Protesters were out in big numbers on Friday in front of the British and Serb embassies in the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo. They were demanding London release Ejup Ganic. He's a former Bosnian president and Muslim leader who was detained after landing at Heathrow airport on Monday. For Bosnia's Muslims and much of the West, he's a hero and respected statesman. For the Serbs, he's a war criminal and they want London to hand him over to face justice. The tug-of-war over Ganic comes as Radovan Karadzic has made eye-raising remarks to the UN war crimes tribunal, including a claim that a picture purporting to show a Serb concentration camp in Bosnia is a fabrication. For the Western media, Karadzic is mad, and the Serbs wanting to try Ganic are trying to duck sole culpability for all the bloodletting as Yugoslavia disintegrated in the early 1990s.
In the case of Ganic, the Serbs want to charge him with the death of 42 soldiers on May 3, 1992 when Ganic commanded an ambush on a Yugoslav army convoy.
A day earlier, Serb Yugoslav Army troops seized then Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic as he flew into Sarajevo airport after talks in Lisbon with EU honchos.
The Serb Yugoslav Federal Army wanted to use Izetbegovic to seal a deal on safe passage of Federal troops out of their barracks in central Sarajevo under UN protection.
Events at the time are presented in this BBC clip.
For the Economist, right or wrong, the charges should be swept under the carpet, and admonishes the Serbs for "digging up the past."
Christian Schwarz-Schilling, a German diplomat who served as the international administrator in Bosnia in 2006-2007, suggested the Serbs got what was coming to them, launching an attack on Sarajevo a day early to the convoy shooting.
In telling remarks to the DPA news agency, Schwarz-Schilling said the Serb attempt to prosecute Ganic, "reflects Serbia's continuous attempt to avert the blame for atrocities committed during the war and allocate some of the responsibility to other former Yugoslav republics."
There you have it in a nutshell. Serbia must accept complete responsibility for the collapse and bloodshed that engulfed the former Yugoslavia. Even apportioning "some" blame to others is verboten.
If any crimes were committed against them, they pale in comparison to what the Serbs did, and, therefore, should be dismissed.
Diana Johnstone, author of Fools' Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO and Western Delusions, has poked plenty of holes in the official narrative, and, as a result, has committed the sin of "revising" the story as new facts come to light, not understanding once the script is written, it cannot be edited.
Johnstone, has raised shackles in polite circles by questioning some of the circumstances surrounding the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.
Such questions are virtually taboo. Srebrenica has become a sacred symbol of collective guilt, and to raise the slightest question is to be instantly condemned as an apologist for frightful crimes , or as a "holocaust denier".
Here's just a bit of what has not filtered out on the story of Srebrenica.
The general public did not know that Srebrenica, described as a "safe area", was not in fact simply a haven for refugees, but also a Muslim military base. The general public did not know what Lord Owen knew and recounted in his important 1995 book, Balkan Odyssey (p.143), namely that in April 1993, Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic was extremely anxious to prevent Bosnian Serb forces from overrunning Srebrenica.
Johnstone does not doubt Muslim men were killed there, but questions whether it was a 'genocide' as charged.
Karadzic at his trial at The Hague, took on a few other taboo topics, and was summarily pilloried and lampooned by the Western press.
Western press were apoplectic when Karadzic questioned the stories of Serb "death camps" in Bosnia, and, specifically, a well know photo purporting to prove their existence. The ITN photo of the "thin man behind barbed wire" catapulted public opinion against the Serbs, tenderizing them for accepting NATO military action against the Serbs in Bosnia and their 'death camps.'
And it worked.
Phil Davison, a highly-respected correspondent from The Independent, who has covered all sides in the conflict, says, "Things had gone slightly quiet. Suddenly there were these death camps/concentration camps stories. They were an exaggeration. I'm not excusing the Serbs, but don't forget there was a blockade on Serbia at the time and there was not a lot of food around for anyone, Serbs included."
One of the journalists who took part in what Karadzic claims was a forgery is Ed Vulliamy.
The Guardian gave Vulliamy lots of ink to make his case.
But besides lots of invective and ad hominen attacks, Vulliamy really doesn't address the main charge: were the men in the photo imprisoned behind a barbed wire fence in a camp or not?
To Vulliamy, this is just minutiae.
As with Holocaust revisionists who talk about the thermal capacity of bricks at Auschwitz, the argument revolved around minutiae – it was all about which side of a pole wire was attached.
A German journalist Thomas Deichmann had pointed out that the wire fence did not enclose the men in the photos. Rather, it was part of an agricultural enclosure on the edge of the camp. The ITN crew itself went inside the enclosure to take photos of the "thin man" through the wire fence.
Deichmann called this "the photo that fooled the world".
But why take his word, or Vulliamy, watch this video for yourself to see, literally, who's telling the truth.
So, still think Karadzic is just a crank?
Sadly for much of Western 'respectable' society, Karadzic will remain just that.
What Karadzic is saying flies in the face of everything they've read or heard on the news, if they were even paying attention, that is.
The Serbs lost the p.r. battle long ago. That's not surprising.
In his book, First Do No Harm, David N. Gibbs notes the Serbs relied on a small non-profit p.r. firm in Chicago to get their story out while the Croats and Muslims were more savvy, hiring the New York-based firm Ruder-Finn Global Communications.
Ruder-Finn's efforts, says Gibbs, were key in winning over public opinion against the Serbs and with the Bosnian Muslims and Croats.
And the images of "concentration camps" in Bosnia, Gibbs says, "won" the Serbs a formidable foe in the U.S.: the Jewish lobby.
In a 1993 interview with the Jewish magazine Midstream, James Harff, president at the time of Ruder-Finn, boasted of getting Jewish opinion on the side of the Croats and Bosnian Muslims.
"When the Jewish organizations entered the game on the side of the [Muslim] Bosnians, we could promptly equate the Serbs with the Nazis in the public mind. Nobody understood what was happening in Yugoslavia... But in a single move, we were able to present a simple story of good guys and bad guys, which would hereafter play itself... 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 images of Nazi Germany and the gas chambers of Auschwitz. The emotional charge was so powerful nobody could go against it."
Events of the past few days prove Harff was right.
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