NASER ORIC BLAMES BOSNIAK LEADERSHIP FOR ABANDONING PEOPLE OF SREBRENICA
"In view of all that has happened, majority of Bosniak
intellectuals deserve to be blamed." - Naser Orić
intellectuals deserve to be blamed." - Naser Orić
PHOTO: Naser Oric in Konjevic Polje near Srebrenica on 11 March 1993.
EXCLUSIVE: Due to popular demand from our English-speaking readers, we translated the entire chapter from Naser Oric's book, which was written while he was in charge of defending the besieged enclave of Srebrenica. The translated Chapter, entitled: "Assessment and Attitude of the Republic and Local Authorities on the Imminent Danger of Serbian Aggression and Organization of Possible Resistance" can be found in Oric's book "Srebrenica Testifies and Accuses: Genocide of Bosniaks in Eastern Bosnia (Central Drina Region) April 1992 - September 1994" on pages 15-21. (Posted with Permission)
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It is very difficult to evaluate and judge the responsibility of the Bosniak members of the goveming bodies of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina for the preparations and implementation of armed resistance.
The evaluation should be left for some other times and the historians should be the ones to judge. But the one certain thing - at least in this region - is the absence of any representatives or bodies either of the Party of Democratic Action (SDA) or of any other body or authority of the Republic.
The SDS [Serbian Democratic Party) leaders, in cahoots with the authorities and intelligence services of the former JNA [Yugoslav People's Army] and with other services in Serbia and Montenegro, were busily instilling terror among the Muslims. Instigating war psychosis and insinuating their spies into the SDA bodies and authorities, they monitored and spied on people. Many Bosniaks collaborated with the Serbs, some knowingly others unwittingly. A chaotic situation was fomented in all segments of public life; in companies, in institutions.
Several examples and incidents illustrate that the authorities, both on the Republic and on the local level, were incapable of maintaining constitutionality and legality. Serbs from the village of Podravanje blocked off the bauxite mine in Srebrenica and the mine did not operate for three months before the war broke out. Serbs from the villages of Polom and Kravica, municipality of Bratunac, blocked off the Forest Company 'Drina' in Srebrenica and chased away the lumberjacks from the woods alleging that the woods belonged to the Serbs, although the woods were actually owned by the state. There were many similar examples in easter Bosnia and many a company had to send their employees off on unpaid leave. Not to mention the fact that all the supplies of raw materials, secondary materials and food from Serbia were cut off. In most cases, local municipal authorities were unable and incapable of getting to grips with problems of such magnitude. Quite a few individuals grabbed power and took some job in order to promote their personal careers and, so God help me, quite a few did it for personal gain and quickly gained wealth.
In view of all that has happened, majority of Bosniak intellectuals deserve to be blamed. Most of them were ashamed to join the SDA and to use their knowledge and their organizational skills to help organize and unify the Bosniak people against the onset of darkness and occupation that were threatening from Serbia and Montenegro. They rather joined various pro-Serb parties and so directly contributed to the advancing Serb hegemonism.
On the other hand the Serbs - be they peasants or scientists - were not ashamed to publicly join the SDS; some of them were even sent to join other pro-Serb parties and so lure away the Bosniak intellectuals, as was mostly the case in the majority of municipalities in easter Bosnia.
We now know that the local authorities, particularly the SDA leaders, were mostly preoccupied with the black market in armaments and other vital commodities, whereas they should have been preparing, training and organizing their people for the resistance to the aggressor.
To be honest, certain preparations had been done in some municipalities but only just before the war and so covertly, as a sort of military secret, that very few people knew about it. In fact, while such preparations should have been put into practice the leaders, that group of people who held all the strings, fled across the border to enjoy their fat accounts in some foreign bank.
As a result, the people were bereft of their 'leaders' and - once occupied by the Serbian-Montenegrin aggressors - the Bosniaks en masse surrendered their arms, to a greater or lesser extent. The worst of all cases happened in Vlasenica, where some 2.000 firearms were handed over to the enemy.
As for the Bosniak leaders in Srebrenica, they were irresponsible and indifferent to the events in the eve of the war and enemy occupation, just like all the local leaders in other places.
Instead of organizing resistance to save the Muslim people from annihilation, many of them (with some honourable exceptions) packed their bags and took themselves and their families off to safety. To illustrate my point, I shall list but a few and shall leave to the people to judge them in some better times.
Civil servants and prominent intellectuals who left Srebrenica:
1. Besim Ibisevic,, Chairman of the Municipal Assembly of Srebrenica, gone abroad;
2. Cazim Salimovic, Secretary for Economy; gone abroad;
3. Nurija Porobic, Secretary for Defence, gone to Tuzla;
4. Mesud Mustafic, Secretary to the Municipal Assembly of Srebrenica,
5. Sadik Begic, general manager of Zeleni Jadar Company and Member of the B&H Assembly, gone abroad;
6. Ibran Mustafic, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Municipal Assembly
of Srebrenica, gone to Sarajevo;
7. Hajrudin Halilovic, President of the Basic Court, gone to Tuzla;
8. Sabit Begic, director of Medical centre, gone to Sarajevo;
9. Nedzad Selmanagic, long time high ranking municipal executive, gone to Sarajevo;
10. Hasan Selmanagic, executive of the Lead and Zinc Mine, gone to Sarajevo;
11. Abdulah Ahmic, general manager of Lead and Zinc Mine, gone to Sarajevo;
12. Sead Dzanic, general manager of Drina Company, gone to Tuzla;
13. Enver Nekic, general manager of Remont Company, gone abroad;
14. Salih Sirucic, M.Sc. in physics, active in SDA, gone abroad;
15. Adib Djozic, M.L., general manager of Kamen Company, gone to Tuzla;
16. Mujo Muratovic, general manager of Transport Company, gone to Tuzla;
as well as many other managers, executives, prominent citizens and intellectuals who left Srebrenica.
The same thing happened in other municipalities in East Bosnia; leading citizens of Vlasenica, Zvomik, Bratunac fled with their families to protect them from the shells, bombs and Chetnik uniforms.
They cherished their asses and hid them in Germany, Holland, Sweden, in who knows which country, to 'pine' there for their Bosnian homeland and to write in their letters that "a piece of Bosnian air is better than all the riches abroad".
As far as I know, the following executives of other municipalities had fled and left their people to the brutality of Chetnik hordes:
1 . Nijaz Dubicic,, Chairman of the Municipal Assembly of Bratunac, gone to Tuzla;
2. Senad Hodzic, Chief of Police in Bratunac, gone to Tuzia;
3. Arif Aljic, acting Police Commander in Bratunac, gone to Tuzla;
4. Dzevad Gusic, SDA Chairman for Bratunac, gone to Tuzla;
5. Mustafa Ekber Djozic, Member of the BH Assembly, gone to Sarajevo;
6. Bahret Kustura, lawyer, member of the SDA executive committee in Bratunac, work inspector of the Municipal Assembly of Bratunac gone abroad;
7. Nurija Dzanic, chairman of the Club, SDA Member of the Municipal Assembly of Bratunac, gone to Tuzla;
8. Semso Durakovic, grad.civil engineer, Member of the Municipal Assembly of Bratunac, active in the SDA in Bratunac, gone abroad;
9. Omer Mujic, Member of the Municipal Assembly of Bratunac, active in the SDA Bratunac, gone to Tuzla;
10. Adil Osmanovic, Member of the Municipal Assembly of Bratunac, active in the SDA in Bratunac, gone to Tuzla;
11. Azem Dzanic, deputy chairman of the SDA in Bratunac, gone to Tuzla;
12. Mujo Mujcic, general manager of Kaolin Company, chairman of the Opposition Parties Club of the Municipal Assembly of Bratunac, gone to Tuzla and later abroad;
13. Safet Dzanic, veterinary surgeon, director of the Veterinary Centre, member of the SDA executive committee in Bratunac, gone to Macedonia;
14. Nezir Muratovic, active in the SDA in Bratunac, gone to Tuzla;
15. Hasib Hasanovic, secondary school principal, gone to Tuzla and later abroad.
1. Izet Redzic, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Municipal Assembly of Vlasenica, gone to Tuzla;
2. Mustafa Imamovic, chairman of the SDA Town Committee, commander of the Municipal Crisis Staff, gone to Tuzla;
3. Amir Telalovic, party chairman, gone to Bihac;
4. Dr. Hasan Dzana, neurologist-psychiatrist, former party chairman, gone to Sarajevo;
5. Suljo Kurtagic, former Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Municipal Assembly of Vlasenica, stayed in executive position, gone abroad;
6. Mehmed Kavazbasic, Member in the BH Assembly, gone to Zagreb;
7. Irfan Tihic,, executive of the Elastik Company, gone abroad;
8. Munib Becirovic, member of the SDA executive committee in Vlasenica, chairman of the SDA Club, gone to Sarajevo;
9. Ferid Hodzic,, Head of the Territorial Defence in Vlasenica, stayed in Cerska but later gone to Tuzla;
10. Muhamed Huseinovic, grad. engineer from Nova Kasaba, gone abroad;
11. Rizvan Cizmic, engineer from Nova Kasaba, gone abroad;
12. Muradif Hrsic, engineer from Nova Kasaba, gone abroad;
13. Mensur Topcic, deputy public prosecutor, gone to Tuzla.
The chaotic state of the people of eastern Bosnia is best illustrated by the situation in Srebrenica a few days before the aggressor occupation:
On 12 April 1992, the inhabitants of Srebrenica were apprehensively expecting what was going to happen since the SDS had offered to the SDA to divide the Srebrenica municipality into a Serb and a Bosniak municipality.
Goran Zekic, a local SDS leader, maintained that the policy of the Serb centre in Pale was that the Serbs should obey only the laws of their self-proclaimed Serb Republic and that the Serbs in Bosnia could live together only with their brother Serbs from Serbia.
Despite everything, the SDA leaders in Srebrenica agreed with the division of their municipality, provided the members of the Municipal Assembly approved the division. The Municipal Assembly was to convene on 13 April 1992.
The news spread quickly throughout the territory of Srebrenica municipality and a mass of people gathered to hear the decision of the Assembly. The SDS members of the Assembly (Serbs) demanded that a 'Serb municipality' of Skelani [*Skelani is predominantly Bosniak town] be carved out of the municipal territory of Srebrenica first, and the rest of the territory (including the town of Srebrenica) be divided into a Serb municipality and a Bosniak municipality.
The SDA members of the Assembly agreed with the SDS request and the task groups were appointed to map out the decision. The people that had gathered outside the Culture Hall applauded their approval, finding this solution preferable to war.
The same day, 13 April 1992, the SDA task group arrived at the place where they were to meet the SDS task group but the Serbs failed to appear. They did not come eithr on the 14, 15 or 16 April 1992, and the people started leving Srebrenica by any available means - private cars, busses, trucks. On 17 April 1992, the Bratunac SDS requested by telephone that representatives of Srebrenica Bosniaks come to Hotel Fontana in Bratunac for negotiations. Dr. Sabit Begic went to Bratunac as the Bosniak representative and found Bratunac streets full of tanks, armed personnel carriers and many uniformed JNA soldiers and freshly mobilized local Serbs.
Instead of greetings, the Bosniaks were met in Hotel Fontana by the ultimatum to hand over all the Muslim-owned weapons by 8 a.m. the next day, 18 April 1992, and were told that no division of Srebrenica municipality was forthcoming since Srebrenica belonged to the Serbs.
Upon their return to Srebrenica, the Bosniak delegation - instead of trying to calm down the spirits - informed the people of all that the Serbs had demanded. The people panicked and fled from Srebrenica in many directions: to Tuzla, Kladanj, Sarajevo, abroad, anywhere. Having informed the people, the Bosniak delegation went to Lovac restaurant to request that Hakija Meholjic and late Akif Ustic, hand over the weapons (the two of them had already organized a defence group of about a hundred young men from Srebrenica). The request was denied and the delegation also got together their family and left Srebrenica. Of the 8.000-odd inhabitants that had lived in Srebrenica before the war - and more than 5.000 of them were Muslims - less than 400 remained in the town, the villages excluded.
I refrain from adding my comments on all these events and leave it to the reader to judge and comment. The one thing that I am certain of is the fact that the people who stayed in Srebrenica heroically resisted the aggressor, together with the people from Cerska, Konjevic-Polje and Zepa. Had it not been the case, who could tell what would have been the fate of the Muslims of eastern Bosnia and the fate of the State of Bosnia and Herzegovina.