Archive for amnesty international
Open Letter to Amnesty International
To whom it may concern:
I have been contacted by a number of people regarding Amnesty International’s invitation to Professor Noam Chomsky to lecture in Northern Ireland.
The communications I have received regard Prof. Chomsky’s role in revisionism in the story of the concentration camps in northwestern Bosnia in 1992, which it was my accursed honour to discover.
As everyone interested knows, a campaign was mounted to try and de-bunk the story of these murderous camps as a fake – ergo, to deny and/or justify them – the dichotomy between these position still puzzles me.
The horror of what happened at Omarska and Trnopolje has been borne out by painful history, innumerable trials at the Hague, and – most importantly by far – searing testimony from the survivors and the bereaved. These were places of extermination, torture, killing, rape and, literally “concentration” prior to enforced deportation, of people purely on grounds of ethnicity.
Prof. Chomsky was not among those (“Novo” of Germany and “Living Marxism” in the UK) who first proposed the idea that these camps were a fake. He was not among those who tried unsuccessfully (they were beaten back in the High Court in London, by a libel case taken by ITN) to put up grotesque arguments about fences around the camps, which were rather like Fred Leuchter’s questioning whether the thermal capacity of bricks was enough to contain the heat needed to gas Jews at Auschwitz. But Professor Chomsky said many things, from his ivory tower at MIT, to spur them on and give them the credibility and energy they required to spread their poisonous perversion and denials of these sufferings. Chomsky comes with academic pretensions, doing it all from a distance, and giving the revisionists his blessing. And the revisionists have revelled in his endorsement.
In an interview with the Guardian, Professor Chomsky paid me the kind compliment of calling me a good journalist, but added that on this occasion (the camps) I had “got it wrong”. Got what wrong?!?! Got wrong what we saw that day, August 5th 1992 (I didn’t see him there)? Got wrong the hundreds of thousands of families left bereaved, deported and scattered asunder? Got wrong the hundreds of testimonies I have gathered on murderous brutality? Got wrong the thousands whom I meet when I return to the commemorations? If I am making all this up, what are all the human remains found in mass graves around the camps and so painstakingly re-assembled by the International Commission for Missing Persons?
These people pretend neutrality over Bosnia, but are actually apologists for the Milosevic/Karadzic/Mladic plan, only too pathetic to admit it. And the one thing they never consider from their armchairs is the ghastly, searing, devastating impact of their game on the survivors and the bereaved. The pain they cause is immeasurable. This, along with the historical record, is my main concern. It is one thing to survive the camps, to lose one’s family and friends – quite another to be told by a bunch of academics with a didactic agenda in support of the pogrom that those camps never existed. The LM/Novo/Chomsky argument that the story of the camps was somehow fake has been used in countless (unsuccessful) attempts to defend mass murderers in The Hague.
For decades I have lived under the impression that Amnesty International was opposed to everything these people stand for, and existed to defend exactly the kind of people who lost their lives, family and friends in the camps and at Srebrenica three years later, a massacre on which Chomsky has also cast doubt. I have clearly been deluded about Amnesty. For Amnesty International, of all people, to honour this man is to tear up whatever credibility they have estimably and admirably won over the decades, and to reduce all they say hitherto to didactic nonsense.
Why Amnesty wants to identify with and endorse this revisionist obscenity, I do not know. It is baffling and grotesque. By inviting Chomsky to give this lecture, Amnesty condemns itself to ridicule at best, hurtful malice at worst – Amnesty joins the revisionists in spitting on the graves of the
dead. Which was not what the organisation was, as I understand, set up for. I have received a letter from an Amnesty official in Northern Ireland which reads rather like a letter from Tony Blair’s office after it has been caught out cosying up to British Aerospace or lying over the war in Iraq –
it is a piece of corporate gobbledygook, distancing Amnesty from Chomsky’s views on Bosnia, or mealy-mouthedly conceding that they are disagreed with.
There is no concern at all with the victims, which is, I suppose, what one would expect from a bureaucrat. In any event, the letter goes nowhere towards addressing the revisionism, dispelling what will no doubt be a fawning, self-satisfied introduction in Belfast and rapturous applause for
the man who gives such comfort to Messrs Karadzic and Mladic, and their death squads. How far would Amnesty go in inviting and honouring speakers whose views it does not necessarily share, in the miserable logic of this AI official in Belfast? A lecture by David Irving on Joseph Goebbels?
Alistair Campbell on how Saddam really did have those WMD? The Chilean Secret Police or Colonel Oliver North on the communist threat in Latin America during the 70s and 80s? What about Karadzic himself on the “Jihadi” threat in Bosnia, and the succulence of 14-year-old girls kept in rape camps?
I think I am still a member of AI – if so, I resign. If not, thank God for that. And to think: I recently came close to taking a full time job as media director for AI. That was a close shave – what would I be writing now, in the press release: “Come and hear the great Professor Chomsky inform you all that the stories about the camps in Bosnia were a lie – that I was hallucinating that day, that the skeletons of the dead so meticulously re-assembled by the International Commission for Missing Persons are all plastic? That the dear friends I have in Bosnia, the USA, the UK and elsewhere who struggle to put back together lives that were broken by Omarska and Trnopolje are making it all up?
Some press release that would have been. Along with the owner of the site of the Omarska camp, the mighty Mittal Steel Corporation, Amnesty International would have crushed it pretty quick. How fitting that Chomsky and Mittal Steel find common cause. Yet how logical, and to me, obvious. After all, during the Bosnian war, it was the British Foreign Office, the CIA, the UN and great powers who, like the revisionists Chomsky champions, most eagerly opposed any attempt to stop the genocide that lasted, as it was encouraged by them and their allies in high politics to last, for three bloody years from 1992 until the Srebrenica massacre of 1995.
Yours, in disgust and despair,
21 July 2009
The conviction of Milan and Sredoje Lukić for war crimes and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (Tribunal) brings justice for the killing of scores of people during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina but ignores the suffering of victims of sexual violence, Amnesty International said today.
The Bosnian Serb cousins, members of the White Eagles paramilitary group, were convicted on 20 July of crimes against the civilian population in the Višegrad area in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the 1992-1995 war, including murder, persecution, extermination, torture. Milan and Sredoje Lukić were sentenced to life and 30 years’ imprisonment respectively.
Amnesty International deeply regrets that the Prosecutor failed to investigate war crimes and crimes against humanity of sexual violence, including rape, that were alleged to have been committed and that no one has been charged by the Tribunal for these crimes.
“The raped women of Višegrad deserve justice too. Those responsible for these crimes should also be held to account,” said Nicola Duckworth, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director at Amnesty International.
“Over a decade after the war, these women are forced to live with the memories of their suffering without being able to receive acknowledgement and compensation.”
Credible evidence of the abduction of young women who were subsequently held and subjected to rape and other crimes of sexual violence at the Vilina Vlas hotel near Višegrad has been gathered by the Tribunal and the State Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina which points to the alleged responsibility of the Lukić cousins for rape and other crimes of sexual violence. A number of non-governmental organizations have also documented testimonies of victims who allege that they were raped by members of paramilitary groups under Milan Lukić’s command. Amnesty International in 1993 documented two cases in which girls reported that they had been raped in Vilina Vlas hotel, allegedly by members of the White Eagles, which was under Milan Lukić’s command.
Amnesty International calls on the prosecutor at the State Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina to open an investigation into the substantial number of allegations against Milan and Sredoje Lukić related to war crimes and crimes against humanity of sexual violence committed in the Višegrad area.
Rape and other forms of sexual violence were widespread during the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Despite the fact that the conflict ended more than 13 years ago successive governments have consistently failed to bring those responsible to justice.
Many perpetrators of war crimes of sexual violence continue to enjoy impunity and often live in the same communities as their victims. Survivors of those crimes suffer trauma and other psychological and physical problems. Psychological support is often not available and access to health services is limited, especially for women in remote areas of the country. Many survivors are unemployed and live in poverty and cannot afford medicines, even when these are prescribed by a doctor.
Source: Amnesty International
Read about Colonel Avdo Palic, Army of Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina and help pressure the Republika Srpska government to tell his family where his remains are. Learn more here.
AI Index: EUR 63/006/2007 (Public)
News Service No: 163
23 August 2007
More than twelve years after the enforced disappearance of Avdo Palić, Amnesty International expresses its continuing concern about the lack of progress in the investigation by the Republika Srpska (RS) authorities into this crime.
In January 2006, the RS formed a commission tasked with conducting an investigation into the enforced disappearance of Avdo Palić (Palić Commission). Its report, presented in April 2006, appeared initially to contain important information on the fate of Avdo Palić, including on the whereabouts of his mortal remains. However, it did not lead to any significant progress in the location and exhumation of the body and in the criminal investigation into the enforced disappearance.
In December 2006 the Palić Commission was reactivated and, reportedly, the Office of the RS Prime Minister committed to provide the necessary assistance for it to finally complete its investigation and provide information on the fate and whereabouts of Avdo Palić. However, eight months down the line, such investigation has had no concrete results.
Amnesty International urges the RS authorities to ensure that the activities of the Palić Commission result in a full investigation into the circumstances of this crime and in the exhumation of the mortal remains of the victim. The RS should demand complete cooperation on the part of the authorities of Serbia, which should disclose all the relevant information in their possession on the possible role of former RS Army officers currently in Serbia who are suspected of involvement in or who may possess information on the enforced disappearance of Avdo Palić.
Moreover, Amnesty International urges the RS authorities to ensure that, once the work of the Palić Commission is concluded, the findings are forwarded to the competent Prosecutor and that a criminal investigation into the enforced disappearance is conducted, with a view to bringing the perpetrators to justice.
Former Army of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Armija Bosne i Hercegovine) Colonel Avdo Palić disappeared in July 1995, when he was reportedly forcibly taken away by soldiers of the Bosnian Serb Army (VRS – Vojska Republike Srpske) from the UN Protection Forces compound in ?epa. He had gone there to negotiate the evacuation of civilians from the town which had surrendered to the VRS. His fate and whereabouts have remained unknown ever since.
In 2001, the Human Rights Chamber for Bosnia and Herzegovina ordered the RS authorities to carry out a full investigation into the fate of Colonel Avdo Palić from the date of his enforced disappearance. However, no progress was made in the investigation. The Palić Commission was formed after, in January 2006, the BiH Human Rights Commission found that the RS authorities had “failed to provide adequate details to establish the facts of the ‘disappearance’ of Colonel Avdo Palić after the fall of Zepa”.