NEWS & LETTERS, July-August 2005

Our Life and Times by Kevin A. Barry

Remember Srebrenica

Ten years ago, the outright genocide launched by the Serbian regime of Slobodan Milosevic reached its gory climax at Srebrenica, Bosnia.  As Serbian forces captured the town, General Ratko Mladic promised to spare the lives of all who surrendered their weapons.  Instead, he separated men and boys from their families and his forces coldly massacred all 7,000 of them. 

This vast operation involved meticulous planning, since it was carried out under the noses of a small force of Dutch United Nations peacekeepers, which actually helped Mladic separate off those who were to be killed.  Frantic pleas from the UN commander for more support had been ignored by the U.S. and European powers, which had declared the mainly Muslim population of Srebrenica a "safe zone."

This is part of the genocide for which Milosevic stands trial today at the International War Crimes Tribunal at The Hague.  This June, video footage of uniformed Serbian police executing unarmed prisoners surfaced.  Shown on Serbian TV, the video forced many to question the web of lies that Serbian nationalist propagandists, such as the philosopher Mihailo Markovic, had spun for years.  In this version of history, Serbs were the eternal victims, the eternal anti-fascist progressives.  In this mythic construct, charges of Serbian genocide or even war crimes were lies concocted by those who hated Serbia, by a supposed alliance of U.S. imperialists, Muslim fundamentalists, German neo-Nazis, and the Vatican. 

Serbia remains in deep denial that it continues to give refuge to Mladic and Radovan Karadzic, the two biggest war criminals besides Milosevic.  Gradually, Serbian opinion is moving toward a confrontation with its government’s criminal actions, and sentiment is beginning to turn against Mladic and Karadzic.

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