Belgrade May 3, 2006
General Ratko Mladic, the world’s most famous living war criminal, has not been arrested today.
The president of the war tribunal in Hague, Carla del Ponte announced today that Serbia is in the dog house again: negotiations with European Union again suspended, US monetary help too…and many other repressive measures to follow, called the invisible wall of sanctions. Carla del Ponte said angrily: President Kostunica deceived me, only a month ago he said they were closing in with the operation….
Mladic is hiding in Belgrade, moving from one flat to another, helped by the locals. President Kostunica in return read a short notice for his people, not much really, except that he did his very best, which is next to nothing.
A Swiss radio broadcast is interviewing me: how do I feel about Carla’s harsh statement against Serbia? Great, I say. She could do better, and this is not her first time. But who cares, what practical difference does it make if Mladic is hiding in Serbia, or in Switzerland or Moscow, or anywhere on the globe? Interpol exists. The secret police can go anywhere, hitmen are everywhere…
One minister of the current government did resign, the only one to speak of responsibility and credibility. I am not a politician, judge or police officer, yet I feel more responsibility than some of these people, regarding this issue, which is once again turning the wheel of history backwards. Thanks to this failure, our children will grow in a xenophobic, homophobic, nationalist clerical society. One day they will justly get rid of us, their parents, for being so useless. An old mythological ritual in Bosnia-Herzegovina, part of the country where my father comes from, is the performance of “lapot.” Lapot is the execution of a useless member of society with his own consent. The executioner and the feeble victim would climb to the top of a mountain, some isolated place with a nice view. Then a loaf of round bread would be placed on the head of the old man or woman. With one deft stroke of an axe, the head would be sent off rolling down the hill together with the loaf. The remaining part of the body would be buried with all due honors.
Mladic will never give himself in, he is a soldier. He will commit suicide first, says my father. He is not a soldier, he is a war criminal. How can one appeal to his “sense of duty” as President Kostunica does, asking him to turn himself in? Well, if Mladic kills himself, does that end the issue? asks my father again. Sure it would. Well, why doesn’t he, then… There were times when people in this region committed suicide for much less than genocide, for a minor public shame like bankruptcy. When my grandfather went broke, my grandmother had a hard time convincing him to ignore the social pressure to kill himself. Mladic’s daughter committed suicide in the very heyday of his war career. Many guesses why she did that: some nationalists even blamed the press for writing things about Mladic that his family could not bear. How easy it is to imagine being the niece of Hitler, the wife of Stalin, the daughter of Mladic: German women, Russian women, and Serbian women today. The women who refuse to perish of their shame become the rubble women, those who clean the history of crime.