslims retreated unexpectedly and for no reason. Their only objective was to expose the observers to an attack of the confused Serbs. Serb bullets killed one British soldier and wounded the other, but responsibility for this lies in the hands of the Bosnian Muslims, who hoped to provoke a revenge strike by NATO as a punishment for the killing of a neutral observer.”
—  John Sray, “Selling the Bosnian Myth to America: Buyer Beware”

The trap failed in Gorazde, but in Srebrenica no half-measures were taken.

Apart from the flight of the Muslim troops in the night prior to the attack, there are many more indications that the Muslim leadership abandoned the enclave on purpose. The Defence was already weakened because of the fact that best troops had been moved out to Tuzla, Sarajevo and Mt. Treskavica, long before the month of July, according to a commander of a Bosnian Serb special unit. Naser Oric himself, who had sworn never to allow Srebrenica to become Serb as long as he was in charge, was no longer present. “His whereabouts during the months prior to the collapse of Srebrenica are quite a mystery,” according to Charles Lane in De Volkskrant of 12 August 1995. But Ivanisevic argues that Oric, together with 2500 of his best troops, was called on duty in April and May of 1995 to an area south of Sarajevo in order to take part in the planned Muslim offensive. Estimates of the number of armed personnel that stayed behind mention six to ten thousand, comprising 3000-4000 regular Army recruits. The Serbs were able to counter this with 3,500 men, all from this region, far better equipped but only accompanied by four outdated tanks. Besides, not more than a few hundred men took part in the attack on the city itself. The difference in capabilities of the two sides seems to underline the opportunistic nature of the Serb offensive. It is also important to take into consideration that the Muslims had suffered heavy losses during supply runs between Srebrenica and Zepa in April, May and June, which could have cast doubts on chances to defend the city in the long run. The area hardly has any natural resources, and is strategically of far less significance than Gorazde, for example.

Eventually, while the “Dayton” agreement was in preparation, the Bosnian government [Izetbegovic] accepted the concept of exchanging territory: Srebrenica, Zepa and Gorazde for the Serb Sarajevo. Bosnian Minister of foreign affairs Muhammad Sacirbey had already informed Secretary of State Voorhoeve about this option during talks held in May (see De Volkskrant of 1 November 1995). The deal came as a blessing for the Americans, so close to the start of an election campaign. The fiercely criticized UN peace force very much wanted to abandon the “safe havens” as well. Srebrenica became the turning point from a military, political and publicity perspective. Only the retreat of the peacekeepers made it possible for NATO to start with the air strikes in September. The wave of horror stories about mass executions overshadowed the Croatian terror in the Krajina and no word got out about the Muslim-Croatian crimes in cities like Glamoc, Grahovo and Sanski Most…

What remains unanswered is the amount of Muslim men missing, who possibly died [in action] or were possibly killed. According to Miroslav Deronjic, official of the new municipality Srebrenica-Skelani, that number is two thousand; according to Amnesty International – four thousand; according to the International Red Cross, between seven and eight thousand; and Muslim sources state eight to twelve thousand. Each number represents an enormous tragedy in itself, but the results are also the product of a hypothetical calculation method. The size of the population before the fall of Srebrenica cannot be known beyond reasonable doubt.

Manipulation with numbers was turned into an art during the Bosnian war, and it is fair to assume that this also happened in Srebrenica….

On July 14, the ICRC [Red Cross] counted 23,000 refugees who were taken by bus to Tuzla, more than half of them children. This group was later joined by thousands of Muslim men who arrived on foot. In total the World Health Organization and the Bosnian government have registered 35,632 refugees from Srebrenica up to this moment. An unknown number of men have not had themselves registered and have been absorbed, as announced by the Bosnian Army, in the 28thdivision. Others (1,000? 2,000?) have fled to Zepa and Serbia.

More than ten thousand persons were registered as missing. “Conclusions about the number of missing people based on this figure has to be done with caution,” UN inspector Tadeusz Mazowiecki wrote, “because there may have been double counts in the missing person notices and because resolved cases are not always reported to the Red Cross.” It is also possible that names have been forged in an attempt to increase the number of missing people, or in an attempt to escape prosecution for war crimes. Mazowiecki’s successor, Elisabeth Rehn, came to the number of 8,000 people whose fate was unknown: five thousand men of military age who left the enclave before the fall, and three thousand men who were separated from their families. Rehn agreed with Mazowiecki, who suspected on the basis of “strong indications” that the missing Muslims had been murdered. During her visit of locations near Srebrenica in January of this year, she seemed to tone down her initial comments a little bit. She was still looking for evidence.

[Notice that the UN bureaucrat accuses the Serbian forces of murder despite the denials of UN military officers who were on the scene during the fighting. First she makes the accusation, than she goes “looking for evidence.” – Jared Israel]

Miroslav Deronjic also gave his version in a report about the events:

“According to intelligence of the Army of Republika Srpska, around six thousand Muslim conscripts have not joined the convoys for evacuation, but instead continued armed resistance, or tried to force an outbreak through the Serb lines of Defence in the direction of Srebrenica – Kravica – Konjevic Polje – Cerska – Crni Vrh – Tuzla. Skirmishes with this group (…) have continued for the next twenty days in the district of Konjevic Polje – Cerska – Udrica. A large number of Muslim fighters were killed during the attempt to break through the lines of Defence of Bratunac and Zvornik, or during clashes between their own competing factions. Part of the fighters surrendered – a small number, two hundred – and they have been transferred as prisoners of war to the military prison of Bjeljina. The larger part, around four thousand, reached the territory of the municipality of Tuzla. It is impossible to give exact estimates of the number of Muslim soldiers that died, because the fighting took place over a large area and in different directions.”

That Muslims fought each other, as Deronjic argues, cannot be found in the reports of Mazowiecki, Rehn and Human Rights Watch, but is known from statements made by the Dutch UN military personnel.

[Another apparent indication of the anti-Serb bias of the UN bureaucracy and Human Rights Watch, as opposed to the UN troops. – Jared Israel]

At least on two occasions Muslims have clashed with each other. According to general Couzy, the issue was a dispute about the question if the enclave should be defended or abandoned. Yugoslav agency Tanjug already reported in February last year about a “heavy conflict and fighting” in the vicinity of the town called Slap, between Muslims who wanted to leave to Macedonia via Serbia and Oric’s men, who controlled the Drina crossings in the hamlet of Luka. Later, unconfirmed reports mentioned a rivaling “modest” military unit under command of Osman Suljic. In July, Muslims from Srebrenica who wanted to surrender apparently received a harsh treatment by hard-liners under command of Zulfo Tursun, Ejub Golic and Nezir Mandzic. Such a fight, according to Deronjic, had taken place just after the fall of the enclave at Bokcin Potok. A team of the Dutch NOS-news discovered the corpses of tens of victims on 3 February.

Now, can we, looking at everything, say anything about the number of missing people with certainty? The latest number of 7,000, picked by the American State Department, seems to be far too high for the time being, but that the fate of many Muslims who fled is uncertain is a fact. Have they been killed on orders given from the top, or in acts of individual revenge? Are hundreds, maybe thousands of Muslims being held by the Bosnian Serbs and assigned to forced labor, as some refugees in Tuzla assume or at least hope? It is about time that an independent institution investigates suspected mass graves, and interrogates witnesses who might have been accomplices to mass murder (like the Bosnian Serb soldier Drazen Erdemovic, arrested last week). Only then there will be clarity about the real events and the actual magnitude of the tragedy in Srebrenica.

[Comment from Jared Israel: Even after all the evidence they have provided, the authors still use language that assumes the credibility of the charges against the Bosnian Serbs. Thus they speak of the need to look for “suspected mass graves.” But the US government claimed that they had satellite photos of mass graves around Srebrenica back in the summer of 1995.  Those photos have never been shown to the public. If they were real, why not?  If they were not real, then the world is looking for real evidence to support a fictitious charge. It takes one’s breath away.]

René Grémaux is an anthropologist; Abe de Vries was at the time this article was written a history student at the University of Groningen, Netherlands. He is now a reporter for the Dutch paper, ‘Trouw’.