NASER ORIC & KRAVICA INCIDENT ON ORTHODOX CHRISTMAS 7 JANUARY 1993
"I am sorry that, as you put it, Serbs feel unhappy and angry. And since I am a soldier, I know that Serbs... true Serbs who are also soldiers, know well that I fought them fair and square on a battlefield. Therefore, I don't think they are jelaous because of my acquittal; they knew for a long that I was never a war criminal, and that I was a soldier fighting on a battlefield for survival, and nothing else." - NASER ORIC
"The fighting intensified in December 1992 and the beginning of January 1993, when Bosnian Muslims were attacked by Bosnian Serbs primarily from the direction of Kravica and Ježestica. In the early morning of the 7 January 1993, Orthodox Christmas day, Bosnian Muslims attacked Kravica, Ježestica and Šiljkovići. Convincing evidence suggests that the village guards were backed by the VRS [Bosnian Serb Army], and following the fighting in the summer of 1992, they received military support, including weapons and training. A considerable amount of weapons and ammunition was kept in Kravica and Šiljkovići. Moreover, there is evidence that besides the village guards, there was Serb and Bosnian Serb military presence in the area. The Trial Chamber is not satisfied that it can be attributed solely to Bosnian Muslims. The evidence is unclear as to the number of houses destroyed by Bosnian Muslims as opposed to those destroyed by Bosnian Serbs. In light of this uncertainty, the Trial Chamber concludes that the destruction of property in Kravica between 7 and 8 December 1992 does not fulfil the elements of wanton destruction of cities, towns or villages not justified by military necessity."
Milivoje Ivanisevic (who is on record for denying the Srebrenica genocide) claimed that forces under the command of Naser Oric massacred 3,500 Serbs around Srebrenica, but the facts tell a different story. According to the Hague Tribunal, these figures do not reflect reality. In fact, the figures of the individual Serb casualties around Srebrenica are proven to be 9 to 10 times lower than reported by the Serbian ultra-nationalist sources. From 1992-95 there were around 480 Serb casualties around Srebrenica – not “thousands." Of this figure, 329 were Serb soldiers and paramilitary thugs that participated in massacres, rapes, and ethnic cleansing of predominantly Bosniak ethnic territory of Eastern Bosnia. There were no massacres of Serbs in villages around Srebrenica. The "massacre" by definition is "a brutal slaughter of a large number of people." The individual Serb victims who died in the crossfire between Serbian Chetniks and the regular forces of the Army of the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina do not qualify as the 'victims of massacres.' The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) found no evidence of any massacres of Serbs around Srebrenica.
The Hague Tribunal's Office of the Prosecutor investigated the different figures of Serbian casualties in the Srebrenica region and made the following conclusions:
"The figures circulating of hundreds of victims or claiming that all 353 inhabitants [of Kravica] were 'virtually completely destroyed' do not reflect the reality. During the attack by the BH army on Kravica, Jezestica, Opravdici, Mandici and the surrounding villages (the larger area of Kravica), on the 7th & 8th January 1993, 43 people were killed, according to our information. Our investigation shows that 13 of the 43 were obviously civilians.... For the whole region, i.e the municipalities of Srebrenica, Bratunac, Vlasenica and Skelani, the Serb authorities claimed previously that about 1400 people were killed due to attacks committed by the BH Army forces for the period of May 1992 to March 1995, when Srebrenica was under the control of Naser Oric. Now the figure has become 3,500 Serbs killed. This figure may have been inflated. Taking the term 'victims' as defined previously, these figures just does not reflect the reality."
Furthermore, the Research and Documentation Center (RDC) in Sarajevo, which included joint Bosniak, Serb and Croat investigators, also investigated the figures of Serb casualties around Srebrenica and concluded that the alleged number of 3,287 Serb casualties in Central Podrinje is actually incorrect and the correct number is nine to ten times lower than reported by the Serbian media. RDC closely works and aids ICTY Investigations and is funded by both international community and the joint government of Bosnia-Herzegovina (which is composed of Bosniak, Serb and Croat lawmakers).
The fact is that Serb forces committed horrendous massacres against the Bosniak civilians around Srebrenica, for example, Glogova Massacre and Zaklopaca Massacre both occured in 1992 and they involved brutal murders of Bosnian Muslim women, children, and the elderly - many of them burned alive.
The Trial Judgment of Naser Oric makes it clear that Serb villages around Srebrenica were used as fortified military bases from which Serbs launched cowardly attacks on largely undefended Bosniak villages. The Oric judgement found that, "Between April 1992 and March 1993, Srebrenica town and the villages in the area held by Bosnian Muslims were constantly subjected to Serb military assaults, including artillery attacks, sniper fire, as well as occasional bombing from aircrafts.... All this resulted in a great number of refugees and casualties."
In the words of the ICTY judgement (see: Facts About Foca):
"Once towns and villages were securely in their hands, the Serb forces - the military, the police, the paramilitaries and, sometimes, even Serb villagers - applied the same pattern: Muslim houses and apartments were systematically ransacked or burnt down, Muslim villagers were rounded up or captured, and sometimes beaten or killed in the process. Men and women were separated, with many of the men detained in the former KP Dom prison."
The Oric Judgment confirms that Bosnian Muslim refugees in the besieged enclave started dying from starvation caused by the Serb blockade of humanitarian aid:
Bosniaks had to defend themselves so they engaged in the counter-attacks or raids against the Serbs. The 1999 U.N. Report on the Fall of Srebrenica concluded that,
"Between June 1992 and March 1993, Bosnian Muslims raided a number of villages and hamlets inhabited by Bosnian Serbs, or from which Bosnian Muslims had formerly been expelled. One of the purposes of these actions was to acquire food, weapons, ammunition and military equipment. Bosnian Serb forces controlling the access roads were not allowing international humanitarian aid – most importantly, food and medicine – to reach Srebrenica. As a consequence, there was a constant and serious shortage of food causing starvation to peak in the winter of 1992/1993. Numerous people died or were in an extremely emaciated state due to malnutrition."
"the few 'raids' the Bosniaks mounted out of Srebrenica were of little or no military significance. These raids were often organized in order to gather food, as the Serbs had refused access for humanitarian convoys into the enclave. Even Serb sources approached in the context of this report acknowledged that the Bosniak forces in Srebrenica posed no significant military threat to them.... Serbs repeatedly exaggerated the extent of the raids out of Srebrenica as a pretext for the prosecution of a central war aim: to create geographically contiguous and ethnically pure territory along the Drina, while freeing their troops to fight in other parts of the country."
Furthermore, the Bosnian Serb forces around Srebrenica were obligated to demilitarize, but they constantly violated the 1993 demilitarization agreements. Specific instructions from United Nations Headquarters in New York stated the Serbs should withdraw their heavy weapons before the Bosniaks gave up their weapons. The Serbs refused to honor their part of the demilitarization agreement and they never did withdraw their heavy weapons. In fact, "following the adoption of Security Council resolution 836 (1993), the Bosnian Serbs continued to bombard the safe areas at about the same rate as before. In Sarajevo, for example, Serb shells continued to land in the safe area at an average rate of approximately 1,000 per day." The Siege of Srebrenica lasted from April 1992 to July 1995 and ended with the Srebrenica genocide.
Upon his acquittal, Naser Oric stated the following:
"I am sorry that, as you put it, Serbs feel unhappy and angry. However, I don't think like that. To me, there is other side, political side who thinks like that... And since I am a soldier, I know that Serbs... true Serbs who are also soldiers, know well that I fought them fair and square on a battlefield. Therefore, I don't think they are jelaous because of my acquittal; they knew for a long that I was never a war criminal, and that I was a soldier fighting on a battlefield for survival, and nothing else."
IN CONCLUSION: The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) found no evidence that forces under the command of Naser Oric committed massacres against Serbs around Srebrenica. The judges concluded that "any criminal responsibility of Naser Oric was offset by the real and present necessity to acquire food for the survival of the population of Srebrenica." Furthermore, the judges "recognised that the defence of necessity was an established principle in customary international law in 1992 and 1993."
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