Re: “Serbs slaughtered, too,” by Michael Pravica, Letters, April 12.
By: Daniel Toljaga
Pravica’s claim that the 1995 Srebrenica massacre was somehow justified as an act of Serb retaliation flies in the face of the historical record. Nor is it true, as he alleges, that “Islamic mujahedeen volunteers, led by Nasir Oric” participated in the defence of Srebrenica and “attacks on Serb villages.” There were no “mujahedeen” in or around Srebrenica, but there were holy warriors from Christian countries, notably Russian and Greek volunteers fighting with the Serb forces.
In the lead-up to the Srebrenica genocide, Serb forces led by Gen. Ratko Mladic destroyed hundreds of Bosnian Muslim villages around Srebrenica and committed horrendous massacres against the Bosniak civilians.
All these crimes occurred three years before the Srebrenica genocide as part of a strategy of “ethnic cleansing” against the Bosnian Muslim population, which has been documented in court.
Surviving civilians took shelter in the Srebrenica enclave because they had nowhere else to go. Serb forces around Srebrenica never honoured their part of the UN-brokered demilitarization agreement and they constantly attacked Bosniak refugees within the “safe area.” The 1995 Srebrenica genocide was thus a continuation and culmination of earlier massacres that Serb forces had committed against the largely unarmed Bosniak civilians in the area.
It is regrettable that some Serb civilians did die in the clashes between the Bosniak defenders and Serb attackers on the enclave, but Oric committed no massacres of Serb civilians. Unlike Mladic, however, who remains at large even to this day, Oric stood trial at The Hague and was ultimately found not guilty on all counts by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY).