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

23.11.2011

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.

Detention
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.

 

Source

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