Archive for May, 2011

Oliver Krsmanovic arrested!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on May 31, 2011 by visegrad92

 

Image: Oliver Krsmanovic in 1992, Visegrad.

Oliver Krsmanovic was a member of the Bosnian Serb Army special unit “Avengers” which committed mass murder and rape against the Bosniak population in Visegrad and surrounding areas.

Image: Oliver Krsmanovic in 1980’s, Visegrad.

Oliver is wanted for crimes and rape committed in Visegrad and for abduction and murder of Muslim civilians in the Sjeverin case. In October 1992, 16 civilians – citizens of Yugoslavia were abducted in Sjeverin(Serbia) by members of the “Avengers” – brought to Visegrad, tortured and murdered. Their remains are yet to be found.

Oliver was arrested last night in Visegrad after “hiding” for years.

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Bosniaks tortured at Vilina Vlas in 1992

Posted in Uncategorized on May 31, 2011 by visegrad92

Pictures of Bosniak victims from Sjeverin who were tortured in Vilina Vlas in 1992.

Ratko Mladic arrest: the Balkan beasts are no more

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on May 30, 2011 by visegrad92
Ratko Mladic arrest: the Balkan beasts are no more

With Ratko Mladic’s capture, the three architects of the worst atrocities in Europe since 1945 are all now either dead or in custody Photo: REUTERS
By Philip Sherwell 8:16PM BST 26 May 2011

The Serbian army officer took a pre-breakfast swig of slivovitz plum brandy, stared at me coldly, and drew his finger sharply across his neck. We were on the outskirts of the eastern Bosnian town of Visegrad on a crisp spring Balkan morning. I had just asked him about his plans for the Muslim inhabitants – his response was the universal sign language for slaughter.

The officer was true to his word. An estimated 3,000 of Visegrad’s 25,000 residents were murdered in early April 1992, many killed on the stone Ottoman bridge across the River Drina, their bodies hurled into the chilly waters below. Thousands more were rounded up, packed like livestock into freight trucks and ferried off to newly created detention camps.

Unimaginably – as it seemed then – the horrific spectre of ethnic cleansing had returned to Europe, less than half a century after the Nazis had tried to eradicate the Jews from the Third Reich.

The campaign reached its horrendous apogee in the summer of 1995, when Bosnian Serb forces overran the supposed United Nations “safe haven” of Srebrenica and its contingent of hapless Dutch peacekeepers. They led away more than 7,000 Muslim men and boys, who were lined up in the nearby fields, executed, and buried in mass graves.

The political face of the campaign to carve out an ethnically pure Bosnian Serb fiefdom was Radovan Karadzic, operating in tandem with Slobodan Milosevic, the Yugoslav leader in Belgrade.

But the ruthless enforcer was Ratko Mladic, a bull-chested career soldier in the Yugoslav army. With his capture yesterday, the three architects of the worst atrocities in Europe since 1945 are all now either dead or in custody.

Karadzic is already on trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, based in the Hague, for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity; in 2008, he was tracked down to a Belgrade suburb, where he was living as a pony-tailed self-styled faith healer. Milosevic died in his cell in the Hague in 2006, while facing a battery of similar charges, five years after he was handed over by Belgrade. And Mladic’s extradition is now only a formality, after Serbian commandos raided his hideout in a sleepy village near the Romanian border.

The Bosnian civil war erupted in spring 1992, after the republic’s Muslim-led government, based in Sarajevo, declared independence from the Serbian-dominated Yugoslav federation in the wake of Croatia’s bloody fight for secession. I had previously asked Karadzic what would happen if Bosnia did indeed try to break away: “There will be terrible killing,” he responded. “There will be 250,000 dead.”

His comment sounded like typical swagger from the bouffant-haired braggart. In fact, his prediction was chillingly accurate: during the three-year conflict, more than 200,000 were indeed killed. Mladic oversaw much of that, although the Croatian paramilitaries on the other side were often just as brutal, if on a lesser scale.

Bosnia was – and is – a complex ethnic mosaic of Muslims, Serbs and Croats, where memories of internecine massacres, often centuries old, were passed from generation to generation. Ratko Mladic was born into this turbulent history in 1942, in a village in eastern Bosnia that was then part of a Croatian puppet state loyal to the Nazis. His father, one of the leaders of the Serb partisans known as the Chetniks, was killed when Ratko was just three, during an attack on Croatian forces.

Mladic entered an elite Yugoslav army academy from school, and rapidly worked his way through the ranks. In October 1991, as the old Yugoslavia ripped apart at its seams, he was promoted to general, as Yugoslav forces struggled to suppress breakaway Croatian forces. In response to the declaration of independence by Bosnia’s Muslim leadership, Mladic and his fellow Yugoslav generals imposed a blockade on Sarajevo in May 1992. That began a three-year siege of the capital, in which hundreds of civilians could die in a single day, either from shelling or sniper attacks from the Serbian strongholds in the surrounding hills.

Meanwhile, in regions across the republic that had once been ethnically mixed, his forces, led by officers such as the one I met at Visegrad, were “cleansing” the local population of non-Serbs with cold-blooded efficiency – whether by murder, deportation or intimidation. Many of the Bosnian Croats retaliated in kind.

The “Republika Srpska” that the Serbs were carving out was led by Karadzic politically, with its military – a mixture of former army units and paramilitaries – under the command of Mladic. During the three years of bloodshed, ceasefires were broken almost as quickly as they were brokered. And even as the international community condemned the atrocities, they continued to unfold, culminating in the horrors of Srebrenica.

By then, Nato had finally launched air strikes intended to force compliance with UN resolutions. Mladic responded by leading his forces into the eastern Bosnian town, where an estimated 40,000 Muslims had sought refuge under the protection of UN peacekeepers.

By then, the phrase “safe haven” had become little more than a sick joke; the “blue helmets”, shackled by the strictures put on their operations by UN and their home governments, were regarded by the warring factions as an irrelevance.

It was the global revulsion at events in Srebrenica that finally forced world leaders to act, triggering an intensified Nato bombing campaign that pushed the Serbs to the negotiating table – although by then they had already secured most of their land grab on the ground. In late 1995, the Dayton peace accords, signed at a huge US air force base in Ohio, ended the conflict.

Mladic and Karadzic had, meanwhile, been indicted by the ICTY for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity for the siege of Sarajevo, the slaughter at Srebrenica and other atrocities. Both went into hiding, protected by a fiercely loyal network of Serb nationalists and former army officers, for whom they were regarded as heroes for defending Serbian interests and resisting the independence of Muslims and Croatians.

For several years, Serbia’s leaders in Belgrade paid only lip service to idea that they were seeking the wanted men. But as the political winds changed with the election of new governments and the prospect of joining the EU being made conditional on giving full co-operation to the ICTY – both time and friends ran out for first Karadzic, and now Mladic.

At the height of the war in Bosnia, the world had also stood impotently by as 800,000 people were massacred in a frenzy of tribal carnage in Rwanda. Five decades after the Holocaust, the phrase “never again” had terrible resonance.

Those acts of barbarism gave a fresh impetus to calls for the international community to adopt a “responsibility to protect” that entailed military intervention if a sovereign state failed to protect its own population from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing.

It was on that basis that Nato launched its 1999 bombing campaign to halt Serbian atrocities in the predominantly Albanian territory of Kosovo, and that Tony Blair sent British forces into Sierra Leone to end the brutal civil war in 2000. And it was the prospect of Col Muammar Gaddafi’s forces massacring Libyan rebels as they stormed into the opposition stronghold of Benghazi that prompted the UN Security Council to impose a no-fly zone over the North African country.

It is a hopeful sign that justice will finally be brought to bear on those responsible for such a grisly part of Europe’s history – and that, two decades after my shocking encounter with that Serbian officer, the impunity and ineptitude that once characterised our attempts to track down the perpetrators of the atrocities have come to a belated end.

Source: The Telegraph

Visegrad commemoration photos

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on May 30, 2011 by visegrad92

A Bosnian Muslim woman prays before joining others to throw roses from the Mehmed Pasa Sokolovic bridge in the eastern Bosnian town of Visegrad on May 28, 2011, to commemorate the deaths of relatives killed by Bosnian Serb forces in the summer of 1992. The chief suspect for the death thousands of civillians killed in eastern Bosnia, Bosnian Serb wartime military leader General Ratko Mladic, was arrested in neighboring Serbia on May 26, after 16 years in hiding from International Warcrimes Tribunal in Hague.

A rose is displayed on the parapet of a bridge waiting for a Bosnian Muslim women to throw it from the bridge into the River Drina during a ceremony organized to commemorate thousands of Bosnian Muslims killed by Serb troops commanded by Ratko Mladic at the start of Bosnia‘s 1992-95 war in the eastern Bosnian town of Visegrad 120 kms fromSarajevo, Bosnia, Saturday, May 28, 2011. Mladic who has been charged with genocide by the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague for his role in the massacre was arrested by Serbian authorities after nearly 16 years spent hiding from the international justice.

A Bosnian Muslim women throws rose from a bridge into the River Drina during a ceremony organized to commemorate thousands of Bosnian Muslims killed by Serb troops commanded by Ratko Mladic at the start of Bosnia‘s 1992-95 war in the eastern Bosnian town of Visegrad 120 kms from Sarajevo, Bosnia, Saturday, May 28, 2011. Mladic who has been charged with genocide by the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague for his role in the massacre was arrested by Serbian authorities after nearly 16 years spent hiding from the international justice.

Bosnian Muslim women throw roses from the Mehmed Pasa Sokolovic bridge in the eastern Bosnian town of Visegrad on May 28, 2011, to commemorate the deaths of relatives killed by Bosnian Serb forces in the summer of 1992. The chief suspect for the death thousands of civillians killed in eastern Bosnia, Bosnian Serb wartime military leader General Ratko Mladic, was arrested in neighboring Serbia on May 26, after 16 years in hiding from International Warcrimes Tribunal in Hague.

Bosnian Muslim women react, during a ceremony organized to commemorate thousands of Bosnian Muslims killed by Serb troops commanded by Ratko Mladic at the start of Bosnia‘s 1992-95 war in eastern Bosnian town of Visegrad 120 kms from Sarajevo, Bosnia, Saturday, May 28 2011. Up to 2,000 Muslim Bosniaks have converged on the eastern Bosnian town of Visegrad to remember friends and relatives killed there by forces led by Ratko Mladic at the start of the country’s 1992-95 war. They arrived Saturday on buses to throw almost 3,000 roses into the Drina River, which divides Bosnia from Serbia. Mladic was arrested in Serbia Thursday on war crimes charges stemming from the 1995 indictment issued against him by the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands.

Bosnian men carry roses towards a bridge over the River Drina in Visegrad where the roses will be cast into the river during a ceremony organized to commemorate thousands of Bosnian Muslims killed by Serb troops commanded by Ratko Mladic at the start of Bosnia‘s 1992-95 war in the eastern Bosnian town of Visegrad 120 kms from Sarajevo, Bosnia, Saturday, May 28, 2011. Mladic who has been charged with genocide by the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague for his role in the massacre was arrested by Serbian authorities after nearly 16 years spent hiding from the international justice.

A Bosnian Muslim woman reacts, during a ceremony organized to commemorate thousands of Bosnian Muslims killed by Serb troops commanded by Ratko Mladic at the start of Bosnia‘s 1992-95 war in eastern Bosnian town of Visegrad 120 kms from Sarajevo, Bosnia, Saturday, May 28 2011. Up to 2,000 Muslim Bosniaks have converged on the eastern Bosnian town of Visegrad to remember friends and relatives killed there by forces led by Ratko Mladic at the start of the country’s 1992-95 war. They arrived Saturday on buses to throw almost 3,000 roses into the Drina River, which divides Bosnia from Serbia. Mladic was arrested in Serbia Thursday on war crimes charges stemming from the 1995 indictment issued against him by the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands.

Photo credits: AFP

 

 

Visegrad Muslims remember victims of Ratko Mladic’s 1992 Bosnian massacres

Posted in Uncategorized on May 30, 2011 by visegrad92

HUNDREDS of Muslims gathered in the Bosnian city of Visegrad to honour loved ones killed in 1992 massacres by the forces of arrested war crimes suspect Ratko Mladic.

AFP  May 29, 2011

“I almost fainted when I learned of Mladic’s arrest, I was so happy,” said Safija Omerovic, a grandmother who came to throw roses from the Visegrad bridge for family members killed in this western Bosnian town at the start of the 1992-1995 Bosnia war.

Visegrad is famed as the site where, between April and June 1992, Bosnian Serb forces killed 1500 civilians, according to the Bosnian Institute for Missing Persons, and dumped their bodies into the Drina river.
Omerovic, 76, said she lost at least 30 relatives in the massacres.

“My son, my brother, his three sons, my mother, nephews,” she said, though she smiled at the thought that Mladic is finally behind bars.

Mladic, accused of masterminding the 1995 Srebrenica massacre and other atrocities during the war, was arrested on Thursday after 16 years on the run. He is expected to be transferred next week to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague, where he faces charges of war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.

Visegrad and its surroundings, where Muslims accounted for 60 per cent of the population of some 21,000 before the conflict, were the scene of particularly cruel crimes.

People were confined in houses and burnt to death, while several hundred women were raped, victims’ associations say. Those who survived were expelled from their homes.

Every May, the victims’ families gather at the Ottoman-era Visegrad bridge to throw roses in the river Drina in remembrance.

“The Drina is the biggest mass grave in the Balkans,” said Bakira Hasecic, who heads an association for rape victims in Visegrad.

Local imam Jusuf Karaman never found his brother, Safet, who was imam of the Visegrad mosque at the start of the conflict.

“According to all indications I had, he was brought to this bridge, his throat was slit and his body later thrown in the Drina,” he said.

“I hope that after Mladic’s arrest, the atmosphere will change for the better and that Muslims will be encouraged to return to their homes in Visegrad,” he said.

He said a little more than 1000 Muslims now lived in Visegrad, part of the Serb-run Republika Srpska in Bosnia, the mass expulsion during the conflict.

The bodies of more than 700 victims in Visegrad are reported missing and efforts are still being made to recover them.

Last year, forensic experts took advantage of the opening of a dam for the first time since the conflict to recover some bodies from Lake Perucac, where many eventually ended up.

“We will soon be presenting the results of the identifications of about 150 victims whose remains were found,” the head of the Bosnian Institute for Missing Persons, Amor Masovic, told AFP.

At the ceremony, 80-year-old Biba Kariman said there had been no news of her son since the conflict.

“They took him away. I don’t know what they did to him. His body was never found,” she said, wrapped in a white scarf. “All I hope for Mladic is that God gives him what he deserves.”

Fejzo Sabanija – In Memoriam

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on May 29, 2011 by visegrad92

Fejzo Sabanija was born on 21.10.1922 in Crni Vrh, Visegrad. He worked in UPI firm before retiring.

On 3rd of May 1992, around four men wearing camouflage uniforms knocked on the door and said that they will take Fejzo for questioning. In the street from where he was abducted – the Marsal Tito street no. 3 – there was a orange van with some civilians and uniformed men inside. The van went towards the old Bridge.

The next day, the family found out that Fejzo was taken along with Dr. Safet Zejnilovi and Zihnija Omerovic. The family was told by the local police that Fejzo was taken to Pale for questioning.

His remains still have not been found.

 

 

 

19 years of pain – 28.05.2011

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on May 29, 2011 by visegrad92

On Saturday, 28.05.2011, the 19th anniversary of the Visegrad Genocide was commemorated on the Mehmed-pasa Sokolovic bridge and 17 victims were buried in Straziste cemetery. The following pictures were taken by Visegrad survivor Velija Hasanbegovic.

NEVER FORGET! / NEVER FORGIVE!