Just over 15 years after its establishment, the International Tribunal for the Prosecution of Persons Responsible for Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law Committed in the Territory of the Former Yugoslavia since 1991 is next year, set to close its investigations. Also referred to as the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) most media attention focused on the legal proceedings in years past (and indeed, more recently) has concentrated on atrocities committed by (the now deceased) Slobodan Milosevic and those serving the cause of Serbia. Ask most people of the period in the former Yugoslavia, just after the fall of communism in the early 90’s when the country’s ethnic and national groups were plunged into a bloody and brutal civil war just who the bad guys really were, and most people will tell you that Slobodan Milosevic and his Serbian followers have far more to answer to than any other party involved. And this has been the worldwide viewpoint – perpetuated by the world media.
Just as the crimes committed by any side during a war are unacceptable, so too is the suppression of the information bringing these crimes into the public eye. Obviously little has been done to suppress media reports of crimes committed against Bosnians, Croats, Kosovo Albanians and other ethnic groups in the region (hence the general opinion against the Serbs) but little has been done to provide the public with the knowledge needed to form a balanced opinion on this continuously controversial situation.
This week Radovan Karadzic (leader of the Bosnian-Serb army during the Yugoslav war) appealed to the ICTY to have his charges of war crimes and genocide overturned. While there are a (small) few who dispute the evidence against him, the facts also cannot be argued against.
So here are some facts that are clearly not prevalent enough in the media spectrum, and are practically non-existent to public access:
- The Serbs were blamed for the infamous Sarajevo market massacre. But according to the report leaked out on French TV, Western intelligence knew that it was Muslim operatives who had bombed Bosnian civilians in the marketplace in order to induce NATO involvement. Even international negotiator David Owen, who worked with Cyrus Vance, admitted in his memoir that the NATO powers knew all along that it was a Muslim bomb.
- the FBI sent a team to investigate two of the sites listed in the war-crimes indictment against Slobodan Milosevic, one purportedly containing six victims and the other twenty. The team lugged 107, 000 pounds of equipment into Kosovo to handle what was called the “largest crime scene in the FBI’s forensic history,” but it came up with no reports about mass graves. Not long after, on July 1, the FBI team returned home, oddly with not a word to say about their investigation. 21
- Forensic experts from other NATO countries had similar experiences. A Spanish forensic team, for instance, was told to prepare for at least 2, 000 autopsies, but found only 187 bodies, usually buried in individual graves, and showing no signs of massacre or torture. Most seemed to have been killed by mortar shells and firearms. One Spanish forensic expert, Emilio Perez Puhola, acknowledged that his team did not find one mass grave. He dismissed the widely publicized references about mass graves as being part of the “machinery of war propaganda.”
All of this information is published on leading political analyst, Michael Parenti’s website www.michaelparenti.org. Parenti has written extensively on the subject of the Yugoslavian war, and has long maintained that U.S. government interest lies in the fact that Yugoslavia would operate better to US needs if it were a cluster of small, weak, dependent, free-market principalities – Yugoslavia being the only country in Eastern Europe that would not dismantle its welfare state and public sector economy, which is strongly against American ideas of globalisation.
This is undoubtedly a massive factor in the media suppression of information relating to atrocities committed against Serbia. Not only does the media’s interest stem from US self-interest, but the destruction of Yugoslavia in general does as well. Questions of war crimes must certainly be asked of NATO and those who helped carry out their aerial campaign of destruction?
Either way, no-one can be excused for what they have done – Bosnian, Serb, Croat or otherwise. Many unbelievable things happened during this bloody conflict, some of them with more personal associations than others.
The aim here isn’t that people should be pointing fingers at Bosnia and Croatia et. al. as well, it is simply that media transparency these days is extremely rare, and that the possibilities of the other side of any story, cannot ever be ignored. – Especially if we are to pass judgement on a certain group and indeed, its individuals within.
In June of 1993, the UN published a 132-page report outlining some of the atrocities committed against Serbia. Just how many times it was seen by, and how readily it was made available to the general public (already brainwashed and filled with propaganda) is surely insignificant compared to the amount of times that the media spoke of Serbian atrocities, and the necessity of UN and US intervention. Surely if information like this was readily available, the overwhelming public opinion on this conflict, would be drastically different?
Entitled “Memorandum on War Crimes and Crimes of Genocide in Eastern Bosnia” the report (which can be downloaded on the website www.emperors-clothes.com) literally lists hundreds of Serbian victims in various Bosnian towns who mostly died from having their “throat cut” as the “ cause of death lists” .
There is much more evidence pointing to the US’s complicit attitude towards letting this war (and perhaps encouraging it to) continue. Lord David Owen even documented evidence pointing to the fact that the Clinton administration continuously sabotaged peace accords in the former Yugoslavia between 1992 and 1995.
Above all of this though, is the unparalleled importance that lies in an honest, balanced, unbiased, undoctored, uncompromised and unambiguous portrayal of the facts. For years, this has clearly not been the case in relation to what happened in the former Yugoslavia. There are tragic and horrific stories from all sides, which must all be told and absorbed on equal ground. Without a view to this attitude, we will soon be letting the very governments, agencies and reporters we trust get away with murder themselves, oblivious to the full extent of the carnage being caused.