The Likes of Me

The Suitcase
in English, French
A couple of days ago, the two former members of the Croatian military won a “not guilty” sentence in the Hague international war crime tribunal.

I was not present in the general headquarters of the Croatian army while they were deciding on their “Operation Storm” action of 1995. I don’t know if the telephone rang there. I also don’t know if President Bill Clinton personally told them to go ahead with the largest land offensive since World War II, because the CIA would help. That is what certain Serbian newspapers published recently.

I have a remarkable lack of knowledge about world paramilitary conspiracies, secret chambers in the Vatican, mysterious double-agents doing their jobs badly… Generally, the things I know are in the public domain, because people said these things publicly and I took notes, or because I was just personally standing there.

Consider those days in August 1995, when that “Operation Storm” took place. I stood at the border between Croatia and Serbia, watching the endless caravan of people fleeing on truckbeds, in their cars, on foot, in nightgowns, in torn Serbian uniforms, with guns and babies. I talked to those people. I took photos: I personally saw newborn refugees carried in shoe boxes, babies who were born during the exodus of ethnic Serbs fleeing the Croatian army.

I saw angry Serbian soldiers tearing off their military insignia because they were given orders by their military to abandon the region without fighting. I also saw people being given food and shelter by the local Serbian population. I heard the refugee stumbling towards an unknown destiny, since they had lost everything.

Operation Storm put a swift and sudden end in to four years of fighting for Serbian autonomy inside Croatia. The plans for a Greater Serbia torn from the fabric of Yugoslavia had been crushed by 150,000 Croatian Army troops. I heard the fleeing Serbs saying how rich and happy they had been in their rural homes. They had Croatian accents — if you ask me, that is, a woman with a Belgrade accent. They’d been born in Croatia of a people established there for centuries, but they were keenly aware of being Serbian Orthodox non-Catholic non-Croats.

They rejected a Croatian identity and passport, preferring their own rules and ideas. Their most important aspiration was to live within the Greater Serbia promised to them by Milosevic and his generals. Some were kissing the Serbian flag and the picture of Milosevic. Most of them were tearing the flag and swearing at the broken promises and the reeling military defeat of their beloved leader.

Later, I saw the endless caravan of Krajina refugees being routed by the Serbian police outside Belgrade. Only those Serbs who had relatives in the capital were allowed enter the city. Naturally scarcely any of them could prove that. People within Belgrade did not see or hear the refugees, except for what the official Milosevic tv or radio allowed. Of course that was a thoroughly censored version of events.

I don’t know where those people ended up. Their exact number is vague, it varies in the telling, from two hundred thousand to half a million displaced ethnic refugees.

I confess

I confess, in Srebrenica a genocide happened, i confess Vukovar is not a serbian city, I confess that R Mladic and Radovan Karadzic are war criminals


Srebrenica Genocide 16 Years After

In English Mapping of Genocide

FAMA team
Team leader: Suada Kapić

Srebrenica burial by Jasmina Tesanovic ( The Scorpions)
July 11, 2007

Why did I expect it to be easier this year? Going to Srebrenica was never easy. It is called a “high risk business” by the local Serbian police, even in Belgrade.

On the night before the Srebrenica anniversary, we Women in Black had a commemorative standing in the Square of the Republic, as has been our ritual for the past 12 years. Standing soberly in black with lit candles, holding the banner SREBRENICA Not to be Forgotten, we stood in the city’s largest public square, without press coverage because the Serbian press much prefers to forget.

One hundred and three standing women were guarded by one hundred policemen, almost a one-to-one action. We were separated as a political virus from our non-existent audience, though crowds in past years have insulted us and beaten us.

Srebrenica is now a closed issue, according to local officials. After the sentence in the Hague tribunal last May which declares the Serbia government not guilty of genocide — merely guilty of not preventing it — the Serbian authorities as well as the local silent majority can live in denial with official global approval. More

From The Hague, The Hague

In English, na srpskom, espanol

Mladic in The Hague

Now that the Bosnian Serb general Ratko Mladic is safely behind the bars in the Hague international war tribunal, some questions are becoming more urgent. More

Mladic Arrest; The Silence of the Ghosts

In English , in Spanish
The self proclaimed “God of genocide” in Srebrenica, the Serbian ethnic general Ratko Mladic was arrested today in a small village eighty kilometers from Belgrade.

Mladic sheltered there with a relative, and lived under a false name. For years on end he hid like a house-mouse, and was arrested with a similar meekness. More

Serbia and United Europe

in English, in italiano
It was a historic day for Serbia, October 25, 2010, when the European Union accepted the candidacy of the Serbian pro-European government. Years will pass before Serbia becomes an official member of the EU, and yet, from today onward, life will radically change for us Serbian citizens.

Already, a year ago, when the Schengen visas were first abolished, the Serbian situation transformed. Serbs were treated better at the European borders, in European banks, even in daily encounters with minor officials such as ticket-checkers on metros. After two decades of sanctions, isolation and legalized crime, Serbia is at the doors of the Union, the fortress of western democracy. Europe is a political structure with human rights, a functional legal system, relative monetary stability, and an abhorrence of racism and war crimes. In short, an empire with civilized standards, which the new Serbia has tried, with great difficulties, to implement in recent years. One step forward, two backwards.

Zoran Djindjic successfully deposed Milosevic, the butcher of the Balkans, but Djindjic himself was assassinated in 2003. After this grievous loss, another Serbian nationalism emerged. It no longer clung to the dusty Communist rhetoric of Milosevic, but rushed for the doors of the newly-fundamentalist Serbian Orthodox church. Church officials had been deeply involved in the war crimes of the Bosnians Serbs during the ethnic cleansing. A transition from totalitarianism to fundamentalism was not a difficult step.

Srebrenica Anniversary: The Design of Crime

Today is the 15th anniversary of the genocide in Srebrenica, Bosnia, where more than 8000 Muslim male civilians were killed and their bodies buried in mass graves scattered all over the region. Slobodan Milosevic, the president of Serbia at the time of the killing, died in the Hague in 2006, before any verdict was reached in his trial. The UN Dutch troops present in the enclave of Srebrenica at the time, in order to protect the civilians, did not face any charges for failing in their duty. Radovan Karadzic, the Bosnian Serb leader responsible of  designing this crime  is currently on trial in The Hague, at the International War Crime Tribunal. General Ratko Mladic, whose troops carried out the massacre under his orders, is still at large.

In the year 2007, Serbia proper was found guilty of failing to prevent the genocide, but not for actually committing it. Many of the large number of people and troops involved in liquidating the Srebrenica prisoners never appeared before any court.  Others received very mild sentences for smaller misdeeds, such as the six members of the paramilitary troops “Scorpions.” More

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