The Washington Post
December 27,1992

Peter Maass

ZENICA, BOSNIA — Before the local Serb warlord took Jasna away from her apartment to rape her on June 9, he told her not to cry. , Jasna a Muslim schoolgirl, would be safe with him.

Then, Jasna, 17, said in a lengthy interview here, the Serb ordered her, her 15-year-old sister and an 18-year-old friend into a car and drove them to a motel in their home town of Visegrad. The notorious Bosnian Serb White Eagle militia had just seized Visegrad, and Jasna sensed in a terrifying instant that the victors were going to treat women as spoils of war.

The girls were taken to the Vilina Vlas motel, which has been described by the Slavic Muslim-led Bosnian government as one of the Serbs’ alleged “rape motels.” Jasna was locked in one room and her friend was locked in another. Jasna’s younger sister, Emina, was put in a room across the hall. A few hours later, Jasna heard her sister moaning and sobbing. She never saw her again.

The warlord, Milan Lukic, who has been well-known locally for years, came into Jasna’s room, put a table in front of the door and told her to undress.

“He said that if I didn’t do what he wanted, I would never go home,” Jasna recalled, speaking in a nervous but steady voice. “Then he ordered me to take off my clothes. I didn’t want to do that. He said I must, that it would be better to take my clothes off myself, or else he would do it and he would be violent.”

Jasna paused in her narration. She tightened her hold on the hand of her older sister, who is a student in Zenica and sat next to her throughout the interview, which was conducted in this government-held city in an empty pizzeria decorated with a few paltry Christmas ornaments. Jasna stared hard at a spot on the tablecloth and resumed speaking.

“I started to cry. He said I was lucky to be with him. He said I could have been thrown into the river with rocks tied around my ankles. But I didn’t want to do it. He got angry and cursed and said, ‘I’m going to bring in 10 soldiers.’ ”

And so Jasna, who said she had never had a boyfriend, tried to stop crying as she was raped.

According to the Bosnian government, more than 30,000 women have been raped in this former Yugoslav republic’s nine-month-old war, with some of the victims as young as 12.

The government, partly supported by testimony from Muslim victims and captured Bosnian Serb soldiers, has accused the Serbs of employing rape as a tactic to “boost morale” among the victorious fighters and humiliate Bosnian women and their families. A captured Serb soldier in Sarajevo, the capital, has told journalists that men in his unit were ordered to rape. The soldier, Borislav Herak, admitted violating two Muslim women at a “rape motel” outside Sarajevo and then killing them.

The practice of mass rape has been condemned by the United Nations and the European Community. Each organization is sending investigative teams to the former Yugoslavia to interview rape victims and determine the extent of sexual crimes here. EC leaders described these practices earlier this month as “acts of unspeakable brutality,” but the number of such incidents has not been confirmed.

Most Muslim rape victims who have survived their ordeals are unwilling to talk to anyone — spouses, siblings and especially journalists — about what they have been through. Their code of silence may make it difficult for investigators to collect firsthand testimony.

One hindrance to disclosure is the resentment that many Muslims feel toward Western reporters trying to investigate reports about this latest atrocity in the Bosnian war. The Bosnian government is publicizing the rape issue in an effort to galvanize support for its fight against the Serbs. But many lower-level officials and ordinary people view the Western interest in mass rape as an example of how the West loves to be entertained with lurid tales of Bosnia’s misery — and then do nothing about it.

Jasna, who escaped Visegrad a month after being raped, agreed to talk on the condition that her last name not be divulged because her younger sister is, if not dead, still in Serb captivity. Jasna said there was one reason why she decided to talk: “I want people to know the truth.” After a moment, she added, “I was lucky. I survived.”

As in virtually all other rape cases, there was no way to independently corroborate Jasna’s story, since there were no witnesses and the warlord who she said raped her could not be reached.

The trouble in Visegrad reached a climax in early June when the White Eagle militia, which has been linked to some of the worst war crimes in Bosnia, took control of the Muslim city, once a lovely tourist draw on the Drina River near the Serbian border. The White Eagles began rounding up and killing fighting-age Muslim men, so most of them fled to the surrounding forests to wage a guerrilla war. The women and children were left behind.

Lukic, who is described as a tall, handsome and athletic Serb and is said by the Bosnian government to have led the “ethnic cleansing” operation in Visegrad, came to Mersiha’s building on June 9 to inspect its vacant apartments. About 11:30 p.m., he entered the apartment where Jasna, her younger sister and mother were staying with friends. According to Jasna, Lukic asked how old they were and, seeing the girls tremble, told them not to worry.

Lukic ordered the three girls to come with him so that they could help identify some Muslim youths being held at the city police station. When Jasna’s mother pleaded with Lukic not to take the girls, he became enraged and started overturning furniture. “I am the law,” he screamed.

The three girls went downstairs and got into Lukic’s car. They did not go to the police station. They were taken to the Vilina Vlas motel, which has 20 to 30 rooms. They did not see any other women there except for middle-aged Serb receptionists, who were joking with soldiers milling around the lobby.

The girls initially were locked in one room together. But after about 10 minutes, Lukic came to the room with a soldier and told Jasna’s 18-year-old friend to go with him for “questioning.” Mersiha overheard Lukic tell the soldier in the corridor to “question her, but not too much.” Other soldiers in the hallway began laughing.

The same scenario unfolded with Jasna’s sister, Emina. Lukic entered with a soldier and told 15-year-old Emina to leave with the soldier. He gave the same order — question her, but “not too much.” There was more laughter in the corridor.

Lukic left Jasna alone in the room for about 10 minutes. Then he came back, put the table in front of the door and gave the order to undress, followed by the threat of rape by 10 soldiers if she did not comply.

After the rape was over, Jasna began crying again. She said in the interview that she was crying for her younger sister, not for herself. It did not matter. Lukic taunted her, she said. “What do you want to do to me?” he sneered. “Stuff me into a big artillery gun and shoot me to Turkey?”

Jasna said Lukic fell asleep. Some soldiers knocked on the door and one of them shouted to Lukic, “We know what you’ve got in there and we want it too.” Lukic told them to go away.

Then Jasna heard the voice.

“At about 3 o’clock, I heard a loud cry when the door across the hall was opened. The girl inside that room started to cry. I recognized the voice. It was my sister.”

Jasna has not seen or heard from her sister since that moment.

At about 5 a.m., Lukic ordered Jasna to get dressed, and then, much to her surprise, he drove her home. Jasna’s terrified mother was waiting for her in the apartment building’s entryway.

“I decided to not tell her that I was raped,” Jasna explained. “She was crying and asked me, ‘Where is your sister and your friend?’ I told her they were okay, they were just staying overnight. I didn’t want to hurt my mother.”

Jasna and her mother stayed in Visegrad for a month more, hoping that Emina would be freed and sent home. Even though the town’s Muslim population was under virtual house arrest, Jasna’s mother went to the police station almost every day. One time, a Serb policeman simply aimed his loaded gun at her and said, “Leave.” Another time, she saw Lukic there.

“Lukic said to her, ‘What do you want? At least I returned one of your daughters,’ ” according to Jasna.

With few Muslims left in Visegrad, Jasna and her mother had little choice but to leave in a bus convoy in the middle of July. Their best hope is that Emina is still in Serb captivity. Their worst fear is that she is dead.

Jasna now lives in a student hostel in Zenica with her older sister, Meliha, who was in this central Bosnian town when the rapes allegedly occurred. Instead of remaining silent and withdrawing, she said she has repeatedly talked about her ordeal.

Even so, Jasna said she has nightmares every night and must sleep in the same room with her sister. She gets frightened whenever Meliha goes out. Jasna told her story reluctantly. She avoided talking about the rape for the first 45 minutes of the interview, but then it came tumbling out, almost nonstop.

“I want to tell the Westerners the real truth,” she said. “I want them to stop these crimes. There are plenty of girls in a worse position than me.”


  1. Christian terrorism is what this is! The Bosnians were right in their assumption that the “west” would be entertained by such atrocities and rape-stories but would do absolutely nothing to help. The “western” ways of justice are based on “witnesses” and “confirmation” of these “allegations.” Give me a fucking break! If the girls were Jewish, the “western” media will be writing about such atrocities daily and demanding that these girls and their families be saved and their oppressors brought to justice quickly.

    Notice that the story is a simple statement of fact: nothing here is leading one to believe that there’s a World Tribunal that is even doing anything about it! Yet and almost daily, we are fed with holocaust stories, movies, books and articles as if it happened yesterday!

    Unfortunately, in this day and age only acts by some uneducated Muslim nuts are considered terrorism. Anyone else, be it Hindu, Chinese, American or whatever, will be simply labeled as “an extremist.”



  2. Abdul Majid Says:

    As I said elsewherer before, what kind of mother produced such a monster like this Milan Lukic’; and in any case she did ay lousy job of child-raising, and if she hasn’t died of shame, and is still living in Bosnia people such as that should be ostracized.

  3. Abdul Majid Says:

    I could not agree with you more. I heard that remark even back in 1992, and I believe it’s true, if the Bosniaks had been Jewish, or Protestant, or whatever, the Western powers would have rushed to their help. But being Muslims… oh, let the Serbs finish them off quickly and return to business. Then teh Serbs were, all the atrocities they commited notwithstanding, not successful in erasing the Bosniaks from the map. So the West denied the Bosniaks the right to self-defense by not liftingthe arms embargo, and what they were winningthey red-flagged them , forced them to hand back territory they had liberated from the Serbs, and forced them to accept the Dayton agreement which handed teh Serbs ecerything they wanted and will eventualy achieve the destruction of Bosnia.
    Justice delayed is justice denied. The Bosniaks will not go away quickly and they will not allow themselves to be turned into the Palestinians of Europe: a people without a country and without rights. So if the military option is the only way out and teh only way to win their country back is by taking revenge on the Bosnian Serbs, even if it takess 50, 100 or 1000 years they have my understanding. It may be said that revenge is morally wrong, but did the Serbs care? So why should then the Bosniaks? After all, no Bosniak or no Turk did to Serb women what Milan Lukic did. But I wish for three things: 1.) that I can live to see that retribution happen 2.) that the accomplices of Milan Lukic and other such henchmen who still live in Bosnia are captured (their names, faces adn whereabouts are known to Bosniak), not given a chance to flee to Serbia; and then summarily executed. 3. That I can contribute anything, ANYthing at all that such evil people and their defenders are terminated. Why? Because their guilt is already established, and they did not give their victims a fair trial either, and they might die of old age before they are condemned or released for good behavior or humanitarian reasons. And these are sociopaths, plain evil and it is necessary in order to protect law-abiding people from such mad dogs that they must be rendered harmless. Of Milan Lukic and his ilk I can only say: they live like mad dogs and should suffer the fate of mad dogs. The only thing such people as Milan Lukic and the others described in the above article merit is a branch of the next tree and a piece of rope, or a sharpened stake. I have a little daughter too, and should anybody do her any harm I would see to it that he meets a hideous death, no matter what the consequences might be for me. Such people have given up their human condition, they are mad dogs, and if any of them could at least UNDERSTAND what he has done, how could he go on living with himself? Either he’d go mad or shoot or hang himself. The fact that they have not done so only proves that they have black souls and no heart. They should be hunted down to the last man. No matter where they are. To this end the Bosniaks should mount something like the Mossad assassination teams. I know that this is probably not justice but revenge, but since the Bosniaks are not given justice anyway, especially the raped women, it would be better to do it that way, as a warning to anybody who might try the same. But, the Bosniaks must prove themselves to be better, so in the Bosnian army command’s place I would formally and expressly forbid the Bosniak soldiers to commit any act of gratuitous violence, especially against Serb women and girls, on pain of death. But for the perpetrators of genocide and for their backers and supporters – no quarter and nop mercy! And as for Milan Lukic, he should be handed to teh Bosniaks! And be tried fro mass rape in Sarajevo! and condemned to at least 400 years, so he must spend the rest of his natural life in jail! And after being sentenced they should put a sign stating his name and hios crimes around his neck and parade him through the streets of Sarajevo, for peopl etop jeer, spit and throw objects at him. Adn after that he should be locked into an underground cell without any natural light and stay there until he dies! No parole, no letters, no parcels from his family, no visits, no books, no radio nor TV nor music, no walk in the prison courtyard, not even a word from his jailers. And after death his body should be burnt and the ashes scattered. So that noboddy mayn build this evil man a monument. Like was done with the Nazi war criminals (except, regrettably with Rudolf Hess, and his grave has become sort of a Nazi shrine. Hope somebody would blow it up. But thismistake must not be repeated in Bosnia.)

  4. […] during the 1992-1995 Bosnian war. The conflict had a disproportionate impact on women, who were targeted for sexual violence as part of a Serbian ethnic cleansing campaign against Muslim members of the population known as […]

  5. Vanessa Ryngnga Says:

    I can’t even type, I am so heart broken by the story. Jasna, if you are reading this, my heart goes out to you. Those monsters who did those heinous things are NOT CHRISTIANS. They are demon possessed devils who think that women are toys and inferior to men.
    I will be praying for you & the others. I love and care for you Jasna & for women who have been brutally & inhumanely attacked. I know that my God is a God of justice. He says, “vengeance is mine”….not ours but His’.
    I emphasize, just because people say they’re Christian, it doesn’t mean they are. Murderers, rapists, etc do not know who God is. Please do not lump all Christians with those monsters. I apologise for the seemingly lack of Christian support on this issue. PLEASE FORGIVE US. Christians are not perfect, we are so in need of help and mercy just like anybody else.

  6. Gabrielle Zagarri Says:

    My dear girl, i know your pain. People of the west can be so blinded by tradgedies like this. I hope you will read this, because i am going to tell you a story.
    My mother was born in Mexico City. The only girl and youngest of 5.
    When she was 3 years old, my oldest uncle began to sexually abuse her. He was 14.
    This continued every night until she was 12 years old. I dont know exactly what he did to her…but i also do not want to know.
    From then until she was 19, she was raped several times by strangers, friends, and old boyfriends.
    She lives in fear that such a thing will happen to myself and my sister. Every night she has night mares of that monster.
    As far as i am concerned, the man who violated you is just as bad as that monster.
    If one day you are blessed with children, use this experience to help you protect them, and be better prepared for the future.
    Women are perhaps the strongest creatures of this world, and although this has happened to you, never forget that.

  7. […] during the 1992-1995 Bosnian war. The conflict had a disproportionate impact on women, who were targeted for sexual violence as part of a Serbian ethnic cleansing campaign against Muslim members of the population known as […]

  8. Hi Jasna
    My name is Zumra i am also Bosnian muslim. I left Bosnia (Banja Luka)when the war started in 1992. At the time I was 12 years old and my older sister was 15 years old. I remember the look on my fathers face he was so scared that Serbs will take us away and do something horrible to us.
    I am so sorry what happened to you and your sister. As i was reading your story i cryed i felt your pain in a way.
    What they did to you and other women in Bosnia is unforgetable and unforgivable.
    They are MONSTERS!!!!

  9. Muslim Girl Says:

    God bless you and all the innocent people who have been affected by the actions of these monsters. People forget that this life does not last forever, and they will be held accountable for their disgusting actions.

  10. May I just say what a relief to find somebody that actually understands what they’re talking about on the web. You definitely understand how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More and more people have to look at this and understand this side of your story. I can’t believe you are not more popular because you most certainly possess the gift.

  11. The wounds never heal without justice. It is as simple if the international court doesn’t do its job, God will do the justice; sooner or later, God will!!!!!

  12. My heart is with you sister Jasna. And Dua (Pray) for you, Emina, Meliha and your family and the Muslim victims. Although you treat as shameful way by some demon but you still a part of our body. Body of Muslim. Your shame is our shame, your pain is our pain. Thanks to Vanessa. you have a good heart. And Gabrielle, Zumra and Nahid and all you post good comments. May Allah give better change and gift.

  13. The only justice for these war crimes is to track down the men responsible and kill them

  14. […] kvinnliga befolkning drabbade särsklit hårt av pogromerna som tog plats i Visegrad. Hotellet Vilna Vlas, strax utanför Visegrad förvandlades till ett våldtäktsläger, där ett stor antal övergrepp […]

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