Archive for ed vulliamy

OPEN LETTER FROM ED VULLIAMY TO AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on October 29, 2009 by visegrad92

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,

Ed Vulliamy,

The Observer.

Ed Vulliamy and the Visegrad Genocide

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on September 19, 2009 by visegrad92

VGM Editor: Ed Vulliamy was the first foreign correspondent to put the puzzles together and tell the world what happened in Visegrad. We thank him for writing the truth. We will never forget!

ed

Image: Ed Vulliamy speaking to genocide survivors in Omarska, Prijedor.

Excerpt from Ed Vulliamy’s “Neutrality” and the Absence of Reckoning: A Journalist’s Account

(…)

Jasmin was 13 when the war began and his town Zepa was sealed off from the outside world by a noose of Serbian artillery. He was deemed too young to fight, assigned instead to spend the war by a crook in the Drina River, “to get the bodies out, and to give them a decent burial.” For three years, Jasmin rowed a little boat into midstream to haul the bloated corpses — sometimes headless, sometimes child-sized — out of the river to bury them, often under fire, in a makeshift cemetery. Jasmin said he found the bodies beneath the great Ottoman Bridge, the same bridge that spans the Drina at Visegrad, serves as Bosnia’s emblem and is the title of a great work of literature by Ivo Andric, the country’s most celebrated writer. I followed this trail, only to discover that the Serbs had turned Andric’s bridge into a human abattoir. I last saw Jasmin when he was among the lucky refugees to flee Zepa in July 1995. He was evacuated to a mental hospital in Dublin in 1996, at the age of seventeen.

“That bridge will drive me mad,” said a shuddering Hasena Muharenovic, for whom the reckoning can never come. Living in Sarajevo, she recalled how a Serbian squad came for her mother and sister, took them to the bridge, cut them up and threw them off it, along with a carload of others. She bade goodbye to her crippled father, whom she left in an armchair to await his turn and she fled. She was captured and spent the war in a camp with her two young daughters, enduring forced labor and “making coffee” — a euphemism for forced sex with officers. Now, in peacetime, she does not know whether to wait and hope that her husband will return, or give up and leave Sarajevo, killing him in her own mind.

(…)

* Read Ed Vulliamy’s article published in The Draw Bridge :

Still they applaud as the river turns red

Ed Vulliamy

Twelve years ago, I talked to a girl called Zehra whose face, ears and hands had melted like wax. She was the sole survivor from a house into which some seventy people – Bosnian Muslims aged from two days to 78 years old – had been packed and incinerated alive. It had happened in the town of Visegrad, nestled in the Drina valley at a particularly beautiful moment in its flow, where precipitous rocks give way to a verdant valley.

“The Serbs took a garage door from another house and put it up against the balcony, so we couldn’t get out,” recalled Zehra. “We weren’t screaming or banging on the doors, just crying because we knew what was going to happen. Then they set the house on fire and everyone inside was screaming, but nobody could get out. I saw the window in the garage door and I pulled myself through it. I was the only one who got out. I pulled off my burning clothes. Outside the Serbs were standing around watching the house go up in flames. They were drunk and playing music very, very loud.”

Spanning the river at Visegrad is a glorious bridge, iconic of Bosnia: an Ottoman structure of pumice stone, hewn in 1571 and inspiration for a Nobel prize-winning novel by Ivo Andric, Bridge Over the Drina. In the book, the bridge bears silent witness to Bosnia’s history. But Andric died in 1975, seventeen years before the bridge was turned into a slaughterhouse. Night after night, truckloads of Bosnian Muslim civilians were taken down to the bridge by Bosnian Serb paramilitaries, unloaded, sometimes slashed with knives, sometimes shot, and thrown into the river, dead or in various states of half-death, turning the Drina’s turquoise current red with blood. Witnesses to this carnage also remember the booze and song, the air of festivity in the proceedings.

We are used to thinking of rage as a last resort, unleashed when humanity is at its wits’ end. Some is blind rage, like ghetto riots after Martin Luther King was assassinated. Some is just human, like the estimable reaction of Bobby Gillespie, singer with Primal Scream, who attacked a tannoy at Chalk Farm station, unable to bear any more announcements about planned engineering works (why doesn’t everyone do that?). Then there is genuine outrage, such as one feels upon learning that Tony Blair’s conversion to Catholicism fuelled his determination to go to war in Iraq, just as he secures a post teaching divinity at Yale and accepts yet another greedily lucrative investment banking consultancy, like a camel breezing through the eye of a needle into the Kingdom of Heaven. Such rage is righteous and rational but has no impact beyond oneself and one’s sleep.

But what is this other rage which seems to have little motive and no anger behind it? The rage of the boozers and singers who lock families and babies into houses and set them alight? Rage against a group or individual which one knows to be spurious (the Serbs knew perfectly well their Muslim neighbours were not “Jihadis”), yet generates some of the most horrific violence. Rage that is tribal, but ultimately recreational.

Continues in the print edition. Order now.