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).

21 August, 2008


NOTE: Expanded Edition (Reading Time: 10-15 minutes)
Updated: November 19, 2009 / Feel Free to Copy and Redistribute
By: Srebrenica Genocide Blog

QUESTION: In order to deny and justify Srebrenica genocide, many apologists question how could Serbs commit genocide by killing mostly men and elderly, while at the same time deciding to forcibly expel most women and children from the U.N. 'protected' Srebrenica enclave? This is something that can also puzzle individuals without an apologist agenda. More than 8000 Bosniaks were executed during the genocide at Srebrenica, mainly men, but also many children and some women as well. Some 30,000 women were separated from their menfolk and forcibly deported from the enclave. A prominent Srebrenica genocide denier and a pro-Serbian lobbyist - former U.N. General Lewis Mackenzie - is on record as saying that: "...if you’re committing genocide, you don’t let the women go since they are key to perpetuating the very group you are trying to eliminate." So, the question is: Can one commit genocide by letting the women and children go?

ANSWER: Here is a detailed answer to this question directly from the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (Appeals Chamber, Prosecutor vs. Radislav Krstic):
31. As the Trial Chamber explained, forcible transfer could be an additional means by which to ensure the physical destruction of the Bosnian Muslim community in Srebrenica. The transfer completed the removal of all Bosnian Muslims from Srebrenica, thereby eliminating even the residual possibility that the Muslim community in the area could reconstitute itself. The decision not to kill the women or children may be explained by the Bosnian Serbs’ sensitivity to public opinion. In contrast to the killing of the captured military men, such an action could not easily be kept secret, or disguised as a military operation, and so carried an increased risk of attracting international censure.

32. In determining that genocide occurred at Srebrenica, the cardinal question is whether the intent to commit genocide existed. While this intent must be supported by the factual matrix, the offence of genocide does not require proof that the perpetrator chose the most efficient method to accomplish his objective of destroying the targeted part. Even where the method selected will not implement the perpetrator’s intent to the fullest, leaving that destruction incomplete, this ineffectiveness alone does not preclude a finding of genocidal intent. The international attention focused on Srebrenica, combined with the presence of the UN troops in the area, prevented those members of the VRS [Bosnian Serb Army] Main Staff who devised the genocidal plan from putting it into action in the most direct and efficient way. Constrained by the circumstances, they adopted the method which would allow them to implement the genocidal design while minimizing the risk of retribution.
The Appeals Chamber Judgment, Prosecutor vs. Radislav Krstic, is publicly available at the ICTY web site.

In a U.N. assisted ethnic cleansing, Srebrenica women were forcibly bussed to the Government-controlled territory. Some busses never reached the safety. For example, according to the witness accounts given by Srebrenica genocide 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." One of his captors at one point complained that they were not getting a good choice of the Muslim women from Srebrenica. [source]

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.

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 conviction:
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 a tractor-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 thecrowd 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.

45. That night, a Dutch Bat medical orderly came across two Serb soldiers raping a young woman:

"[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.”

46. Bosnian Muslim refugees nearby could see the rape, but could do nothing about it becauseof 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.
According to the Secretary-General's Report, A/54/549:
389. The same day [17 July 1995], 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.
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 Serb Army's commanders.