Saturday, July 10, 2010

Srebrenica Still Clouded In Fog Of Propaganda 15 Years Later On

July 11 marks the 15th anniversary of what the World has come to know as the Srebrenica massacre, when up to 8,000 Muslim men and boys were rounded up and killed by Serb paramilitary forces in what has been called the worst European massacre since World War II.  In fact, the killings have been labeled an act of "genocide" by the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, (ICTY).  For Western media these facts are rarely, if ever, contested or discussed. The chronology of events, figures et al are cemented as part of a solemn narrative, and to question that script is an act bordering on blasphemy.  Despite that, nagging questions still hang over what all agree were tragic events.

The highlight of the ceremony at the Srebrenica Genocide memorial will be the reburial of 775 recently identified victims -- 774 Muslims and one Croat.  They will join the 3,749 already interned there. 

This raises the most obvious question: how can 'only' 3,749 victims of a reported 8,000 plus be buried fifteen years after the event? 

How can it be that after such a long time meticulously combing the hillsides in and around Srebrenica more victims of Europe's worst massacre have not been identified and buried?

Supporters of the standard script would say the process of identify the victims is time-consuming and painstaking. 

However, Stephen Karganovic, notes forensic specialists from the Yugoslav tribunal have tried their hardest to hit their 'target' of 8,000.

Official exhumations began soon after the event, in 1996, and they continued until 2002. They were conducted by international forensic specialists under the auspices of the ICTY Office of the Prosecutor. In relation to the genocide victim figure of 8,000 that was announced at the start, and which sounded rather like a target for the forensic specialists should use to measure their field performance, the actual results of the exhumations were quite meager. By the end of the process, when prosecution forensic teams ceased operating, all they had to show for their labor were 3,568 autopsy reports (which turned out to not necessarily be as many bodies), clearly not even half of the „target“ figure.

Karganovic points out the legal team for Radislav Krstic -- the first Bosnian Serb commander convicted by the ICTY for Srebrenica -- went over page-by-page the prosecutions -- by then -- 3,568 autopsy reports. 

Dr. Simić meticulously categorized mass grave remains by degree of completeness and pattern of injury. The picture which emerged from his investigation was most contrary to the prosecution’s case, yet it was the prosecution’s own evidence that he was dissecting. In the end, he canvassed the number of paired femur bones[6] in the autopsy reports in an effort to determine how many individuals were buried in Srebrenica mass graves, having died of all causes. He found a total of 1,919 right and 1,923 left femur bones. Thus, with a very high degree of reliability it was established that in total there were under 2,000 individuals in all the Srebrenica mass graves exhumed by the prosecution. The patterns of injury were in some cases consistent with combat death, and in others with possible execution.

So where did the 8,000 figure come from?

Edward S. Herman tells us:

The 8,000 figure was first provided by the Red Cross, based on their crude estimate that the BSA had captured 3,000 men and that 5,000 were reported “missing.” [35] It is well established that thousands of those “missing” had reached Tuzla or were killed in the fighting, [36] but in an amazing transformation displaying the eagerness to find the Bosnian Serbs evil and the Muslims victims, the “reaching safety/killed-in-action” basis of being missing was ignored and the missing were taken as executed! This misleading conclusion was helped along by the Red Cross’s reference to the 5,000 as having “simply disappeared,” and its failure to correct this politically biased usage and claim despite its own recognition that “several thousand” refugees had reached Central Bosnia.

This raises a further question: how to determine who was executed in the 'massacre' and who was killed as a result of combat? 

Combat?  What combat. Srebrenica was a UN safe haven, where huddled Bosnian Muslims had fled to escape the bloodthirsty Bosnian Serbs, you say.

Never mentioned in the West is that Bosnian Muslim 'fighter' Naser Oric and his thugs had used it as a base years before the 1995 'massacre' to launch raids on nearby Serb villages.

Author, Diana Johnstone, has said the Dutch soldier tasked with protecting Srebrenica were stuck in a no-win situation. 

"The Dutch soldiers were not supposed to "go to war", but to act as peace-keepers … where there was no peace agreement. This ambiguity put them in an impossible situation to start with. The basic problem was that the "safe area" of Srebrenica was never demilitarized, and was used by Muslim soldiers as a base to attack surrounding Serb villages. When the Serbs attacked, apparently in a vengeful mood, there was chaos, as the Dutch soldiers found themselves caught in the cross-fire while most of the Muslim soldiers abandoned the town to try to flee to Tuzla."

According to the most thorough study of Srebrenica events, by Cees Wiebes for the Netherlands Institute for War Documentation report, the Bosnian Serb forces set out in July 1995 to reduce the area held by Bosnian Muslim forces on the outskirts of Srebrenica, and only decided to capture the town itself when they unexpectedly found it undefended.

"The VRS [Republika Srpska Army] advance went so well that the evening of July 9 saw an important 'turning point' [...] The Bosnian Serbs decided that they would no longer confine themselves to the southern part of the enclave, but would extend the operation and take the town of Srebrenica itself. Karadzic was informed that the results achieved now put the Drina Corps in a position to take the town; he had expressed his satisfaction with this and had agreed to a continuation of the operation to disarm the 'Muslim terrorist gangs' and to achieve a full demilitarization of the enclave. In this order, issued by Major General Zdravko Tolimir, it was also stated that Karadzic had determined that the safety of UNPROFOR soldiers and of the population should be ensured. Orders to this effect were to be provided to all participating units. [...] The orders made no mention of a forced relocation of the population. [...] A final instruction, also of significance, was that the population and prisoners of war should be treated in accordance with the Geneva Convention. On July 11 all of Srebrenica fell into the hands of the Bosnian Serbs."

This video documents that and the Western press' culpability for spinning a story recounted mainly from the vantage point of the Bosnian Muslims, annointed the 'victim' in a bloody conflict in which few were innocent.

Like all conflicts, the numbers were massaged and manipulated by both sides.  In the case of Bosnia, it was the Bosnian government which tinkered the most, at one point of the conflict, saying an astronomical 200,000 thousand had been killed.  

The International Red Cross put the figures at between 20 and 30,000. 

The video notes a CIA report that 90 percent of 'ethnic cleansing' had been carried out by Serbs was only done in areas seized by the Bosnian Serbs.  This despite the fact, 40 percent of the refugees of the war were Bosnian Serbs. 

But the CIA was feeding figures the Clinton administration in Washington wanted to hear as it was eager to up military assistance to Bosnia's Muslims and Croats.

Ed Herman explains:

The events of Srebrenica and claims of a major massacre were extremely helpful to the Clinton administration, the Bosnian Muslim leadership, and Croatian authorities. Clinton was under political pressure in 1995 both from the media and from Bob Dole to take more forceful action in favor of the Bosnian Muslims, [2] and his administration was eager to find a justification for more aggressive policies. Clinton officials 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. Walker’s immediate report to Madeleine Albright caused her to exult that “spring has come early this year.” [3] Srebrenica allowed the “fall to come early” for the Clinton administration in the summer of 1995.

Srebrenica has become a defining event used to justify what happens when the West looks the other way and does not resort to NATO-led "humanitarian' intervention a la Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq. 

As such a critical pillar of this narrative, it will never be questioned in 'respectable' circles and those who do will be forever villified.

Despite that, the questions will remain.

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