Saturday, August 27, 2005

Declaration by Greek activists 2005 calling for Greek apology for Srebrenica massacre

Declaration of Greek activists calling for Greek apology for Srebrenica massacre

Introduction by Michael Karadjis

The massacre of 8000 defenceless Muslim men and boys in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica in July 1995 stands as the most horrific crime in a long line of crimes in the Balkans during the 1990s. The prime responsibility for this slaughter lies with the former Serbian regime of Slobodan Milosevic, which had overthrown the multi-ethnic Yugoslav workers state led by Tito and ushered in a brutal capitalist restoration, full of Yeltsin-style mafias and oligarchs.

His regime then provided the new national chauvinist ideology for the ascendant Serbian bourgeoisie, reviving the ideology of the ‘Chetniks’, the forces who had fought against Tito’s Communist ‘Partisans’ in World War II, slaughtered tens of thousands of Muslims, and collaborated with the Nazis. As 'Greater Serbia' ideology replaced the Titoist 'brotherhood and unity', wars were launched against other Yugoslav republics, principally Croatia and Bosnia, in which non-Serb populations were forcibly removed from large swathes of territory deemed to be ‘Serb territory', despite most ‘ethnically cleansed’ territories having non-Serb majorities.

The Yugoslav army was the fourth largest military force in Europe, and though belonging to Yugoslavs of all nationalities, its entire arsenal was handed over to Greater Serbia by former US Secretary of State Cyrus Vance in his plan that ended the brief Serbo-Croatian war of 1991. This was passed onto the Bosnian Serb Army (BSA), the Serb nationalist armed forces in Bosnia led by the pro-Chetnik Serb Democratic Party of Radovan Karadzic, and paid by Milosevic. Control of this massive military machine gave Greater Serbia the overwhelming advantage, and thus the great majority of crimes were committed by military forces led by the right-wing Serbian nationalists.

However, the Croatian regime of Franco Tudjman competed with Milosevic in terms of chauvinism, and forces under his regime also committed serious war crimes. When their war ended in late 1991, Milosevic and Tudjman formed an alliance to partition the multi-ethnic republic of Bosnia between them, despite its majority of Bosnian Muslims and mixed Bosnians who would not fit into the chauvinist schemes of either.

This drive was supported by the European imperialist powers who drew up plan after plan for the ethnic partition of Bosnia. Above all, the imperialist powers enforced a criminal arms embargo on the beleagured Bosnian republic, preventing it acquiring arms to match the enormous Serbian military machine. Their aim was balancing Serbian and Croatian appetites by dividing the region between them, which they believed would lead to stability for investment, and keeping arms and fighters from Iran and other Muslim countries, who attempted to break the arms embargo, out of Europe.

Srebrenica was a small town in eastern Bosnia, the region running along the Serbian border. Serbian nationalists wanted this region in Greater Serbia, but its population was overwhelmingly Muslim. The terror that needed to be used to drive a million Muslims from their homes rose to a level not seen in Europe since the Second World War. However, tens of thousands of Muslims, rather than fleeing the region, were driven into a number of small Muslim enclaves inside east Bosnia, surrounded by Serb-annexed, ethnically 'purified' territory. One such enclave was Srebrenica.

The 8000 Muslims killed in July 1995 in that town were a fraction of those killed during the initial 'cleansing' of east Bosnia that drove them into the town, and of those killed in the town over three years that the surrounding, heavily armed Serb nationalist forces daily poured massive quantities of firepower into it. A number of times, starving Muslims holed up in Srebrenica broke out and raided nearby Serb villages, mostly to seize food. On some such occasions, Muslim troops also committed atrocities, if on a markedly smaller scale. While this is also to be condemned, it is important to understand the context of these desperate raids, as they are played up by Serbian nationalists and their apologists to suggest the Srebrenica massacre was mere revenge for these attacks.

The United Nations declared Srebrenica and six other besieged towns "safe areas" in 1993. This meant local Muslim militia handing over even the few arms they had held onto till then. However, it was never safe for the inhabitants, who were continually bombed and besieged for the next two and a half years.

In July 1995, the BSA entered Srebrenica. The UN troops “protecting” this “safe area” fled without a shot and allowed the Serb troops under the notorious butcher general Mladic to separate as much of the male population of all age groups as they could. Thousands of these captives were then taken away and killed. Thousands more were captured as they tried to escape through the forests and later killed, or shot escaping. In one incident, over a thousand men and boys were locked in a warehouse in nearby Kravica where Mladic's Chetniks machined gunned them all to death and then finished them off with hand grenades.

At the end of this monstrosity, Mladic declared the Serb people had finally liberated Srebrenica from "the Turks".

A couple of months later, the US entered the war with its own plan – the Dayton plan - for the ethnic partition of Bosnia. The main difference with previous EU plans was that it gave the Serb nationalists even more of what they wanted. Not only would they get half of Bosnia as an ethnically purified 'Serb Republic', but Mladic's elimination of the troublesome, messy enclaves of Srebrenica and Zepa was recognised as if nothing had happened, now included in the Serb Republic. It is hardly too cynical to say the US needed Mladic to massacre Srebrenica to push a partition 'peace' plan that the Serb nationalists would accept - because it gave them everything they wanted.

In total, surviving female relatives have registered 7789 people missing after the massacre, and they continue to campaign for justice. Last year, even the government of the Bosnian ‘Serb Republic’ admitted that 7800 Muslims had been slaughtered.

Greece played a specific role, having emerged as the leading imperialist power of the lower Balkans, its investors leading in Albania and Macedonia while making up a significant share in Serbia and Bulgaria. Greece's specific strategy was to play the reactionary "Orthodox" card - the Greek and Serb people are allegedly both "Orthodox" and thus had to help each other against the "Turks", as they called the Muslim peoples of the Balkans. The oppressed, brutalised, disarmed Bosnian Muslims and Kosovar Albanians were thus pictured as the ghost of the Ottoman Empire trying to return and again threaten Christendom. The Greek and Serb "Orthodox" peoples would be in the vanguard of the defence of Europe against this "Islamic threat." Meanwhile, profits of the Greek and Serb mega-bourgeoisie rolled in.

Throughout the war, Greek "volunteers", applauded the whole time by the Greek media, the Greek Orthodox Church, and all major political parties, went to Bosnia to aid the Chetniks. The end result was a team of these "volunteers" in Srebrenica in 1995, who raised the Greek flag alongside the Serbian, ancient Macedonian and Byzantine flags at the massacre site. Karadzic decorated four Greek volunteers with the “White Eagle” medal following this, the white eagle being a prominent Chetnik symbol and the name of one of the most brutal Serb chauvinist militias operating in Bosnia.

The following declaration by 163 Greek academics, journalists and political activists calls on Greece to officially apologise to the victims of Srebrenica for the role of Greek imperialism in this atrocity:

10 July 2005

On July 11th ten years will be completed since the massive massacre of 8,000 civilians in Srebrenica organized by the regime of Milosevic and its followers in Bosnia, Mladic and Karadjic. This was not the only atrocity, it was preceded by others (Vukovar, Goradze) as well as the long siege of Sarajevo that cost 11,000 dead. Croatians and Muslims also committed war crimes and now account for them before the International Criminal Tribune at The Hague.But the massacre of civilians in Srebrenica symbolizes the absolute terror and characterizes the regime which committed it.

Aimed at ethnic cleansing and organized cold-bloodedly, it is the worst mass-killing in Europe after the WWII that the international community did not prevent despite its promises to protect the population.'The tragedy of Srebrenica will always haunt us. Our responsibilities are huge. With our huge errors and our incapability of comprehending the amplitude of evil, we failed at protecting the citizens of Srebrenica who were faced with organized slaughter by the Serbian forces' declared the Secretary General of UN Kofi Anan. 'What happened in Srebrenica is a shame. Shame that needs to remembered by all Europeans' had said the then president of Commission Jacques Delors. Bearing its responsibilities because its peace troops left the civilians of Srebrenica unprotected inthe hands of their executioners, the Dutch government resigned in 2002.

Contrary to what happened elsewhere, in the rest of the world and in particular in the rest of Europe, in Greece public opinion was misinformed and uncritically placed in a common psychological front with the criminal regime of Milosevic, under the pretext of Orthodoxy, the traditional Greek-Serbian friendship and alleged "anti-imperialism." Not only this. Greek 'volunteers' (their public confessions have been published) have fought in Bosnia with Karadzic and Mladic and raised the Greek flag, dishonouring it in Srebrenica at the moment of the carnage.

The Greek State has the obligation to apologize publicly to the families of the 8,000 slaughtered and to call for the indictment of the Greek 'volunteers' who were accomplices in the crime as well as the supposedly 'unknown' people who manipulated them. We demand this.

The declaration is signed by 163 academics, journalists and other personalities including 5 politicians. Their names are available in the Greek version of the appeal(
posted by Michael Karadjis at 8:20 PM

paula said...
I think the Western world at large is unable to consider the horrors of Srebenica and the other sites of massacre as genocide because one, they were inextricably part of causing it - especially i agree with the point that the embargo on preventing Bosnian Muslims from defending themselves was criminal- but also, Muslims as victims of Christian barbarity does not conform to the script. We never hear about this atrocity as Christian extremism or the 'uncivilised'Christian at work. The massacres at Srebenica and all the other sites must never be forgotten, and the hypocritical West must own up to its part in the death, suffering and displacement of so many. I think the Greek apology is an important acknowledgement and part of a healing that needs to happen. I still feel very emotional when i read about what happened and i am neither Bosnian nor Muslim, but i have worked with Bosnian refugees since that period and feel there has never been any justice for what happened. Respect to those who have signed their names to this important declaration.

3:11 PM
Michael Karadjis said...
thanks for the comment Paula. By the way, do you know what some of the "left" apologists and Muslim-eaters are saying now - it wasn't genocide because they let the women go and only killed 7800 men! Considering the grisly record of Mladic's rapist scum elsewhere in Bosnia, perhaps the Dutch being there did moderate the slaughter a little in that way, but I love the way the Chetnik-loving wing of the "left" see this as useful cover the genocidists. I thought these were the tactics of the right.

1:32 AM

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