Serb ethnic cleansing in 1913

LONDON – The bombing here on 7 July unfortunately obscured commemoration of a vastly larger crime that occurred ten years ago: the cold-blooded massacre at Srebrenica of 8,000 Bosnian men and boys by Serb forces. Interestingly, no one seems to have made the possible link between the London bombing and the tenth anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre.

This ghastly Balkan slaughter, the worst crime in Europe since the Stalin-Hitler era, occurred as part of a Serb campaign to exterminate or expel non-Serbs from lands they claimed as historical Greater Serbia. Srebrenica had been declared a `safe haven’ for Bosnians by the United Nations, a place the could take refuge from savage mass murder, rape and expulsion of civilians by Serbs. Bosnians were assured they would be protected by the UN if they laid down what few small arms they had.

The Serbs ignored the UN, stormed the city and methodically slaughtered 8,000 Bosnian men and boys. The killing extended over three days and was videotaped.Cowardly Dutch UN troops supposedly guarding the refugees took no action to halt the mass killing. They simply stood by while Serb forces rounded up thousands of civilians and took them off to be executed.

Calls for NATO air strikes to end the atrocity were blocked by France and Britain, who were covertly backing Serbia while officially protesting its crimes. Both were seeking political influence and arms sales to what they assumed would be an expanded, post-war Serbia. Over 250,000 people died in the 1991-1995 wars that tore apart Yugoslavia, and 2.3 million were made refugees. The overwhelming majority were Bosnians.

In spite of irrefutable evidence of Serbia’s crimes, half of Serbs, and their jailed leader, Slobodan Milosevic, still today deny any guilt, and claim Serbia was an innocent victims of aggression by Croats, Bosnians, America and Germany. But according to CIA, the UN, and leading human rights groups, 90% of atrocities in Bosnia and, later, Kosova, the majority Albanian region held by Serbia, were committed by Serb paramilitary units operating under orders from the Serb regime in Belgrade.

Week before last, members of Belgrade University actually called the Srebrenica massacre `a liberation.’ I note this point because in 1989, when I first warned that Milosevic, a communist banker termed neo-fascist demagogue, was going to plunge Yugoslavia into a nationalist-religious-race war, that same university passed special resolutions denouncing me. It is true that Serbs suffered greatly in the wars begun by their leader Milosevic. Tens of thousands were driven or fled from Croatia and Kosovo. Serbia was ravaged by NATO bombing and is bankrupt. But their dictator began this disastrous war. Serbs cannot escape the reality of their egregious crimes by hiding behind the fiction they are the victims of a western conspiracy.

They were victims, all right, but of the poisonous, Nazi-style racism and religious hatred against Bosnians, Croats, and Albanians of Kosova whipped up by Milosevic and Serb extremists, then fanned by medievalist elements in the Serbian Orthodox Church who kept urging a `new crusade against the Turks.’ Mosques were blown up and graveyards defiled. Bosnians were relentlessly murdered, thousands of women gang raped, and villages burned to the ground. It was genocide in its rawest and most loathsome form. 

An entire historical mythology was spun about Serbia as bulwark against the wicked Ottoman Turks in the 15th and 16th centuries, and of modern Serbia as victim of Europe’s great powers. In historical fact, Serbia spent more time allied to the Ottoman Empire than it did fighting it, leaving the Hungarians and Albanians to battle the Sultan’s armies. During the First and Second Balkan Wars, 1912/1913 Serbia’s efforts to dominate the region, conquer Albania and Macedonia, and ethnically cleanse the region of non-Serbs, lead to her ultimate defeat.

Mother Theresa, an Albanian, was driven from her home in Kosovo by Serb ethnic cleansing in 1913, the first of three such waves of ethnic terrorism that culminated in Milosevic’s giant terror campaign that drove 800,000 Albanian Kosovars to flight in 1999. Serb apologists, notably Canada’s Gen. Lewis MacKenzie, have tried to justify the Srebrenica massacre as `an over-reaction’(MacKenzie’s words) provoked by Bosnian raids from the Srebrenica pocket. Those minor raids, which were commonplace on all sides in the Bosnian conflict, could in no way justify the industrial-style massacre of 8,000 civilians that were worthy of the Soviet NKVD or Nazi SS.

This monstrous act is clearly a crime under the Geneva Conventions and other international laws. MacKenzie, a failed general turned would-be politician, has zero credibility. After passing himself off as a neutral commentator on Yugoslavia, he was exposed by the media to have been paid by Serb political groups to promote their cause. The general, who thus disgraced his former uniform and his country, at first denied being paid, then had to admit it when confronted by the evidence. Yet this discredited officer is still cited by Canadian media as an `authority’ on Balkan and military affair.

President Bill Clinton, finally ordered the United States and NATO to the rescue. American groups, seeing a resurgence of Nazi racist ideology in Serbia, strongly pressed Washington to intervene to stop genocide in Bosnia. While these groups made a noble effort to defend Bosnians and Albanians, the rest of the World did nothing but whine as people were murdered in Bosnia. Only Iran and the Afghan mujahidin took action. Turkey, the traditional defender, with a tough, 600,000-man army, did absolutely nothing.

In the eyes of the world, the racial-religious terror unleashed by Milosevic covered Serbia with shame. It remains today a pariah nation. This is tragic for Serbia, a nation once renowned for its wartime courage, heroism, and big-hearted people. Under Milosevic, pig farmers and criminals took the country over. Serbia became a nation that mixed Nazi ideology with gangster-run government. Serbia must cleanse itself of this frightful legacy if it wants to rejoin Europe. Admit its crimes to the world and its own people, and atone. Its attempts at accepting some blame for genocide have so far been only half-hearted and insincere.

The Serb government must be forced to hand over without delay the two war criminals responsible for Srebrenica and other atrocities, Radovan Karadzic and Gen. Ratko Mladic. Both have long been hidden by the Belgrade government. Belgrade should be financially and diplomatically isolated until these mass murderers are made to face long overdue justice. That is the only way Serbia will be able to rejoin the polity of civilized nations.
Copyright: Eric S. Margolis, 2005 – July 18, 2005
Published at since 1995 with permission, as a courtesy and in appreciation.