The ‘Bosnian Spring’ Between Chances

February 13, 2014

Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH) is an artificial administrative creature made by foreign powers in Dayton agreement on 1995. It has two political semi-independent entities (federal units) – Serb dominated Republika Srpska (RS) and Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH) inhabited mainly by Croats and Bosniacs. The 2014 unrest in Bosnia and Herzegovina began in the northern town of Tuzla on 3 February 2014, but quickly spread to multiple cities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, including Sarajevo, for social reasons with the aim of overthrowing the government. The riots are the most violent scenes the country has seen since the end of the Bosnian War. 

Bosnian flag with explanation

The three points of the triangle represent the nation’s three ethnic groups: Bosniaks, Croats, and Serbs. The triangle itself represents the geographic shape of the nation itself. The colors represent neutrality and peace, whereas the stars represent Europe.

Over the last several days Bosnia and Herzegovina saw widespread unrest as protesters clashed with police and burn government buildings, leaving scores injured and arrested, mainly in the ethnically mixed parts of Bosnia that are governed by the Muslim-Croat Federation (FBiH), while minor protests took place also in the Republika Srpska (RS) towns of Banja Luka and Bijeljina. 30 years ago Sarajevo hosted the Winter Olympic Games, now however instead of the Olympic flame Bosnians cheered to the flames that engulfed government buildings.

Cumbersome system without national identity

Despite international community’s state building efforts in Bosnia the country is splitting parts, Since war foreign aid has exceed USD 90 bn for this artificial creature designed in Dayton agreement aiming multi-ethnic state with EU perspective. As a result Bosnia is now even more divided, with less national identity, 20 percent of population living under the poverty line, with a nightmare triple administration plus international supervising making the country one of the worst place in Europe to do business west of Ukraine (according WB ease of doing business index), even as it seeks to join the European Union. The EU has demanded that if Bosnia wishes to join to EU, it must create a stronger central government. Negotiations – led by EU and U.S over constitutional changes to strengthen the central government have been long and unsuccessful.

The 10 cantons of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina serve as the second-level units of local autonomy and federal units of the of FBiH while the other political entity of BiH, the Republika Srpska (RS), has a centralized government and is divided directly into 63 municipalities. In addition the ethnically diverse Brčko District is a division of its own under the direct jurisdiction of BiH. One peculiar aspect in BiH administration is discriminatory election process based to Dayton scribble. Bosnia’s constitution allows only the members of the Constituent Peoples – ethnic Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks (Muslims) – to stand for election to either the three-member Presidency or the House of Peoples. Non-constituent Peoples – defined in the Constitution as ‘Others’ like Jewish and Roma people – can only stand for election to the lower house, being denied their right to full participation in the political process.

The political crisis which has escalated in Bosnia and Herzegovina since 2006, degenerated after the 2010 elections into an all-out political war in which each and every party – or even party faction – fought each other in various combinations, making and breaking alliances on almost daily level. This situation blocked the country’s reform agenda and forced the EU to halt the accession process, suspend 47 million euro of pre-accession funds for 2013 and postpone preparations for a new pre-accession package that was supposed to provide hundreds of millions of euros in grants for the period 2014-2020. Political chaos was also directly reflected in the economic and social situation, with rampant unemployment rates and rising poverty levels.

Roots of protests

Can any country survive without some minimal mutual self-identification across its citizens as a whole? If the shared non-ethnic Bosnian identity is taking steps backwards does this not mean that this artificial western desk-drawer plan is doomed to fail? I am afraid so but maybe it is loss only for those top-level designers not for local population. (More e.g. in Bosnia on the road to the EU, sorry to Dissolution )

Social divide in BosniaSome sights about anger among ordinary Bosnian citizens have been seen during last couple of years. The tragic massacre in Srebrenica on July 11th1995, has ever since been traditionally used by the Bosniac and Serb leaders as a valuable propaganda resource for promoting religious and national divisions between the Bosniac and Serb population. In 2012, the rulers and their foreign sponsors were in for another surprise from the masses – and on the day of their perfect end-of-history-type ceremony, of all places. This July 11th, at the Srebrenica massacre commemoration in the Potočari Memorial Centre, the victims’ families demanded that no politicians give speeches. When that was ignored, the masses reacted with loud whistles and curses directed at the leaders of Bosnian parties. The loudest whistle was reportedly received by none other than the American ambassador to Bosnia.

The Bosnian government is notorious for not taking decisions partly due competing interests of the entities. In 2013 some protests started after the constitutional court ruled that the current law on ID numbers is unconstitutional and the government was unable to propose a solution, resulting in newborns not being able to receive official documents like passports and are thus unable to travel even when for example in one case there was need to get urgent medical treatment abroad. Also similar case was the dispute in Bosnia about veterinary and sanitary inspections. As Bosnian politicians were unable to agree on who is to carry out the inspections, thousands of Bosnian farmers could not export their dairy products to Croatia once it came EU-member with more rigid controls.

The Bosnian Spring turned violent

Since the 1990s, all levels of government have shown utmost insensitivity to the social and economic destitution of citizens, youth, and particularly marginalised social categories. This kind of systemic institutional violence, political abuse of power, incompetence and neglect has planted seeds of anger and frustration. For nearly twenty years people of BiH have suffered under the administration of a vicious cabal of political oligarchs who have used ethno-nationalist rhetoric to obscure the plunder of BiH’s public coffers. (More eg from Al Jazeera Balkans, who maybe has the the best reporting on the events)

Bosnian demonstrations in 2014

Whatever the roots of protests are it seems clear that now people say out loud that they have had enough of poverty, indifferent authorities, rotten values in society, bad governance and outside masterminding. Dissatisfaction with the economic and political system in the country has pushed diverse groups to unite in protest.

The protests began in Tuzla, organised by the workers of former state companies, who protested against not only the closure of companies, but also corrupt privatisation processes. These groups voiced their grievances already January 2014, demanding resignations and broader changes within the economic and social system.

On February 4th 2014 protests gained momentum when other societal groups like citizen’s associations, youth, pensioners and war veterans came out on the streets with workers in Tuzla and later in Sarajevo, Mostar, Zenica and other cities too. The events were similar like earlier during “Arab Spring” as the demonstrations involved many different groups of people and were not centrally organised. While organizations differed their demands were similar: government resignations, reduction of salaries for high-ranking government officials, free and quality social services, etc.

Thousands of disgruntled workers, demobilized soldiers and unemployed youth poured onto the streets as angry protests were spreading from Tuzla to other parts of FBiH. In Tuzla the situation quickly ran out control after thousands of protesters surrounded the cantonal government building. Police started firing tear gas and flash-bang grenades but after a brief clash with demonstrators, police special forces retreated and a number of protesters entered the abandoned government building and started ransacking and burning it. So far heads or governments in four cantons have resigned. Large amounts of historical documents were lost when sections of the Archives of Bosnia and Herzegovina were set on fire.

Dissatisfaction with a political system that does not work for the people of the country is vast and growing. Eighteen years of evidence has demonstrated that the constitutional and electoral systems put into place to end the war have worked well for the political elites for and their elaborate systems of patronage. But the rest of the country – the overwhelming majority of citizens of all national persuasions – has been left out. Public opinion polls conducted in 2013 show a clear foundation for reform, and show that all citizens – Bosniaks, Croats, Serbs and the oft-neglected “others” – want constitutional reforms based on real issues and interests, which break the stranglehold of the parties that dominate political and economic life.

Class struggle instead of ethnic one

The roots of the present protests in Bosnia-Hercegovina are more based on social questions than ethnic intolerance like before. After bloodshed in the country in the 1990s there was some violence for example between Croats and Bosniacs. Beside this ethnic tension there has been now nearly two decades of privatisation, plunder and peripheral gangster capitalism, as well as the constant humiliation by the structures of the Western guidance – Office of the High Representative (OHR).

The younger generations took to the streets in the manner of protesters of “Arab Spring” a couple of years ago demanding some form of change in their living conditions and ousting the ruling elite. After Tuzla the feeling of empowerment spread throughout Bosnia like wildfire, mostly with the help of Facebook, Twitter and other social media, like in “Twitter or Color revolutions” seen earlier in Iran, Moldova etc. Although the movement originated in the workers’ protests in Tuzla, organised labour has so far not taken a lead nor any political party. Demonstrations started as spontaneous outbursts of popular anger without clear class or ethnic line.

After Tuzla people in more than 30 Bosnian cities protested demanding better living standards and government resignations. The widespread unrest saw protesters clash with police and burn government buildings, leaving scores injured and arrested. (More e.g in BalkanInsight )

Earlier dispute was between Serbs and Bosniaks as well between Bosniaks and Croats and ethnic divisions are deepening at time when Bosnia-Herzegovina is on the stage of transition from an international protectorate to one responsible for its own reform dynamics. The recent unrest is making new more severe division between the ruling elite and the rest of population. Instead of developing its “European perspective”, Bosnia-Herzegovina going backwards remaining an unwelcome, dysfunctional and divided country, with an aggrieved Bosniak (Muslim) plurality, a frustrated, increasingly defensive Serb entity, and an anxious, existentially threatened Croat population. (More about Dayton and situation in BiH e.g. in my article “Bosnia Collapsing)

The protests were primarily carried by Bosniaks, the Muslims and took place in the Federation and in areas with a Bosniak majority. With this overall observation one should note that the protests also took place in Brčko and Mostar, two cities that are multiethnic.Violence in Mostar against the city and cantonal administration and the HQs of the two dominant ethnonationalist parties SDA and HDZ is significant. There is no doubt that the institutions of the Croat-Bosnian FBiH are more dysfunctional than the Serbian RS with its cantons. In the RS, the government has been more successful in buying social peace and controlling the public space.

Demonstration from demonstrators perspective can be followed from their FB-site .

Bosnia uprising 2014 map

Avoiding the “Arab Spring” failure

After spontaneous uprising the masses managed to formulate at least in Tuzla common demands to express their fundamental interests as seen in Declaration of Workers and Citizens of the Tuzla Canton:

Declaration of Workers and Citizens of the Tuzla Canton

7 February 2014. Today in Tuzla a new future is being created! The [local] government has submitted its resignation, which means that the first demand of the protestors has been met and that the conditions for solving existing problems have been attained. Accumulated anger and rage are the causes of aggressive behaviour. The attitude of the authorities has created the conditions for anger and rage to escalate.Now, in this new situation, we wish to direct the anger and rage into the building of a productive and useful system of government. We call on all citizens to support the realization of the following goals:

1) Maintaining public order and peace in cooperation with citizens, the police and civil protection, in order to avoid any criminalization, politicization, and any manipulation of the protests.

2) The establishment of a technical government, composed of expert, non-political, uncompromised members. [They should be people] who have held no position at any level of government and would lead the Canton of Tuzla until the 2014 elections. This government should be required to submit weekly plans and reports about its work and to fulfil its proclaimed goals. The work of the government will be followed by all interested citizens.

3) Resolving, through an expedited procedure, all questions relating to the privatization of the following firms: Dita, Polihem, Poliolhem, Gumara, and Konjuh. The [government] should:

+ Recognize seniority and secure health insurance of the workers.
+ Process instances of economic crimes and all those involved in it.
+ Confiscate illegally obtained property.
+ Annul the privatization agreements [for these firms].
+ Prepare a revision of the privatization.
+ Return the factories to the workers and put everything under the control of the public government in order to protect the public interest, and to start production in those factories where it is possible.

4) Equalizing the pay of government representatives with the pay of workers in the public and private sector.

5) Eliminating additional payments to government representatives, in addition to their income, as a result of their participation in commissions, committees and other bodies, as well as other irrational and unjustified forms of compensation beyond those that all employees have a right to.

6) Eliminating salaries for ministers and eventually other state employees following the termination of their mandates.

This declaration is put forward by the workers and citizens of the Tuzla Canton, for the good of all of us.”

To save the achieved results of uprising and to keep the dynamic of the movement alive on grassroots there is some guidelines made by Tuzla activists:

Proclamation to the people of Tuzla from The Marxist organization Crveni:

The cantonal government of Tuzla has fallen, but a new one can be set up tomorrow! The prime minister resigned, but the tycoons remained! Some functions are lost, but bank accounts are still intact! The victory you just won can only be preserved through further victories!

In order to achieve this, it is of upmost importance and urgency to take the following steps:

1. Do not leave the streets! Do not go back to your homes, because in all likelihood you will find new formations of armed forces on the streets when you wake up tomorrow. Stay in touch with each other and do not let yourselves get arrested and isolated as individuals!

2. Enforce order and discipline on the streets yourselves. Violence is only useful if it is not mindless and when it is utilised for the defence of the people against government despotism. Don’t allow small-time thugs and police provocateurs to sabotage the protests by looting or by causing mayhem and fear. The city is yours – let it function under your supervision and for your own benefit.

3. Organize popular councils in your neighbourhoods, based on direct democracy and the imperative mandate of delegates. Establish a democracy that you deserve! The existing parliamentary structures have shown themselves as a cesspool of corruption and nepotism and as a springboard for the personal enrichment for the oligarchs and those politicians on their payroll. Your struggle has above all else shown that it is only the organized masses of working people who can establish order in the interest of the majority. So establish that order and do not let anyone impose someone else’s patronage over you again!

4. Demand the return of economic power into the hands of the people and democratic control over the economy! The oligarchs, who flatter themselves as “job creators” – although it was because of them that tens of thousands lost their jobs – have already shown what happens when you leave the economy in their hands. Demand the annulment of all privatizations of big industry and the financial sector, as well as the placing of factories, mines and banks under democratic control of the popular councils! Should the federal government refuse to comply, enforce these demands yourselves – you’ve already shown that you can!

5. Do not buy into the politicians’ ruses such as their “patriotic” slogans! Do not allow the social revolt to turn into an ethnic conflict! The political and economic elite now counts on a conflict between the protests within the two entities and between the cantons that have a Bosniak and Croatian majorities. Do not let yourselves be deceived! The question of the cantons and entities has to be settled as the result of a democratic decision of all citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Such a resolution is only possible after a people’s government, led by the masses of all Bosnian peoples, has been established.

Reactions

Surely, the recent events must have terrified the ruling elite, as well as the foreign occupation structures, neighbours too are shaken as similar problems are reality in Croatia, Serbia and Macedonia (FYROM) too. The current EU’s High Representative Valentin Inzko has even threatened to send EU-troops (EUFOR) to calm situation.Use of violence during the protests, the burning of buildings and finally of a part of the archives of Bosnia in the presidency building have led to media and politicians in and outside Bosnia label protestors as “hooligans”. This underestimates protestors as many citizens who went to the streets feel that they cannot change the government through elections and they have good arguments to think so. There was not looting and violence of the protests was directed at buildings of the government, in particular cantonal administrations, the state presidency and some political party offices.

Serbian government vice president Aleksandar Vucic held a meeting in Belgrade with Milorad Dodik, president of RS to discus the ongoing unrest in Bosnia and Herzegovina. “Serbia as a signatory country of the Dayton Agreement is interested in the stability of the region and is advocating resolving conflicts peacefully and in a democratic way,” Vucic said at a joint press conference held after the meeting. “There is no need to resolve problems by setting fire to public buildings and beating police officers,” Vucic added. According to the president of Repubika Srpska, Milorad Dodik, the aim of the protests is “also to destabilize Repubika Srpska and further involve the international community” in the country’s politics.

Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic visited Mostar, a town in Herzegovina, where Croats are in the majority, saying that he came to call for the peaceful resolution of the unrest. “I came here to calm the situation,” said Milanovic, adding that the protests are result of the incoherent policy of European Union, which doesn’t know what to do with Bosnia. Meanwhile most Bosnian Croats see Mostar as their “capital” and many of them have a vision about forming a third, Croat-dominated, entity in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Both Serbia and Croatia are signatories of 1995 Dayton Agreement which ended the 1990s war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The international response to the protests has been confused, displaying the gap between international actors and the reality on the ground. The EU, its officials and EU’s foreign ministers repeated the phrase that citizens should have the right to protest, but that they should remain peaceful.

Way forward

The country’s asymmetric entity structure has left one entity, Republika Srpska, with a unitary structure and a strong notion of statehood, while Bosniaks and Croats are forced together into the other entity, FBiH, an unwieldy improvisation governed by hundreds of ministers. As result the systemic gap between the two entities renders the country disintegrated and administratively dysfunctional. A radical way out from situation could be dissolution of the whole BiH, integrate RS with Serbia, FBiH’s Croat dominated cantons with Croatia while Bosniac dominated cantons could seek their national identity from the rest of Bosnia.

From my point of view the protests which indeed have succeed to change rulers at regional level I see, opposing EU’s centralized dreams, now possibilities to create a new “lighter” administrative system, based to cantons in FBiH and stronger local level administration in RS. So Bosnian Spring in best case may give a boost to more decentralized and administrative easier Bosnia, which also can be kept less corrupted and more democratic.

It is impossible to guess the outcome but from my perspective Bosnia is now between changes. People in many towns have demonstrated that together they can have influence at local level. Together without ethnic or religious tensions they can avoid failure like it happened with “Arab Spring”. What is clear is that the current political elites, at least in the Federation, have widely lost their legitimacy. It also for the first time politicians became afraid of citizens, some cantonal governments resigned and some reportedly even left the country. A wider impact might be that the ruling class in Zagreb and Belgrade, fearing what this might mean for Croatia and Serbia respectively, immediately took political action. The reactionaries will try to undermine the impact of recent events, but the wheels of history cannot be driven backwards. There is real change for progress by creating new power-structures at local level.

On the opposite there is also change that counter-move by centralized establishment will win with help of EU and US. Bosnia has struggled under the most cumbersome political system in Europe created by the American-brokered and EU-backed Dayton peace accords. Constitutional reforms are needed and apparent political stability should be replaced by a new long-term strategy. However, if they are again conducted by the same power elite than before, the results will again lack the democratic legitimacy and nothing will change. In my opinion a new kind of engagement by both the US and the European Union is needed to replace the failed policies and approaches in Bosnia. EU and US should take new approach with Bosnia, the protests should be welcomed, old power structures and elite ousted and real implementation and progress led by masses at local grassroots level facilitated. By this way I think that “Bosnian Spring” could be flowering.

Small fishes win one big one

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Srebrenica – The guide for the perplexed

March 7, 2013

Over a decade and a half after the event Srebrenica continues to be engulfed in heavy fog. Messages about Srebrenica can be divided in two categories. The first a myth about three days on July 1995, a simplistic story line for the broad masses, not overly concerned with facts and arguments, and certainly not encouraging critical analysis. It is based on the repetition of emotional platitudes such as “genocide” and “eight thousand executed men and boys”. The second category projects a propaganda line geared to a more select and influential public. It is based on the pseudo-history of the Yugoslav conflict promoted by the Hague Tribunal and the political apparatus which sustains it. To point out the many questionable aspects of the official narrative about what happened there, The Srebrenica Historical Project has created a presentation Srebrenica The guide for the perplexed a concise exposition of basic facts.

To give a bit more comprehensive picture about Srebrenica case I would like to highlight – with help of presentation mentioned above – few key questions which are challenging the official (ICTY, Western mainstream media) picture as follows:

8000 executed men and boys

How could an allegation of the execution of 8,000 individuals be made and then widely accepted if the only hard evidence in The Hague Tribunal’s possession that points to summary execution involves the remains of 442 persons that were found with blindfolds and ligatures? Indeed, where are the bodies to support the claim of 8,000 execution victims?

In ICTY procedure in Hague the number of Srebrenica victims has varieted from trial to trial. First the standard estimate of executed victims in Srebrenica was 7,000 to 8,000. In the recent Tolimir trial judgment, however, that figure was put at 4,970. Similarly, in all previous Srebrenica trials dealing with Branjevo farm executions, victim estimates were based on the claims of ”Starwittness Erdemovic, one of the perpetrators who made a plea bargain with the Prosecution. The accepted figure was 1,200 victims, notwithstanding the fact that the number of bodies exhumed at the crime scene was 115.

Where are the famous satellite photos that US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright advertised as the definitive proof that a crime of huge dimensions did occur around Srebrenica? Why are they under seal for fifty years if they are of such enormous probative value? If they were made available to the public and to neutral experts for critical analysis now, would that not benefit everybody because many persistent doubts about Srebrenica would quickly be resolved?

The laughable reason given for insisting on the photos’ confidentiality is that showing publicly them might compromise intelligence gathering methods. That rationale is an insult to the intelligence of the public because the methods used in 1995 are long obsolete.

As the supply of legitimate Srebrenica execution mass graves began to dry up, and bodies needed to back up the 8,000 genocide victims claim were in short supply, the Muslim-controlled Missing Persons Commission focused, for instance, on a locale called Kamenica. They played down the fact that Kamenica was on the path of withdrawal of the Muslim army 28th Division in July of 1995 and that a major clash with Bosnian Serb forces took place there, with numerous Muslim casualties.

DNA?

The forensic evidence (DNA) is more unhelpful than helpful to the Prosecution’s claim that there were about 8,000 execution victims in Srebrenica. Ten years later, there was no trace of even the 4,805 bodies that in its trial judgment the Krstic court gullibly stated had been “detected” in unexhumed Srebrenica mass graves.Body counting and forensic analysis in the classical sense had reached an embarrassing dead end. The standard forensic approach which is based on autopsies may not have generated the hoped for 8,000 victims, but in a situation of this nature it generates at least some legally useful evidence. The standard approach did yield 947 potential execution victims (442 with blindfolds and ligatures, plus 505 with bullet injuries).

How can it be asserted that the human remains exhumed so far prove summary executions on a large scale when in their autopsy reports ICTY Prosecution forensic experts conceded that out of 3,568 exhumed “cases” 1,583 or 44.4 %, consisted only of body parts, and that in 1,462 or 92.4 % of them no conclusion could be drawn regarding the cause of death?

DNA is currently presented as undeniable proof of “genocide”. However, DNA findings cannot establish key elements of a murder case, the cause and time of death, which is important given the possibility of many combat deaths as well as natural deaths and burials in the Srebrenica area prior to July 1995.

Combat casualties instead of genocide

If you want to use a word “genocide” (for Srebrenica) – then OK, but we need a new word to replace the old “genocide” word…” (Noam Chomsky)

The status of the 12,000 to 15,000 strong military/civilian, mostly male column which left Srebrenica enclave on foot late on July 11, 1995, headed for Muslim-controlled territory in Tuzla, is a key factor in the controversy over what happened. ICTY Prosecution military expert Richard Butler conceded the mixed character of the column, which under international law makes it a legitimate military target.Testifying in the Popovic case, Butler reiterated that position. The legal character of the column and the extent of its casualties are of the utmost importance because in an effort to reach the magic figure of 8,000, combat losses inflicted on the column are conflated with execution victims.These casualties were estimated by prosecution military expert Richard Butler, when testifying in the Popovic trial, to have been 1,000 to 2,000 for the period of July 12 to 18, 1995, and raised to between 2,000 and 4,000 at a subsequent trial. Given the severe dearth of incontestable execution victims, the presence of thousands of these legitimate Srebrenica casualties is at worst an embarrassment, but at best an opportunity. The opportunity is to blend them in with execution victims, thus eliminating the problem and at the same time helpfully raising the victims’ total, even if it still remains short of the target figure of 8,000.

In his latest book titled “Srebrenica — The History of Salon Racism” (Srebrenica — die Geschichte eines salonfahigen Rassismus) published 2010 in Berlin, Alexander Dorin focuses on manipulations with the number of Muslims who lost their lives in Srebrenica. “It is perfectly clear that Muslim organizations listed as Srebrenica victims all the Muslim fighters who were killed in the fights after the fall of Srebrenica,” the Swiss researcher said. Dorin explained that director of the Belgrade Center for Investigation of War Crimes Milivoje Ivanišević analyzed the lists of alleged Srebrenica victims. Ivanišević discovered that, a year after the fall of Srebrenica, some 3,000 Muslim men who were supposedly killed in 1995, were voting in the Bosnian Muslim elections. It asserted that no more than 2,000 Bosnian Muslims had died at Srebrenica – all armed soldiers, not civilians – and that 1,600 of them had died in combat or while trying to escape the enclave. In addition, at least 1,000 of the alleged 1995 “Srebrenica massacre victims” have been dead long before or after Bosnian Serb Army took the town over.

Map of military operations during the Srebrenica massacre, July 1995

Planning the narrative – two years before

The “Srebrenica massacre” is the greatest triumph of propaganda to emerge from the Balkan wars.(Edward Herman)

There is also many arguments about political PR game behind exaggerated death numbers, misrepresentation of early reports and manipulated pictures. Indeed President Izetbegovic according mentioned UNSG Report told in 1993 that he had learned that a NATO intervention in Bosnia and Herzegovina was possible, but could only occur if the Serbs were to break into Srebrenica, killing at least 5,000 of its people.” So from here are the numbers originating – two years before events in Srebrenica. (Source: UN report The Fall of Srebrenica )

The authenticity and the implications of this shocking scheme are extensively explored by Ola Flyum in his documentary film Srebrenica: A town betrayed.

Bosnian Muslim violence against Bosnian Serbs from UN protected safe zone

If Srebrenica was indeed a UN protected demilitarized safe zone, how was it possible for it to be used as a training ground and launching pad by Muslim army forces inside it against Serbian civilian villages and military positions outside?

There was also a long history of atrocious Bosnian Muslim violence and treachery perpetrated against Bosnian Serbs leading up to the events of 1995.The most cruel crimes were committed by the 3rd Corps 7th Muslim Mountain Brigade, to which were subordinated foreign Muslim fighters, also known as mujahedeen, who came from Islamic countries through Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network. “Demilitarized safe area of Srebrenica” served as the safe haven to this brigade lead by Bosnian Muslim leader of Srebrenica forces Naser Oric. From there the brigade went to implement series of atrocious attacks on the near-by Serbian areas.

 An important issue pertaining to Srebrenica that is almost never talked about are the Serbian victims. The trick of excluding them is performed by simply narrowing down the relevant Srebrenica chronology to three days in July of 1995, while completely ignoring events during the preceding three years. In the three-year period before the massacre of Muslims in 1995, According to the Dutch Institute for War Documentation (NIOD), these attacks “…followed a certain pattern. Initially, Serbs were driven out of ethnically mixed towns. Then Serbian hamlets surrounded by Muslim towns were attacked and finally the remaining Serbian settlements were overrun. The residents were murdered, their homes were plundered and burnt down or blown up.” As a consequence, “it is estimated that between 1,000 and 1,200 Serbs died in these attacks, while about 3,000 of them were wounded. Ultimately, of the 9,390 Serbian inhabitants of the Srebrenica district, only 860 remained…”

Why are these substantial figures (Serb victims)rarely reported or given even fleeting attention in discussions about Srebrenica, although they are undoubtedly an integral part of the overall picture and their relevance to the events of July of 1995 is indisputable?

First of all, because this is precisely what generated the “accumulated hatred” that was clearly sensed by the UNPROFOR commander in Bosnia, General Philippe Morillon, which he referred to as the consequence of these “terrible massacres.”Second, perhaps because these pogroms created a motive for taking revenge on the perceived malefactors when that became possible in July of 1995. The latter point clearly upsets the genocide applecart because it posits a compelling alternative explanation of the motive.

R2P based on Srebrenica

One aspect which keeps the official narrative about Srebrenica alive is that the case is the fundamental element of R2P (Responsibility to Protect) concept. The Srebrenica narrative serves as the cornerstone of this important new doctrine in international relations and since Bosnia been used with many conflicts around the globe as tool of western interventions.

First, as former US ambassador to Croatia Peter Galbraith recently revealed, in terms of the Bosnian conflict “endgame” Croatia’s Operation Storm in 1995 against Serb-held areas in the Krajina would not have been feasible had not “Srebrenica” prepared the ground for it, morally and psychologically. The Srebrenica narrative and the outrage it produced served as a convenient veil to shield atrocities committed during the Croatian offensive in August of 1995 from substantial public examination or criticism.

As Bill Clinton, the U.S. President who had stood by in Bosnia, wavered again, Mr Blair warned that Kosovo was a test of whether civilised nations acted before it was too late. “This is not a battle for territory; this is a battle for humanity. It is a just cause, it is a rightful cause,” he argued.

A couple of more examples: “We prevented a new Srebrenica in Libya” (Hilary Clinton) Recently U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on world powers to urgently unite to end the bloodshed in Syria, recalling the inertia of the United Nations in 1995 as genocide occurred in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica.

My view

Was Srebrenica – a hoax or massacre? I would say both; a hoax due the well planned and implemented PR campaign, a massacre when the Serbs went to trap and used brutal force also against civilians.(Ari Rusila)

From my point of view the myth of 8,000 executed men and boys is busted. It was planed well before to get U.S.involvement with war against Serbs. An essential part of narrative was the death toll of 8,000 and that the victims were civilians. However the figures after decade and half intensive bodycount don’t match. Besides numbers it has came clear that most of the military-age men from Srebrenica assembled in the village of Susnjari and from there under-took a 60 kilometer trek through minefields and Serbian ambushes to Tuzla as they were affraid Serb revenge due their atrocities against Serbs during preceding two years. As for the women, children, and elderly, they were left behind and deposited at the UN compound in Potocari. Quite possibly that was done as a convenient bait to the Serbs to perpetrate the anticipated massacre, but whatever the ultimate motive behind it may have been, on the whole nothing sinister occurred. The 20,000 or so enclave residents dumped in Potocari were put by the Serbs on buses and evacuated safely to Muslim territory.

One can claim that Srebrenica was not a genocide and definition ethnic cleansing is weak too, instead it was a partly war crime provoked by crimes on the other side. Partly as mostly the deads in Srebrenica on July 1995 happened when 28. Muslim Division tried to escape from town to Muslim held territory knowing the amount of hatred among local Serbs and lost their life during this operation. Saying this I’d like to point out that sure there was civilian casualties, innocent victims as well executions which can be seen as war crimes and crimes against humanity etc.

Despite unprecedented efforts over the past ten years to recover bodies from the area around Srebrenica, less than 3,000 have been exhumed, and these include soldiers and others – Serb as well as Muslim – who died in the vicious combats that took place during three years of war. Only a fraction have been identified. Probably a massacre happened but maybe not like that picture which main stream media has offered.

Srebrenica Historical Project

( http://www.srebrenica-project.com/ )

An excerpt from project’s mission statement:

Our broad purpose is to collect information on Srebrenica during the last conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina, defined not as July 1995, but more broadly as 1992 to 1995. That means that we shall be creating a comprehensive and contextual, as opposed to a selective, record of the violence between the communities in that area during the conflict. We shall focus also on crimes committed against the Serb civilians not because we favor them but because so far they have been ignored. We wish to redress that balance, but we will not work under any ideological limitations. A corollary goal will be to launch something along the lines of the South African Truth and Reconciliation commission, with emphasis on truth as logically coming before and as a precondition to reconciliation. That is another reason we wish to do a great deal of empirical work on the neglected crimes against the Serbian population. We shall then proceed to explore reconciliations strategies. The fundamental objective of our project is to rise above politics and propaganda and to create a contextual record of the Srebrenica tragedy of July 1995 which can serve as a corrective to the distortions of the last decade and a half and as a genuine contribution to future peace.

Sources and further reading:

My previous articles:

Srebrenica: A Town Betrayed” – Finally a Critical Documentary about Srebrenica Tragedy

Media War of Yugoslav Secession continues

NIOD Report on Srebrenica

Srebrenica again – Hoax or Massacre?

And here is a small selection of articles, documents and analysis, which are also telling the other side of story:

Media War: The Use and Mis-Use of the Visual Image in News Coverage and Propaganda . A study of the visual media war against the Serbs.

Demonizing the Serbs by Marjaleena Repo June 15, 1999 in Counterpunch

One view about issue in video Bosnia and Media Manipulation

Srebrenica: The Star Witness by Prof Edward S. Herman

The Star Witness by Germinal Civikov (translated from German by John Lauchland),Belgrade 2010,

Srebrenica: Deconstruction of a Virtual Genocide” by Stephen Karganovic and Ljubica Simic (Belgrade 2010)

 Analysis of Muslim Column Losses Due to Minefields and Combat Activity” by Stephen Karganovic: .Proceedings of the International Symposium on ICTY and Srebrenica (Belgrade-Moscow 2010)

 Was Srebrenica a Hoax? Eye-Witness Account of a Former United Nations Military Observer in Bosnia by Carlos Martins Branco

Media Disinformation Frenzy on Srebrenica: The Lynching of Ratko Mladic by Nebojsa Malic

Media Fabrications: The “Srebrenica Massacre” is a Western Myth

What Happened at Srebrenica? Examination of the Forensic Evidence by Stephen Karganovic

Using War as an Excuse for More War: Srebrenica Revisited by Diana Johnstone

The Srebrenica Massacre: Evidence, Context, Politics by Edward S. Herman and Phillip Corwin

NIOD (Netherlands Institute for War Documentation)/Srebrenica investigationreport

INTELWIRE.com has published over 2.000 pages of of declassified U.S. State Dept. Cables about Srebrenica

UN Report:The Fall of Srebrenica

The Star Wittness

Germinal Civikov is a native of Bulgaria living nowadays in The Hague and Cologne. In his book, “Srebrenica: Der Kronzeuge” (Wien: Promedia, 2009, published also in English as ”Srebrenica: The Star Wittness) Civikov explains that the ICTY ruling that genocide was committed at Srebrenica on the orders of the Bosnian Serb leadership is based on the testimony of a single witness, a self-confessed perpetrator of one of the massacres called Drazen Erdemovic. Civikov shows that in fact Erdemovic is a pathological liar, he was a mercenary who fought on all three sides in the Bosnian civil war. He was not forced to commit the massacre, indeed his unit was on leave when the massacre was committed. He was not the victim of a later murder attempt to prevent him from testifying, but instead a thug who quarrelled over money with his fellow murderers.

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NIOD Report on Srebrenica

December 6, 2011

In my previous articles ( “Srebrenica: A Town Betrayed” – Finally a Critical Documentary about Srebrenica Tragedy and Media War of Yugoslav Secession continues ) I covered issues which are challenging the “official” picture about Srebrenica massacre. As expected there is a heated debate in different forums about events itself and about right to show the other side of the story e.g in public broadcasting company channels. This debate however is cursorily twirling round persons and deadlock opinions, arguments rarely have some base on facts.

Fanatical, narrow minded and many times politically motivated debate is blind alley; many-sided picture about Srebrenica can be illustrated by applying more facts than feelings to discussion. Maybe the best and anyway the most comprehensive source to find not only details and facts but also scientific analysis about them is in my opinion so called NIOD-report.

NIOD Report on Srebrenica

In November 1996, the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies (then: Nederlands Instituut voor Oorlogsdocumentatie / Netherlands Institute for War Documentation ) was instructed by the Dutch Government to carry out a study of ‘the events prior to, during and after the fall of Srebrenica’. For the purposes of this independent historical analytical research, the Government undertook to do everything in its power to grant the NIOD researchers access to the source material at its disposal.

The NIOD Report on Srebrenica tragedy was published in 2002. So far the Report is the most comprehensive academic research and documentation about what really happened in Srebrenica not only in July of 1995 but also before tragedy. The Report describes on its some four thousand pages (yes, 4.000) also wider historical and political context around Srebrenica. The NIOD-report is generally regarded as a first-rate scientific work.

After this long introduction here below finally are links to different parts (in English) of this fundamental independent academic research –

The NIOD-report:

Criticism

Critics especially from Bosnian Muslim side are complaining that Dutch NIOD Report is not as objective as they have expected it to be.  Critics of the NIOD Report allege it was the Netherland’s attempt to wash their hands of direct involvement in the Srebrenica massacre. Also the Report is said to be full of inaccuracies e.g with names and that report is too big, idex is poorly organised etc. There was nine NIOD-researchers and some found information unreliable sources while other found it reliable.

There is also suspicion that the report is made to order by the Dutch government. The background for this is the fact that the government were facing the prospect of a politically motivated parliamentary inquiry into the role and conduct of Dutch military personnel during their presence in the UN-protected Srebrenica enclave in 1994 and 1995.

The supporters – e.g. Noam Chomsky, Ed Herman and Diana Johnstone – of Niod-conclusions have also been labeled as genocide denials, revisionists or representatives of “leftist apologist wing” who pride themselves on being always on the opposite side of the mainstream media. (See e.g Srebrenica Genocide Blog)

An Excerpt: Media manipulation of Srebrenica

(Source: ISSA reports )

Former BBC journalist Jonathan Rooper, who has researched the events in Srebrenica since 1995, says that the region was a graveyard for Serbs as well as Muslims. He observed closely media manipulation during Bosnian War. Instead of acknowledging that there was no support for the original figures, Rooper says a various means were used to prop up the official story.

  • Spokesmen for the Clinton Administration suggested that Serbs might have moved the bodies to other locations. Rooper points out that excavating, transporting and reburying 7,000 bodies was “not only beyond the capabilities of the thinly-stretched, petrol-starved Bosnian Serb Army, but would have been easily detected under intense surveillance from satellites and geostationary drones”.
  • By 1998, thousands of bodies excavated from all across Bosnia were stored at the Tuzla airport. Despite state-of-the-art DNA testing, only 200 bodies have been linked to Srebrenica.
  • Around 3,000 names on a list of Srebrenica victims compiled by the Red Cross matched voters in the Bosnian election in 1996. “I pointed out to the OSCE that there had either been massive election fraud or almost half the people on the ICRC missing list were still alive,” says Rooper. “The OSCE finally responded that the voting lists had been locked away in warehouses and it would not be possible for them to investigate.”

The Bottom Line

“What happened in Srebrenica was not a single large massacre of Muslims by Serbs, but rather a series of very bloody attacks and counterattacks over a three year period.”

(Phillip Corwin, former UN Civilian Affairs Coordinator in Bosnia)

The the tragic events in Srebrenica in July of 1995 are actual and in headlines today and probably during coming years too. The cause from my perspective may be related to four aspects

1st the ICTY process is focusing now to main political figures – Karadzig and Mladic – of Bosnian War and evidences from sides of prosecutor and defence are the core content of trial

2nd every year Srebrenica will be remaind as theatrical funerals of Bosnian Muslims – presumable victims – are taking place.

3rd Bosnia-Herzegovina as an artifical creature is searching some national identity, however ethnic tensions are rather increasing than opposite and politics is more going towards dissolution than unity.

4th Srebrenica is an example of intervention, or R2P context as well modern media war used more or less successfully in conflicts around the world during last decades.

Further reading

To go deeper to Srebrenica problemacy I would recommend besides mentioned NIOD-report also following material:

Stephen Karganovic, Ed., Deconstruction of a Virtual Genocide: An Intelligent Person’s Guide To Srebrenica

United Nations Report on Srebrenica 15 November 1999.(note: to access the report, click on the LINK immediately below. You will be directed to a page where you can click on “CLICK HERE TO GET THE FULL TEXT OF THE REPORT”. You will be directed to another page where you can click on your languaqe preference, and the full report should download) LINK )

I also would like promote the work of Srebrenica Historical Project, which collects information on Srebrenica events.

Srebrenica Historical Project

( http://www.srebrenica-project.com/ )

An excerpt from project’s mission statement:

Our broad purpose is to collect information on Srebrenica during the last conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina, defined not as July 1995, but more broadly as 1992 to 1995. That means that we shall be creating a comprehensive and contextual, as opposed to a selective, record of the violence between the communities in that area during the conflict. We shall focus also on crimes committed against the Serb civilians not because we favor them but because so far they have been ignored. We wish to redress that balance, but we will not work under any ideological limitations. A corollary goal will be to launch something along the lines of the South African Truth and Reconciliation commission, with emphasis on truth as logically coming before and as a precondition to reconciliation. That is another reason we wish to do a great deal of empirical work on the neglected crimes against the Serbian population. We shall then proceed to explore reconciliations strategies. The fundamental objective of our project is to rise above politics and propaganda and to create a contextual record of the Srebrenica tragedy of July 1995 which can serve as a corrective to the distortions of the last decade and a half and as a genuine contribution to future peace.


Media War of Yugoslav Secession continues

November 6, 2011

Who needs facts if a good story is available?” (Ari Rusila)

A few weeks ago I promoted new Srebrenica documentary film Srebrenica: A Town Betrayed . Everybody was not happy about critical view of documentary. E.g the Norwegian Helsinki Committee made official complaint to Norwegian Broadcasting Council and Press Complaints Commission. This is not surprising as media war in Bosnia started same time as war on the ground. While the whole artificial outside forced state creature without any own identity is now openly tottering the media again is the tool to improve political interests.

Filmmakers and investigative journalists Ola Flyum and David Hebditch, authors of “Srebrenica: A Town Betrayed”, have been subjected to denunciations by interested parties in Bosnia and in the Bosniak diaspora for presenting their critical and challenging documentary about the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The filmmakers have prepared a detailed issue-by-issue 43-page Response to the derogatory allegations that have been made against them and this document – 2 Response to NHC Complaint ENG – is available in my document archive.

Media War in Bosnia

The media did more damage to us than Nato bombs.” (Radovan Karadzic)

The ‘Holocaust model’,promoted by governments and media, and generally accepted by western public opinion, presented the war as a genocidal war by Serbs against the Bosnian Muslim (Bosniac) population. The war was presented as morally equivalent to Auschwitz – and western intervention as a moral crusade, which no reasonable person could oppose. Few people in western Europe today believe that Serbs are ‘a nation of genocidal rapists’, but that is how many people saw them in the mid-1990’s.

One fabrication got headlines around the world as in 1992 an ITN TV-news shot footage of men staring out from behind barbed wire. They were Bosnian prisoners inside a Serbian concentration camp, ITN explained. An emaciated Muslim caged behind Serb barbed wire, filmed by a British news team, became a worldwide symbol of the war in Bosnia. But the picture is not quite what it seems. It took years before a German journalist Thomas Deichman described how the famous photo was staged by its takers. The picture was very misleading: the ITN photographers were actually inside the compound, and their subjects were outside the fence, looking in. Deichmann reveals the full story in his article The picture that fooled the world. However by that time (1992) the image had done its deed, labeling the Serbs as genocidal mass murderers.

An expample: How to win media war?

Richard Palmer describes one episode of successful media war in his article What Really Happened in Bosnia publiched in TheTrumpet.com

Serbia’s earliest defeat came in the PR war. Early on, Serbia’s enemies engaged Ruder Finn, an American public relations firm, to get their message out. James Harff, director of Ruder Finn’s Global Public Affairs section, boasted about his success against Serbia.

Nobody understood what was going on in (former) Yugoslavia,” he said in an October 1993 interview. “The great majority of Americans were probably asking themselves in which African country Bosnia was situated.” Ruder Finn took advantage of this ignorance. Its first goal was to persuade the Jews to oppose the Serbs—not an easy task. “The Croatian and Bosnian past was marked by a real and cruel anti-Semitism,” said Harff. “Tens of thousands of Jews perished in Croatian camps. So there was every reason for intellectuals and Jewish organizations to be hostile towards the Croats and Bosnians.”

Harff used a couple reports in the New York Newsday about Serbian concentration camps to persuade Jewish groups to demonstrate against the Serbs. “This was a tremendous coup,” said Harff. “When the Jewish organizations entered the game on the side of the Bosnians, we could promptly equate the Serbs with the Nazis in the public mind.” He continued: “By a single move, we were able to present a simple story of good guys and bad guys which would hereafter play itself. We won by targeting Jewish audience, the right target. Almost immediately there was a clear change of language in the press, with the use of words with high emotional content, such as ‘ethnic cleansing,’ ‘concentration camps,’ etc., which evoked inmates of Nazi Germany and the gas chambers of Auschwitz. The emotional change was so powerful that nobody could go against it.”

The fact that the mujahedin had taken over Bosnian Serb towns and villages, had tortured and executed, had ethnically cleansed and displaced Bosnian Serbs and Croats POWs at will has been ignored. Videotapes and reportage were made of these war crimes so it is easy to create a wider picture also today. 

Srebrenica

Mostly forgotten perspective is the context in which Srebrenica events occurred.

In charge of the Muslim forces in Srebrenica was Naser Oric. Here is how French Gen. Philippe Morillon, commander of the UN troops in Bosnia from 1992 to 1993, described him: “Naser Oric engaged in attacks during Orthodox holidays and destroyed villages, massacring all the inhabitants. This created a degree of hatred that was quite extraordinary in the region ….” In another part of his testimony, he stated, “There were terrible massacres committed by the forces of Naser Oric in all the surrounding villages.” It was this hatred and circle of revenge that led to the Srebrenica massacre. The Serbs finally reacted to Oric’s provocations. When they took Srebrenica far more easily than they thought they would they took their revenge on the men they found there. But, unlike Oric, they let the women and children go. Thus it was not an ethnic cleansing, instead it was a partly crime provoked by crimes on the other side. Partly as mostly the dead in Srebrenica on July 1995 happened when 28. Muslim Division tried to escape from town to Muslim held Zenica (as they knew the amounth of hatred among local Serbs) and lost their life during this operation.

In his latest book titled “Srebrenica — The History of Salon Racism” (Srebrenica — die Geschichte eines salonfahigen Rassismus) published 2010 in Berlin, Alexander Dorin focuses on manipulations with the number of Muslims who lost their lives in Srebrenica. “It is perfectly clear that Muslim organizations listed as Srebrenica victims all the Muslim fighters who were killed in the fights after the fall of Srebrenica,” the Swiss researcher said. Dorin explained that director of the Belgrade Center for Investigation of War Crimes Milivoje Ivanišević analyzed the lists of alleged Srebrenica victims. Ivanišević discovered that, a year after the fall of Srebrenica, some 3,000 Muslim men who were supposedly killed in 1995, were voting in the Bosnian Muslim elections. It asserted that no more than 2,000 Bosnian Muslims had died at Srebrenica – all armed soldiers, not civilians – and that 1,600 of them had died in combat or while trying to escape the enclave. In addition, at least 1,000 of the alleged 1995 “Srebrenica massacre victims” have been dead long before or after Bosnian Serb Army took the town over.

The Star Wittness

Germinal Civikov is a native of Bulgaria living nowadays in The Hague and Cologne. In his book, “Srebrenica: Der Kronzeuge” (Wien: Promedia, 2009, published also in English as ”Srebrenica: The Star Wittness) Civikov explains that the ICTY ruling that genocide was committed at Srebrenica on the orders of the Bosnian Serb leadership is based on the testimony of a single witness, a self-confessed perpetrator of one of the massacres called Drazen Erdemovic. Civikov shows that in fact Erdemovic is a pathological liar, he was a mercenary who fought on all three sides in the Bosnian civil war. He was not forced to commit the massacre, indeed his unit was on leave when the massacre was committed. He was not the victim of a later murder attempt to prevent him from testifying, but instead a thug who quarrelled over money with his fellow murderers.

Best Practice in use: Croatia

In Croatia the right-wing party, the Ustashi, came to power using fascist symbols and slogans from the era of Nazi occupation. Its program guaranteed a return to capitalist property relations and denied citizenship, jobs, pensions, passports or land ownership to all other nationalities, but especially targeted the large Serbian minority. In the face of armed expropriations and mass expulsions, the Serbs in Croatia began to arm themselves. The experience of World War II—when almost a million people, primarily Serbs, but also Jews, Roma and tens of thousands of others died in Ustashi death camps—fueled the mobilization. In deed Slobodan Milosevic was equated with Adolph Hitler, which in case of Croatia is quite strange as the Croatian forces during World War II were actually explicitly pro-Nazi and implemented holocaust against Serbs, Jews and other groups in Jasenovac concentration camp (3rd largest of them in Europe during WWII).

In August 1995, Croatia launched a savage attack on Krajina, a region of Croatia that Serbs had inhabited for 500 years. Within four days, the Croatians drove out 150,000 Serbs, the largest ethnic cleansing of the entire Balkan wars. Investigators with the war-crimes tribunal in the Hague have concluded that this campaign was carried out with brutality, wanton murder and indiscriminate shelling of civilians. These war crimes and cleansing were passed over in silence in western media as Croatia was being advised by a shadowy group of retired American officers who had been sent to Croatia to help it fight against the Serbs. In fact especially western mainstream media actively and carefully ignored and covered up the war crimes that its allies committed in Croatia and later in Bosnia and Kosovo.

It is estimated that more civilians were killed in Krajina than Srebrenica, but this consequence was virtually ignored by the Western media and never regarded, as was Srebrenica, a genocide. For Croatian leaders Krajina was the reward for having accepted, under Washington’s pressure, the federation between Croats and Muslims in Bosnia.

A former US ambassador to Croatia – Peter Galbraith, testifying in The Hague war crimes trial – accused Zagreb of plotting and sanctioning the exodus of Serbs in 1995 to create an “ethnically clean” country.

Croatian authorities either ordered or allowed a mass destruction of the Serb property in former (Serb-held region of) Krajina to prevent the return of the population. I consider that to have been a thought through policy” … ”Croatia was an organised country, its army the most disciplined in former Yugoslavia, and therefore I cannot accept that the illegalities that occurred after Storm were spontaneous,” … “President Tudjman and people around him wanted it, wishing for an ethnically clean country.” (Source BalkanInsight )

<span style="font-family:Droid Serif,serif;">More about ”Operation Storm” in my article Krajina – Victory with Ethnic Cleansing

Best Practice in use: Kosovo

In Kosovo U.S. With help of western media used the same best practice as earlier in Croatia and Bosnia. The main elements were need of humanitarian intervention, multiplying (with 10-50) civilian deaths and fabricating massacres. More coverage e.g in High pressure to fabricate Racak reports ja 10th anniversary of Nato’s attack on Serbia) ). In West the war-crimes and other atrocies aginst Serbs were either ignored or labeled as propaganda. Only years after war some reports or new investigations are telling also the other side of story . One of the most important document is the one which Swiss prosecutor-politician Dick Marty gave for Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) on Dec 2010. The report, “Inhuman treatment of people and illicit trafficking in human organs in Kosovo” claims that civilians – Serbian and non-KLA-supporting Kosovan Albanians detained by the KLA in the 1999 hostilities – were shot in northern Albania and their kidneys extracted and sold on the black market. It names Hashim Thaçi, the former leader of the KLA and Kosovo’s prime minister, as the boss of a “mafia-like” group engaged in criminal activity – including heroin trading – since before the 1999 war. More e.g in Kosovo: Two years of Pseudo-state and Captured Pseudo-State Kosovo .

Mafia Clans/KFOR sectors -map made by Laura Canali

KLA’s transformation from OC-/terrorist group to freedom fighters was an amazing media victory which guaranteed the occupation and later capturing of Kosovo. Since then the efforts have been made to whitewash the past and creating a quasi-independent puppet state for safe haven for terrorists and OC. One of latest episodes of media war was played recently when Kosovo’s government has discretely engaged the lobbying services of one of Washington’s top firms (Patton Bogg) for $50,000 a month. Frank Wisner, Patton Bogg’s foreign affairs advisor, met Thaci in the United States last July (2011). Interesting detail is that mentioned Wisner was the US’s special representative to the Kosovo Status Talks in 2005 – like in role of neutral facilitator of talks. Wisner played a crucial role in negotiating Kosovo’s independence. (Source BalkanInsight ).

Receptive mind in West

“He may be a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch.” (Franklin Roosevelt)

As described earlier Bosnian Muslims, Croatians, Kosovo Albanians and their hired lobbyists made very successful media campaign for their case in western mainstream media and in capitals of West. However the campaigns might not have been so effective unless the politicians were so amenable to campaigner’s views. In my opinion this receptivity is linked to geopolitical changes and interests. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, US big business was focusing on reshaping all of Europe. Nato had lost its enemy and military-industrial complex was afraid to lose its old markets. Nonaligned Yugoslavia was no longer needed in this context. The interest of US Military-industrial complex and Pentagon’s was in creating weak, dependent puppet regimes to Balkans, Black Sea region, Caucasus in order to dominate these regions and their energy sources and transportation routes – economically and politically. Without this political and business interest it would not be so easy for PR-agencies to demonize the Serbs, to hide the reality of Croatian fascism, to canonize the Bosnian Muslims, and to whitewash OC-clans in Kosovo.

Military-industrial Complex shaping US-policy

Global military industrial consumption per year is 1.5 trillion U.S. dollars. US share of the cake is about 40% to the current year, 664 billion dollars. This is a good comparison of the UN budget (27 billion), which is a sum of nearly three per cent of its Member States on military expenditure. Peace work is estimated to get yearly 6 billion and conflict prevention 0.6 billion.

US military-industrial complex has been shaping the country’s economy and affecting its foreign policy. A recent count found the Department (Defense) had 47,000 primary contractors, or over 100,000 firms, including subcontractors. Even academia is in tow, with about 350 colleges and universities agreeing to do Pentagon-funded research.

To keep the media on Pentagon’s side, in the US and elsewhere, the military allocates nearly $4.7 billion per year to “influence operations” and has more than 27,000 employees devoted to such activities.

The international community is now willing to invest 200 times more to the war than peace. Against one peace researcher, is estimated to be more than 1100 researcher for weapon (and their use) developers. The difference in what countries are prepared to invest in weapons and their use is huge compared to what they use for example, poverty elimination and economic development in developing countries. And just poverty is one of the causes of violence.

More e.g in my article $1tn G20 deal vs. MI(MA/E)C

More aggressive policies needed a justification for intervention so it was not so surprising when US administration rushed to the Srebrenica scene to confirm and publicize the claims of a massacre, just as William Walker did later at Racak in January 1999. The numbergame in media was similar in Bosnia and Kosovo as later the civilian casualties were confirmed to be in reality some 10 % of that what was marketed before attacks. Same time in Bosnia case U.S officials also diverted attention from larger-scale ethnic cleansing such as Croatian attacks on Serb populated UN Protected Areas (UNPAs) in Western Slavonia (“Operation Flash”) and the Krajina region (“Operation Storm”) in May and August of 1995. Maintaining later an image of demonized Serbs helped Kosovo Albanians implement their ethnic cleansing operations in Kosovo.

My view

The bottom line is that the PR-agencies got their message through the western mainstream that some ethnic cleansing was going on in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo, US administration used created picture to officially stop it and unofficially to improve their own interests. Now people also outside the Balkans understand that US forces intervened against Serb – supposed – ethnic cleansers, but in reality intervened on the side of Croat and Albanian ethnic cleansers.

Some sources and more:

Media War: The Use and Mis-Use of the Visual Image in News Coverage and Propaganda . A study of the visual media war against the Serbs.

Demonizing the Serbs by Marjaleena Repo June 15, 1999 in Counterpunch

One view about issue in video Bosnia and Media Manipulation and The Politics of Genocide foreword by Noam Chomsky by Edward S. Herman and David Peterson


“Srebrenica: A Town Betrayed” – Finally a Critical Documentary about Srebrenica Tragedy

September 25, 2011

“If you want to use a word “genocide” (for Srebrenica) – then OK, but we need a new word to replace the old “genocide” word…” (Noam Chomsky)

 Srebrenica: A Town Betrayed a Norwegian documentary film directed by Ola Flyum and David Hebditch is now free to watch in Youtube. The film approaches Srebrenica tragedy from a bit different viewpoint than usual in Western mainstream media. Norwegian documentary about Srebrenica challenges generally accepted narratives about the 1995 massacre giving light to the civil war in Bosnia and Herzegovina from non-biased point of view. It also connects Srebrenica into a wider context that is often ignored by the Western media, showing the crimes committed by the Bosnian army against Serbian civilians and villages in the area. These atrocities may also partly explain why some war crimes happened later in Srebrenica.

Most of the Muslims from Srebrenica were killed while their forces (28th Muslim Division cca 8,000 men) tried to brake-trough from Srebrenica trough 40 miles of Serb-held territory to Muslim-held territory.

Todays picture about Srebrenica is still heavily manipulated. To me its clear that thousands of Muslims were killed in Srebrenica once this place fell to Bosnian Serbian forces as well that some of them were innocent civilians. It is clear too that thousand(s) Serbs were butchered around Srebrenica during Bosnian War 1992-95 e.g. by the 3rd Corps 7th Muslim Mountain Brigade lead by Bosnian Muslim leader of Srebrenica forces Naser Oric. To the Brigade mentioned were subordinated foreign Muslim fighters, also known as mujahedeen, who came from Islamic countries and it operated from “demilitarized safe area of Srebrenica”. This created a degree of hatred that was quite extraordinary in the region.” One possible scenario is that when the Bosnian Serb Army responded to this terror and atrocities the remaining fighters attempted to escape towards Tuzla, 38 miles to the north. Many were killed while fighting their way through; and many others were taken prisoner and executed by the Serb troops. More in my earlier article Srebrenica again – Hoax or Massacre?.

The documentary film “Srebrenica: A Town Betrayed” can be watched by clicking pictures left or from Here!

 

 

 

Reactions

In April of this year Norwegian State Television (NRK) broadcast film “Srebrenica: A Town Betrayed” followed by the equally amazing “Sarajevo Ricochet.” Swedish State Television soon followed. Bosniaks in Scandinavia have voiced outrage over the airing of documentary. Freedom of speech in Sweden too is now seriously threatened by the intimidating pressure on Swedish Broadcasting Service (SVT) , especially from some extremist circles within the Bosnian Muslim community in Sweden. The Danish public broadcasters initially expressed an interest in purchasing airing rights to one of the two documentaries. After witnessing the uproar in Norway and Sweden, they amended their request, having now decided to broadcast both.

Some highlights

“5.000 Muslim lives for air strikes” (President Clinton)

  • The film claims that at that first short meeting Clinton suggested to Izetbegovic another holocaust – sacrifice of 5000 Muslims in Srebrenica and that Izetbegovic shared that sinister plan with Srebrenica defenders delegation. So the men of Srebrenica were sacrificed by their own government for a political objective. The actual motive behind these background machinations might be besides Nato intervention also a land-swap deal acceptable to all sides (Bosniaks/Serbs/Croats).
  • The western mainstream media has demonized Serbs and their action in Bosnia and later also in Kosovo. The atrocities implemented by others have widely ignored. At the start of the 1992-95 Bosnia war, Muslims and Croats were allies against the Bosnian Serb forces, but they fought each other briefly when Croat forces tried to create a separate Croat autonomy in northeastern Bosnia. Now also Bosnian Muslims themselves expose what really happened before, during and after what is been called `the European genocide of our time`.
  • Among numerous of the film’s revelations is the fact that the humanitarian convoys which the Serbs were allowing to pass to Srebrenica were being intercepted by Bosnian “hero” Naser Oric and sold on the black market.
  • Interesting detail is also that Mladic had 1600 armed locals but he didn’t trust them since they lacked discipline and would use every opportunity to revenge warlord Oric’s attacks on the villages.

My  conclusion

With this film the prevailing black-and-white version (perpetuated by the international community and by Bosnian officialdom) of the Bosnian is questionable. General Mladic arrest and theatre in Hague will bring Srebrenica again front of a stage and more facts what really happened in Srebrenica and before tragedy will came public when both the prosecutor and defense have made their case. This may have its effect in already fragmented and fragile Bosnia-Herzegovina. Probably confrontation between three ethic groups will increase and this could lead to the final dissolution of BiH.

More background information and documents

Srebrenica Historical Project

The fundamental objective of project is to rise above politics and propaganda and to create a contextual record of the Srebrenica tragedy of July 1995 which can serve as a corrective to the distortions of the last decade and a half and as a genuine contribution to future peace.

And here is a small selection of articles, documents and analysis, which are also telling the other side of story:

Srebrenica: The Star Witness by Prof Edward S. Herman

Was Srebrenica a Hoax? Eye-Witness Account of a Former United Nations Military Observer in Bosnia by Carlos Martins Branco

Media Disinformation Frenzy on Srebrenica: The Lynching of Ratko Mladic by Nebojsa Malic

Media Fabrications: The “Srebrenica Massacre” is a Western Myth

What Happened at Srebrenica? Examination of the Forensic Evidence by Stephen Karganovic

Using War as an Excuse for More War: Srebrenica Revisited by Diana Johnstone

The Srebrenica Massacre: Evidence, Context, Politics by Edward S. Herman and Phillip Corwin

NIOD (Netherlands Institute for War Documentation)/Srebrenica investigationreport

INTELWIRE.com has published over 2.000 pages of of declassified U.S. State Dept. cablesabout Srebrenica

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P.S:

Fenris film has produced also other interesting documentary movie “Sarajevo Ricochet – The US Green Light” which is is the untold story of how the USA allowed Bosnia to cooperate with al-Qaeda, smuggle arms from Iran and launder terror-money during the brutal civil war from 1992 – 95. Osama bin Laden exploited the conflict for his global jihad – and the 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers. It reveals a secret money trail that funded mujihadeen training camps. Co-operation of USA and Iran let Osama bin Laden recruit, import and finance 4.000 mujihadeen fighters into the heart of Europe and Bosnia Herzegovina. In 1996, many of these `holy warriors` moved on to fight in Kosovo, and some became al-Qaeda sponsored terrorists who attacked targets throughout the Western world – including the 9/11 assault on America.


R2P vs Facades of Interventions

September 6, 2011

The Responsibility to Protect (R2P) is a relatively new international security and human rights norm to address international community’s failure to prevent and stop genocides, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.  When and where to intervene has came more and more actual question during last decades in western foreign policy.  The wars in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya have been claimed to be justified attacks in name of humanitarian intervention or recently due the R2P norm. On the other hand there is questions why the same nor has not been applied in Syria, Somalia, Burma, Sudan etc.  Official high-flown statements are normally dealing R2P issue from perspective of humanitarian need or to build a democratic state in intervention region. In my opinion an opposite approach is more dominating on the ground – approach where intervention logic is traced from needs and motivations of intervener not from those in mission theatre.

From my point of view the key question is whom the interventions are protecting. The answer may be related to three issues:

  1. Does the implementing power have economical, military and/or political interests in the intervention region?
  2. Is the possible intervention region on border zone of sphere of economical, military and/or political influence?
  3. Is some party in possible intervention region enough rich or skilful to manipulate public opinion in intervener countries to get them on their side?

Looking interventions during last twenty years most of the mentioned three issues have been driving force for attacks. Balkans draw new lines in sphere of influence between great powers, same with Afghanistan in addition that country has also raw materials, in Libya and Iraq oil and gas fields were good motivation as they are also with possible attack to Iran in near future. In all cases the biggest beneficiary has been U.S. military-industrial complex. One could estimate that humanitarian interventions in Africa will start immediately when enough big oilfield will be discovered in conflict region.

Excerpt

R2P – Responsibility To Protect

The term Responsibility To Protect (“RtoP” or “R2P”) was first presented in the report of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS) in December 2001. As the UN debated major reforms of its human rights system, the idea of committing to an international R2P gained support from many governments and civil society organizations from all regions. UN Security Council’s Resolution 1674 on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict includes the first official Security Council reference to the Responsibility to Protect. On January 2009, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a report entitled Implementing the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP). The report outlines measures and actors involved in implementing the three-pillar approach as follows:

Pillar One stresses that States have the primary responsibility to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.

– Pillar Two addresses the commitment of the international community to provide assistance to States in building capacity to protect their populations related to issues mentioned in 1st pillar.

– Pillar Three focuses on the responsibility of international community to take timely and decisive action to prevent and halt issues mentioned in 1st pillar.

Creating the facade

Manipulation of public opinion is effective way to get wider support for wars – and their huge costs – abroad. Terrorist and criminal organizations transform without delay into allies and/or freedom fighters (al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Bosnia, KLA in Kosovo, Saddam Hussein in Iraq, al-Qaedea figures now power in Tripoli) while the enemy will be demonized (Serbs, Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda). Number game with deaths is easy way to get attention in nearby regions. So in Bosnia the numbers needed were planned already some two years before Srebrenica, in case of Kosovo U.S. officials claimed that from 100,000 up to 500,000 Albanians had been massacred. When the figure later was near 10.000 from all ethnic groups together the bombings were already over.

With cases more far away from western civilization other fabrications – than number game – have been useful such as WMD’s in case of Iraq, safe haven for terrorists in Afghanistan and probably possible bombings against Iran will be justified with nuclear thread. One should also note that interventions can (secretly) begin before any public decisions (e.g. in Bosnia with operation “Storm” and in Libya special forces operated months before UN decisions).

The used operational chart with last big conflicts has been following:

1st creating imaginary thread (Iraq/WMD, Afghanistan/Taliban, Balkan Wars/ethnic cleansing…),

2nd destroying the enemy by cluster bombs, depleted uranium war heads, contract killing, torture etc.,

3rd bringing democracy and stability in form of puppet governments and ousting local more or less selected authorities.

Official high flown statement of course are speaking humanitarian intervention, R2P, peace enforcement, defending democracy etc to hide real motivations.

Not even the foggiest idea what’s next

One problem is that intervention plans cover only the first stage concentrating to get justification for attack and to get fast tactical military win and forgetting what to do after military success (or especially without it). In my opinion most of the problems in Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan are based to poor planning before intervention. For example in Bosnia despite international community’s state building efforts the country is splitting parts. Since war 15 years ago foreign aid has exceed USD 80 bn for artificial creature designed in Dayton agreement aiming multi-ethnic state with EU perspective. As a result Bosnia is now even more divided, with less national identity, 20 percent of population living under the poverty line, with a nightmare triple administration plus international supervising governor.

In Kosovo since intervention international community has worked over ten years with capacity building of Kosovo administration. First idea was to develop standards (of democratic state) before status (after being UN protectorate), then after couple of years the slogan transformed to “standards and status” and again after a couple of years “status before standards”; now after unilateral declaration of independence the standards have not been any significant issue in Kosovo and the outcome I have summarized as follows:

as Serbian province, occupied and now international protectorate administrated by UN Kosovo mission; as quasi-independent pseudo-state has good change to become next “failed” or “captured” state; today’s Kosovo is already safe-heaven for war criminals, drug traffickers, international money laundry and radical Wahhabists – unfortunately all are also allies of western powers”.

What will be the result with last intervention to Libya remains to seen but something tells the situation now in Tripoli where members of the Al Qaeda-linked Libyan Islamic Fighting Group – LIFG, are now in control. Their commander Abd Al-Hakim Belhadj, an al Qaeda veteran from Afghanistan, now calls himself “Commander of the Tripoli Military Council.” So when U.S in the name of “war on terror” just killed al-Qaeda leader OBL it now helps radical Islam groups gain power In Libya in the name of humanitarian intervention.

One reason for failures of R2P might be poor situation analysis due lack of reliable information or as an intentional practice to avoid unwanted deductions.

Intervener problem

My conclusion is that the great powers implement interventions whenever and wherever they see it beneficial for their military, economical and/or political interests with or without UN approval while humanitarian and legal aspects are serving only nothing but a facade. One of the main problems with implementation of R2P is – in my opinion – that so far U.S and NATO have been the main actors with or without UN authorization. Public missions included e.g. the Implementation Force (IFOR) and Stabilization Force (SFOR) in Bosnia from 1995 to 2004, Operation Allied Force in Kosovo from March to June 1999 , the Kosovo Force (KFOR) from June 1999, and the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan since 2001 and the latest one is Operation Unified Protector in Libya which began on 27 March 2011. In this framework R2P has reduced to one extension of U.S foreign policy and its needs and interests.

For increasing credibility of R2P principle the role of NATO should be minimized by strengthening capabilities of some wider organizations. The most important actor should be UN with its related bodies.

From European perspective the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) forms good base to develop R2P capacity; OSCE is the world’s largest regional security organization and the most inclusive playing an essential non-military role in promoting peace and stability and advancing democracy and human rights in Europe. The OSCE offers a forum for political negotiations and decision-making in the fields of early warning, conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict rehabilitation.

It is sad that EU has outsourced its foreign policy to U.S., it is blindly following U.S. military suspicious strategies and cowboy policy only to have good transatlantic relations – this keeps EU always as bystander in international politics. However despite this the fact is that the EU already belongs to the world’s largest providers of international assistance so it could have a great role to play in responding more effectively to protect civilians from mass atrocities and in assisting other states and institutions to develop the capacity to do so.

Intervention logic should be applied

 From my perspective developing R2P from slogan to practice an intervention logic should be obligatory and it should be transparent as only through outside critics it can be justified as meaningful tool. I have some doubts if intervention logic even exists related (humanitarian) interventions during last decades.

In my opinion R2P is similar like other development programs or projects. There is identified crisis, problem that should be solved; objectives are defined, outputs, activities, resources (inputs) are planned to achieve immediate and finally overall objectives. This both ways vertical logic should be checked at each level by the horizontal logic specifying result indicators, control methods for achieving results, and the assumptions and risks which will affect outcomes. This procedure and its further developed forms – called as Logical Framework matrix or LogFrame – is normal practice e.g. while channeling international aid into field.

The core problem from my perspective with R2P is that the slogan is serving as facade of interventions not as principle supposed applied on the ground. The logic will be thrown away when real aims of activities are hidden. When the implementing power has economical, military and/or political interests in the intervention region – in the operational theatre – the problems and needs of supposed beneficiaries are minor points similar way than collateral damages are only regrettable side-effects during main mission. By applying logical framework approach to R2P it is possible achieve more comprehensive approach to conflicts including not only immediate intervention but also life after that. 

LogFrame for R2P figure can be found below and from LogFrameR2P

Intervention Logic for R2P by Ari Rusila

Ari Rusila’s BalkanBloghttps://arirusila.wordpress.com

Intervention Logic Horizontal logic

F

e

e

d

b

a

c

k

Vertical levels
Overall objective: wider goal, a project is steered to its attainment. At all levels ►►►►
1. Narrative description2. Indicators of achievement
3. Verification methods
4. Assumptions and risks
Immediate objective: a desired situation after completion of a project. It should be SMART (specific, measurable, accurate, realistic and time related)
Outputs are items of value developed by the project for the beneficiaries. With the aid of output resources, the beneficiaries should to achieve their immediate objectives.
Activities: to produce the outputs it is necessary to implement a number of certain activities ( tasks and actions)
Inputs are the material, human or financial resources for the completion of the activities

Creative Commons License
LogFrameR2P by Ari Rusila is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Based on a work at arirusila.files.wordpress.com.
More e.g. in my related articles:

Interventions in general: Multifaceted Intervention Practices , Is Peace more than absence of the War? and Peacemaking – How about solving Conflicts too?

U.S. practising intervention first in the Bosnian War 1992-95 and selecting terrorist/OC-groups to U.S. allies (More e.g. Srebrenica again – Hoax or Massacre? and Krajina – Victory with Ethnic Cleansing and the outcome Bosnia on the road to the EU, sorry to Dissolution )

Racak fabrication and “humanitarian intervention” aka since WWII first ever full scale bombing operation in center of Europe 1999 ( High pressure to fabricate Racak reports and 10th anniversary of Nato’s attack on Serbia)

About U.S. strategy in Afghanistan: Will COIN work in Afghanistan?

Other related articles: Libya Intervention is creating problems instead of solving them and Some framework to Syrian crisis


Guest Post by Tara Tran: The Art of Witness and Peace in Bosnia

February 26, 2011

Guest Post by Tara Tran

Tara Tran is a freelance writer and a guest blogger for
My Dog Ate My Blog

In the close to 20 years since the beginning of the Bosnian War, much has happened. Thousands have been massacred, international forces have intervened, peace agreements have been negotiated, individuals have been tried for war crimes, refugees have fled. Yet, in the midst of this difficult story, it is inspiring to know that people have resisted against the brokenness and destruction that consumed the conflict. Here are two examples of how human spirit and creativity have used art to remember and reconcile the war from its very first year until today.

Witnesses to Evidence

The seige of Sarajevo began in April 1992. Six months later, in the shelled and rundown Sujetska Cinema, a gallery director and eight artists gathered to create something as a witness to the conflict. From that October to April 1993, the artists collaborated on a series of works inside the hidden hallways of the cinema, where Sarajevans frequently passed through to escape snipers outside. The gallery director, Mirsad Purivatra, and the eight artists – Nusret Paši, Zoran Bogdanovi, Ante Juri, Petar Waldegg, Mustafa Skopljak, Edin Numankadi, Sanjin Juki, and Radoslav Tadi- created a living testimony to the war they themselves were living.

The exhibit was themed around and subsequently named Witnesses to Evidence, after Nusret Paši’s piece. The exhibit was invited to represent Bosniz-Herzegovina at the 45th Venice Biennale, but because of the wartime blockade, the artists and their works were unable to travel. However, later in the spring of 1994, they could finally leave. Witnesses was brought to exhibit at the Kunsthalle in New York, and the schedule was ideal. At the time, international audiences were gathering in New York to discuss the aftermath of the Bosnian conflict. More attention was being given to the consequences of the war.

What many found compelling about Witnesses was not so much its representation of the war, but more so the sense of obligation it passed on to its viewers to act as witnesses to history. After he saw the exhibit in New York, Johannes H. Biringer, an artistic director and the author of Performance on the Edge: Transformations of Culture, wrote a commentary about what the artists had done:

“They build meaningful compositions of the human spirit and intelligence in midst of the war’s insanity,” Birringer stated, “Thus they become also witnesses of our indifference; their irony and resiliency shame us. Their work also proves that it is neither impossible nor frivolous to make art in the time of war; perhaps making art in such a time is as necessary as finding food and shelter and healing the wounded.”

Most Mira

A little over a decade after Witnesses exhibited in New York, Bosnian-born Kemal Pervani and social researcher Lea Esterhuizen founded Most Mira, a charity organization based in Britain and Bosnia. Most Mira means ‘Bridge of Peace’ and fittingly, the organization’s mission is to build understanding and tolerance among youth in Northwest Bosnia by means of creative community arts.

Imagine this: 500 Bosnian, Serb, Croat, and Roma kids frolicking around for a week dancing, playing games, playing music, painting, writing, and singing. It’s a picture in stark contrast to war. That picture is of the Youth Festival that Most Mira has organized since 2009. And now, the charity’s energetic and innovative Trustees and Action Team are in preparation to launch this year’s festival scheduled for May 16-20, five days of workshops in art, drama, circus skills, dance, music, media, and performance. With May approaching, they’re in the last leg of the hunt to recruit volunteers, the ones who really make the festivals possible. Though, the point of it all reaches far beyond the fun and games. In a fragmented society shadowed by the war’s aftermath, what Most Mira and these volunteers do is help continue the work of remembrance and reconciliation that began in Sarajevo all those years ago.

 


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