DID YOU KNOW?  -- Three years before the 1995 Srebrenica Genocide, Serbs torched Bosniak villages and killed at least 3,166 Bosniaks around Srebrenica. In 1993, the UN described the besieged situation in Srebrenica as a "slow-motion process of genocide." In July 1995, Serbs forcibly expelled 25,000 Bosniaks, brutally raped many women and girls, and systematically killed 8,000+ men and boys (DNA confirmed).

13 June, 2008


According to the Association of rape victims in Sarajevo, Zene - Zrtve Rata (Women - Victims of War), hundreds of women and underage girls were documented to be raped during Srebrenica massacre. The Serb troops abused women and even children who they had herded into makeshift enclosures. Due to cultural stigma attached to rape, many women refused to testify against the rapists.

There were also reports of babies being taken away from their mothers and killed. Sabaheta Fejzic's testimony is a sad one [click here to read testimony re-published from German Der Spiegel]. She witnessed Serb soldiers indiscriminately taking girls, boys, and men out of camp. They also took her husband and son. She never saw either one of them again.

According to the Secretary-General's Report, A/54/549, quote:

"389. The same day, one of the Dutchbat soldiers, during his brief stay in Zagreb upon return from Serb-held territory, was quoted as telling a member of the press that 'hunting season [is] in full swing'... it is not only men supposedly belonging to the Bosnian Government who are targeted... women, including pregnant ones, children and old people aren't spared. Some are shot and wounded, others have had their ears cut off and some women have been raped." (source: The United Nations)

A Dutch Bat medical orderly witnessed a rape, quote:

"[W]e saw two Serb soldiers, one of them was standing guard and the other one was lying on the girl, with his pants off. And we saw a girl lying on the ground, on some kind of mattress. There was blood on the mattress, even she was covered with blood. She had bruises on her legs. There was even blood coming down her legs. She was in total shock. She went totally crazy." (source: Prosecutor vs. Krstic Judgement)

As a result of exhaustive UN negotiations with Serb troops, roughly 20,000 women were forcibly deported (ethnically cleansed) from Srebrenica. Had UN negotiations with Serb troops failed, most Srebrenica women would likely meet the fate of Srebrenica men and boys. Some busses never reached the safety. For example, according to the witness accounts given by Srebrenica Massacre survivor - Kadir Habibovic - who hid himself on one of the first buses taking women and children from the Dutch United Nations base in Potocari to government-held territory in Kladanj, "Habibovic saw at least one vehicle full of Muslim women being driven away from Bosnian government-held territory." [source: David Rohde, eyewitness]

One of his captors at one point complained that they were not getting a good choice of the Muslim women from Srebrenica. Habibovic's account corroborates reports from refugees that many Srebrenica women were raped by Bosnian Serb soldiers. Habibovic said the men were taken to a remote location near Rasica Gai late in the evening. When the first group was taken from the truck and shot, he said he leapt from the truck and tumbled down a nearby slope.

Gunfire from the soldiers missed him and he escaped. He later heard a large amount of gunfire, which he believes were the other prisoners being killed. He reached government-held territory on Aug 20, with his wounds still fresh. Hague officials say that the tribunal's progress in dealing with rape has come from three factors - the courage of the victims and witnesses who testified, the tenacity of the prosecuting lawyers, and the years of tireless lobbying by pressure groups. The breakthrough came when prosecutors established that these rapes were entirely foreseeable.

Judges agreed that the generals in charge should have reasonably predicted that, under these conditions, the sexual assaults were likely. It was concluded that any rapes that took place in Srebrenica were therefore the fault of the commanders. Hague officials say that the tribunal's progress in dealing with rape has come from three factors - the courage of the victims and witnesses who testified, the tenacity of the prosecuting lawyers, and the years of tireless lobbying by pressure groups.

Here are some excerpts from the ICTY's (International Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia) 260 page-rulling in the case of Prosecutor vs. Krstic which resulted in Srebrenica genocide verdict:

43. Killings occurred. In the late morning of 12 July 1995, a witness saw a pile of 20 to 30 bodies heaped up behind the Transport Building in Potocari, alongside atractor-like machine. Another testified that, at around 1200 hours on 12 July, he saw a soldier slay a child with a knife in the middle of a crowd of expellees. He also said that he saw Serb soldiers execute more than a hundred Bosnian Muslim men in the area behind the Zinc Factory and then load their bodies onto a truck, although the number and methodical nature of the murders attested to by this witness stand in contrast to other evidence on the Trial Record that indicates that the killings in Potocari were sporadic in nature.

44. As evening fell, the terror deepened.Screams, gunshots and other frightening noises were audible throughout the night and no one could sleep. Soldiers were picking people out of the crowd and taking them away: some returned; others did not. Witness T recounted how three brothers – one merely a child and the others in their teens – were taken out in the night. When the boys’ mother went looking for them, she found them with their throats slit.

46. Bosnian Muslim refugees nearby could see the rape, but could do nothing about it because of Serb soldiers standing nearby. Other people heard women screaming, or saw women being dragged away. Several individuals were so terrified that they committed suicide by hanging themselves. Throughout the night and early the next morning, stories about the rapes and killings spread through the crowd and the terror in the camp escalated.

150. On 12 and 13 July 1995, upon the arrival of Serb forces in Potocari, the Bosnian Muslim refugees taking shelter in and around the compound were subjected to a terror campaign comprised of threats, insults, looting and burning of nearby houses, beatings, rapes, and murders.

517. More significantly, rapes and killings were reported by credible witnesses and some committed suicide out of terror. The entire situation in Potocari has been depicted as a campaign of terror. As an ultimate suffering, some women about to board the buses had their young sons dragged away from them, never to be seen again.

For more Questions and Answers click here.