Archive for Vilina Vlas

For those who can tell no tales

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on July 24, 2013 by visegrad92

A new film by Jasmila Zbanic about an Australian tourist discovers the silent legacy of wartime atrocities when she arrives in a seemingly idyllic little town on the border of Bosnia and Serbia.

This is based on a true story about tourism, memory, genocide in Visegrad.

University of Graz honors Visegrad victims

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on October 12, 2012 by visegrad92

The Institute for Slavic Studies, University of Graz posted on their website a press release and photo of the memorial at Straziste cemetery in Visegrad. In the press release, the Institute explains how the Institute director before the start of the symposium, laid flowers at the memorial on Straziste cemetery and how she  was forbidden to speak at the symposium.

We welcome the actions taken by the Institute and especially thank Prof. Dr. Renate Hasen-Kokorus for courage and defiance shown in Visegrad. 

Bosnia twenty years on: victims return to Višegrad to bury their dead

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 1, 2012 by visegrad92
Richard Newell , 20 June 2012

Saturday morning, May 26, 2012, a convoy of ‘Centrotrans’ buses leaves Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Hercegovina, heading eastwards into Republika Srpska to Višegrad, a town straddling the Drina, a beautiful river whose green waters cleave northward through the deep, wooded valleys of eastern Bosnia. The buses are headed to the 20th anniversary commemoration of the town’s ethnic cleansing.
During 1992, Bosnian Serb nationalists, locals who were aided by Serbia proper in the form of the Yugoslav National Army, ‘cleansed’ the town and the surrounding hamlets of their Muslim neighbours. Their remains can now (not) be found at the bottom of the green Drina or in mass graves around the locale.

The people filling the buses this grey morning are relatives, refugees and victims, all going back to commemorate or to bury family and friends.

 What took place in Višegrad has yet to be officially labelled as genocide. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) trials have failed to designate the crimes with that status, yet it is difficult to see it any other way. 

Some 3,000 Bosnian Muslims were identified, seized and then slaughtered by a mixture of local police and the Army of Republika Srpska. On June 14th, 1992 in a house on Pionirska Street, Višegrad, fifty-nine Bosniak women and children, along with the elderly, were burnt alive. Milan and Sredoje Lukic, cousins and leaders of the local Serb nationalist militia, then repeated the crime thirteen days later in Bikavac where sixty Bosniak civilians were locked into a house and then burned alive.

Up in Vilina Vlas, a spa close to the town, a rape camp was established; some reports claim that as many as 200 women were held there. It is now a spa once again. You can buy postcards of it in the tourist shop just off the Mehmed Paša Sokolović Bridge. 

This bridge–the beautiful, famous bridge built in 1571 by the Ottoman empire, immortalised and seemingly immortal–is at the heart of a Nobel prize-winning book,The Bridge on the Drina, penned by long time Višegrad resident, Ivo Andric. The bridge was the centre-piece of Višegrad’s beauty, standing unmoved by time and tide with a deft, yet solid elegance as empires rose and fell around it.
 Rumour has it, though, that some among the town’s older generations no longer walk on it. Perhaps they remember when it was awash with blood as their Muslims neighbours were brought to be killed on it, their throats slit before they were pushed into the writhing river below.

This event is both a commemoration and a burial. Sixty six people are to be buried, their remains gathered from Lake Perucac, a man-made lake downriver towards Srebrenica. The remains of other victims are gathered from other sites. All DNA identified, they are to be laid to rest in the Muslim Straziste cemetery which stands just off Ulica Uzitskog Korpusa street, named after the Uzice Corps, the Serb-led corps of the Yugoslav National Army that took the town in 1992. Next to the cemetery hangs the ubiquitous flag of Republika Srpska.

Višegrad is now a Bosnian Serb town. The cemetery is the only land left to the people who have either lived or died there as Muslims. There are two token mosques, but neither is used.

The Centrotrans buses, having crossed the beautiful, waterlogged heights of Romanija, bring several thousand people back to a place they once considered home. 
It had rained during the night and the ground is damp; the freshly dug graves have water at the bottom. The prior week, a team of volunteers had come out and cleaned the cemetery, cutting the grass and branches and clearing the place for today.

 As the ceremony begins, a monument, an enlarged replica of Nisan, the headstone erected above Muslim graves, is unveiled, inscribed with text on all four sides. It stands under a newly erected flagpole from whence the Bosnian flag now hangs. The monument is unveiled by two girls who had come to bury their grandfather. They are being filmed by Al Jazeera Balkans as the Bosnian national anthem is heard throughout the town.

The ceremony is long. For non-Bosnians and non-Muslims, it is difficult to follow. Even more difficult is interpreting the mood of the people. Similar to many other such ceremonies across Bosnia, imams stand, chew gum and chat as prayers are called and people are buried. The weeping of widows, sisters and mothers is mixed with general conversation. People answer cell phones with a loud, jocular “Hej, gdje si? Sta ima?” In In previous years people would sit and watch, eating sandwiches, although this custom is now banned. The ceremony culminates with the burials of sixty-six Muslims in the now familiar timber coffins with a green cloth-covered frame, numbers and a name displayed on the front. 
Sixty-six people, twenty years later.

After this everyone descends through the silent town. Children leaving school stand and stare. They do not remember a Višegrad with a Muslim population; they do not remember a war. They know only what they are taught by their parents and in school. The rest watch impassively from windows and balconies. Everyone is hyper-sensitive to any signs of trouble or provocation. There are none. The younger adults of the town do not hide their smirks, however. We pass “Andricgrad,” a new mini- town being built by movie director Emir Kusturica and funded in part by Milorad Dodik, President of Republika Sprska, personally. It will be the set for a film production of Bridge on the Drina. One imagines that in the now homogeneously Serb town of Višegrad the director may well have to reinterpret Andric’s depiction of the town (and its bridge) to reflect the new Muslim-less history that is now commonplace in Republika Srpska.

The crowds gather on the bridge, filling it. The sides are lined with roses, and from the parapet of the bridge two long strips of red cloth dangle. Then, more speeches. The cafe adjoining the bridge makes a great place from which to view the proceedings; it is filled with both residents and people who have come for the ceremony. Some of the locals leave; others sit back and watch. Two lads in particular grin and raise their glasses to each other. The cafe owner turns the music up to drown out the speeches; the bouncy euro-techno beat of “Du hast den schonsten arsch der welt ” [“You have the most beautiful arse in the world”] drifts out across the river. On the bridge the speeches continue for another half an hour before finally the roses are cast into the water to the sound of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” seeping out from the cafe.

The Centrotrans buses are now lined up and waiting, and the bridge empties quickly. It is a two and a half hour trip back to Sarajevo.

 Turning back to look as the buses pull away, the bridge stands immortally, hopefully a silent, terrible witness, a monument unintended. And beneath it the green Drina continues to flow.
 I doubt Višegrad will ever be beautiful again.


Visegrad mass murderers: Oliver Krsmanovic

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on February 1, 2012 by visegrad92

Facts of the Indictment:

The Indictment alleges inter alia that in the period from spring 1992 to the fall 1995, the Accused Oliver Krsmanović, as a member of the 2nd Podrinjska Light Infantry Brigade, perpetrated and aided in the perpetration of murders and enforced disappearances of the non-Serb civilian population of Višegrad Municipality. According to the Indictment, the Accused Krsmanović participated in severe deprivation of physical liberty and other inhumane acts intentionally causing strong bodily and mental pain and suffering to the non-Serb civilians. It is also alleged that on 27 June 1992, the Accused Krsmanović, together with Milan Lukić and members of his group, participated in an unlawful imprisonment of 70 Bosniak civilians and their killing in the settlement of Bikavac, Višegrad Municipality. In early June 1992, the Accused Krsmanović participated in the rape and other forms of grave sexual abuse of the Bosniak women unlawfully detained in the Vilina Vlas hotel in Višegrad Municipality. (Source: Court of Bosnia & Herzegovine)

Biggest Bosnia rape camp: first indictment

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on December 6, 2011 by visegrad92


The first indictment for crimes committed against girls and young women kept in the Vilina Vlas ‘rape camp’ near Visegrad, eastern Bosnia, has been confirmed by the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo.Oliver Krsmanovic was a close ally of Bosnian Serb commander Milan Lukic, sentenced to life imprisonment by the ICTY.  

By Nidzara Ahmetasevic in Sarajevo

Human torch
Krsmanovic, according to this indictment, was a member of the 2nd Podrinjska Light Infantry Brigade of the Army of Republika Srpska from 1992 to 1995. He is indicted for crimes against humanity and violating the laws and practices of warfare. The prosecution claims Krsmanovic “perpetrated and aided in the perpetration of murders and enforced disappearances of the non-Serb civilian population of Višegrad”. They will try to prove that he participated in “severe deprivation of physical liberty and other inhumane acts intentionally causing strong bodily and mental pain and suffering” of civilians.
[related-articles]According to this indictment, Krsmanovic on 27 June 1992, together with Lukić and members of his group, imprisoned 70 Bosnian Muslim civilians in the settlement of Bikavac where they were locked in a house and burned alive.

Sjeverin massacre
Krsmanovic was free until May this year even though he was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment in 2003 in Serbia for participating, again with Lukic, in the massacre on 22 October 1992 of 16 Bosnian Muslims from the village of Sjeverin. They were abducted from the village of Mioce, and taken to Vilina Vlas where they were tortured and later executed at the banks of the river Drina.
Krsmanovic may become the first ever person to be sentenced for crimes commited in Vilina Vlas, the place where during 1992 more than 200 girls and women were kept, some of them for more than one month, brutally tortured and repeatedly raped. Some of the victims were as young as 12. According to association Women Victims of War, only four women survived this rape camp.

The lake
The bodies of others have still not been found, but it is believed that some could be identified among bodily remains found this year at the bottom of the Lake of Perucac, near Visegrad.
One of them, A.T. – a protected witness in one of the Visegrad-related cases before the Court of BiH, told this author that she was kept in a room with four other women, kept in handcuffs and gang-raped daily. “They abused us in unspeakable ways. They burned me with cigarettes, cut my body with a knife and ripped flesh from my mouth.
“We couldn’t talk. We just stared into a point in the corner, crayed and completely lost. We didn’t know what time it was. The only time we knew was when they came for us,” she recalled.
Even though survivors spoke about Lukic’s role in establishing and running this camp, he was not indicted by the ICTY for crimes in Vilina Vlas. Years ago, asked by victims’ assosiations why Lukic was not indicted for Vilina Vlas crimes, foremer chief prosecutor in The Hague Carla del Ponte, said that the prosecution could not find enough witnesses to come forward with such evidence.

Krsmanovic is currently in detention after the State prosecution in Bosnia claimed that some of the potential witnesses in this case had asked for protection because they were afraid of the suspect.
Until his arrest, Krsmanovic lived freely in Visegrad. After his arrest, he said that he had lived in his house in Visegrad and that nobody ever came to look for him until May this year. The association Women Victims of War has repeatedly asked for this arrest over the years.



The Rapist from Vilina Vlas

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on August 5, 2011 by visegrad92

The Vilina Vlas Spa motel was a site of mass rape of Bosniak girls and women during the Visegrad Genocide. This was confirmed during the Zeljko Lelek case.

Image: Zeljko Lelek-The Rapist from Vilina Vlas

Zeljko Lelek Second Instance Judgement:

69. That the witness was at the Vilina Vlas Spa and that she was raped there bythe Accused, among others, is supported by what she said about other Muslimwomen being there, subjected to the same tortures. First of all, the witness D,as well as a certain Jasmina, of whom the witness said, “…Jasmina looked miserable, she was in a corner… and he (meaning the Accused ) approached Jasmina“, she heard later that Jasmina jumped off the window. The defence witness Petar Mitrović also confirmed these allegations when he says that hewent to the Spa together with the Accused and that they found out there thattheir Bosniak neighbours were killed, and that Jasmina Ahmetspahić jumpedoff the window. This witness actually connected the Accused with the timeand place of the acts under this Count of the Indictment.

70. On the basis of the testimony of the witness M.H. the Trial Judgement (pp.40-43.) reasoned its conclusion very clearly and precisely that the acts of the Accused constitute the elements of the criminal offence of rape outlawed byArt. 172(1)(g) CC BiH, and that this rape constitutes the act of torture as well. This is because the witness was brought to the Vilina Vlas Spa to besadistically abused by the perpetrators only because she belongs to a particularethnic group and for illicit discriminatory purposes. Before this instance ofrape she was sexually abused on multiple occasions and the Accused raped herwhile she was in such physical and mental pain, despite her obvious suffering,and this was all done to severely humiliate her and degrade her dignity.

Today Vilina Vlas is still a motel visited by local and foreign tourists. It is estimated that more than a hundred Bosniak girls and women were in Vilina Vlas. Only a few managed to survive.

What is the Visegrad Genocide?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 21, 2009 by visegrad92

The Višegrad genocide was an act of ethnic cleansing and mass murder of Bosniak civilians that occurred in the town of Višegrad in eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina, committed by Bosnian Serb Army and Police forces at the start of the Bosnian War during the spring of 1992. Over a period of four months, Bosniaks were murdered, tortured, raped and publicly humiliated on a daily basis in Visegrad’s streets, in the victim homes and in concentration camps.

Image: Exhumation of Bosniak genocide victims in Straziste cemetary, Visegrad, 2009.

According to ICTY documents, based on  victims reports, some 3,000 Bosniaks were murdered during the violence in Višegrad and its surrounding, including some 600 women and 119 children. It is estimated that over a hundred Bosniak women were raped by Bosnian Serbs which was part of a systematic genocidal rape warfare used by the Bosnian Serb Army and Police throughout occupied Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Višegrad genocide was one of the worst during the Bosnian Genocide 1992-95 because it was mostly committed by local Serbs and  it occurred over a period of several months:

April-May was marked by the Yugoslav Peoples’ Army occupation on 15 April; arrests and murders of Bosniak intellectuals, looting, beatings, by Bosnian Serb Police and Yugoslav Peoples’ Army;

June-July was marked with systematic destruction of mosques and other Islamic architecture, several massacres of Bosniak civilians by Bosnian Serb Army including the Barimo massacre, Bosanska Jagodina massacre, Paklenik massacre and the infamous Bikavac and Pioneer Street live pyres where dozens of Bosniak civilians – elderly, women and children(including a two-day old baby) were burnt alive; besides these outragest crimes, the most brutal were committed on the Ottoman Mehmed-pasa Sokolovic Bridge where for weeks, Bosniak civilians were brought to the bridge, murdered either by knife or gun and thrown into the river Drina;

Augustby this time, most of Visegrad’s Bosniak population was murdered, raped, deported or exchanged. There were still Bosniaks in concentration camps like Uzamnica military camp or Vilina Vlas, the infamous spa motel-turned rape motel were hundreds of Bosniak women were raped numerous times by Bosnian Serb Army and Police. A little known fact is that until 1995, in Višegrad, there were dozens of Bosniaks who were working as forced labour on private and community farms. They were exchanged by wars end in 1995.

→ Until today the following have been convicted for war crimes convicted  in Visegrad:

1 )Novo Rajak;

2 )Nenad Tanaskovic;

3 )Boban Simsic;

4 )Zeljko Lelek;

5 )Momir Savic;

6 )Milan Lukic;

7 )Sredoje Lukic;

8 )Mitar Vasiljevic

Read more :

+ Crisis Committee Visegrad(Krizni štab)

+ Eliticide in Visegrad

+ Destruction of mosques in Visegrad Municipality

+ Visegrad Genocide Denial

The abysses behind the façades of eastern Bosnia

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 26, 2009 by visegrad92

Author: Martin Woker, Visegrad
Uploaded: Monday, 21 July, 2008

A moving report translated from ‘Neue Zürcher Zeitung’ (Zurich) outlines the problems faced by those who would like to market the Bridge over the Drina in the small town of Visegrad in eastern Bosnia. The Visegrad authorities are hoping for a boost from the fact that the bridge has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But the town is a place still burdened by the terrible crimes committed there in the recent war.

Sometimes a paint-job renovation can really work wonders. Thus, for instance, in the shady garden of the Hotel Visegrad in the small town of the same name in eastern Bosnia. The furniture has been freshly painted and the façade of the inn also glows in new colours. The tables are well occupied at lunchtime today, mainly by locals, as one can tell from the licence plates of the cars in the parking lot. Five years ago the place still looked completely run-down and was hardly frequented by visitors. Its garden restaurant is located next to the eastern end of the stone bridge, which was built 420 years ago to make a difficult and dangerous river-crossing easier on the highway leading from Sarajevo to Istanbul. This spring, UNESCO’s secretary-general, Koichiro Matsuura, visited and bestowed a certificate on the bridge, which had been inscribed on the World Heritage List the previous year. Since that time, Bosnia-Herzegovina is now represented by two sites on UNESCO’s list: the bridge over the Neretva in Mostar, and the one over the Drina in Visegrad.

A stage for three and a half centuries

Unlike the bridge in Mostar, which was completely destroyed in the recent war and became a much-photographed object once again only after being rebuilt four years ago, the Bridge of Mehmed Pasha Sokolovic in Visegrad is at least in part an original structure that bears witness to ‘the cultural exchanges between the Balkans, the Ottoman Empire and the Mediterranean world, between Christianity and Islam, through the long course of history,’ in UNESCO’s formulation. What is understood by such cultural exchanges was described by the author (and

diplomat) Ivo Andric, who grew up in Visegrad living with his aunt and died in 1975, in his most famous work, The Bridge on the Drina. The novel was part of his Bosnian trilogy, which earned him the Nobel Prize for literature in 1961. Andric’s works were required reading in the schools of the former Yugoslavia.

‘The bridge is about two hundred and fifty paces long and about ten paces wide save in the middle where it widens out into two completely equal terraces placed symmetrically on either side of the roadway and making it twice its normal width. This was the part of the bridge known as the kapija, the gate. Two buttresses had been built there on each side of the central pier which had been splayed out towards the top, so that to right and left of the roadway there were two terraces daringly and harmoniously projecting outwards from the straight line of the bridge over the noisy green waters far below. … That on the right as one came from the town was called the sofa. It was raised by two steps and bordered by benches for which the parapet served as a back steps, benches and parapet were all made of the same shining stone. That on the left, opposite the sofa, was similar but without benches. … On this part of the terrace a coffee-maker had installed himself with his copper vessels and Turkish cups and ever-lighted charcoal brazier, and an apprentice who took the coffee over the way to the guests on the sofa. Such was the kapija.’

In the 400 pages that follow, the kapija to a certain extent forms the stage for a lively tableau, extending over three and a half centuries, of life in Andric’s home town and of its Muslim, Christian and Jewish inhabitants. For a long time the bridge freed Visegrad from its geographically marginal position and brought travellers from all the world to the little town. The aim of the present local authorities is to find a way to latch on to this tradition. Opposite the hotel stands a new pavilion, recently built and still closed and empty but already marked as a tourist information centre. Right around the corner, built in a daring Yugo-modernist style, is the tall Robna kuca. That is what almost all department stores were called in the former Yugoslavia. In Visegrad, where the sparse traffic makes pedestrian zones unnecessary, this relic of a vanished era has not only survived but, it appears, it has even gotten a new paint job. Nevertheless, this Visegrad is hardly a boom town, but thanks to the bridge that is supposed to change soon.

Bold plans

At least that’s how the future looks to Milan Milicevic, the town’s current mayor and a member of the Serbian Democratic Party, founded by Radovan Karadzic. The chain-smoking town father first presents the visitor with an English edition of Andric’s novel, autographed by the mayor himself. Then he lays out his bold plans, which are to culminate in a close partnership with the

city of Mostar and are to include a project to rebuild a narrow-gauge railroad that was abandoned in the 1970s. All that is to be for the enjoyment of future hordes of tourists, who can come here to admire a newly re-established Orthodox monastery and, of course, the bridge, which is to be artfully restored in the near future by a Turkish firm, at a cost of 3 million euros.

At present, says Milicevic, most of the visitors come from Serbia or from the Republika Srpska, as the entity created during the recent war calls itself. But the first Japanese and Germans have already been sighted. An upswing in tourism is expected, he says. But where in Visegrad are all these foreign visitors supposed to stay overnight? Those coming from the Dalmatian coast could not possibly do the excursion as a day-trip. No problem, says the mayor. In the town and its vicinity there are three hotels with more than 400 beds.

One of these stands in a lonesome, wooded side-valley a bit further downstream and is part of a spa resort called Vilina Vlas. On the steps leading into the barely 30-year-old building (also built in the unmistakable Yugo-style) two cigarette-smoking gentlemen are standing, one of them with crutches. They are here to take the cure in the healing waters of the hot springs, which contain radioactive elements. The hotel is still awaiting privatization. The city administration, its present owner, has had some of the walls freshly painted, which however has not really improved matters. Seven cars and a tour bus (with Serbian licence plates) stand in the parking lot. Most of the 160 beds are not taken, despite the moderate price charged for room and board. Unthinking visitors from rich Europe might possibly appreciate the down-at-the-heels exoticism of the place. Unless they thought first to enter its name into an internet search engine.

Whoever does that will encounter abysses of human perversion that would shake even the most blunted sensibilities. Those who come across the research of the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network [BIRN] concerning the events of April 1992 in Vilina Vlas will find themselves transported into a wartime reality that could not be more terrible or more repulsive. The hotel served as the headquarters for the Serb militia in Visegrad during that period, while they were carrying out the so-called ‘ethnic cleansing’ of the area. At the same time it also served as a provisional prison for abducted Muslim civilians, mainly women and girls who were systematically raped in the hotel rooms. There are credible witness testimonies of the most severely abused female captives, who saved themselves from their tormentors by leaping across the balcony railings and committing suicide. The principal perpetrator and leader of the militia was a man born in the region, 25 years old at the time, by the name of Milan Lukic, who in the early spring of 1992, when fighting first broke out in the Drina valley, left his place of residence in Zurich in order to turn the idea of a Greater Serbia, promoted by figures such as Vojislav Seselj and other war criminals, into a reality in his homeland.

What was required to achieve this aim was the expulsion of all non-Serbs from Visegrad and its surroundings. In the 1991 census, 62 percent of the slightly more than 21,000 inhabitants had identified themselves as Bosniaks (Muslims), while only half as many were Serbs. Thus, just as in other regions of Bosnia affected by ‘ethnic cleansing,’ terror was employed as the principal method of driving out the Muslim majority population in Visegrad. The indictment issued against Milan Lukic by the UN tribunal in The Hague lists a series of executions and murders of Muslim civilians. Women, men, old people and children died locked inside houses which were set on fire by Lukic’s militiamen. Rapes, however, are not mentioned in the indictment.

Unpunished crimes

Bakira Hasecic, president of the association ‘Women Victims of War in Bosnia and Herzegovina,’ has bitter things to say about this fact. She herself comes from Visegrad, a survivor of rapes and other abuse along with her two underage daughters, and she is sure that she would always recognize Milan Lukic again, since he is missing an index finger. The event that prompted the founding of the association was a one-day organized return of Muslim women to Visegrad to visit their destroyed homes. What caused most indignation during the visit, says Hasecic, was that she and the other women recognized three of their former tormentors, although the men were now wearing the uniforms of the regular police of the Republika Srpska. The three later may well have been brought before a court. But the shock the women suffered finally prompted them to establish the association. Prior to that, the subject of rapes had been treated as strictly taboo in Bosnia. ‘It was very difficult for us to admit it publicly,’ says Hasecic, ‘we had to lay bare our souls to do it.’

That conversation took place two years ago, on the occasion of a showing of the award-winning Bosnian film Grbavica, which is based on the theme of a girl born as a result of a wartime rape and her relationship with her mother. At the time, Hasecic and other women victims from Visegrad could not understand why Milan Lukic, who was arrested in Argentina in the summer of 2005, was not charged also with rape, even though there was more than enough judicially relevant evidence for it. According to a report by BIRN, the prosecutors in The Hague have recently asked the court to expand Lukic’s indictment to include charges of rape, torture and abuse of prisoners. The acceptance of this request by the court would mean a partial success for the association of women victims: a result of their tirelessly maintained public pressure.

Function as a meeting place lost

Their insistence on reminding the public of the countless atrocities which took place only 16 years ago, and which for the most part have not led to prosecutions of those responsible, necessarily brought Hasecic and other victims of the war into the foreground of UNESCO’s festive certification of the bridge. On the bridge they placed a memorial tablet (which has long since been removed again), and they read out a list of the names of all the victims of the war from the Visegrad region: 3,000 according to their count, while other sources speak of between 1,200 and 1,500 dead. In any case, Visegrad is no longer the town described by Andric. Only a very small number of the expelled Bosniaks have returned to their rebuilt houses. Their exact number is unknown. The ‘ethnic cleansing’ of the region has been accomplished; what remains is a town robbed of its Balkan multiculturalism and thereby deprived of its richness.

On the day after the murder of the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, Franz Ferdinand, on 28 June 1914, writes Andric, an official announcement was posted on the kapija: ‘… printed in fat letters and framed with a broad black border. It announced to the people the news of the assassination of the crown prince in Sarajevo, and expressed outrage over this misdeed. But not one among those who passed in front of the announcement stopped to read it, but all passed by the poster and by the guard posted there with their heads lowered, walking as fast as they could.’

As of three months ago, a plaque placed at the end of the bridge announces its world-wide significance as a heritage site. The inscription arouses the interest of very few tourists who have come to visit the bridge on this early summer day. The locals who would pass it with their heads bowed are not to be seen. The historic structure has lost its function as a meeting place. The last time that the kapija served as a stage, for the time being, was during the summer of 1992. It was a stage for the murder of innocents, whose bodies disappeared into the Drina. But there is neither a novel nor an inscription to bear witness to that. And it is also not mentioned in the new tourist guidebooks that are gradually starting to appear again in Bosnia. Could it be that the paint-job renovation has achieved the effect it aimed for? Let us hope not.

Translated by András Riedlmayer from Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 11 July 2008. Martin Voker is the newspaper’s South-East Europe correspondent

Source: Bosnian Institute

BH Government Report on crimes committed in Visegrad

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 21, 2009 by visegrad92
Image: Members of the Bosnian Serb Army, Special Unit “Avengers” in Visegrad 1992.

Report submitted by the BiH government to the Human Rights Committee of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Document submitted in compliance with a special decision of the Committee* : Bosnia and Herzegovina. 27/04/93.
CCPR/C/89. (Additional Info from State Party)

Convention Abbreviation: CCPR

Document submitted in compliance with a special decision
of the Committee*
[30 October 1992]


32. The identical programme has been carried out in the Višegrad region. The camps there have been established in the Fire Station, the “Vilina Vlas” Hotel, the High School Centre, the Primary School “Hasan Deretovac”, the former JNA garrison at Vardište, and the Primary School “Zelimir Ðuric Zeljo” at Prelevo. Special places of execution included private houses in which the aggressor kept dozens of prisoners. Most of these prisoners were killed, while the rest of them were sent to the hard labour camps. In the “Vilina Vlas” Hotel, Muslim women and teenage girls were subjected to brutal abuse by local Chetniks, then either murdered or exiled from the Višegrad region. The crimes were also committed at the following locations: the old and the new bridge on the River Drina, and near the village of Prelevo. Mass murders were committed there – people were either shot or slaughtered, or simply burned. In a house in Višegrad (on Pionirska Street), 60 people were kept inside and then set on fire, the same happened to 70 people in the Bikavac settlement. The activities of some humanitarian organizations were also abused; through the Red Cross the extremists have formed the so-called refugee committees inviting the non-Serbian population to seek shelter at “more secure places in Tuzla, Skopje, or Hungary”, then taking those gathered to the places of execution.

33. After the Chetniks’ defeat at Zepa, the Serbian terrorists surrounded the village of Zlijeb with the ultimatum that all villagers should move out. Those gathered were taken to the village Obravnje, then by trucks to Višegrad’s Fire House, where they were robbed, women and girls taken out of line and raped. These women were subjected to repeated mistreatment and rape, while the men were slaughtered on the bridge of the River Drina, their heads cut off and kicked, the bodies thrown into the river. While committing these crimes, the terrorists laughed, cursed the Ustashi, shouting that was “the massacre of Zepa people”, and that the “Turkish women will from now on give birth to Serbs and Chetniks”. A retired police officer by the name of Zaric was slaughtered slowly and savagely. The uniforms of the criminals and the bridge itself were all bloodied, while the terrorists themselves boasted that they were slaughtering all men under 50. Those over 50 were beaten up and left to be exchanged later on.

34. On 18 June, the extremists slaughtered 22 Muslims on the new bridge in Višegrad, the executors being Milan Lukic, Jovan Planojevic, and one Momir. The Lukic group tore out the kidneys of several individuals, while the others were tied to cars and dragged through the streets. Children were thrown from the bridge and shot at before they hit the water. Those who organized the ethnic cleansing of the territory also include Mr. Risto Perišic and Mr. Vladimir Tanasijevic, who also issued ultimatums to the Muslim population to move out. Mr. Planojevic took the looted goods to Šeganje. The crimes are also committed by members of the Srpko Popovic group to which Mr. Milan Milovanovic also belongs. They have killed dozens of Muslims, while Mr. Popovic, who in a single day had killed 17 persons, often takes the Muslims to the Višegrad Electric Plant, locks them in a room, then kills them and throws them into the river releasing the water from the reservoir. After having promised safe conduct by buses to the town of Olovo, they put a group of about 60 women, children and old men into a house and set them on fire. The Chetniks have also tied a large number of Muslims and then thrown them into the River Drina from the bridge; the mouths of some of them were stuffed with the explosives which were then detonated. Among the terrorists, the most cruel include the former member of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Višegrad: Dragan and Boban Tomic, Nedo Sekulic and his sons Dragan and Veljko, Mirko Lakic and one Lukic. Apart from the Muslim apartments they also loot the apartments of those Serbs they do not regard as loyal. The looters also include Mr. Vlado Tanaskovic, Mr. Borislav Furtula, and one Andric.

35. In some villages the agressors have killed men right away, while some of those captured have been brutally tortured. In the village of Drinsko, Višegrad, Bodo Tabakovic died a terrible death after having been horseshoed. Women and children were put in one of the houses, while the village was looted, then taken to another village which was to be looted, so the group of prisoners multiplied. A group of 58 women and children from the villages of Kurspahici and Koritnik was put in a house which was then set on fire by Slavko Gabrilovic, Mile Joksimovic, Zoran Joksimovic, and Boško Ðuric. Though the Chetniks quarrelled over the looted goods, they still took groups of people from one village to another, thus transporting some of them to the Visoko region. In the village of Musici near Višegrad, Chetnik Lukic threatened women and children, asking them whether they would like to be killed, bombed, or slaughtered. Several days before the attack, the same guaranteed the villagers their peace and security, claiming later on that taking away the male population meant nothing else but a retribution for the killed Serbs. Lukic also took part in bringing a number of teenage girls to the Višegrad Bath, where they were raped, while the mothers who reported these crimes to the so-called Serbian Secretariat of Internal Affairs were told by the Chetniks that “the Turks also do nasty things to Serbian kids”. After repeated attacks by various Chetnik formations and a total plunder of Muslim houses, the so-called Serbian territorials would enter the village and issue ultimatums – that the inhabitants clear out the village “within an hour, never to return”.


Source: United Nations, Human Rights Committee

Prison camps in Visegrad region

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 24, 2009 by visegrad92

Prisoners at Trnopolje concentration camp in Prijedor Municipality 1992.

Prisoners at Trnopolje concentration camp in Prijedor Municipality 1992.

Final report of the United Nations Commission of Experts
established pursuant to
security council resolution 780 (1992)

Annex VIII – part 1/10
Prison camps

The full report can be found here.


There are reports of 21 Serb-run camps established in the Visegrad region as part of this «ethnic cleansing» campaign. They were first created in April and May 1992 and appear to have run throughout July and August, although most of their precise dates of existence are unspecified. These camps are as follows: Banja Suse, Bikavac Hotel, a building above a tunnel, a factory in Visegrad, the fire station at Visegrad, the former police station in Visegrad, Hasan Beretovac Primary School, Hasan Veletovic Primary School at Gucine, Pozarnica Barracks, Prelovo Camp, stable of Guso Salko, Varda Sawmill or Plant, Vardiste Barracks, Vilina Vlas Hotel, Visegrad Electric Plant, Visegrad High School Centre, Visegrad Sports Centre, Uzemnica or Uramnica Barracks, the Zelimir Djuric Zeljo Primary School in Prelevo, and Zamjenica Garrison. There are also reports that prisoners were held in private homes and apartments.

These camps held Muslim inhabitants from Visegrad and the surrounding villages. Several of them were specifically established to detain women for the purposes of rape. Members of Serbian military and paramilitary forces as well as local civilians would regularly visit these camps. Rape was apparently so common in the region that one nurse at a refugee shelter in Zenica stated, «Virtually every young woman who fled (Donji Vakuf, Foca, or) Visegrad after Serb extremists began what they call »ethnic cleansing« was raped.» *4238


Annex VIII : Prison camps (part 8/10)

Banja Suse: (The existence of this detention facility has not been corroborated by multiple sources.) There is one report that during the initial attack on Visegrad in April, a man and his two sons were taken to a camp at Banja Suse. *4243 Apparently, this camp was near the River Drina. All the report describes is that a unit of the Serbian Territorial Defence stationed on the other side of the river suddenly opened fire on the camp. The man and children detained there escaped by swimming along the river. *4244

Bikavac Hotel: (The existence of this detention facility has been corroborated by multiple sources however none among them are neutral.) Bikavac was a detention camp where Muslim women were held for the purposes of rape and sexual abuse. *4245 There are alleged to have been girls under the age of 14 at this camp. *4246

This hotel was also the headquarters of the Serbian Territorial Defence and the White Eagles. It appears the hotel may have been the combined headquarters of the two armed forces. *4247 An identified man was the manager of the hotel and was alleged to be involved in activities there. *4248

Building above tunnel in Visegrad: (The existence of this detention facility has not been corroborated by multiple sources.) There is one report that girls were taken by «Cetniks» and detained in «a building above the tunnel» in Visegrad. *4249 There is no further information about this camp.

Factory in Visegrad: (The existence of this detention facility has been corroborated by a neutral source, namely the Defence Debriefing Team.) The Defence Debriefing Team reported the existence of a camp at a factory in Visegrad in December 1992. *4250 No other details are included.

Fire Station in Visegrad: (The existence of this detention facility has been corroborated by multiple sources however none among them are neutral.) The fire station at Visegrad was one of the main detention facilities in the area. There are no indications of exactly where in Visegrad this fire station is located; it is only described as having a «big open area» below it. *4251 Most prisoners at the station came from Zlijeb and Visegrad although there is a report that a group of young girls came from Kuke. *4252 Those from Zlijeb arrived sometime in June after the attack of their village by Arkan’s units. *4253 The exact dates of the other groups’ detention are unknown.

The fire station was a holding facility from where prisoners were often taken and returned. During detention, prisoners were temporarily taken to the police station, Vilina Vlas Hotel, and private homes for the purposes of interrogation and rape. While at the station, prisoners were also raped, beaten, killed, and made to do hard labour. *4254

The most detailed description of the station comes from an ex-prisoner who was held there for five days in late May 1992. *4255 In her testimony, the witness refers to the camp as the «Fireman’s Society». She was a particular target for rape and interrogation by the «Cetniks» because she was originally from Zepa, and they wanted information about Muslim military activities there. *4256

While she was at the station, 130 people were also detained, 20 of them men. Upon her arrival, the «Cetniks» lined up 15 kids and told everyone, «If anyone does anything against us, all 15 will be killed, and we will line up another 15.» *4257 Thereafter, the prisoners were separated by gender and taken in groups of five to a «receiving area» where they were stripped naked and searched by guards. They were told that if they withheld any valuables, they would be killed. *4258

She reports that on the first night, an unknown number of «Cetniks» came and took away two young girls to be raped. The mother of the children tried to give them some previously hidden money, but this did not stop them. Instead, they simply took the mother and forced her to watch the rapes. *4259

On the second day, another female detainee was taken away. Apparently, she was brought to the police station for questioning and returned later that day. On this same day, the witness was also taken from the station and brought to a house in the Bikavac quarter of Visegrad by a named man. There, 20 men awaited her. They gang raped her and then the man drove her back to the station. *4260

That evening, two men came to the camp with eight other men. They took away the male prisoners in groups of five and six. Approximately, 21 men were taken in all, their destination unknown. This left about 100 to 110 women and children remaining at the station. *4261

Sometime after the men were taken, the others went to sleep, but were later awakened when about seven or eight «Cetniks» showed up again with socks over their heads and «with colours and dirt on their faces». *4262 They wore plastic gloves and were shouting that they wanted to test something in the building. First, they took two girls to be raped. Then, they chose from the other women using a flashlight in the dark room to see their faces. *4263

The witness was one of the women chosen. She was taken upstairs with two others. Upstairs in the hallway, they were grabbed at and kissed by several men. Then, they were brought into a small office with four men and forced to strip naked. First, the other two women were raped. Then, they were sent into the hallway and she was left alone with the men. *4264

One of them told her to sit down «in the Turkish way» in front of him. He made her kiss the cross he wore around his neck three times and cross herself. When she told him she did not know how, another of them showed her and made her do it. He then told her that she had changed religion and that she was now a Serb. *4265

After this time, the three other men left the room. She had to perform fellatio on the perpetrator while he held a knife to her throat. He ejaculated inside her. Then, the second man came in, and she was forced to do the same thing to him, then the third, and the fourth. *4266

While upstairs, the witness noted that there were three rooms: two smaller offices and a big room where a lot of folders and paperwork were stored. The two smaller rooms were empty. She reports that only one of these rooms, the one in which she was raped, was used for rape. *4267

On the third day, she was again taken away from the station at around 2:00 p.m. The «Cetniks» took her to the «New Bridge» where they interrogated and kissed her in front of the Muslim men being killed there. *4268 She was met by a named man and brought to the Vilina Vlas Hotel. Though she had never met this man, she knew him to be one of the main perpetrators of crimes in the area. He raped her at Vilina Vlas all that day and night and brought her back to the fire station at 12:00 a.m. *4269

Only five minutes after she was returned, the «Cetniks» came for her again. This time there were three of them. They took her to an empty house not far from the station, interrogated her about Zepa, and raped her. *4270

After five days of detention, the witness was transferred with her two children to Kalina near Olovo. During her transport, the convoy was stopped three times as various «Cetniks» continued to look for her. She successfully evaded them by hiding underneath other prisoners during their searches of the convoy trucks. *4271

Among the perpetrators she reports were involved in activities at the fire station were three identified man, one man identified by nickname, and many of Arkan’s and Seselj’s men. *4272 She states, «They all had beards, black dresses, all in black with hats and Serbian crosses, long hair.» She adds that she did not know any of them from before the war but learned that some were from Uzice, Bijolje, and Visegrad. *4273

Other reports indicate that two other men were also present at the station. In addition, a man identified by one name only from Visegrad was there. *4274 One witness specifically alleges that she and three other women were raped when they had no valuables to give him. *4275

Hasan Beretovac Primary School: (The existence of this detention facility has been corroborated by multiple sources however none among them are neutral.) There is a report that a Serb-run camp was established at this school. *4276 There is no further information.

* VGM Editor’s Note: The School’s correct name is Hasan Veletovac. *

Hasan Veletovic Primary School at Gucine: (The existence of this detention facility has not been corroborated by multiple sources.) There is also a report that a camp was established here. There are no details about it other than the fact that the entire population of Crna was brought here, stripped of their valuables, and detained. *4277 This may, in fact, be the same camp reported above as Hasan Beretovac School.

* VGM Editor’s Note: The School’s correct name is Hasan Veletovac. *

High School Centre at Visegrad: (The existence of this detention facility has been corroborated by multiple sources however none among them are neutral.) A camp was established at the high school in Visegrad. *4278 There is no indication exactly where the high school is located, and no other information is included.

Former JNA Garrisons at Vardiste: *4279 (The existence of this detention facility has been corroborated by multiple sources however none among them are neutral.) There are reports that a camp existed at the former Vardiste military garrisons. *4280 No additional information was provided regarding this facility.

Former Police Station at Visegrad: (The existence of this detention facility has been corroborated by multiple sources however none among them are neutral.) The police station is alleged to have been established as a holding centre for Muslims from Visegrad upon the Serbian occupation of the area. *4281 Inhabitants were initially arrested and interrogated at the station from 14 April to 18 April and continued to be brought there throughout the summer. *4282 Here, prisoners were interrogated, beaten, tortured, and starved. *4283 According to one report, at least five prisoners were taken out a day to be killed. *4284

Pozarnica Barracks: (The existence of this detention facility has not been corroborated by multiple sources.) There is a report of a camp at the Pozarnica Barracks. *4285 No information regarding operation or control, duration or existing conditions was provided about this facility.

Prelovo: (The existence of this detention facility has been corroborated by multiple sources however none among them are neutral.) The existence of a camp is reported in Prelovo. Apparently, it was created upon the initial attack of Visegrad by Uzice corps troops in April and run by an identified man. *4286 At the camp, prisoners are alleged to have been shot and burned. *4287

Sports Centre at Visegrad: (The existence of this detention facility has not been corroborated by multiple sources.) There is a report of a camp at the «sports centre» in Visegrad. As of October 1992, it was reported that 1,000 prisoners had been detained there and 1,630 killed. *4288

Local Stable: (The existence of this detention facility has not been corroborated by multiple sources.) Muslims are said to have been arrested by an identified man and held in the stable of a certain other identified man. *4289 They were arrested and brought to the stable on 24 June 1992, but there is no indication as to how many were there or how long they stayed.

Uramnica or Uzemnica Barracks: (The existence of this detention facility has been corroborated by multiple sources however none among them are neutral.) Upon the initial attack of Visegrad, Muslims were ordered to gather at the Uramnica Barracks where they were held for three days. *4290 The report does not give a precise date of their arrest, but it was near 17 April 1992. Their destination after Uramnica is unknown.

* VGM Editor’s Note: The Barracks correct name is Uzamnica. *

Varda Electric Plant: (The existence of this detention facility has been corroborated by multiple sources however none among them are neutral.) There was allegedly a camp at Varda, a place described both as a sawmill and a plant. *4291 Over 1,000 people are estimated to have been killed there. In specific, seven people were reported killed on 11 June and 22 killed several days thereafter. *4292

Apparently, this camp was run by an identified paramilitary group. This group reportedly took Muslims to the plant, locked them in rooms, killed them, and then threw their bodies in the River Drina. *4293 Two other men are also mentioned in connection with activities there. One was seen by a witness taking workers to the sawmill on 10 June 1992. *4294 The other was known to take prisoners from Varda and have them killed at the «Old Bridge.» *4295

Vilina Vlas Hotel: (The existence of this detention facility has been corroborated by multiple sources, including Amnesty International.) Vilina Vlas was one of the main detention facilities in Visegrad. It was located in a hotel/spa about seven kilometres south-east of Visegrad proper, on the way to Gorazde. *4296 This camp was established with the coming of the Uzice Corps in the end of April. *4297 It held Muslim women for the purposes of rape, serving as a camp «brothel». Apparently, women detained here were picked up by police officers, members of the White Eagles and Arkan’s and Seselj’s men. *4298 Many of them were not yet 14 years old. *4299

Vilina Vlas was well-known as a camp which detained only young, beautiful women. One witness was told that the women brought to Vilina Vlas were chosen to bear «Cetnik» children. Hence, they were «selected» carefully and brought only here. *4300 Another relates that Muslim women who had previously brought food or other supplies to the Green Berets paramilitary troops were also brought here. *4301

One detailed report outlines the arrests of several girls from Visegrad on 9 June 1992. These girls were arrested by an identified man active at many camps in this region and taken to the hotel. *4302 One of them describes being interrogated and raped by this man. While in the room where she was raped, members of the White Eagles tried to get in to rape her as well, but the man would not let them. *4303

When the mothers of these and other girls reported their arrests to the Serbian Secretariat of International Affairs, they were simply told «the Turks also do nasty things to Serbian kids» and sent away. *4304

One witness offers a detailed description of her 24- hour stay at the hotel. At the time she was brought to Vilina Vlas, she was being detained at the fire station in Visegrad, but was taken here to be raped by a «Cetnik» known only by nickname. *4305

She describes the hotel as big, with a basement and two floors. Upon their arrival, the reception area was dark. The «Cetnik» got a key from an unidentified man at the reception area and brought the witness to the second floor. The hallway was large and ran to the left and right from the top of the stairs. There were rooms everywhere with the doors open, so she could see that they were all occupied by women prisoners and «Cetniks». *4306

Once in a room, the witness was forced to take a cold shower as this man pointed a rifle at her. Then, he left her there to get a bottle of whiskey. He returned and raped her for two hours. *4307 Afterward, she was raped by eight other men. *4308

According to this witness, the women detained at the hotel had sufficient food and drink because they were the «selected women» meant to later give birth to «Cetnik» babies. *4309 She relates that during her stay, the women and men in the rooms were hugging and kissing. She suspects that the women behaved in this way because they had given up resisting the repeated rapes. *4310

Yet overall, reports of the treatment of women at the hotel are not good. The prisoners were raped repeatedly and beaten with batons. *4311 One report alleges that some were even killed by suffocation in a system of gas pipes at the hotel. *4312 Many sent there were never seen again. *4313 Apparently, certain soldiers at the camp were taking revenge for dead Serbs at Zepa. *4314

One report describes the fate of 200 girls brought to the camp. Of them, five committed suicide by jumping form a balcony at the hotel, six others escaped and the rest were killed after multiple rapes. *4315

Once this camp became well-known it was moved. *4316 There are no details as to when this move took place or to where the camp relocated.

Zamjenica Garrison: (The existence of this detention facility has been corroborated by multiple sources however none among them are neutral.) A camp at the former Zamjenica Garrison was established after the Uzice troops entered Visegrad. *4320

Zelimir Djuric Zeljo Primary School at Prelovo: (The existence of this detention facility has not been corroborated by multiple sources.) There is alleged to have been a camp at this primary school. *4321 This may be the same camp described above as Prelovo Camp.

Private homes in Visegrad: (The existence of these detention facilities have not been corroborated by multiple sources.) There are two reports that Muslims were also held in private homes and apartments in Visegrad for varying lengths of time, but there is no information about where these homes were located. *4322

The ICRC reports visiting one camp in the region, but it is not clear which of the above-mentioned camps it was. Representatives visited «Visegrad camp» on three occasions: 12 June, 15 June, and 2 July 1992. On 12 June, they reported the detention of 58 prisoners at this camp; on 12 June, they reported 20, and on 2 July, they also reported 20 prisoners. *4323