Archive for August, 2009

In Memoriam: Behija&Dzemo Zukic

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 11, 2009 by visegrad92

zukic behija

Image: The tombstone of Behija Zukic in Visegrad.

Image: Behija Zukic, famous businesswomen from Visegrad.

Behija and her husband Dzemo Zukic lived in Germany before returning to Visegrad where they opened up a few stores. They were well-known  and respected by everyone in Visegrad. They owned a brand new red Volkswagen Passat passenger vehicle. Witness VG-042 testified at the Hague:

“One day I went to the MUP building in town to get a pass  to leave town just to make sure we were safe.  I was on my way back to Dusce.  There were two roads.  One was next to the Drina River; it was an asphalt road, surfaced.  And then there was a macadam road parallel to the rail line, so we took that road in order not to meet any Chetniks on our way back.  As soon as I reached the Varda furniture factory, there’s a house there belonging to a man named Sevko Hodzic.  Dzemo Zukic and his Behija passed us, and then there was a white Fico driving behind us and it pulled over right outside Sevko Hodzic’s house.  Milan Lukic got out of that Fico vehicle and walked up to Vico [as interpreted] Zukic and his wife Behija.  He seized their car.  We walked on past the Varda factory to our homes.  I said, Dzemo, my dear, what was that?  And Behija told me one thing, Don’t ask a question.  Milan Lukic just took my car away.  And that was that.  We talked no more.”

Behija was shot and killed by Milan Lukic at her doorstep on 21 May 1992. Her husband Dzemo and son were taken away by Lukic and other members of Bosnian Serb Army’s Special Unit “Avengers” (“Osvetnici”). Behija was later buried in Straziste cemetery by her neighbors.

Her funeral would also be remembered by Visegrad’s Bosniaks. Zukic family’s TAM Truck which was seized by the Special Unit “Avengers”, drove up to the cemetery entrance and armed camouflaged Serb soldiers, members of the “Avengers”, got off the truck and started apprehending Bosniak men and shoving them onto the truck.  The other people present at the funeral started running in panic across the cemetery into the woods. Around 15 Bosniaks men were shoved onto the truck that day and have not been seen since.

Advertisements

Serbia involved in war crimes in Visegrad

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 6, 2009 by visegrad92

Natasa Kandic, the director of  “Fond for Humanitarian Law” in Belgrade gave a short interview to E-novine, (an online magazine) journalist Bojan Tončić. We have translated the most interesting parts. Read full article here.

Natasa Kandic. Photo by Dragan Kujundžić

Natasa Kandic. Photo by Dragan Kujundžić

All the officers who were in the Visegrad Brigade are pensioned here or are still in the Serbian Army. And the same thing is always repeated: Serbia did not take part in the war, but their officers did and their citizens did.

”It is very important that Milan and Sredoje Lukic were not indicted for command responsibility, they were the direct perpetrators of the most hideous war crimes”, says Natasa Kandic.

”Along with Milan Lukic were many other individuals, even women; sometimes he was a Serb, but when he was to be freed from jail in Belgrade then he was a citizen of another country. During the trial for  crimes committed  against Muslims from Sjeverin, we got a confirmation document that he was a member of the Republika Srpska Army. So he did not commit crimes that were not known of, Republika Srpska and Serbian authorities were fully aware of them. Every week he was in Belgrade, nobody had the intention to arrest him, because it was part of the strategy to full fill an aim with deportations and murders – the creation of  a Serb state.  So, Serbia is involved because all the officers who were in the Visegrad Brigade are pensioned here or are still in the Serbian Army. And the same thing is always repeated: Serbia did not part part in the war, but their officers did and their citizens did. And the officers and policemen who were present there,  refused to help those who survived the live pyres. In that police they were surely people from Serbia”, says Natasa Kandic.

A women from Zvornik who testified against Lukic, a protected witness, said that she was “unfortunately Serb”. “She said that one day she saw Milan Lukic and another man who represented himself as a student from Novi Sad, cutting a man with knifes. She saw Milan Lukic, leading armed children when he and Mitar Vasiljevic murdered Medo Mulahasic on the Drina Bridge, and teaching children how to shoot before that” , says Natasa Kandic


INTERVIEW: Greek journalist sued for writing about the presence of Greek paramilitaries in Bosnia

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 5, 2009 by visegrad92

August 5, 2009

Interviewer: Daniel Toljaga
Congress of North American Bosniaks

Picture: Takis Michas

Picture: Stavros Vitalis

On 27 July 2009 Mr. Stavros Vitalis, representing the Panhellenic Macedonian Front, filed a libel suit against the acclaimed journalist Mr. Takis Michas, best known for his authorship of the book “Unholy Alliance: Greece and Milosevic’s Serbia.” He is suing the journalist for describing- in the daily “Eleftherotypia” – Greek mercenaries as “paramilitaries who took part in the slaughter in Srebrenica.”

Mr. Vitalis is one of the leading Greek volunteers who have admitted taking part in the Srebrenica genocide. But, that’s not how he sees it.

In a statement distributed to the media, he claimed that the Greek volunteers who fought in Bosnia under the command of General Mladic were there in order to help the Serbs “who were being slaughtered by international gangs that were also stealing their houses, their country and their dignity.”

DANIEL TOLJAGA: Mr. Michas, thank you for agreeing to take part in this interview. To begin with, what is the Panhellenic Macedonian Front that has filed this suit against you through its representative Mr. Vitalis?

TAKIS MICHAS: It is a Greek nationalist political organization which also includes socialists and conservative former politicians. Up until now its central campaign theme has been its advocacy of the view that Macedonia along with everything related to it (history, symbols, etc.) is exclusively Greek.

DANIEL TOLJAGA: What exactly does Mr. Vitalis hope to achieve with this lawsuit?

TAKIS MICHAS: Bearing in mind that Karadzic’s trial will also be taking place next year, what they will be hoping is to create an alternative debate in which the substance of what happened at Srebrenica will be called into question. In other words, while the world is trying the war crimes perpetrated at Srebrenica, in Greece they will be putting the critics of the war crimes at Srebrenica on trial!

DANIEL TOLJAGA: Do you have any comments about the lawsuit and the press statements Mr. Vitalis has made?

TAKIS MICHAS: Yes. First of all Mr. Vitalis explicitly admits that Greeks (i.e. himself) took part in the planning and execution of the Serb “re-occupation” (as he calls it) of Srebrenica. As he says in his press statement “I was present with a group of senior Serb officers in all the operations for the re-occupation of Srebrenica by the Serbs”.

Secondly, Mr Vitalis admits that the recruitment of Greek volunteers for the war against the legitimate government of Bosnia took place with the implicit approval of the leading Greek politicians Andreas Papandreou and (to a lesser extent) Constantine Mitsotakis. As he puts it:

“The whole of Greece knows that the Greek volunteers had the broad support of Greek society as a whole as well as the support of politicians, mainly belonging to PASOK, because of the warm friendship between Andreas Papandreou and Radovan Karadzic. They also enjoyed the support of New Democracy, through the friendly diplomatic initiatives of Constantine Mitsotakis.”

This reinforces the point I have repeatedly made, namely that Greek support for the Serb war effort was not only moral, economic, diplomatic and political but also military.

DANIEL TOLJAGA: Was Mr. Vitalis present during and after the fall of Srebrenica when Greek paramilitaries hoisted the Greek flag over the town?

TAKIS MICHAS: Well in his own statement he said that together with high ranking Serb officers he took part in all the operations that dealt with the “reoccupation” (as he calls it) of Srebrenica. Now as to whether he was physically present in the hoisting of the flag this is something that only Mr. Mladic knows (and perhaps Mr. Karadzic)!

DANIEL TOLJAGA: It is interesting that he publicly admitted being present himself “in all the military operations” related to the “re-occupation” of Srebrenica. Do you have any idea why Mr. Vitalis has not been investigated for possible war crimes?

TAKIS MICHAS: Because, as I have shown in my book, in Greece Serb actions during the war in Bosnia are not regarded as “crimes” but as “heroic deeds”. This applies to Srebrenica as well. No Greek government has made any statement at any time during the last 15 years explicitly condemning the killings at Srebrenica – this is a unique state of affairs for a European country.

DANIEL TOLJAGA: In the words of U.N. Judge Theodor Meron, who served as the President of the ICTY, Serbs – and I quote – “targeted for extinction the forty thousand Bosnian Muslims living in Srebrenica.” In your opinion, is Mr. Vitalis fully aware that the military operations he took part in resulted in the summary killings of more than 8,000 and the ethnic cleansing of approximately 30,000 people in July 1995? Is he aware that he took part in genocide?

TAKIS MICHAS: According to his own admissions, yes. However, just like Holocaust deniers, these people refuse to accept that mass killings took place in Srebrenica.

DANIEL TOLJAGA: Your book revealed for the first time the presence of Greek paramilitaries in Bosnia. Why has Mr. Vitalis waited so many years since the publication of your book to file a suit?

TAKIS MICHAS: This is an interesting question. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that as I have hinted in other articles I am now in possession of confidential diplomatic documents that show the Greek authorities for the first time admitting the presence of Greek paramilitaries in Bosnia. Possibly they think that by putting pressure on me now they will prevent me publishing these documents. But this of course is only one explanation. There may be others.

DANIEL TOLJAGA: Mr. Vitalis has claimed that the operations of the Greek volunteers “were widely endorsed by Greek society because of the warm friendship that existed between Andreas Papandreou and Radovan Karadzic.” To what extent did this friendship suggest that the government may have been involved?

TAKIS MICHAS: Obviously it involves government in the sense of knowing, tolerating and endorsing the open recruitment of Greek citizens with the aim of fighting against the legally recognized government of Bosnia. It certainly implicates the government of PASOK under Andreas Papandreou.

DANIEL TOLJAGA: I remember, and you also referred to this in your book, that leading Greek judges had publicly refused to cooperate with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). Considering that your right to a fair trial may be seriously impaired by the extreme ultranationalist atmosphere in Greece and the fact that Mr. Vitalis has announced that he plans to call leading Greek nationalist politicians as witnesses, I would like to know whether you intend to seek support from prominent international organizations that specialize in the protection of journalistic freedom?

TAKIS MICHAS: I will certainly be trying to spread the word. Judging from the lawsuit they have filed against me, I guess that from now on they will also be making the glorification of the Serb war effort in Bosnia one of their campaign themes.

DANIEL TOLJAGA: Are you worried about the forthcoming trial?

TAKIS MICHAS: In any other European country this lawsuit would have been thrown out of court. But as I have said repeatedly Greece is not a normal European country. Given the spirit of extreme nationalism that permeates the country and the fact that Karadzic and Mladic are venerated as saints by the majority of the public and the political class, I have every reason to feel worried.

DANIEL TOLJAGA: Thank you for taking part in this interview. We will be keeping a close eye on the progress of your case.

GENOCIDE ON THE RIVER DRINA (NA DRINI GENOCID)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 3, 2009 by visegrad92

Nidžara Ahmetašević, Sarajevo – “Denying genocide is almost a certain sign that a country that has committed one has not gone through an awakening, which means that a danger of repeating genocide still exists.”

Such is one of the uncomfortable conclusions of this book by Edina Becirevic, noting the fact that the reality of genocide is still denied in those very regions of Bosnia where it was committed and where most people were killed in the war.

Her book, an adapted doctoral dissertation, sets out convincing evidence that genocide was committed against Bosniaks in eastern Bosnia in 1992 and 1993. By presenting hard facts, she confronts all those who claim that only the mass murders committed in Srebrenica in July 1995 can be considered genocide.

Becirevic gives an overview of genocide history, touching on the destruction of the city of Troy, the wars of Jingis Khan, the medieval Church’s crusades, the Nazi Holocaust and the slaughter in Rwanda in 1994. To prove that genocide was committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992 and 1993, Becirevic refers to a number of key documents of the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal, ICTY, and testimonies given before the tribunal, as well as other documents pertaining to the establishment of the Republika Srpska and the connections between the Republic of Serbia and the territory controlled by the Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic during the war.

She contends that genocide was committed not only in Srebrenica, but in the eastern Bosnian towns of Zvornik, Vlasenica, Bratunac, Rogatica, Foca and Visegrad.

“The genocide methods were identical in each of these towns and villages,” Becirevic writes, mentioning that the places were first shelled, weapons confiscated from Bosniak citizens, and then civilians deported, detained in camps, or killed.

“A genocide is characterized by the lack of sanctions, but it often also refers to the international community, which frequently becomes an accessory in genocide by taking a role of a passive observer,” the author asserts.

Becirevic, who teaches at Sarajevo University but has also worked as a journalist for years, manages to elaborate an extremely difficult topic in a way that is highly readable. Her literary skills make it possible to read this book almost as if it was a bestseller.

By advancing convincing arguments and drawing on a deep knowledge of genocide theory, Becirevic will surely persuade most unbiased readers of the validity of her thesis. In doing so, she calls on a number of interviews with survivors or witnesses who used to live in the towns she wrote about.

The forward, by Professor Robert Donia, recommends the book to “all those who wonder how thousands of common human beings can transform into genocide perpetrators, attacking their former neighbours and friends”.

Becirevic dedicates part of her book to those who helped other people. One interesting example that she cites comes from the village of Rasput Njive, where the local Serbs rescued their Bosniak neighbours.

Years after the end of the war the author interviewed some of those Serbs. Asked why they helped their neighbours, one told her that he did not know why, but he would do the same again if need be.

This book represents a valuable source of information for those researching genocide history and the horrific events that took place in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the region in the early Nineties.

It also contains a wider message for all those pondering human nature in evil times. We must not forget what happened, it says. At the same time, any research into, or mention of, crimes such as genocide, needs to be done carefully and supported by strong arguments.

Autor: Edina Becirevic

Genocide on the River Drina is published by Buybook – Memorija Library, Sarajevo, 2009

——————————————————————————————-

VGM Note: Edina has done an excellent research on the Visegrad genocide, based on eye-witness accounts, documents, interviews done with both Visegrad Bosniaks and Serbs. We are glad to see that (finally) someone has taken into consideration the command responsibility for the crimes committed in Visegrad. Edina refrains to use the term “para-military units” but instead uses the term “special units” for Lukic’s and other units that roamed Visegrad’s streets in ’92. As Edina clearly notes: “Special units, which Serb propaganda calls paramilitary units so as to create opinion that there was no control over them, stayed, and a larger number arrived when the JNA(Yugoslav Peoples’ Army-op.ed.VGM) withdrew from town.“(p.199)

We highly recommend this book.

U.S. Congress remembers Zepa and Avdo Palic

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 1, 2009 by visegrad92

[Congressional Record: July 24, 2009 (Extensions)]

[Page E2004-E2005]

From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]

[DOCID:cr24jy09-254]

JULY 25, 1995 MASSACRE IN ZEPA, BOSNIA

______

HON. ANDRE CARSON

of indiana

in the house of representatives

Friday, July 24, 2009

Mr. CARSON. Madam Speaker, tomorrow, the international community will

remember a tragic day in the genocide that ravaged Bosnia and

Herzegovina between 1992 and 1995. For over three years, the town of

Zepa, Bosnia remained under siege by the Republika Srpska, despite

being named a safe haven for

[[Page E2005]]

Bosnians by the United Nations Security Council.

Over this period, innocent Zepa residents lived under constant

threat, both of the near constant artillery fire and from the rampant

starvation and disease that arose from squalid living conditions.

Thousands lost their lives and countless others were injured during the

three year siege until finally, on July 25, 1995, the town fell to

paramilitary forces and the remaining residents were killed or

forcefully expelled from their homes.

On this heartbreaking anniversary, it is clear that atrocities and

genocide should never be permitted to continue unfettered. In

remembering the innocent victims of Zepa, I believe that the United

States, together with the United Nations and our allies around the

world, must reaffirm its commitment to ceaselessly pursue the

perpetrators of these terrible war crimes. The international community

must come together to not only remember the innocent victims of this

massacre, but to also redouble its pursuit of lasting peace and

security in some of the world’s most volatile regions.

[Congressional Record: July 29, 2009 (Extensions)]

[Page E2060]

From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]

[DOCID:cr29jy09-17]

THE ANNIVERSARY OF THE FALL OF ZEPA

______

HON. RUSS CARNAHAN

of missouri

in the house of representatives

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Mr. CARNAHAN. Madam Speaker, I rise today to recognize the

anniversary of the fall of Zepa during the war in Bosnia in 1995. Just

a few weeks ago, I attended the Srebrenica genocide remembrance

ceremony in Bosnia and Herzegovina to commemorate the thousands of

innocent lives lost during the war. It is important to remember these

innocent people who lost their lives as Bosnians move forward.

This siege on Srebrenica, however, was not an isolated event. On July

25, 1995, Zepa, another U.N.-declared safe haven, also fell to the same

forces that took Srebrenica just weeks earlier. The thousands of

inhabitants and refugees in Zepa were forced to suffer, and die through

a constant downpour of shellfire.

In addition to the vast numbers who perished due to the barrage of

fire and starvation, an unknown number were taken away never to be seen

again, including the Colonel of the Bosnia and Herzegovina army, Avdo

Palic, who negotiated the evacuation of approximately 5,000 civilians.

Today, a little more than 14 years after the fall of Zepa, I urge us

all to remember not only the fall of Zepa, but also the destruction of

the other towns of Srebrenica, Zepa, Sarajevo, Gorazde, Bihac, Tuzla,

Prijedor, Bjeljina, Visegrad, Foca, and Kozarac, and many others, all

of which experienced significant loss. We must remind ourselves of the

innocent lives that were lost, and honor their memory.

Madam Speaker, while we cannot erase the pain of these losses, let us

support the efforts of the families of the missing to learn the fate of

their loved ones, and let us support the justice that is necessary for

the building of a stable, prosperous, and unified Bosnia and

Herzegovina.

[Congressional Record: July 27, 2009 (Extensions)]

[Page E2020-E2021]

From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]

[DOCID:cr27jy09-37]

REMEMBERING THE FALL OF ZEPA

______

HON. CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH

of new jersey

in the house of representatives

Monday, July 27, 2009

Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Madam Speaker, on Saturday July 25 Bosnians

commemorated the fourteenth anniversary of the tragic fall of Zepa. The

town of Zepa was one of the six United Nations-declared safe havens in

Bosnia during the war of aggression from 1992 to 1995. In May 1993, a

United Nations Security Council resolution held out to this town in

eastern Bosnia the promise of protection from the forces of Republika

Srpska. In Zepa the local residents, people from the surrounding area,

and refugees from other cities and towns gathered to be shielded from

Serbian aggression.

But, Madam Speaker, the men, women, and children seeking refuge in

Zepa were not shielded. The forces of Republika Srpska, who had laid

siege to Zepa in the summer of 1992, were not impressed by UN safe

havens, and neither the UN nor anyone else was committed to defending

the safe havens. On July 25, 1995, the forces of Republika Srpska

overpowered Zepa’s defenders and began to occupy the town.

In July Avdo Palic, colonel of the Bosnian government force defending

Zepa, performed a hero’s work in evacuating as many civilians as he

could, despite operating under constant shelling and the threat of

starvation from the forces of Republika Srpska. Palic participated in

negotiations which resulted in the safe evacuation of approximately

5,000 Bosnian civilians. On July 27 Palic traveled to the UN Protection

Force Compound, in order to secure the evacuation of Zepa’s remaining

inhabitants: he has not been seen since and his fate is still unknown.

Madam Speaker, looking back on the tragedy of Zepa, we remember the

loss of countless innocent lives. Our government cannot give back to

the survivors the precious lives of the family members and friends of

the people of Zepa, Srebrenica, Sarajevo, Bihac, Gorazde, and Tuzla,

but it can support their pursuit of justice. Our government must do

everything it can to discover the fate of Avdo

[[Page E2021]]

Palic and the other men and women who went missing in the genocide

committed against the Bosnian people. To be sure, we must continue to

look for Ratko Mladic and other criminals and genocideurs, but we must

not forget their victims and their need for closure.

Never Forget!

Colonel Avdo Palic