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ISSA SREBRENICA CASUALTY NUMBERS CHALLENGED BY EXPERTS

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  • decani3
    The International Strategic Studies Association (ISSA) BALKAN & EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN POLICY COUNCIL PO Box 20407, Alexandria, Virginia 22320, USA Telephone
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 20, 2003
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      The International Strategic Studies Association (ISSA)

      BALKAN & EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN POLICY COUNCIL

      PO Box 20407, Alexandria, Virginia 22320, USA
      Telephone (703) 548-1070.
      Facsimile (703) 684-7476.
      Website: www.StrategicStudies.org.

      Contact: Gregory Copley, 703-548-1070

      FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

      Srebrenica Casualty Numbers Challenged by Experts as Politicized and
      Ethnically Divisive

      WASHINGTON, DC, September 18, 2003: On the eve of the dedication of a
      monument to Muslims killed at Srebrenica, in Bosnia-Herzegovina, in
      1995, a group which includes a former UN official, intelligence experts,
      and journalists, released a statement challenging the alleged casualty
      number of 7,000 victims as "vastly inflated and unsupported by
      evidence".

      They asserted that one-sided interventionist policies permitted al-Qaida
      forces and radical Islamists backed by the Iranian clerical government
      to take root during the Bosnian war, clouding the future of the region.
      As well, they agreed that the "memorialization" of false numbers in the
      monument actually appeared to be intended to perpetuate regional ethnic
      hatred and distrust and to deliberately punish one of the victim groups
      in the Bosnian civil war. Former US President Bill Clinton is expected
      to attend and legitimize the dedication of the monument at Srebrenica,
      which was constructed using one million dollars of US Embassy funds at
      the request of High Representative Paddy Ashdown. But former BBC
      journalist Jonathan Rooper, who has researched the events in Srebrenica
      since 1995, says that the region was a graveyard for Serbs as well as
      Muslims and that a monument to inflated casualties on one side "serves
      neither truth nor the goal of reconciliation".

      Phillip Corwin, former UN Civilian Affairs Coordinator in Bosnia during
      the 1990s, said: "What happened in Srebrenica was not a single large
      massacre of Muslims by Serbs, but rather a series of very bloody attacks
      and counterattacks over a three year period which reached a crescendo in
      July of 1995." Mr. Corwin is author of Dubious Mandate, an account of
      his
      experiences during the conflict. He points out that Srebrenica, which
      was designated a safe zone, was never demilitarized as it was claimed to
      be, and that Muslim paramilitary leader Nasir Oric, who controlled
      Srebrenica, launched repeated attacks on surrounding Serb villages. He
      noted: "I was the United Nations" chief political officer in Bosnia the
      day that Srebrenica fell. Coincidentally, it was the same day that the
      Bosnian Government tried to assassinate me as I drove over Mount Igman
      on the way to Sarajevo."

      Intelligence expert and strategist Gregory Copley, President of the
      International Strategic Studies Association and the ISSA's Balkan &
      Eastern Mediterranean Policy Council, accused US Ambassador Donald Hays,
      who serves as Deputy High Representative of Bosnia-Herzegovina, of using
      the power of the Office of the High Representative (OHR) governing
      Bosnia "to force Bosnian Serb elected officials to sign a fraudulent
      document accepting the official version of events in Srebrenica. The
      leaders of Republica Srpska [the predominantly Serbian province of
      Bosnia-Herzegovina] invited the office of the High Representative to
      join their investigation of the events in Srebrenica. Instead they were
      told they were told to sign a statement drafted by OHR endorsing
      casualty figures they publicly disagreed with." Copley added: "It is
      significant in that the former US Clinton Administration fought this war
      unquestioningly supporting only the Croat and Muslim factions and
      disregarding the historic alliance of the Serbian peoples with the US.
      Then, after the war, the Clinton Administration failed to follow US
      tradition in helping to heal the wounds of war, but, rather, perpetuated
      ethnic divisions and hatreds. This differs from the US role in all other
      wars."

      "Unfortunately, all of the policies and officials put in place in the
      region by the Clinton Administration remain. The current Bush
      Administration has neglected the Balkans and has, instead, allowed the
      Clinton policies to continue, which has meant that divisive politics
      continue. This, then, requires the ongoing commitment of US peacekeeping
      forces in both Bosnia and in the Kosovo province of Serbia."

      Copley added that, according to intelligence obtained from Islamist
      sources, that the monument was intended to become a shrine for radical
      Islamists in Europe and site for annual pilgrimages. He added: "Deputy
      High Representative Donald Hays forced the Republica Srpska Government
      to issue a statement which accepted the radical Islamists" version of
      the Srebrenica affair, despite the fact that the Office of High
      Representative does not have any investigative capability of its own to
      make a valid assumption on the matter. As well, the International
      Criminal Tribunal on Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague " no friend of the
      Serbs " has itself not completed its investigation of Srebrenica, and
      nor has the office of the Government of Republica Srpska which has been
      working with the ICTY."

      Amb.. Hays and OHR chief Paddy Ashdown forced the Republica Srpska
      statement merely to ensure that the opening of the "shrine" " to be
      attended by Clinton " would vindicate Clinton Administration policies of
      support for the radical Islamists." Yossef Bodansky, who has written
      several books on the war in Yugoslavia and also serves as Research
      Director of ISSA, calls the 7,000 figure "disinformation" and notes that
      "all independent forensic evidence points to Muslim casualties in the
      hundreds, possibly the low hundreds. Continued emphasis on such
      allegedly high numbers of Muslim deaths at Srebrenica also obfuscates
      the Muslim murders in that city, earlier, of Serb civilians." Bodansky
      also wrote extensively on the link between Osama bin Laden and the
      Bosnian Islamists in numerous articles and special reports and three
      books, including Offensive in the Balkans: the Potential for a Wider War
      as a Result of Foreign Intervention in Bosnia-Herzegovina (1995), Some
      Call it Peace: Waiting for War in the Balkans (1996), and Bin Laden: The
      Man Who Declared War on America (1999).

      Rooper says that at least 1,000 Serbs, mostly civilians, were killed by
      forces led by Oric who did not bother to hide his crimes, even showing
      videotapes of slaughtered Serbs to Western journalists. Meanwhile a
      group of academic experts and journalists from the United States,
      Canada, Germany, France, Serbia, and the United Kingdom has been
      organized by Professor Edward S. Herman of the University of
      Pennsylvania to examine the evidence regarding events at Srebrenica in
      July 1995 and earlier, how the media reported these events, and the
      political role of claims about Srebrenica. It is expected that a report
      from this group will be available in June 2004. Rooper points out that
      the 40,000 inhabitants the UN used in July of 1995 before the capture of
      Srebrenica roughly matches the number of former residents accounted for
      in the aftermath. A commander of the Muslim-dominated Army of BiH
      (Bosnia-Herzegovina) later confirmed to parliament in Sarajevo that
      5,000 BiH troops escaped largely intact to Tuzla while the UN registered
      some 35,632 civilian survivors.

      While the capture of Srebrenica was reported in July 1995, as it
      unfolded, an international outcry only took place a month later, after
      Madeleine Albright, then US representative to the UN, held up a photo
      which she said provided evidence that thousands of Muslim victims had
      been buried at field near Nova Kasaba, 19 kilometers from Srebrenica.
      Excavations which took place following the war, however, yielded 33
      bodies at Nova Kasaba. Two years after the event, a total of 400 bodies
      had been found at 20 sites near Srebrenica, an area which had seen
      bloody fighting over a three year period. Instead of acknowledging that
      there was no support for the original figures, Rooper says a various
      means were used to prop up the official story.

      "Spokesmen for the Clinton Administration suggested that Serbs might
      have moved the bodies to other locations. Rooper points out that
      excavating, transporting and reburying 7,000 bodies was "not only beyond
      the capabilities of the thinly stretched, petrol-starved Bosnian Serb
      Army, but would have been easily detected under intense surveillance
      from satellites and geostationary drones.

      By 1998, thousands of bodies excavated from all across Bosnia were
      stored at the Tuzla airport. Despite state of the art DNA testing, only
      200 bodies have been linked to Srebrenica. Around 3,000 names on a list
      of Srebrenica victims compiled by the Red Cross matched voters in the
      Bosnian election in 1996. "I pointed out to the OSCE that there had
      either been massive election fraud or almost half the people on the ICRC
      missing list were still alive," says Rooper. "The OSCE finally responded
      that the voting lists had been locked away in warehouses and it would
      not be possible for them to investigate."

      The inflated Srebrenica statistics are part of a larger picture that
      intelligence experts such as Bodansky and Copley find troubling. They
      say US policymakers have been slow to recognize that Bosnia is viewed as
      a strategic base for operations in Europe by al-Qaida and the HizbAllah.
      In 1993, when the Clinton Administration was strongly backing the Muslim
      President of Bosnia, Alija Izetbegovic, Osama Bin Ladin was regular
      visitor to his office, according to Renate Flottau of the German weekly,
      Der Spiegel. The Bosnian daily, Dani, reported that the Vienna Embassy
      of BiH issued a passport to Bin Ladin in 1993.

      A special report by Copley, issued Tuesday, September 16. 2003. noted
      that Bosnia-Herzegovina Ambassador Huso Zivalj, who issued the passport
      to Bin Ladin, later served as Bosnian Ambassador to the United Nations
      in September 11. "It is becoming increasingly clear that the movement of
      Zivalj to the New York post just before (and his departure just after)
      the September 11,2001 attacks was not coincidental."

      "To refer to US Bosnia policy as a success story is to disregard
      substantial evidence to the contrary. Instead of misplaced symbolism in
      Srebrenica, US policymakers need to take a hard look at assumptions
      which have guided US actions in the region," Copley said.

      /Ends/
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